EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2554 - May 31, 2011     1 of 2

New Toy Marketplace to Rival eBay

By Greg Holden

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Toy collectors are currently being invited to upload items for sale to a sophisticated and data-rich marketplace that is scheduled to open June 29. When it opens to buyers, the Toy Collector marketplace will primarily focus on buying and selling items in two of the most popular brands, Dinky and Corgi. The site's developer, Christian Braun, estimates that as many as 5,000 Dinky, Corgi, and other items will be up for sale on the opening date. Every few weeks, Toy Collector will add more brands for sale.

Toy Collector is intended to provide toy enthusiasts with significant searching, buying, and selling improvements over eBay, according to Braun. Since opening in 2008, the site has accumulated more than 25,000 toy-related articles and more than 150,000 images. The site's Wikipedia-style database of toy information, ToyPedia, contains 134,000 pages of listings. Sellers can use the stock photos and listings already contained in ToyPedia to populate their own sales descriptions in as little as 14 seconds, or add their own information to the database.

Toy Collector's developers describe the marketplace as no less than a rival for eBay, with a "significantly larger and higher-quality inventory than eBay" in the Dinky and Corgi categories.

Braun and his fellow developers started Toy Collector out of frustration with aspects of eBay's treatment of the collectible toy and model market, and those who buy and sell within it. Braun explains that he himself began selling toy soldiers when he was a boy.

"When I had an eBay business, I had a number of issues involving VeRO," he comments, referring to eBay's VeRO system for protecting copyright holders' rights to products sold on the site. "It was killing our business. At one time we had 125 employees and two warehouses. In 2007 we did 10 million British pounds' worth of sales on eBay. With Vero, suddenly you were closed down and all your stock was closed down. All our clients got an email saying we were not a registered user any more. That happened four times. I knew there was no way we could operate on that basis."

The Toy Collector platform is specifically tailored to the collectibles market, with features designed to make buying and selling easier than on eBay or other marketplaces. Sellers can find their own items in the ToyPedia database and click a "Sell" button that pre-populates the item listing with basic information. Drop-down menus are available to describe the condition of the item but an accompanying box or card if it is available. Sellers can upload up to 10 images for free.

No listing fees are charged, and items can be sold on either a Buy-It-Now or auction basis. Final value fees of 8 percent are charged to sellers. At auctions, a buyers' premium of 8 percent is also charged to the purchaser.

In an effort to save sellers fees charged by PayPal, Toy Collector will operate its own payment system using the payment service.

When shopping for items, buyers can configure the site to automatically display item price in their choice of Australian dollars, British Pounds Sterling, Canadian Dollars, Euros, New Zealand Dollars or U.S. Dollars. The amount shown will include the currency conversion fee.

Toy Collector's marketplace will include a dispute resolution system for buyers and sellers. Buyers will have a set time span to indicate if they are unhappy with an item, and refunds will be made only when a returned item has been indicated as received by the seller. Both buyers and sellers will be able to leave positive, neutral or negative feedback.

Toys were among the first things bought and sold on the Internet, and they remain a hot product that attracts 15 to 18 million devoted collectors worldwide. As Braun points out, some rare variations of HotWheels toy cars can fetch as much as $150,000.

To promote social networking between avid toy collectors, the site will enable each seller to contribute to a blog. Braun foresees future social media outlets on the site including syndicated blogs, galleries, competitions, and reviews. "Collectors love knowledge," he says. "Toy Collector is an environment where people can spend their purchasing power on toys, but they can also communicate. It's much more effective when they do."

Although Braun and the site are based in the UK, he says he expects most of the business to be from the U.S. because of the number of toy enthusiasts there.

Braun himself was born in Germany but now lives in the UK with his wife and two children, ages 2 and 4. His daughter, not his son, is the one showing interest in toys, he says, but not model cars. "Funnily enough, she is into trains only."

About the author:

Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.

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