Auctiva today officially launches the Auctiva Marketplace Platform (AMP), a technology framework aimed at spurring broad development of custom online marketplaces and other novel ways for people to shop online.
AMP is being opened to outside developers through a portal called poweredbyamp. This open development approach will give people freedom to innovate, and for the first time enable multiple buyer-driven marketplaces to form around a community of independent merchants, says Auctiva Founder and CEO Jeff Schlicht.
"AMP allows developers to create whatever it is that excites them for e-commerce," Schlicht says. "By releasing AMP, we hope to open a new range of possibilities and reinvigorate innovation in the e-commerce space."
A founding principle of Auctiva is its commitment to support independent sellers. Last year's introduction of Auctiva Commerce gave sellers the tools they need to build their own online stores and market their brands on their own terms. Auctiva is launching the platform to help independent merchants attract buyer traffic as a collective, rather than as individuals.
One platform, many marketplaces
As an example of what can be developed using AMP, Auctiva has released Elefy, a simple, search-driven shopping site that showcases all the inventory that's available on AMP.
"The Elefy.com shopping portal is an exciting development, as it's a new vehicle that may be used to generate traffic and sales for Auctiva Commerce merchants," says Chris Eckland, Auctiva Commerce product lead. "While it will take some time for Elefy to build a significant customer base, any incremental exposure for our Auctiva Commerce merchants is a positive development and is definitely welcomed."
Elefy is in beta release, and Auctiva plans to introduce additional projects built on AMP in the coming months.
The concept of online marketplaces is not new, but even today only a handful exist. With AMP, Auctiva hopes to breathe new life into e-commerce development. AMP is able to simultaneously power multiple Web sites, marketplaces, mobile applications, social media and more. It's the cumulative effect of all these possibilities that Auctiva believes can provide merchants significant increases in buyer traffic.
What it means
In an interview with Auctiva EDU, Auctiva Platform Manager Alan Lewis discusses AMP and what it means to online sellers, such as users of Auctiva's selling tools.
EDU: What does the term "platform" mean?
Lewis: Platform, in our industry, refers to something others can build products on top of. A product is something that's a complete entity. Our platform is designed to allow developers to create their own products—in this case, online marketplaces—that sit on top of the AMP platform.
EDU: How would you describe a "marketplace?"
Lewis: We think it means, broadly, a venue where multiple sellers are offering products, as compared to an online store, where it's only a single seller offering products.
EDU: What will people see when they come to a marketplace built on top of AMP?
Lewis: We hope developers will create all sorts of different marketplaces built around different products, for example, cycle sports or vintage clothing. They may even be built around certain seller communities, say, veterans or craftsmen.
EDU: Is AMP intended for niche marketplaces?
Lewis: We see a lot of opportunity in niche marketplaces, so that is our primary focus.
The point is to give people the ability to create whatever type of marketplace they want to create. Those that create a good user experience—that is, a marketplace that's well thought out and has a good user interface—are the ones that will attract a lot of buyers and ultimately lead to good sales.
EDU: Can you explain what Elefy is and what it means for Auctiva Commerce customers?
Lewis: Elefy is the first marketplace of many created using AMP technology. It's currently in beta, during which time we're relying on customer feedback to help us improve the interface and shape the site's direction. We expect it will be coming out of beta sometime later this year.
Elefy was developed by Auctiva to be a single place where sellers can see their items, and where we can provide a simple shopping experience for all the inventory that's available on AMP.
EDU: Where will AMP inventory come from?
Lewis: AMP includes inventory from multiple inventory providers, initially Auctiva Commerce and BuyItSellIt merchants who have opted to feed their products into the AMP platform. We're in discussions with other inventory providers as well.
Our key criterion is they must cater to the same sort of sellers we do: independent e-commerce sellers. That rules out bringing in inventory from a big-box store.
EDU: What sort of changes do you expect to Elefy before it's officially launched?
Lewis: One of the things we're working on is centrally locating checkout on AMP. Right now, checkout happens on an individual seller's store. We think buyers would be more attracted to AMP marketplaces if they could put items from multiple sellers' stores into a single shopping cart and checkout in one place. Of course, they would still be able to go directly to an individual sellers' store.
EDU: What other AMP projects are in the works?
Lewis: One thing we've already built is a seller widget, which was introduced in the latest Auctiva Commerce release. Its purpose is along the same lines as Auctiva's popular Scrolling Gallery for eBay listings. It allows sellers to display their store items on any other Web site where they can paste the widget code, whether it's a blog, a personal Web site or their Facebook page.
This is something we think will bring value to our sellers, and that was only made possible by AMP. By making AMP technology available to outside developers, we see the possibility of people creating things we wouldn't have thought of that will end up benefiting sellers.
EDU: If I'm a developer, why should I develop on AMP?
Lewis: Developers who want to build marketplaces have to understand, there's no point in having a fee system if there are no sales. They need to be building for the future and focus on growth, like we are.
In the meantime, we will work with selected developers to give them the financial incentives they need to build their marketplaces.
EDU: What sort of initiatives are you working on to bring traffic to AMP marketplaces?
Lewis: Our focus is on enabling developers to build the kind of marketplaces that create sticky, compelling user interfaces. Finding buyers is always going to be a challenge. We will have tools in the future to help developers understand where the traffic is coming from. Ultimately, it's up to developers to create a marketplace that attracts buyers.