Play.com stops selling direct, will be a marketplace only

Play.com will no longer sell its own goods from March, acting instead as a marketplace for other retailers.

Play.com is pressing stop on sales to the public. The cheap-as-Channel Islands online emporium will no longer sell its own goods, acting instead as a marketplace for other retailers.

Play, which is owned by Japanese retailer Rakuten, will no longer sell direct to you and I. Instead of being a shop, Play will simply be a place where you can buy stuff from other companies.

It's too early to say what this will do to prices, but all items sold through Play will include Play's fee. On the plus side, there's a sale on, so you know, swings and roundabouts.

Play has decided to stop selling directly with the closure of Low Value Consignment Relief, a pre-Internet tax provision that waived VAT for goods that cost less than £15. As the era of online shopping dawned, the likes of Play and Amazon took advantage of LVCR -- originally designed to speed delivery and simplify tax collection -- by setting up in the Channel Islands and selling products like CDs and DVDs free of VAT, dramatically lowering prices.

Up until the LVCR loophole was closed in April last year, the absence of VAT meant Jersey-based sites like Play could offer much cheaper CDs, DVDs and other goods than retailers on the British mainland that were stuck with VAT. No wonder Virgin Megastores, Music Zone and Fopp have all gone to the wall in the Internet age -- not to mention independent and smaller record shops.

Play stops selling direct in March. 147 staff will lose their jobs in Jersey, with another 67 out of a job on the mainland.

Is the era of cheap DVDs over? Has the cost of cheap CDs been too great? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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Software
About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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