eBay PowerSellers Jump on Google Base
By Brad and Debra Schepp
But whether they'll score or not as a result remains anyone's guess. You know already that Google Base (http://base.google.com) is Google's new database, where you can upload just about any kind of information you would like - for free. The default categories you can specify include recipes, wanted ads, reviews, and products. Writing each listing and uploading it takes only minutes - much faster than your average eBay auction. And if you have a lot of listings, Google Base has a bulk listing capability. Of course, third party auction software providers are more than happy to handle such listings for their customers, if they choose to go that route.
Google Base went live in mid-November, right at the beginning of the Holiday shopping season. Even with the poor timing, the reaction to it was incredible among the PowerSeller community. Paraphrasing Dorothy Parker, it ran the gamut from A to B. Clamoring for new selling avenues, they dove head-first into this new pool of opportunity. PowerSeller Andy Mowery told me that Google Base was what the eBay PowerSeller community had been waiting for - the enthusiasm was running that high early on.
Within mere hours, with the help of auction management services company ChannelAdvisor, PowerSellers uploaded tens of thousands of items. While you're not permitted to include a hyperlink to an off-eBay site within your auctions, there's no such prohibition with Google Base listings. Link away! So within their product listings, PowerSellers included links to their web stores, where transactions could be completed.
So what kind of traffic can you expect to drive to your stores (or your eBay auctions for that matter) through your Google Base listings? It's too soon to tell but the potential is tremendous. Consider that in August, Internet users conducted 448 million local searches, and of those Google sites captured about 44 percent of those. That's a lot of people searching on Google, and if Google Base listings show up on Google.com and Froogle, as is the plan, all those eyeballs can be yours.
QuikDrop International, the chain of eBay drop-off stores, started listing its sellers' items almost immediately on Google Base, and reported "Google Base and Froogle are driving several thousand new potential buyers to our listings every hour." Given these early estimates and the tremendous potential, why wouldn't someone use Google Base to drive customers to their listings, whether they reside on their own ecommerce sites, on eBay, or some other auction venue?
The potential is there but Google Base is not quite ready for prime time. There are lots of bugs to be worked out - porn showed up within hours and anyone could scope it out since there was nothing in the way of the usual safeguards to keep it off teen screens. Security breaches were reported too. One top PowerSeller said that a company had copied his entire product feed and linked his images and descriptions to their own site.
Down the road if Google is going to allow transactions right from Google Base, it's going to have to address trust and safety issues. PowerSellers wonder how Google sellers will be identified, verified, and vetted. Without vetting, PowerSeller Mowery said, "reputable sellers could be lost in a sea of frauds."
Assuming Google works out the kinks and proves a great way to drive traffic, many more sellers may see it as another important weapon to include in their selling arsenals. If so, eBay watch out! While, as Adam Hersh of AdamHershAuctions noted, at first Google Base probably won't have too much of a negative effect on an eBay seller's sales (and therefore eBay's revenues), "Full time eBay sellers might see a slight dip in eBay sales, but direct website sales should increase to offset that." In fact, Hersh feels "the only losers in this game are the 100% based eBay sellers."
About the Authors:
Brad and Debra Schepp have written about cutting-edge technologies for more than 20 years. They are the authors of ten books, and their work has been featured in publications such as Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, and U.S. News and World Report. They have been online since 1984, and buying and selling on eBay since 1999. Their most recent book is eBay PowerSeller Secrets: Insider Tips from eBay's Most Successful Sellers, published by McGraw-Hill (2004) and available through retailers such as Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0072258691/auctionbytescom). Visit their website at http://www.bradanddeb.com.
About the author:
Brad and Debra Schepp have written about cutting-edge technologies for more than 20 years. Their most recent book is eBay PowerSeller Million Dollar Ideas: Innovative Strategies to Make Your eBay Sales Soar, published by McGraw-Hill. The 2nd edition of eBay PowerSeller Secrets will be published November 27, and be available through retailers such as Amazon. Visit Brad and Deb's website at http://www.bradanddeb.com.
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