There hasn't been much news about your Auctiva Commerce site lately. Why is that?
—Concerned in Calle Blancos
Urbanowicz: Fortunately, a lack of news doesn't reflect a lack of development activity. The Auctiva Commerce team has been heads-down on three major projects recently: product search, product feeds to the Google Merchant Center and storefront customization.
First, the product search feature has been optimized to improve the logic used for buyers' searches. This has already helped buyers find sellers' products. Second, the user interface for merchants submitting products to the Google Merchant Center has been simplified. Finally, the team has been in a large project to give merchants more ability to customize their storefronts. When complete, merchants will have increased flexibility to modify their storefront either themselves or with the help of a third-party designer. More detailed news will be available in the weeks to come.
What really goes on at eBay's Developers Conference? Is Auctiva nominated for any of the awards?
—Wondering in Winston-Salem
Urbanowicz: Auctiva has been active at eBay's Developer Conference for many years. The conference brings together technical leads from eBay and third-party developers. Some of the conference sessions are educational for newer developers or to highlight new eBay developer features. Other events showcase developers' use of technology and eBay features. Some invitational meetings allow third parties like Auctiva to give feedback to eBay's development team and decision makers.
Because Auctiva is heavily involved in the developer community throughout the year, this is a great opportunity for us to reconnect, make new acquaintances and influence decisions with eBay's development team.
As for awards, a few weeks ago, I spent two days with our outstanding team. While there are user complaints and concerns, there are also many compliments and encouraging remarks. So, while eBay might distribute awards like "DSR Rockstar" and "Early Adopter," I'm hoping Auctiva will warrant a "Lifetime Achievement" award from our users. Truly, a customer's continued satisfaction is our greatest trophy.
ComScore says eBay's site traffic is decreasing, while Amazon's continues to grow. Does your data reflect this decline?
—Reckoning in Renton
Urbanowicz: Amazon's powerful growth in the e-commerce space hasn't impacted the volume of listings being posted to eBay. In our main office, we have a graph that shows the number of listings our users have posted to eBay each month throughout our history. It looks a little like a historical performance graph of the U.S. stock market. So while we've seen peaks and valleys due to factors like the economic climate, eBay changes, or business decisions, the clear trend is healthy growth.
What's your opinion about the E.U.'s new rules that let luxury-brand manufacturers decide who can and can't sell their goods online?
—Nonplussed in Newbury
Urbanowicz: First, by way of background, this battle has been waging for years in one form or another. In the latest skirmish to prevent product devaluation, the European Commission ruled that suppliers can require distributors to have a brick-and-mortar store before selling online. I can appreciate the goal of manufacturers seeking to preserve their retail locations (with the inherent overhead) by deterring online competitors who were "free riding" on their marketing efforts. Nevertheless, I'm in good company when I agree with e-commerce pundits from eBay and Amazon: The new requirement will hinder, not help, a sector of online commerce.
If there is a consumer demand for legitimate luxury items for a better value, distributors should be able to meet that supply. However, in the reality of a free market economy, government agencies intervene with raw supply and demand—be it for a bushel of corn or a gold wristwatch. So while this ruling may have some effect for a time, it's unlikely to restrain the swift current of online commerce changes. Marketplaces have been changing in Europe for centuries. There is no more medieval weekly market for cobblers, apothecaries and jewelers. The Internet has brought about yet one more change.
I like your "Auctiva 101" Webinars. Are you planning to do something similar for Auctiva Commerce?
—Hopeful in Huntington Beach
Urbanowicz: We've discussed offering Webinars for Auctiva Commerce, and we may do this in the future. We'd format it slightly differently than our "Auctiva 101" Webinars. For the present, the Auctiva Commerce community is very active with helpful members. Moreover, our dedicated Customer Support team addresses unique questions for merchants not addressed in documentation. As an inexpensive kick-start, some merchants have found our Implementation Specialists to be very helpful. It's good to hear that there's additional interest.
How is Auctiva celebrating Earth Day?
—Green in Grand Rapids
Urbanowicz: Auctiva's headquarters is located in Chico, CA.—a beautiful city with many trees, creeks, bike paths, a bus system and hiking. Our office is located downtown, and many Auctiva employees make their "commute" via bicycle, skateboard, walking or carpooling. In this type of environment, observing Earth Day is more a lifestyle than an event. Yet, for both our Chico and San Jose offices, we're having an office-wide contest for employees implementing practical changes. We'll also enjoy a celebration lunch.
Rumor has it Jeff Schlicht still has some pieces of coal from the Titanic. When will he put them up on eBay?
—Waiting in Wellington
Urbanowicz: Uh oh. At the last company picnic I thought those were extra briquettes for the barbeque…
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.
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