Early last year Julian Chappell hadnt even used email before, never mind surfed the net; now hes got a shop website that has won an e-commerce award, has partnerships with major sites such as lastminute.com and is featured in computer mags as site of the month.

Bike auction site is front for IBD

Bidabike.com is a front for DJ Cycles of Midsomer Norton, six miles from Bath. Its only the second bicycle auction site in the world. The first bike.com has had millions of dollars of venture capital pumped into it and has got Lance Armstrong on the board; Bidabike.com is a low-budget start-up from Chappell and his friend, Gary Latchem, a roofing contractor.

Unlike web auction houses like QXL.com, which take a commission for each product successfully auctioned, Bidabike.com only sells bikes from DJ Cycles, a very clever way for a shop to have an e-tail presence.

The consumer wont realise the site is run by one shop unless he/she does a lot of digging and anyway, a discounts a discount no matter how you get it. The brands available include Giant (99 stock only), Freespirit, Barracuda, GT, and Saracen.

Bidabike.com is powered by OpenSite software which has a proprietary AutoBid function. This enables customers to set a price limit and allow the computer to bid on their behalf.

The site was designed by a professional HTML-outfit although they are not needed day-to-day because Chappell can upload new bikes to the site via a database.

Bidabike.com is getting 20 000 hits a week, and 3000 registrations. But does it make money?

Julian Chappell: Not at the moment but its speculate to accumulate. If you stand still you die. A lot of people say if youre not online in two years youll be out of business, I dont believe that. But you wont move forward and youre missing a major opportunity.

Its going to take at least another year before we turn a profit but by then weve got a major presence.

The primary reason for doing it is because January and February are normally very quiet months (although weve actually been very busy this year) and Bidabike.com was an idea to generate business instead of us sitting around twiddling our thumbs.

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