Ecommerce Applications Show up in eBay SM Apps
By Ina Steiner
You may recall hearing about "SM Apps" or Project Echo when eBay marketed it to third-party developers, but now it's ready for U.S. sellers. eBay launched its open-platform service last week, offering tools created by outside developers directly on eBay.com through its Selling Manager software. Applications now available include listing templates, email-management, inventory bar-coding labels, review gadgets, video players, shipping and payments services, research and reporting services and bookkeeping.
The news is not so much about the applications themselves, but the way sellers are able access them directly in eBay. Terapeak is a great example to help understand how it works. Terapeak's market research service has been available for many years. Merchants can go to Terapeak.com and sign up for a subscription to the service and generate reports that help them make decisions, such as how to set pricing for their products, or what type of listing format works best for which products.
With the launch of SM Apps, sellers can now access a custom Terapeak application within eBay if they use eBay's Selling Manager or Selling Manager Pro. The same is true for other SM Applications.
SM Apps reside in Selling Manager, eBay's online sales management tool that allows sellers to perform all of their listing and sales-related activities from one location in My eBay. eBay said there are 270,000 active subscribers to its Selling Manager products in the U.S. The Selling Manager basic software is free, and Selling Manager Pro has a $15.99 monthly subscription fee and provides additional product inventory and automation features.
Many sellers don't use listing tools or may use third-party tools other than Selling Manager. But even if you don't use Selling Manager, it's useful to peruse SM Apps to find tools you may be interested in using, since most are available outside of eBay SM Apps or even off of eBay entirely.
Some of the tools that were new to me include 123Show (a rich media application), Outright (a bookkeeping tool) and Review Gadget (a tool that asks eBay buyers to leave product reviews).
Keep in mind that some SM apps are offered for free, while others incur a monthly subscription fee, of which eBay receives 20 percent. (eBay also provides developers with an option for usage-based fees.) It's up to you to decide whether any paid tool, on or off eBay, would provide you with a good return on investment. This may depend on what you sell, and in what quantity, and you should consider the costs and investment in time versus the savings, increased sales, and time freed by automating certain tasks.
Here's a short run-down on of some of the applications that are currently available.
123Show Provides Interactive "Rich Media"
This free service called 123Show lets sellers jazz up their photos with "rich media" technology. Shoppers can click on their images to enlarge photos, zoom in, or see the product in different colors, for example. The developer also offers the service on its own website.
eZ labelZ Creates Labels and Barcodes
For a flat monthly fee of $2.95, eZ labelZ lets you print customized inventory labels with instant importing of eBay item data; address labels with instant importing of eBay buyer data; and easy barcoding. You can print eBay item gallery images on any label and build custom flyers, printouts, or cards using the WYSIWYG label editor. The developer also offers eZ barcodeZ for any seller on its own website.
Quantity Manager for Best Match-Recent Sales
Quantity Manager is uniquely geared to eBay, targeting sellers of multiple-quantity items who want to take advantage of eBay's Recent Sales algorithm. The company explains on its website "eBay's best match algorithm gives a boost to fixed price listings with recent sales. This encourages sellers to post most of their items within one listing, but buyers tend to buy when quantity is scarce. This site will automatically refresh your listing's available quantity when a buyer buys from your listing until you run out of inventory." Quantity Manager charge sellers a $5 monthly subscription fee, plus 2 cents per transaction for "refreshing inventory available." There is also flat-rate pricing of $9.95/month or $99.95/year available for a limited time.
Outright Offers Free Bookkeeping Service
This free application imports sellers' eBay sales data into its free web-hosted bookkeeping service (Outright.com) and keeps a full transaction history. Sellers can enter sales data from other marketplaces as well, and can enter cost information into Outright in order to generate expense reports and profit & loss reports. "Instant reports let you see how much money you are making, who your best customers are and where you are spending the most money. Pay your estimated taxes on time and get organized for end of year taxes."
List of All Available SM Apps
Here's a list of all of the SM Apps available as of August 22, 2009. You can find more information about them on eBay's SM Apps directory page.
123show By 123Show, Inc.
ah!TEXT Mobile Messenger By ahTEXT LLC
Auctane Shipping Manager By Auctane
eZ labelZ for eBay By geeXmedia, LLC
ezSupport for eBay by Hosted Support
Froo! Template Themes By Frooition Inc.
Link to UPS WorldShip By eBay Inc.
My.ShipRush Ship Center By Z-Firm LLC
MyStoreMaps and MyStoreRewards By MyStoreCredit.com
OrderCup Shipping By Kuberas
Outright By Bootstrap Inc.
Quantity Manager By NullApps
Review Gadget By Merchant Gadgets
Terapeak By Terapeak
vzaar By vzaar
Worldwide Brands By Worldwide Brands, Inc.
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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