EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 131 - November 21, 2004 - ISSN 1528-6703     5 of 8

eBay Stores Has New Rival with Launch of Bidville Stores

By Mark O'Neill

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Online auction site Bidville announced last week the official launch of Bidville Stores, which had been in beta testing since late October.

Bidville says they already have almost 600 storefronts, and the monthly fees make eBay look like daylight robbery. Basic Stores with Bidville costs a tiny $5 a month, and Featured Stores cost $10 a month (a basic eBay store costs $9.99/month). If that isn't enough, there are also no listing fees on Bidville, though there is, of course, a commission fee when the item sells. This means that until your item sells, the only price you pay is your monthly store fee.

According to Kim Cullen, Bidville's Director of Marketing, the absence of listing fees "means the seller usually ends up with a higher profit than selling on eBay." For more information on the fee structure, you can look here: http://stores.bidville.com/storefront/fees.html.

Bidville Featured stores have increased visibility on the site by appearing on a rotating basis on the Browse Home Page, Browse Categories Pages, Search Result Pages and Store Home Page, as well as appearing first in Bidville Storefront listings. According to a Bidville press release, each store also has a shopping cart for buyers to combine purchases in the store.

"Bidville has nearly 1 million registered users, and the site currently receives over 20 million hits a month to its website," said Kim in an email to AuctionBytes. "This number of hits as well as page views and unique visitors is constantly improving each month."

Kim said there are over 7,000 individual categories and sub-categories, and the most popular categories are collectibles, home and garden and other unique items unearthed by Bidville sellers. There are normal auctions, fixed-price listings (called "Take It") and fixed-price "Take It" store listings, just like eBay. So the question arises, how does Bidville differ from eBay?

Apart from the big difference in store prices and the lack of listing fees (and the difference in number of registered users between the two sites), Bidville says its main strength lies in one thing sadly lacking in eBay: a meaningful standard of customer service. If you have any problems with eBay, you will get an automatic reply from a computer that changes names every five minutes or a quick "pass the buck" answer from Live Help. If you have any problems with Bidville on the other hand, Kim said you can send an email to Customer Service and get a personal response from a real living breathing customer service rep within 24 hours.

Since Bidville is small compared to eBay, Bidville members get the chance to suggest improvements to the site, and Kim claims that management seriously listens to every suggestion. But as she says, "any suggested improvement would have to be beneficial to our entire membership."

When you're searching for an item on Bidville, all three categories of items will show up within your search results. Compare this to eBay where store listings are normally excluded from search engine results. This means you find what you're looking for straight away without having to first search in the auctions section and then in the stores section, saving buyers both time and effort.

Bidville Stores is still in its infancy but it has the potential to go far.

http://stores.bidville.com/storefront/

http://stores.bidville.com/storefront/fees.html


About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, MakeUseOf.com. He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'Neill.org.


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