What are your sellers saying about eBay's transition from the old PowerSeller ranking system to the new Top-rated seller designation? Are high-volume sellers noticing any impact to sales?
—On the Fence in Ontario
Urbanowicz: While so far the response has been mixed, the majority of comments I've seen are negative. Since the new Top-rated seller (TRS) status was instituted in September, some Auctiva.com sellers have seen a drop in sales. High-caliber sellers who apparently had insufficient sales to qualify as a TRS reported losing page rank in Best Match search results. Other qualifying sellers who had the TRS badge saw their sales counts dip slightly or remain the same. Conversely, some sellers who didn't qualify actually realized an increase in average daily sales. The TRS change has been out for about a month; the next few months will provide a clearer picture as the holidays near.
I saw a survey in the Community Forums asking what kind of Auto-Purchase Rules users would like to see for Auctiva Shipping Insurance. Are there any early leaders?
—Curious in Coffs Harbour
Urbanowicz: The leading proposal has been to auto-insure items in specific categories. For example, you could automatically purchase insurance only for fragile items, like glassware or collectible figurines. Because of the additional 20 percent discount and easy-to-use settings, the auto-insurance rules have proven very popular with sellers. You can quickly define rules based on domestic/international destination and total transaction price. If you would like to tell us what other auto-insurance rules might help meet your business needs, there's still time to cast your vote.
I want to try expanding to an off-eBay store, but between running my eBay business and holding down my day job, I don't have time to learn all the technical gobbledygook. Does Auctiva Commerce have a "quick start" version?
—Impatient in Imperial
Our Implementation team has helped numerous Auctiva Commerce Stores get started on the right foot
Urbanowicz: Since you're already accustomed to running an eBay business, getting started with Auctiva Commerce should be a familiar transition. While you don't need to wade through technical jargon, you do need to configure typical e-commerce settings, like creating discounts and defining shipping options. During the setup process, there's plenty of online help documentation and video tutorials. Plus, we have a vibrant user community. To get a jump-start on creating your inventory, you can import listings directly from your listings in Auctiva.
If you'd like practical, hands-on assistance, our Auctiva Commerce Implementation team has helped numerous Auctiva Commerce Stores get started on the right foot—for a very reasonable price. For more information about our custom store assistance, please log into your Auctiva account and click here. Finally, there are no monthly store fees for Auctiva Commerce through March 2010. Read the full announcement here.
What does the transition from Google Base to Google Merchant Center mean for me? Is it any different? Why did Google need to switch it up?
—Perplexed in Paisley
Urbanowicz: Google's shift is a commitment to improve data management for products. Google Merchant Center is used for managing product data. Google Base is now only used for non-product data. As Google continues to enhance the Merchant Center, we are keeping in step with the changes. For example, we recently incorporated dimensional attributes in our Google feeds. This enhancement helps Auctiva Commerce merchants better define their products to prospective buyers.
For Auctiva Commerce Store merchants who used Google Base for Product listings, no additional work was required. Store merchants need only login to the Google Merchant Center with the Google account that was used for Google Base. All the data feeds, items and settings are still in place.
A lock of Elvis' hair recently sold at auction for $15,000. Who would you say are the top three celebrities whose hair I should try to acquire for profit?
—Resourceful in Reno
Urbanowicz: In order to remain professional and on-point to such a critical inquiry, I'd refer you back to two things: basic economics and your overall business strategy.
If you're seeking to target a niche market with only a very low hair supply, try to get a snippet from Peanuts' Charlie Brown. I expect Mr. Brown to be in the spotlight with his upcoming holiday TV specials. His single forelock will be highly prized. Conversely, if your strategy is to manage a MVHIB (Maximum Volume Hair Inventory Business) with a broad target market, then I'd recommend someone like Smurfette or Wilma Flintstone.
You can ask Auctiva management your own questions by e-mailing "AskAuctiva" at the Auctiva dot com domain. Not all questions will be answered, but those selected will be published with responses from Auctiva's top managers in future Ask Auctiva articles. Due to the volume of mail we receive, it will not be possible to reply to you personally.
Please do not submit inquiries requiring an immediate response. If you need a technical issue resolved right away, please use the online form to file a support request and your case will be addressed by our customer support team.
For additional insight from Auctiva, visit the Auctiva Blog and follow Auctiva on Twitter.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.