Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the latest information about signing up for Auctiva Commerce.
From everything I've read, Auctiva Commerce was supposed to be available on Jan. 20, but I don't see a way to sign up on the Web site. Can you provide more details about how to join?
Anxious in Ann Arbor
Schlicht: Auctiva Commerce is now open for anyone to sign up and we're offering a 30-day free trial. You can sign up either from the Auctiva Commerce site, or from your Auctiva.com account.
Either way, you'll need to have an Auctiva account to manage the monthly store and sales fees for your Auctiva Commerce store. As a bonus, you'll have access to Auctiva's free eBay tools, such as the Scrolling Gallery, Auctiva Education, basic eBay sales reports and automated e-mails. You won't be charged for Auctiva's eBay tools unless you specifically choose one of our flat-rate payment plans.
I have been using Auctiva for a few years, but lately I'm having trouble using my listing feeds generated by eBay for my GoogleBase account. I think it's because my listings are all with Auctiva. GoogleBase has been unable to read the descriptions. Do you have a solution for this?
Stumped in Stafford
Schlicht: No. This is something eBay would need to fix, but I don't believe it has anything to do with using Auctiva. Google has implemented some new rules that require a feed to be of the same URL as the site URL. This is not the way eBay has done it in the past.
Did you know that AuctivaCommerce.com storefronts support GoogleBase feeds? The benefit here is that you would pay 1.5 percent in fees vs. 12 percent on eBay.
Does Auctiva Commerce have categories for vintage jewelry, collectibles, etc.? And is it strictly a fixed-price format or will it support auction-style listings?
Inquiring in Ipswich
Schlicht: You can create any category structure you like since it's your own store. We only support fixed-price listings right now, but we've been taking suggestions from customers to add auction-style listings.
I've earned money offering my customers insurance through Auctiva. How do I go about claiming the money I've earned?
Standing By in St. Petersburg
Schlicht: It shows up in your PayPal account when your buyer pays. For example, a buyer pays you $5 for insurance; we bill you for about $4. Since the buyer paid you $5 and you paid us $4, you already have that $1 sitting in your PayPal account.
I noticed you've added a bunch more retailers to your KickItBack.com program. Are you going to add others? And how about offering buying tools like your desktop widget for these other retailers?
Eager in El Monte
Schlicht: Yes, we'll be adding more. We have around 90 and already have approval from dozens more. We'll add those very soon. We don't have any plans to update the widget, but that's a good idea now that we support so many more retailers.
I own two domains with the same name. One is a .com and the other a .net. I would like to have the .com point to my eBay Store. Is it OK to have the .net point to my Auctiva Commerce Store? Can I use the same store name for Auctiva Commerce that I use on my eBay Store?
Versatile in Vallejo
Schlicht: Sure, you can use the same name and use the .net version for your Auctiva Commerce Store. If you bought the domain names through Auctiva, we'll be adding the user interface to let you do exactly that in our next update in mid-February. You just need to go into the system and tell it to point the .com to eBay and the .net to Auctiva Commercealthough you may want to think about switching those. It would make more sense to direct the majority of your buyers to the site on which you pay the least in fees. Since Auctiva Commerce is around 1.5 percent and eBay is around 12 percent, I'd consider making Auctiva Commerce your .com and eBay the .net.
I was listening to eBay radio recently and heard Brian Burke (eBay Director of Seller Standards & Policy) mention third-party shipping insurance companies. There were only two companies that he recommended, and one of them was UPIC. Isn't that the company Auctiva Insurance is through? I sure feel better buying shipping insurance that has a proven track record (and saves me money).
Assured in Atlanta
Schlicht: Yes, UPIC is the company we use. UPIC has been providing shipping insurance for a very long time. I'm pretty sure I can't mention any names, but I know some large department stores use it for their mail order shipments. We've been using UPIC for more than five years and have been very happy with the customer service when filing claims, and the overall business. It is the leader in its field, and we're glad to be a partner. A lot of people approach me wanting us to recommend their product or service, and there are very few I feel comfortable doing that for. UPIC is one I highly recommend.
I always do some research on the items I'm getting ready to list on eBay (average selling price, category, etc.). Are there any plans for Auctiva to add a research feature along the lines of TeraPeak?
Studious in Sterling Heights
Schlicht: No. Those companies do their jobs very well. We've talked to TeraPeak and others about partnering and integrating their features into our site. That's the angle I'd likely take, vs. trying to create our own.
It seems pretty clear that eBay isn't a huge fan of auction sniping. As a seller, do you think sniping hurts or helps my bottom line?
Wily in Winnipeg
Schlicht: I'm a bit biased, but I think it helps. My belief is that people who snipe would not otherwise waste their time buying if they couldn't snipe. Part of the magic of eBayand the fun of winning an auctioncomes in knowing you have to wait until the auction ends to see if you've won, and the battles that come in those final seconds. When a buyer snipes and wins at less than their maximum bid, they feel like they've gotten a good deal.
How does having an Auctiva Store really help eBay sellers get more business? Does it work better if you buy a custom domain?
Curious in Clarence
Schlicht: It doesn't help much to have an Auctiva Store unless you're doing a little bit to promote it. Include the URL in your e-mails to buyers, use your e-mail address with your custom domain so buyers see firstname.lastname@example.org in your communications, etc. Doing things like blogging increases the chances that Google and other search engines will lead buyers to your site.
Are you planning on creating any seller tool widgets on your auctivagadget.com site?
Gadget Guy in Green Bay
Schlicht: Yes, however, they'll likely be for sellers using Auctiva Commerce to help sellers bring buyers to their own store.
I heard Auctiva is just a one-man operation working out of a garage. Is that true?
Ponderer in Portland
Schlicht: No. We have around 80 full-time employees. I didn't even have a garage when I started Auctiva in 1998 out of my apartment near San Francisco.
Do you review the Auctiva Feature Center comments? How do you really determine what Auctiva features to develop?
Quizzical in Quebec
Schlicht: Yes I do. Each feature can be voted up or down by Auctiva users. The comments with the most requests get priority, but I also use a little bit of my own common sense and knowledge of eBay and selling online to figure out which would give sellers the most bang for the buck in our development time. A simple feature that would be easy to add but only half as useful as a major feature that would require a ton of time to develop would get priority, as it could be done quickly and many would benefiteven though the overall benefit may not be as great to each individual seller.
We also have a product manager and support manager who monitor feedback from customers to help us determine the priority of new features. Unfortunately, eBay is always making changes, and I'd say that at least halfmaybe even two-thirdsof our development time goes into just keeping current with all the Mickey Mouse changes they have going on. It would be nice if they took a year off from any changes and gave us and sellers a chance to settle in and really build up around the current site. It's hard to focus on increasing sales when there are constant changes that require all our spare time to address.
Are you going to have blog pages with Auctiva Commerce like you do with the current Auctiva Stores? I like the idea of generating traffic for my store with this kind of content.
Blogger in Bridgeport
Schlicht: That's a good idea. However, we have a lot of higher priority things left to do. Hopefully we can get around to this within the next year.
You can ask Jeff your own questions by e-mailing him at "AsktheCEO" at the Auctiva.com domain. Not all questions will be answered, but those selected will be published with Jeff's responses in future Ask the CEO articles. Due to the volume of mail we receive, Jeff will not be able to reply to you personally.
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