Ask Auctiva: Will Walmart Kill eBay?

Auctiva's Director of Engineering answers this and other questions from Auctiva customers.

by staff writer
- Sep 23, 2009

What impact do you think Wal-Mart's new marketplace will have on eBay and eBay merchants?

—Interested in Irving

Urbanowicz: When evaluating Wal-Mart Marketplace, I think eBay management and stockholders will anxiously click "Watch this Item." Wal-Mart is starting off with a relatively conservative inventory of about 1 million new items for the 2009 holiday season. However, the familiar approach of offloading fulfillment to merchants, coupled with Wal-Mart's existing market presence, will allow for rapid expansion in 2010. While the new marketplace will assumedly take noticeable market share in the coming months, the business model rivals that of Amazon more than eBay—at least out of the gate.

For now, I think Wal-Mart Marketplace helps highlight the appeal of eBay. First, the product inventory on is not as deep or wide as other online merchants. Admittedly, some sellers may find competition if they are selling new items like luggage, sports memorabilia or household goods.

eBay is still the premier destination to find unique, vintage, antique and hard-to-find items

Second, the majority of the merchandise—whether inside Wal-Mart's retail locations or online—is new. For this reason eBay sellers have a unique opportunity to offer highly-attractive deals on "like new" items. This will be especially appealing to shoppers on limited budgets.

Third, eBay is still the premier destination to find unique, vintage, antique and hard-to-find items.

Fourth, some buyers are disinterested in yet another—if not the quintessential—big-box retailer in the e-commerce space. They would rather buy things the good ol' fashioned way: with a handshake and a PayPal transaction.

I'm unclear on a few aspects of Auctiva Shipping Insurance. I have checked "Enable Auctiva Shipping Insurance" on my settings page. What happens differently if I select "Use one insurance policy for combined payments?" Also, I sometimes use FedEx or UPS for shipping, both of which automatically insure my packages for $100. When do I let you know I'm using one of these services, and don't want you to charge me for insurance?

—Puzzled in Palmdale

Urbanowicz: To answer the first part of your question, you must first select the "Enable Auctiva Shipping Insurance" checkbox to select if you want to use a single insurance policy for combined payments. If you do select this option, when a buyer purchases multiple items from you, only one "umbrella" policy will be purchased for all items. For example, if a buyer purchased three items from you (i.e., a cell phone, a cell phone case and a cell phone charger), all three items would be covered under one policy. This assumes they will all be sent in the same package.

To answer the second part of your question, the Auto-Purchase Rules section specifies whether the insurance will apply only for USPS or for all carriers. You can override these rules on both a listing-by-listing and profile-by-profile basis. For example, if you typically ship domestically using USPS, you could specify "Any Carrier." Then, in either a specific shipping profile or in an individual listing, you could override your default shipping insurance purchase policy. Similarly, you could select "Any Carrier" and enter $100 in the "Total transaction price" field. This configuration will ensure that insurance will not be purchased for items under $100. For additional details about how to make purchasing shipping insurance efficient and effective for your business needs, you can review this brief tutorial video.

When will Google Checkout be available for Auctiva Commerce Stores?

—Google-eyed in Geelong

Urbanowicz: I'm pleased to say that Google Checkout has been successfully tested with a limited number of users. During this beta test, we closely monitored operations for transactions in live stores. Based on the positive results, we plan to roll this feature out for all merchants by the end of September.

What have you sold on eBay lately?

—Curious in Campeche

Urbanowicz: I've sold a dozen items on eBay this past month, including cassette tapes from the early '90s, a curved shower rod, a Royal Albert figurine and my trumpet (this being the most difficult to part with). And, while a collection of 1977 NASA Engineering publications sold to a buyer in the U.K., a 1977 Inaugural Guide to Washington, D.C., for the Carter/Mondale Election didn't find a happy new home. (Neither of these, by the way, can be found in the Wal-Mart Marketplace).

Are you seeing any signs that the economy is turning around? What's your outlook for the coming holiday selling season?

—Hopeful in Haddington

eBay sellers have a tremendous opportunity to creatively meet the bargain-minded needs of holiday shoppers

Urbanowicz: Even when money is tight in a household, the Grinch can't steal Christmas. Gifts will still be exchanged in homes, between friends and throughout offices all over the globe. Because of this, eBay sellers have a tremendous opportunity to creatively meet the bargain-minded needs of holiday shoppers. For example, parents will be looking for "like new" toys for their children and budget-strapped office managers will be searching for "lots" of inexpensive gifts for employees.

Auctiva sellers can promote their inventory by blogging and offering BuyShield product warranties. Sellathon users can improve profitability by using their "behind the scenes" listing information to refine descriptions and titles. Auctiva Commerce merchants can ensure their inventory is current by having their data automatically submitted to Google Base. In short, the holiday selling season can be surprisingly profitable for sellers who are effective in tuning their inventory and marketing techniques to reach eager buyers.

What new features can we expect to see from Auctiva this year?

—Forward-looking in Fairfield

Urbanowicz: We're ensuring will continue to be compatible with eBay's changes to be released starting in late September. With that development wrapping up, we're looking to implement some of the features users have been requesting—such as improving blogs, adding new eBay templates for the holidays and improving the Create an eBay Listing page. In our Auctiva Feature Center, you can suggest an enhancement or vote on those that have already been entered. You can also look back to see what features have been recently completed to save you time and money.

Do you anticipate adding support for other sites, like Amazon, any time soon?

—Diversified in Digos

Urbanowicz: At this time we don't have any plans to support other sites. eBay executives and stockholders are keenly aware of the quarterly reports showing Amazon gaining market share. In response, eBay has been striving to improve both the buyer and seller experience. By focusing on improving services that make selling on eBay more efficient and cost-effective, we hope to contribute to the eBay "ecosystem" for both buyers and sellers.

When will you add a tool to enable bulk import of listings from a spreadsheet?

—Busy in Baltimore

Urbanowicz: This is a feature that has been on our radar for some time. However, the technical implementation has some significant challenges. We recently took a successful intermediate step in developing similar functionality for Auctiva Commerce. So, while it's still on the drawing board for consideration, no target release date is available.

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.

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.

For additional insight from Auctiva, visit the Auctiva Blog and follow Auctiva 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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