9/09/13

eBay buys Decide Inc. to help sellers set competitive retail prices

Sellers on eBay will be better able to adjust their prices on the fly.

Paul Demery , Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Decide Inc., which provides online shoppers with services like projected and guaranteed retail prices, along with ratings of products and sellers, is now part of eBay Inc., the e-marketplace announced on Friday. EBay, which did not say what it paid for the company, says Decide’s technology and staff will help its millions of sellers better compete with dynamic pricing tied to customer demand.

EBay will use Decide to “build an improved pricing tool that helps sellers better price their merchandise and sell items faster,” it says.

The announcement elicited positive comments from both analysts and eBay sellers, who say the technology will allow them to dynamically re-price their items on the e-marketplace. With dynamic re-pricing software, a seller sets business rules to automatically raise or lower the price on a given product or category of products based on such factors as the prices charged by its competitors and how well products are selling.  For example, a seller might set its prices to automatically adjust to the lowest price offered by its competitors on the same product, but it may also set a rule to keep its prices higher if it’s meeting a targeted minimum number of daily sales. 

“I see the purchase of Decide as being a positive for eBay sellers, and am particularly hopeful about eBay’s statements regarding using the technology to offer a dynamic re-pricing option for sellers,” says Kat Simpson, who sells on both eBay.com and Amazon.com and provides consulting services to other sellers. “If sellers get access to better data about their buyers, it can only improve our bottom line.” Simpson adds that she expects the data from Decide’s technology and analytical staff will be more reliable than what is currently available to eBay sellers.

Colin Sebastian, a stock analyst at R.W. Baird Equity Research, agrees that Decide will help eBay improve its data services for sellers’ re-pricing strategies. “I see the acquisition as part of eBay’s ongoing efforts to improve their use of data, upgrade the technology and engineering teams and provide more tools to sellers to select and price inventory,” he says.

EBay says it will retain nearly the entire staff of Decide, including co-founder and CEO Mike Fridgen and 26 staff members, among them software engineers and data mining experts. One Decide veteran not joining eBay is co-founder and chief technology officer Oren Etzioni, who is leaving Decide to become executive director of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Decide says it will cease operating its consumer-facing, subscription-based web site, Decide.com, on Sept. 30. The site will continue predicting price levels on featured products and honoring all existing price guarantees until that date. It stopped offering to guarantee new prices on future purchases starting on Sept. 6.

Seattle-based Decide, which launched in June 2011, says it has since raised $17 million in venture capital from Madrona Venture Group, Maveron, Vulcan Capital and angel investors.

For eBay, the acquisition of Decide follows several other technology deals in the past couple of years, including the Svpply.com product recommendation service, the social media-based recommendation technology provider Hunch.com, the mobile shopping tool RedLaser and an application for local shopping deals, Milo. For more on eBay’s technology strategy, click here

Topics:

acquisition, Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Colin Sebastian, Decide Inc., e-commerce, eBay, Hunch.com, Kat Simpson, Madrona Venture Group, marketing technology, Maveron, Mike Fridgen, Oren Etzioni, pricing technology, R.W. Baird Equity Research, re-pricing technology, RedLaser, Svpply.com, Vulcan Capital

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