Petsonline Welcomes 1,000,000th Visitor to the Site

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Australian pet classifieds site http://www.petsonline.com.au welcomes its one millionth visitor to the site. In just over 6 years, owner Mark Samara has built Australia's number 1 pet classifieds site.

I get huge satisfaction when I stop and think about how many people we have helped to find their current pet

The Australian pet portal http://www.petsonline.com.au has recently welcomed its 1,000,000th visitor. The site, which was setup in 2005 by Mark Samara, was originally setup as a portal for pet shop owners to host their own pages. However, it quickly became apparent that there was a huge gap in the Australian market for a high-quality pet classifieds site. Mark swiftly changed the direction of the business and experienced a huge jump in traffic to the portal. Petsonline has not only had over 1 million visitors, but over 10,000 users have registered to sell their pets on the site. “I get huge satisfaction when I stop and think about how many people we have helped to find their current pet” Mark said.

Mark, a software engineer, started the company with a friend in 2005 when they both decided that they wanted to find a way out of their monotonous IT jobs. With the skills they had in the industry, it was natural that they would start an online business. “We threw around a number of ideas before settling on a pet classifieds site. We looked at building a real estate search engine or car classifieds site, but it was obvious that they had already been done very well. However, we determined that in the Australian market, there was definitely an opening for a decent portal for buying and selling pets.”

Along the way there have been several hurdles to overcome. African scammers have been a constant source of frustration. This problem was tackled by implementing their own anti-scam software which tracks which countries users are in and filters out ads posted outside of Australia. Mark stated “There are so many online pet sites out there which don’t do a thing about this issue and give free range to these scammers to post ads all over their pages. I think it’s unethical to sit back and watch your users being scammed out of hundreds of dollars. It’s a matter we take very seriously.”

Not everything turned out so well on Petsonline. In 2007, they tried their hand at selling flea treatments from the site. “In the first couple of months, we sent out nearly 200 parcels but only made about 50c profit on each. We then got a couple of customers saying they hadn’t received the items so we lost all the profit we’d worked so hard to get” Mark said. They have since shutdown the shop and are focussing solely on the pet classifieds part of the business.

Mark estimates that 70% of the ads posted are for dogs for sale, with another 20% kittens for sale. Only 10% of the ads were for other types of pets. “We are keen to become a true Pets portal and have a wide variety of pets listed. We are also conscious that a lot of our listings are puppies for sale in sydney - we want to make sure we are truly a national website. We have made great inroads there and now rank well in Google for the generic term Puppies For Sale

The success of Petsonline, has led to the spawning of a UK site which has also had a huge degree of success. http://www.petsonline.org.uk has now had well over half a million visitors. Mark stated that “We are ecstatic with the results on our UK site. Who knows – we may have to start a US site soon”.

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Mark Buckler
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