Ask the CEO: How Will You Drive Traffic to Auctiva Commerce Stores?

Jeff Schlicht answers this and other questions from Auctiva users.

by staff writer
- Jan 12, 2009

I see lots of questions about fees, but I'm more interested in what Auctiva will do to drive traffic to Auctiva Commerce stores. The great draw of eBay is the huge amount of traffic the site generates. Without buyer traffic (not just people using Auctiva to list), the fees are immaterial. What kind of SEO is included in Auctiva Commerce?

—Searching in Seattle

Schlicht: Auctiva Commerce has some very good SEO abilities out of the box. We automatically create page titles, meta tags and URLs that are search engine friendly. You can further customize some of these, if you're familiar with SEO. We also support various feed formats, including a Google Base feed to help drive traffic. We'll be doing Google AdWords, an affiliate program, partnerships and some other marketing to bring traffic. Of course the more of these things that cost money, the higher the fees we would need to charge, so we'll need to manage these to keep costs down for sellers.

You hit the nail on the head, though. Sellers pay eBay 12 percent-plus because eBay brings buyers, not because eBay has the best technology, the best or safest site for buyers, the easiest site to find items on or anything else. In the end, you pay eBay to bring you a buyer. We aren't a drop-in replacement for eBay. We plan to be your partner and help you do some of this—and help you retain the buyers you do get.

To make this truly successful you'll need to work equally hard to find and bring new buyers to your store. There already are some sellers in our forums with their own stores who do thousands of dollars a month in sales—so I know it can be done. What we're offering is a tool and some help with traffic, SEO, etc., so sellers can become less dependent on eBay and have more control over your own income, customers and destiny. I want to stress that it will not be a "set it and forget it" type of solution, as eBay offers. I believe you'll get out of this all the effort and more that you put in. The long-term benefits of building your own store will outweigh the initial effort in both savings and independence.

Will Auctiva Commerce have one universal Web site buyers can go to—rather than country-specific sites?

—Adrift in Adak

Schlicht: Initially, it will have a single portal in English and U.S. dollars. Longer term, I think it makes sense to offer country-specific versions so you can show the listings in buyers' native languages and currencies. We have some really cool code that translates listing descriptions on the fly using Google APIs and does a pretty good job. From there, you could choose to have the descriptions translated further and more accurately by native speakers of those languages for a fee charged by the translator.

One of the things we really need as sellers is the ability to bulk upload items and images at the same time. I've seen other questions about uploading from a spreadsheet. My supplier may give me 100 to 200 new styles at a time. It's very time consuming to have to upload the descriptions, etc., and then go back and attach the images separately. Do you plan to add this to the new Commerce version or even your standard interface?

—Overloaded in Overland

Schlicht: Probably not. We have a feature slated for Auctiva that lets you quickly get a lot of items started and images attached, but it wouldn't allow you to go as far as attaching a spreadsheet of descriptions or the finer details specific to each listing.

I sincerely want to thank you for this great program. I have used it for years—but I miss the old cash register ka-ching. Any chance you could bring that back?

—Ringing in Ridgecrest

Schlicht: Yes, we'll add it to our feature request list. Obviously it won't be a high priority, but eventually we'll have time to get to it.

What's your sense for how well Auctiva sellers are faring, as far as holiday sales?

—Concerned in Coatbridge

The good news so far is that we're having great January traffic, on par with other years

Schlicht: Our site traffic for August through the middle of November didn't build up as I've seen it do over the past 10 years. Things normally start picking up in early August, with back-to-school shopping, and really hit a high around the third week of November. Usually by then, traffic would be up about 50 percent above July traffic.

That didn't happen this year—for the first time in the 10 years I've been doing this. What I saw was a flat line all summer and through September and October. Around the middle of November, traffic spiked. It did reach the normal 50 percent rise versus July, but for a shorter length of time—and without the benefit of all the sales that would have occurred during that full three-month ramp-up.

The good news so far is that we're having great January traffic, on par with other years and almost reaching those November levels—which has been typical of the past 10 years as well. January usually is nearly as busy as November. Hopefully that will continue. I'm not sure if the uptick is because people found they had extra money to spend after being more conservative this holiday season, or if they're just optimistic that the economy is going to improve. Or maybe they're pre-spending some of that stimulus money that's expected to come under the new Obama administration.

Does Auctiva have plans to offer "classified ad" listings?

—Ad Man in Akron

Schlicht: No.

Will Auctiva Commerce enable checkout in both U.S. dollars and Canadian dollars with taxes? We have a lot of return customers and need a base for buyers to directly purchase from our company.

—Taxed in Toronto

Schlicht: At the initial launch, all transactions will be in U.S. dollars. Buyers will be able to select any number of currencies you wish to show them, so prices will be displayed in that currency. But the actual processing is in dollars.

I'm sort of new to Auctiva. I have an eBay Store and just started working on a ProStore site. Would the inventory feature work on both sites simultaneously (since the same products will be on both sites)?

—Dual Lister in Del Rio

Schlicht: No. We have no interface to the inventory system on ProStores.

Can Auctiva offer any capability for mobile phones? It would be great if I could schedule and post listings through Auctiva from my handheld.

—Phoning it In in Philadelphia

When we consider the amount of man-hours it would take to build a feature, the one that offers the most value to the widest base of users wins out

Schlicht: We've talked about it, but it doesn't seem like something most users would need for a while. The cost to build it would be greater than the benefit would be to the small group that would use it. When we consider the amount of man-hours it would take to build a feature, the one that offers the most value to the widest base of users wins out.

We've got a developer here that's built and sold an iPhone application in the iPhone app store, so it has been on our minds. This is one of those things where, as more people get iPhones or the new Google Android phones, we'll re-evaluate the idea. Right now we probably have only a few people—even within this technology-based company—that have phones on which it would be practical to do this. I think as the cost of the phones comes down and they become more prevalent, it could be something worth doing.

Can I add a clip from YouTube to post on my auctions? I sell old collectible advertising signs and some of them are motion designs. I thought if they could actually see the movement, it would increase my sales.

—Future Filmmaker in Fremantle

Schlicht: Yes, eBay allows this. Our Education tab has several good articles about using video to enhance your listings. Just enter "YouTube" in the search field in the top right corner of the page.

I also found an explanation of how to embed video in a listing when I typed this search into Google: "how to put a youtube video on ebay."

There are several more answers in the Google results besides that one. We have a source window in the Auctiva listing page as well, so just follow the instructions, but do it in our HTML source page instead of the eBay lister page.

You can ask Jeff your own questions by e-mailing him at "AsktheCEO" at the 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.

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.

To get more insights from Jeff about Auctiva, eBay and the business of selling online, follow him on Twitter.

About the Author

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.

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