Here's a look at some companies providing services to auction buyers & sellers. Some are brand-spanking new, and some have stood the test of time. (Internet time, that is.)
SOMETHING NEW: Auction-Prophet Sales Analysis Tool (June 2002)
Auction-Prophet is a new tool for auction sellers to help them figure out what categories of goods are popular on eBay. Gary Holgate of gandtech.com is the creator. He got the idea from his wife, who had been selling on eBay for nearly 5 years. After the 9-11 attacks, her sales fell dramatically. As Gary tells it, she would sit at the computer for hours trying to work out what sold. He just happened to say one day, "hey, maybe I could write a small app that gets some of the information for you."
Auction-Prophet allows users to track trends on single and multiple categories, top 25 categories per day,/week/month, plus charts and a host of other features. Gary said his program gives people the confidence to sell again. "It might mean that people are selling different items to what they normally sold, but this can only be a win-win situation for the sellers and for eBay."
Mrs. Holgate has given up eBay in order to help her husband launch the new service. Gary is quite pleased: "It was hard being married to an eBay wife," he said. Hmm, how many readers can relate to that!
SOMETHING OLD: HammerTap Auction Tools (January 2001)
HammerTap has been around since January 2001, and the company provides a full range of Windows and Web-based applications for auction users. Both buyers and sellers can find time-saving tools on this site. And Andrew Walton, HammerTap co-founder and Programmer Extraordinaire, has developed a sophisticated analysis tool called DeepAnalysis to find the sell-through rate and average selling price of categories on eBay. HammerTap understands the needs of auction users, and Andrew puts his programming expertise to good use!
SOMETHING NEW: iOffer.com Negotiated Commerce Site (May 2002)
Steven Nerayoff, one of the founders of the now-defunct eWanted site, started a new company called iOffer.com. Steve said he left eWanted months before it declared bankruptcy because he had a difference in opinion as to the direction the site should take. With iOffer.com, he has a chance to test his theories.
Launched on May 1, 2002, iOffer is driven by Steve's philosophy that auction sites are not about ecommerce, but about "community," a word that some would say is old-fashioned in today's dot.com world. iOffer operates as a negotiated commerce model rather than an auction model. Sellers list items for sale, and shoppers can post questions and make offers in an open format that everyone can read. When a buyer and seller come to a satisfactory arrangement, the tgransaction is completed.
SOMETHING OLD: BargainAndHaggle.com Negotiated Commerce Site (Early 2001)
BargainAndHaggle was the first consumer-to-consumer site to offer one-to-one negotiation as an alternative to auctions when it launched in early 2001. Sellers post items for sale, and shoppers "haggle" over the price. BDO Seidman LLP founded the site through its wholly owned "e commerce development company," mindpepper LLC. The employees of mindpepper bought out the BargainAndHaggle site from BDO Seidman in February of this year.
SOMETHING NEW: Bidfields Online Auction Site (February 2002)
Bidfields launched in February 2002 with an aggressive marketing campaign. Chris Kilpatrick founded the site and owns and operates computer hardware sales firms in Manitoba, Canada. Chris' philosophy is to focus on sellers. "Our business model became simple to construct. To design and implement an online auction site that could be much like some of the larger sites were when they first started and to have ours stay that way." Chris signed Bidfields up with a membership club so that members could receive rewards for joining. Bidfields runs about 6,000 auctions a day.
SOMETHING OLD: ePier Online Auction Site (1998)
ePier is a family-owned business based in Seattle, Washington, run by James Kim. Founded in 1998, the site offers features that give eBay a run for its money. ePier has no listing fees and offers a Premium Service for $9.95 that includes 200 megabytes of image storage space, a customizable Storefront with shopping cart features, and unlimited use of Classified Ads.
ePier has had growing pains; some users grew disenchanted when ePier, like all Internet sites in 2001, began looking for ways to drive revenue by introducing fees. And ePier has had some customer-service difficulties. But the site seems like it's back on track.
In March, ePier announced it had reached profitability. The company has instituted a marketing campaign to attract new users to ePier, including a campaign in Krause Publications' print publications and in our own AuctionBytes newsletters. James has been far more responsive to customer concerns, and said that customer service is his company's top priority in 2002.
We'll continue to keep tabs on these companies. And maybe someday, two years in business won't seem like such a long time!
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