Editor's note: This article was edited June 9, 2009, to reflect the most up-to-date information about Auctiva's new pricing structure.
Auctiva, a leading independent eBay developer, began sending out e-mails to its users at the end of May, letting them know the company will soon begin charging for some of its popular eBay-listing services starting in July.
"We did not come to this decision lightly," founder and CEO Jeff Schlicht writes in his address to customers.
"In order to remain free all these years, our business model included many different sources of revenue," Schlicht continues. "In addition to shipping insurance and our other pay services, like Sellathon.com, we also derived more than half of our income from eBay's affiliate program. However, eBay recently made changes to its affiliate program that greatly restricted, and ultimately eliminated, this critical revenue stream. As a result, we will have to begin charging for some of our services."
"This change will help us continue to support our site and add improvements in our quest to become the Web-based solution for those wanting to do e-commerce," adds Spencer Smith, Auctiva's director of marketing.
We're doing our best to give our customers all the information they need and enough time to evaluate it
Schlicht and Smith say they are very pleased to have been able to design a simple pricing model with a few choices to fit different sellers' needs.
Once the new policy change is reflected on the site during the first week in June, customers will have to choose from one of Auctiva's new plans, which include a $9.95/mo. Flat Rate Plan and a low-priced option for smaller sellers.
The paid plans include Auctiva’s free marketing tools, its 1,700-plus templates, premium tools and up to 1GB of free image hosting.
"It's important to us to make the transition as seamless as possible for users," Smith explains. "We're doing our best to give our customers all the information they need and enough time to evaluate it."
To provide customers both that information and time, the company began notifying its users before the changes were reflected on the site, or reported by the media. Auctiva has also set up a dedicated community forum discussion to aid communication with its users during the transition. Anticipated questions and answers are included in that forum thread as well.
Current customers will have until June 30 (about a month) to choose their pricing plan and place a credit card on for auto-payment or select PayPal autopay. Similarly, new users will have an unrestricted 30-day trial period from the day they sign up to evaluate Auctiva's tools and select the best plan for them.
We're committed to providing the tools to make it easier for our customers to sell online more efficiently and for greater profits, whether on or off eBay, or both
Those who don't specify a plan by the end of their 30-day trial period will be restricted from posting new listings to eBay, but will maintain access to Auctiva's suite of free tools, including Auctiva's Scrolling Gallery, a free Auctiva Store, auto marketing e-mails, data storage and access to Auctiva Education. These features come standard with all of Auctiva's listing plans.
All of the company's plans are month-to-month, and users can elect to switch plans whenever they like, as many times as they wish.
"We're committed to providing the tools to make it easier for our customers to sell online more efficiently and for greater profits, whether on or off eBay, or both," Schlicht states confidently. "Among all third-party listings services, Auctiva remains the best-poised to meet your current eBay selling needs, help you grow your business and facilitate your journey beyond eBay."
While this announcement may come as a major surprise to many, Auctiva stresses its focus is on providing true value to its customers, a principle the company's management says will only be strengthened by this new shift.
Users with questions about the new pricing are encouraged to read Auctiva's FAQs or contact customer support.
Other features of the June release include the company's decision to offer more detailed invoicing, an ever-expanding library of video tutorials and help content and a newly designed account dashboard that allows users easy viewing and modification of important account settings.
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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.