eBay announced a Diamond-level PowerSeller tier in June, and as I blogged in mid-August, more companies will be joining Buy.com and be allowed to list on the site for free. Now I'm hearing that eBay is introducing a pilot program next month in which a number of manufacturer and big-box retailer catalogs will be launched to eBay. Third-party vendors will work with these sellers to get them onto the eBay platform - no small feat given the quantity of product SKUs in their catalogs.
These Diamond PowerSellers will be given special privileges. Commission (FVF) fees will be negotiated individually, and it's my understanding that participants in this pilot will not be charged listing fees, nor will they have to meet eBay's seller standards during the 90-day pilot program, which I've dubbed Operation Catalog.
The potential Gross Merchandise Volume of these sellers is enormous, and it fills out eBay's product line and helps it move toward providing a more uniform buying experience on the site, or so it hopes.
The flood of inventory onto the site in October could have a major impact on certain sellers in categories affected. As I write in tomorrow's editorial in AuctionBytes-Update, not only will some sellers find themselves competing with the manufacturer of the product they sell, but that competitor is getting free listings and better exposure.
If Operation Catalog does roll out in October as expected, sellers will find themselves going up against competition they never knew existed, with no time to adjust their selling strategy during the all-important holiday shopping season.