Webstore.com Strives to Be Robin Hood of Online Marketplaces
By Greg Holden
What do you do after you were smart enough to make enough money in the early days of the Web to retire before the dot-com bubble burst? You devote yourself to your family and your hobbies. That's what Julio Pereda and his wife did. Pereda, a computer programmer for most of his life, was one of the first Webmasters in the early days of the World Wide Web. He founded a Web hosting company called IQS and ran it for five years before it was ultimately sold to Viawest Inc. in 2000. After that, he and his wife retired. The good thing for consumers is that the Peredas' hobbies include buying and selling online. Dissatisfied with eBay's fees, they eventually created their own marketplace, Webstore.com.
"My wife and I were both part of online communities for our respective hobbies," explains Pereda. "It became clear, from participating in these communities, that eBay's ever-increasing fees were making it very difficult for common, everyday people (not businesses) to sell on eBay. Webstore.com was initially started to give the people in our communities a place where they could buy/sell without any fees."
The "no fees" feature of Webstore is undoubtedly what attracts users and keeps them coming back as loyal customers. But the site has many of the other add-ons and benefits that cause them to speak enthusiastically about it: buyers can view items in their local area as well as around the world; they can make offers as well as buy at fixed price or place the highest bid at auction. Sellers can open free Web-based stores using customizable templates.
Since it went online in May 2007, Webstore has grown from only two categories of merchandise (crafts and gaming) to more than 5000, to keep up with the demands and interests of its 17,000 members. Membership is growing at the rate of 1000 new users per month. Julio Pereda, 40, answered some questions about the marketplace from his home in Las Vegas, Nevada in January of 2010.
AuctionBytes: What was the first thing sold on your site?
Julio Pereda: The first item was a "Stampin Up Portfolio Series Book" (the first one from 1996) for $15 on June 12, 2007.
AuctionBytes: What has been your biggest challenge in developing Webstore?
Julio Pereda: The biggest challenge: bringing in buyers. For the last year we have been spending every penny we earn (and sometimes more) on advertising to help bring qualified buyers to the site. Additionally, we have added many fraud detection/protection tools and are constantly monitoring the site to provide the safest shopping experience possible, so that buyers will be happy with their purchases and continue to return.
AuctionBytes: Do you use the marketplace yourself? What do you buy or sell?
Julio Pereda: My wife has sold craft products and supplies through Webstore both personally and through her business. She sells hundreds of products every month, and hopes to be our biggest seller some day. Using the site ourselves keeps us connected to its operation from a member's standpoint, and has led to many new features and site improvements over the years.
AuctionBytes: If Webstore is free to join, how do you make money?
Julio Pereda: Webstore makes money from the companies who pay to display their banner ads on our site rather than by charging fees to our members. We consider Webstore "the Robin Hood of online marketplaces," having corporate sponsors pay so private individuals don't have to.
AuctionBytes: What features would you like to see in the future?
Julio Pereda: Late last year we added "Webstore Local View," which allows buyers to shop items for sale in their local communities (a la Craiglist) bringing together the functionality of both Craigslist and eBay into a single free marketplace. This year, we plan to add better seller tools in the form of bulk uploading, invoicing, and order processing.
AuctionBytes: What keeps you going? What do you like about running this site?
Julio Pereda: We enjoy seeing connections form between buyers and sellers. Every item that sells, and every positive rating that a seller receives, keeps us going. With as many sales as we have every day, we have a lot to be happy about.
Links to help files on setting up a Store
About the author:
Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.
You may quote up to 50 words of any article on the condition that you attribute the article to EcommerceBytes.com and either link to the original article or to www.EcommerceBytes.com.
All other use is prohibited.