Mpire Discontinues eBay Selling Tools
By Ina Steiner
Mpire has officially ended its strategy of providing auction-management services to eBay sellers, and it will instead focus on generating revenue through shopping tools for buyers. The company sent letters to customers stating it would discontinue offering and supporting Mpire Launcher and Mpire Builder as of January 31, 2007, and would instead focus on its Shopping Service and Mpire Researcher tool.
Mpire was founded in 2004 with backing from Ignition Partners and former eBay executive Richard Rock. The company made a splash at the June 2005 eBay Live user conference and officially launched its auction-management software for eBay sellers that September. Its strategy was to offer a full-featured "complete solution" at a flat monthly rate.
In January 2006, Mpire launched a tool called Mpire Researcher designed to give eBay sellers information to help them make profitable listing decisions. Mpire saw the potential in providing buyers with pricing information and began shifting its focus toward shopping tools. In June, it launched Collector's Corner, a portal that "displays sales trends and pop culture comparisons on hot topics," in conjunction with eBay.
Mpire promised customers in a letter this week that it would work with them to make the transition to another listing service as smooth as possible. Mpire will no longer charge for its Builder tool, and it has added export capability to provide easy exporting of financial, customer and inventory data for importing into another system.
Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Dave Cotter said he still believes there is a gap for mid-tier sellers. He said discontinuing the auction-management tools was a hard decision - "we've worked hard to put the customer first" - but said the company needs to focus on the opportunities it sees on the buying side.
Highlighting the challenge of competing in the eBay solutions arena was the recent acquisition by Vendio of the assets of its long-time competitor Andale. Another company, 4D, which launched an auction-management software at the 2005 eBay conference, may also have faced challenges - it sold its eBay software this year to Acclivity, the U.S. distributor of MYOB small business accounting software.
On Tuesday, Mpire launched a free download called Mpire Plugin, a pricing research tool. "Online shoppers can use the Mpire Plugin to browse, price-analyze and make purchases from Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, Target, Newegg, Staples, Office Depot, Toys-R-Us, Walmart, Ice.com, Blue Nile, GAP, Old Navy, Apple, Yahoo, Overstock and others," according to the press announcement.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to email@example.com.
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