EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 146 - July 10, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     5 of 8

Adding Visual Punch to Your eBay Auctions

By Mark O'Neill

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In one of my previous articles, I discussed the importance of having a good picture hosting service. But pictures only go so far, and sometimes you have to add that "extra punch" to make your offerings stand out from the crowd. Two companies are now offering eBay sellers the chance to add that real visual twist to their auctions.

Slidetour from 3cim, an eBay certified developer, and Virtual Iris offer sellers the options to make their auction pictures come to life, creating the possibilities of higher sales in an online marketplace that becomes more and more competitive every day.

Slidetour is my favorite of the two because I feel it is better designed and works more smoothly. The California-based company offers you the chance to place a slideshow of digital images inside your eBay auction. But the really cool part to all of this is that the interested bidder can use a "magnifying glass" feature to stop the slide show momentarily and to zoom in on a particular area. In fact you get so close, it's as if you are standing right next to it with your nose pressed up against the item.

If you go to and use the magnifying feature on the car, you can zoom into different areas including the tire hubcap, the logo on the side of the car and the bumper. Everything is clear as day, as the image quality is excellent.

Prices start from $5 for regular auctions (the $5 covers a maximum of 50 images with a minor fee for extra images) and a whopping $295 a month for vehicle auctions. All you have to do is upload your images to the 3cim servers and your slidetour is good to go. You can test-run Slidetour for free with a trial period, though it doesn't say how long the the trial period lasts.

Virtual Iris
Virtual Iris is similar to Slidetour in that you can zoom in and out of the picture, seeing the item up close, but they offer some additional features. As well as zooming in and out, you can turn the item in the picture around 360 degrees, viewing it from various angles.

I really liked the virtual tape-measure you can activate to measure the length, width and height of the item. No longer will you have to gaze at that life-size model of Darth Vader with his lightsaber and wonder if he will fit in the corner of your living room next to the life-size model of Halle Berry. You can also send interactive images in emails using Outlook.

Virtual Iris is free, but spokesperson Jim Malmberg told me they plan to start charging within the next 30-60 days. First there will be a 2-week free trial period, and then pricing starts at $1.99 for a single image hosted on their servers for 2 weeks. They will also be offering monthly consumer accounts starting at $4.99. You can see Virtual Iris in action by checking out this eBay auction

It will be interesting to see the demand for these services and if sellers will embrace them. Would you use one of these services for your auctions, or do you think they are just expensive gimmicks? Post a note in the forums and let me know.

About the author:

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

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