From the Editor
By Ina Steiner
When we launched AuctionBytes in 1999, the media was full of stories of people who were leaving the safety of corporate positions and were "doing eBay" full time. David and I knew that selling online was not as easy as it was sometimes portrayed, and in fact, that was our impetus for publishing AuctionBytes. We knew online sellers faced the same questions about marketing, accounting, inventory and distribution that other businesses faced, and were also facing challenges unique to e-commerce. We've tried to help sellers successfully meet these challenges over the past 3 years.
While 2000 was the year of optimism, 2001 saw vendors dealing with the consequences of the dot-com implosion, and they faced shrinking sources of capital and the task of justifying their business model. For sellers, this meant 2001 was the Year of the Fees.
.2002 was another challenging year. Prices of many antiques and collectibles were down, due to saturation in the market, and the cost of doing business continued to increase. Sellers in the area of "practicals," like computers & consumer electronics, saw larger retailers come onto eBay offering lower prices, warranties and established reputations. 2002 has also seen fraud rear its head in new and ugly ways, with hoax emails and fake escrow sites bilking money from buyers and sellers. Yet small sellers persevere, employing smarter procurement methods, innovative marketing approaches and tools to increase efficiency.
Looking ahead to 2003, sellers need to continue to their efforts to invest wisely and increase efficiencies, and they need to make it easier for buyers to find them and feel comfortable doing business with them.
I get letters from readers looking for services, and while they say cost is a big factor in their decision, they are willing to pay more to get more. Vendors who can offer services that help sellers increase their bottom line will do well.
As we close out the year 2002, an exciting new service launched that may help small online sellers reach buyers. Google announced the Beta version of its Froogle search engine for shoppers. Google approached sites like AuctionWatch, Yahoo Stores and TIAS.com to get their merchants included in the search engine. (See the AuctionBytes Newsflash coverage at http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y02/m12/i13/s01.) This may be an interesting way for merchants to get the items on their own Web sites listed alongside larger retail sites (at no charge). Put in a search term for a fairly unique collectible on Froogle, and see what items come up.
I'd like to take the time to thank the people who allow us to publish AuctionBytes for no charge: our advertisers. Thanks to them for supporting the industry, we truly could not continue without them. Our long-term advertisers, Craters & Freighters, Auction-Sellers-Resource.com, ePier, Tias, Bidfields and our new advertisers, AuctionHawk, AuctionHelper, BidRobot and PoliceAuctions.com: Thank you!! Other supporters during the year included Zoovy, Infopia, TimeBlaster, AuctionSniper, uBid, Inphonics, Cargo Reservations and ImageWiz.
And thank you for subscribing, participating in the Forums, using the Buyers Market classifieds, and writing to us with suggestions. We are listening!
I hope you have a peaceful Holiday season, a Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!
Ina Steiner, Editor
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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