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#2.08: The “Better Online Marketplaces” Issue

1 > Make it easy to list an item
2 > Own your niche
3 > Reverse the auction to pick your next supplier
4 > You’ve got to see this: eBay for businesses

1 > Make it easy to list an item

The successful and appealing online marketplace is the one that makes it effortless to list the items you want to sell. By pre-creating a database of inventory, a seller can list a bunch of items within minutes of logging on. Half.com, a marketplace that sells a person’s unwanted CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, books, computers, game systems, and more, pre-loaded every conceivable product into a database. A seller can log in, type in a book’s ISBN or a CD’s UPC, confirm the item from the pre-existing listing, set the price, and wait for a buyer. The site also allows the seller to enter multiple listings on one screen for quick bulk uploads.

The lesson: Remove the obstacles to getting new customers. Look for ways to make it easier to dobusiness with you. Half.com pre-populates the inventory database with every possible product that will be bought and sold within the community.

More info:
http://www.half.com/help/sell.cfm

2 > Own your niche

If you own a niche, you can beat generalist marketplace behemoths like Amazon or eBay. Carve out a niche and strive for deep penetration into one market to obtain a critical mass of buyers and sellers. Wizard World, a collectors’ community, has accomplished this. The site, which set in motion its loyal following as a comic book bazaar, added other collectibles like sports cards, action figures, and Beanie Babies. By concentrating on a single niche — collectibles — this marketplace is the destination site for collectors and dealers. Evidence of this is very clear by typing “Superman comic book” into the search engines of eBay and Wizard World — eBay touts 71 results while Wizard World has 6000+.

The lesson: Don’t be all things to all people. Pick a niche, specialize in it, and penetrate it. By doing so, you will be the de facto community, even when there’s a dominant competitor.

More info:
http://www.wizardworld.com

3 > Reverse the auction to pick your next supplier

Run an auction on your site where suppliers bid for your business. New suppliers undoubtedly court you all the time. Why not save time and cut your costs by setting up reverse auction technology on your site where the suppliers place bids on winning your next contract. This is likely to attract a high caliber of competitive suppliers, qualified bids, and, most importantly, competitive pricing. For example, The Royal Bank of Scotland tapped FreeMarkets, an auction technology provider, to set up an online bidding event for their promotional items; six suppliers competitively bid to handle all of the bank’s promotional giveaways, resulting in savings of more than 15%.

The lesson: By taking an everyday practice of evaluating vendors, switch it up by making them bid for your business. They know the competition is there, so it tends to keep things in your favor.

More info:
http://www.freemarkets.com/benefits/case_studies/royal_bank_scotland.asp

4 > You’ve got to see this: eBay for businesses

By typing in “ebay software” into a Yahoo! search, you’ll find an abundance of tools used to help businesses manage their eBay auctions. Created by a community of developers, the software tools easily plug into the eBay auction platform to enable the easy management of bulk selling.

More info:
http://www.yahoo.com

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