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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 232 - February 01, 2009 - ISSN 1528-6703     1 of 7

From the Editor

By Ina Steiner

February 01, 2009

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While the last 3 months of 2008 were challenging for most retailers, both online and offline, Amazon.com put in an impressive performance. The news was in contrast to eBay's challenging fourth quarter performance, which blamed a 12% decline in trading on its marketplaces business on global macroeconomic conditions.

As I pointed out on Thursday, Amazon does not reveal much about sales from its third-party sellers, which is close to one-third of units sold on the site. Commenters were quick to point out that (other than media on Marketplaces), Amazon.com severely limits who can sell on the site, a great source of frustration for sellers looking to expand channels.

The worldwide recession is affecting many businesses. Last week, the CBS television program 60 Minutes profiled a town in Ohio devastated by DHL's pullout of the US domestic shipping business. The US Postal Service has also been hit hard, and asked Congress last week for the ability to be able to move to a 5-day delivery schedule if necessary.

With a tough retail environment, it makes sense to step back and take a look at your business to see if there are opportunities you may be missing. This point was brought home to me when I was reading a press release about Rinkya.com, a service that helps English-speaking buyers from all over the world bid on Yahoo Auctions Japan. Rinkya recently decided that in addition to helping overseas buyers purchase from Japan, they could also help English-speaking foreign residents living in Japan purchase from Yahoo Japan. By marketing the same service to a new audience, they hope to grow their business.

Are there new ways of looking at your business? Sometimes presenting your products in a new way or extending your product line with complementary items or services can land you new business.

Of course it also helps to think of ways to operate more efficiently, and we're always on the lookout for tools and services that can help online retailers save time and money and increase sales - send me an email if there are sites you find useful.

One way you can help drive traffic to your listings is through Search Engine Optimization, which we've been covering in the EcommerceBytes Insider newsletter. A quick way to boost SEO for your site is to get listed in the EveryPlaceISell.com merchant directory. We've just added a new feature to help you see the popularity of each marketplace. We've added a counter to the Search by Venue page. Here are the top six venues as of Friday: Bonanzle (977); eBay (822); eBay Stores (596); eCrater (351); and Etsy & Amazon (tied at 257).

From MySpace to Facebook, Squidoo to Twitter, and blogs to YouTube, there's a lot of talk these days about social networking. But can online sellers use social networking sites to help their online retail business? We're conducting a survey to find out if you use such sites, and if so, how you use them and what effect, if any, they have on your business. Please take a few minutes to take the survey, and let us know your thoughts on Ecommerce and Social Networking! We'll share the results in AuctionBytes.

Today we have a double-header from Greg Holden, who sat down with the founders of two online-auction sites in the antiques and collectibles field to learn more about their services. SeeAuctions.com is located in Minnesota, and SpecialistAuctions.com is located outside of London in the UK. Greg reveals that these sites are putting the fun back in online trading.

Breaking News - Update on CPSIA law affecting manufacturers, importers, retailers and resellers of children's products: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a stay on testing requirements for certain products targeted to children under the age of 12. Read the AuctionBytes blog for details and to comment.

Thanks for reading.

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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 ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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