EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 131 - November 21, 2004 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 8

iOffer: Negotiated Ecommerce as an eBay Alternative

By Lu Paletta

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In these days of 24-hour shopping, high-speed Internet and instant gratification, some online users find 7-or 10-day auctions wearing. Buyers who don't want to wait to see if they've won an auction, and sellers who don't want to wait to move inventory, have found an online-auction alternative in (

iOffer bills itself as a site based on negotiation. Sellers have the option of listing goods at a "set opening" price; buyers can accept an opening price or make a counter-offer. The seller then has the option of accepting the buyer's price or countering with another offer of their own. Negotiation continues until a price is agreed upon or one party drops out.

I have used iOffer in my consignment business. It is fun to go back and forth with buyers. Depending on the item, I have the option of playing with the sales price up or down. This site really is the embodiment of "it's not what you think it's worth; it's what the buyer is willing to pay." And, unlike other sites, as a seller, I can always walk away if the price isn't what we need.

Like other sites, you may list your item locally if desired. This helps with large items that are hard or costly to ship. It also helps with items that have a local "flavor," such as high-school sports memorabilia.

iOffer charges no listing fees, and you may relist as many times as you wish. Sellers are given a free store, no monthly fee, no having to pay per item. Graduated final value fees are based on gavel price. Items under $25 are $1.25 or less. Items under $100 are 5%; under $1500, the 5% plus an additional 2.5% for over $100; over $1500 are $40 plus an additional 1.5% over $1500. Wholesale lists, Catalogs, Product information items are a fixed $5 commission fee per transaction. Aircraft, boats, cars, trucks and real estate are free.

There are also premium listing service fees available. For $19.95, your item will appear on iOffer's home page. For $9.95, your item and store will be featured on top of category browsing listings. Highlight is available for $2; Bold is available for $1; listing in a second category is 10 cents; additional pictures are 5 cents. You can find a link to fee information on the Seller page at

Many features of iOffer are the same as other auction sites. But, there are four features that are somewhat unique and make the site very attractive to both sellers and buyers: Mr. Grabber, iOfferLite, Want Ads and Snag-a-Sale.

Mr. Grabber is a program that allows sellers to download bulk listings from eBay, Amazon, Yahoo and Bidville to the iOffer site. As a seller, this saves me a great deal of time as I don't have to duplicate store listings manually. It also uploads my positive feedback ratings, giving an air of legitimacy on the new site. Just be aware you need to edit the listings once you have downloaded them to iOffer.

iOffer Lite is a feature for items $4.99 or less. You can sell smaller items without having to pay hefty listing or final value fees. In my consignment business, I rarely list low-priced items on eBay because the fees eat away any profit. iOffer Lite is a great alternative. Plus, from now until January 1, 2005, iOffer Lite will charge no final value fees.

iOffer Want Ads allow buyers to advertise for items. It can be something specific (Nancy Drew #34) or something generic (large pots for cooking pasta, beans or chili). Sellers review the list and offer to sell the item to the buyer.

I had a great experience with this feature. Perusing the Want Ads, I saw someone was looking for "The Political Collectibles of Richard M. Nixon." This book was published in the early 1990s by Chris Crain and Eldon Almquist of the Nixon Political Item Collectors. I was a member of the group and left when Mr. Nixon died in 1994. I had a copy of the book, contacted the buyer, negotiated and made the sale.

Imagine my surprise when I got the PayPal payment found the buyer to be none other than one of the authors. We renewed our acquaintance and I found that he had dog-eared his copy of the book so much that he needed a new one. I was glad to be able to help and know the book had found a good home.

The fourth unique feature on iOffer is Snag-A-Sale. When negotiation takes place between a buyer and seller, the item is listed as "In Negotiation." If you have a similar item, you can enter the negotiation with your own item. If you have a better price or the item is in better condition or have better terms, you can "snag" the sale away from someone else. This practice is severely frowned upon on other sites, but here, it is welcomed.

iOffer is a site worth investigating. No listing fees, low or no final-value fees, and an easy-to-use Web site. As a seller, the extra options make it a very attractive alternative to more established sites.

About the author:

Lu Paletta is a partner in Bid-N-Pack, LLC, a full-service online ecommerce business In addition to consignment auctions, B-N-P reps consumer electronic items, sells business overstock and closeout inventories. BNP also conducts fundraising for non-profit organizations via online fundraisers. Lu has over 20 years in the consumer electronics industry. An autograph collector and history buff, she is the author of three books on the American presidency and political process. She is a regular contributor to political newsletters, has conducted radio commentary on elections and is a frequent guest speaker to civic groups and schools on American history.

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