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Auctionopia Founder Branches Out to Help Large Retailers

Tom Popomaronis launched Auctionopia in 2011 to fill a need he had identified as a small eBay seller – the site incorporated instant messenger to let buyer and sellers communicate and negotiate. Since then, he’s shifted his focus, launching a tool for large, enterprise retailers, but doesn’t plan to abandon the “social commerce marketplace” he launched 3 years ago.

Popomaronis has launched a new service called OpiaTalk.com. EcommerceBytes caught up with him to find out what’s new since writing about Auctionopia in 2012.

EcommerceBytes: What’s new with Auctionopia, have there been any major feature or pricing change since we last talked?

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Tom Popomaronis: We built the marketplace up to about 100,000 products, but it’s self-sustaining now and we’re not iterating design or development at this time. We’ve completely shifted resources to OpiaTalk – once we’re cash flow positive there, we’ll intend on re-allocating resources back to Auctionopia (both Auctionopia and OpiaTalk are owned by Opia Holdings, Inc.)

EcommerceBytes: What is OpiaTalk, and why did you launch it?

Tom Popomaronis: OpiaTalk is the hyper-conversion widget for ecommerce retailers. Basically, once a specified amount of visitors “click” our widget (say 30 people), they all receive a promo code, but once the promo code is released, the customers only have 15 minutes to use the code, or it expires.

We’re actually live on shop.skype.com, but if you don’t see a promo running (we’d be on the left side), feel free to go to www.threadgetter.com to see a demo (it’s a demo site to showcase the technology). And for additional context, a video: http://vimeo.com/64940295

EcommerceBytes: Will you keep operating Auctionopia?

Tom Popomaronis: It is self-sustaining and slowly growing organically. I would love to keep growing it, but the fiduciary responsibility is to the investors. OpiaTalk in a few months has generated more revenue than Auctionopia all of last year, so we have to stay the course with OpiaTalk for now. We may eventually appoint a new CEO there to run it.

EcommerceBytes: Would the typical eBay seller use OpiaTalk? What are the benefits and how much does it cost?

Tom Popomaronis: They would not. Our target are the enterprise IR1000 space retailers. Basically, we’re converting sales at an accelerated rate (once the promotional code is released, 10% of those in the widget are actually buying). Ideal customer has high traffic (1MM+ unique visitors/month).

Our pricing model is pay-per-performance. With the opted-in leads we capture, we provide them to the retailer for $1-2 and depending what category the retailer is in, we have a sliding revenue-share fee.

Another benefit is that we (OpiaTalk) designate a Client Manager to benchmark, launch, and optimize all OpiaTalk campaigns. We typically run between 6-12 campaigns per day. The retailer only has to provide us with promo codes. We do all the leg work.

EcommerceBytes: What lessons have you learned about ecommerce from your experience with small sellers, and where do you see the future of ecommerce?

Tom Popomaronis: It’s moving to “P-Commerce” (Participatory Commerce) – giving customers a reason to stay on the site, engage with other visitors (if they so choose), and reap the benefits of a potential purchase, together. Decreasing drop-off and abandonment rates are still top of mind for all ecommerce leaders, and will continue to be.

As for my lessons with small sellers, I was one of them 🙂

I’m victim to wanting to give the same TLC (tender loving care) to small biz, to enterprise. Unfortunately, that’s not sustainable. However, we’re working on an algorithm to automate the entire campaign process and we’re talking to a few ecomm platforms to mass-distribute. I look forward to that day; serving enterprise and small biz? Sign us up.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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