May 31, 2006, 12:00 AM

Life after eBay

(Page 3 of 3)

The latter is arguably the most important, because as eBay graduates know, without repeat customers there would be no life after eBay.

Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Ill.-based freelance business writer.

eBay’s fixed-priced site offers more to retailers who want to stay

With its launch in April of eBay Express, eBay Inc. took a big stride toward offering shoppers a more sophisticated online experience. EBay Express, a web site within the eBay marketplace, allows shoppers to find new items at fixed prices from qualified eBay merchants and buy them immediately. “EBay Express is for buyers who prefer a more conventional online shopping experience,” says Bill Cobb, president, eBay North America. “We think eBay Express will attract new buyers to eBay and inspire existing eBay buyers to use eBay even more.”

EBay is providing everything a retailer needs to sell on eBay-including a shopping cart, the first in eBay’s history, with a single order and payment interface so shoppers can check out from several merchants in one process. The site also has a new search engine that returns search results based on relevance and learns based on user selections. Users can also browse within categories.

For retailers who have been successful on eBay and are looking to spread their wings, eBay Express offers an incentive to stick around: It’s open only to eBay merchants with a history of selling successfully on eBay with a positive feedback score of 98% or better and total accumulated feedback of 100 points or more.

But it’s hard to say if eBay Express will entice any merchants to stay around longer than they might otherwise, observers says. “It’s true that this will be a hard experience for individual retailers to replicate,” says Michael Effle, executive vice president of sales management for Vendio Inc., which provides software for eBay sellers. “But retailers also need to turn initial contact and purchase into repeat business and that’s easier to do on their own where the web site and the marketing expenses are scalable.”

EBay Express could be a boon for eBay and eBay merchants, experts say. “EBay has 192 million registered users and 75 million of them are active,” notes Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., which also provides software for eBay sellers. “There’s definitely a big discrepancy-there are a lot of people who try eBay but less than half become active. We’re hopeful that eBay Express will help narrow that gap.”


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