Wagglepop Soft-Launches Online Auction Site
By Ina Steiner
Ray Romeo is a former eBay powerseller who decided he could offer "a small alternative to sellers fed up with eBay." After what he describes as 3 years of planning, Romeo soft-launched Wagglepop over the weekend in a "sneak-peak" of the site. As some users began registering and posting items, others reported security issues they say make the launch premature.
Romeo first announced his forthcoming site in October 2004 on an auction industry discussion board and hit a nerve with other disgruntled eBay sellers. When eBay announced in January it was raising fees, some sellers looked around for an alternative venue. Romeo's site, not even launched, was one of the sites to benefit, and thousands of users posted their email addresses on the FreeAuctionScripts discussion board.
A groundswell of support from a tiny base of evangelical Wagglepoppers got the attention of the Wall Street Journal and USA Today who mentioned Wagglepop when they wrote about eBay's latest fee hikes, despite the fact that the site was not yet online.
Not all posters to discussion boards accepted Romeo at his word, and skeptics raised questions on FreeAuctionScripts and the OTWA board, another auction industry forum. The questions got more heated when the site went live.
Both buyers and sellers are required to enter credit card information in order to register for Wagglepop. Over the weekend, someone registered using a false number, and was able to place malicious bids on hundreds of items without paying for them, leaving a string of negs for the sellers in his wake. Romeo said Wagglepop uses Authorize.net for credit card validation and merely had to adjust a couple of settings. He has since limited registration to U.S. users only, but is working on ways to validate users from Canada and other countries.
Some users also noticed that when they signed in to the site and checked their billing information, they could view their credit card numbers, instead of having the first twelve numbers masked. "We know it needs addressing," Romeo said, but added that users should use unique passwords on the Internet and should never share them.
"I have no discomfort with that," Romeo said Monday, referring to the fact that the credit card numbers are displayed after logging in, "but I want to address what the membership feels is important. I'm not convinced it's a huge issue." As of Monday evening, it appeared that Romeo had a change of heart as the first 12 digits of the credit card numbers were now being masked.
Romeo is not a programmer by trade. Prior to creating Wagglepop, Romeo was a computer instructor for 3 years, and was in finance and sales before that. To launch Wagglepop, he purchased online-auction software, and he outsources the programming to the software creator and another programmer. The two have been working on Wagglepop for 4 months, Romeo said.
Romeo said Wagglepop had 2,350 registered users as of noon on Monday and 274 stores. When asked how Wagglepop would attract buyers, Romeo said, "Other sites make the mistake of marketing the site itself. It's important to market the products, to get the products listed on Wagglepop in front of buyers where they search for them." He's banking on a combination of traditional and non-traditional marketing to help him do that.
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 email@example.com.
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