eBay Lister InkFrog Hops Up to a Brand New Platform
By Julia Wilkinson
It all started when a young eBay seller who was also a developer and designer was perusing the "businesses for sale" section on eBay. Greg Sisung bought a forum/chat company, but he had a vision to turn it into an eBay tools program to help other sellers such as himself.
Now having added its "Highwire" product that opened up inkFrog beyond eBay to Facebook, Google, mobile and sellers' own storefronts, it's now ready to spring a new limb, "inkFrog Open." Learn about the exciting new goings-on (and how you can get in on them) at the company that so many sellers know from its fun name.
EcommerceBytes: Can you tell us the story of how inkFrog came about? What were you doing before you founded inkFrog?
Greg Sisung: InkFrog came about in the early days of eBay. I was a seller on eBay - and I also dabbled in web design and development. One day I was looking in the "businesses for sale" section on eBay and saw that someone was selling their forum/chat site named Auction Patrol. It had a few basic tools that attempted to solve some eBay seller pains. I loved the idea behind the site and I knew that I could make it a lot better, so I purchased it.
Auction Patrol was mainly a chat site at the time, but I knew that the eBay tools portion was where I needed to focus my attention. I began to develop that into a more robust system and the rest is history.
EcommerceBytes: Of course, I have to ask, how did you come up with that unique name for the company?
Greg Sisung: I came up with the name "inkFrog" because I always liked the idea of incorporating a frog figure into a logo (I tinkered in web design at the time), and since we were an image-hosting company originally, I figured "ink" was similar to a pixel on a photo. It just seemed to fit nicely together. I mentioned the name to my wife and colleagues and they seemed to like it. Thus, inkFrog was born.
EcommerceBytes: I used to think of inkFrog mainly as an image-hosting tool for eBay sellers. Was that one of inkFrog's early focuses, or was it other things as well?
Greg Sisung: It certainly was one of our first focuses. We had a template-building tool and offered image hosting for sellers. We've come a long way since then, focusing on automation and medium-to-large sellers' pain points - and trying to solve their problems. We have very few image-host-only subscribers now.
EcommerceBytes: How else has inkFrog changed since 1999 in terms of what products you offer?
Greg Sisung: In the early days we were mainly a template and image-hosting tool. We have since become a true SAAS company (software as a service) and provide valuable software to thousands of eBay sellers. The long and short of it is, our software makes their life easier.
EcommerceBytes: I understand that inkFrog's Highwire offering allows sellers to list on eBay, Facebook, Google, Mobile and their own Storefront. Why did you choose those channels, and any plans to add Amazon, Etsy or any other platforms? How much does Highwire cost?
Greg Sisung: Highwire is live and has been for quite some time now. We have many sellers who use and depend on it daily. The cost is only $29.95/mo., which is an incredible value. Regarding future channels, we actually have Amazon as a channel in our testing environment and do hope to release it in the future.
EcommerceBytes: You have a "Smart Shipping" product. How are sellers able to reduce their shipping processing time by over 50% and save money while doing it? How much can they save?
Greg Sisung: This is fairly simple - shipping is one of the biggest pain points a seller has. Our system allows them to quickly print their labels and manage their shipping workflow. Many of inkFrog's products focus specifically on automation of tasks.
EcommerceBytes: Is there a maximum number of listings inkFrog can handle per month, and if so, what is it?
Greg Sisung: We have no maximum; we have sellers with hundreds of thousands of listings.
EcommerceBytes: I see you offer four different pricing plans. There's not a big price difference between "Starter" and "Business"; is Business one of the most popular?
Greg Sisung: Our Business and Research plans are both very popular.
EcommerceBytes: Any plans to add new features?
Greg Sisung: Absolutely, we have many new products coming out soon - we actually have a brand new platform called "inkFrog Open" releasing very shortly. It's the first "new" platform to be released in the eBay space (that I know of) in many years. It was built from the ground up - taking into consideration the 15+ years of experience that myself and our team has in the space. It's going to be pretty incredible and I can't wait for sellers to start using it.
(See the AuctionBytes Blog for more information about the new platform. - J.W.)
EcommerceBytes: What kind of marketing do you do?
Greg Sisung: Most of our marketing is geared around customer referrals and partnerships.
EcommerceBytes: Anything else you'd like to add?
Greg Sisung: If eBay sellers out there are ready to be blown away by our brand new eBay seller platform, stay tuned for inkFrog Open! If there are any adventurous sellers who would like to try a very early release of it, sign up at open.inkfrog.com/signup/beta. Please note this is a very early release (and could be considered an alpha release) - so use it with that understanding.
About the author:
Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at YardSalers.net where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.
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