AuctionWatch Looks to EBay Deal for a Boost

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AuctionWatch -- which provides software solutions that allow businesses to sell merchandise on e-marketplaces -- expects an increase in the number of auctions as well as in auction dollar volume following its announcement yesterday of an agreement with eBay.


AuctionWatch, which will become an eBay Preferred Provider, also announced its enrollment in eBay's Application Program Interface and Developer's Program.


"The program is of huge value to us," said Larry Jordan, vice president of marketing at AuctionWatch, San Bruno, CA. "It's basically eBay validating our status as a valuable service for large businesses capitalizing on this channel."


Jordan would not reveal specific dollar figures when asked about projections that may be realized as a result of the agreement. However, he said his firm had more than $500 million in merchandise transactions last year and is launching more than 2 million auctions per month on the eBay platform.


"This is a new channel for many," said Jordan, whose firm also supports Yahoo and Amazon. "We are in the early phases of providing services to larger businesses. We deal a lot with manufacturers, retailers and liquidators. They're selling everything from high-end electronics to manufacturing equipment to personal data devices such as PCs and Palm Pilots."


AuctionWatch touts services and solutions designed "to provide businesses with a seamless process to connect into eBay's trading site." The company also announced the availability of its Business Solutions program, which includes automated and scalable plans as well as customized solutions to manage the selling cycle and fulfillment process.


The Business Solutions suite includes four levels: QuickStart Solution; Small Office/Home Office Solution; Sales Manager -- Business Edition; and Enterprise Solution.


Along with volume, several issues go into determining the appropriate level of service. These include inventory management; whether a company is selling items in other venues; and the complexity of a firm's fulfillment tools, such as handling payment and shipping.


"It's based on the amount of work required," he said.


The Enterprise Solution works for sales volumes of thousands of items per week.


Sales Manager -- Business Edition is a client tool that is downloaded and used to import and export data. It has its own secure credit card processing system and an offline inventory management solution.


"These are people selling hundreds of items per week," he said. "It connects to our online launching tools."


Two services are provided within the Small Office/Home Office Solution: Sales Manager and Sales Manager Pro.


"Both are offered on our Web site," he said. "Sales Manager Pro allows the seller to save time by launching auction listings in bulk. This includes a wide range, going from someone selling in the single digits per week to a couple of hundred items per week.


"With the QuickStart pilot program, we will take some of their products, sell them on the eBay platform and demonstrate this as a viable program for them."


AuctionWatch also provides merchants with information intended to help them market, price and brand their items.


"They need to know what is selling, what they're selling for and what the effective supply and demand is," he said. "We [also] have an expertise in knowing what sellers need to do -- what types of things they need to talk about and what type of information they need to provide."


Jordan also discussed the importance of using auction data for future marketing purposes.


"For someone to understand the marketplace, they need to do their past performance to know how many items they can sell and at what price," he said. "And one of the strengths of this channel is testing. You can experiment with different approaches to marketing products. Customers respond to this, and they respond in a rapid manner."


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