August 13, 2008, 12:00 AM

Alibris beefs up services and benefits for buyers and sellers

Alibris has made several changes designed to ramp up business for its book, CD and DVD web marketplace. It has reduced fees, made it easier for e-retailers to plug into Alibris’ marketplace and enabled sellers to create their own stores on its sites.

Bill Briggs

Senior Editor

Web-only retailer Alibris Inc. has made a several changes designed to ramp up business for its book, CD and DVD web marketplace.

The company has reduced its fees, made it easier for e-retailers to plug in to Alibris’ marketplace and enabled sellers to create their own stores on its sites.

Commissions on all items now are capped at $60 including credit card fees, Alibris president and CEO Brian Elliott tells Internet Retailer. While Alibris’ standard commission was 15% for each sale, Elliott says in the case of rare or collectable items that often sell for $1,000 or more, sellers were paying more than $100 in commissions. The change makes the marketplace more attractive for such collectable sellers. Additionally, sellers also now can upload photos of items and buyers can contact sellers directly with questions about products

“As a privately owned business itself, Alibris is committed to helping independent sellers grow their own businesses,” Elliott says. “We’ve driven sales growth of more than 25% to our sellers this year. In a tough economic climate, we are bolstering impressive sales numbers by delivering superior value to sellers through new services, new business partners, and lower fees.”

Alibris, No. 112 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also added technology that makes it easier for larger e-retailers to add Alibris’ marketplace to their own web sites so their customers can find rare or unique items those sites might not offer. Called Alibris Integration Services, the XML-based application programming interface, or API, is already used by UK-based online book retailer Blackwell. Merchants pay an undisclosed fee for the service which is split between Alibris and the seller, Elliott says.

“Partners like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Borders, Chapters/Indigo in Canada, and others have always been an important part of our business,” says Liz Derr, chief operating officer at Alibris. “Our new integration services allow us to help our sellers to dramatically extend their reach to retailers.”

Another change enables sellers to create their own stores within Alibris’ UK and U.S. web sites. The storefronts help shoppers find more items from each independent seller so that they can save on shipping and handling. Before, a user might purchase three separate items from three different sellers and pay shipping fees for each order, Elliott says. The storefronts make it easier for shoppers to search a seller’s entire inventory to see if it offers everything they are looking for. That way, Elliott says, a consumer only pays for shipping once.

“Alibris seller storefronts are part of an ongoing evolution this year at Alibris,” Elliott says. “We are very focused on improved services that make our marketplace experience better and allow sellers to connect directly with buyers more regularly.”

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