PostNet Expands eBay Service to 31 Locations

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PostNet International Franchise Corp. expands its TradingPost for eBay service to 31 retail locations later this month as it further embraces the drop-off concept for online sellers.


The Henderson, NV, company will open 20 TradingPost for eBay locations nationwide in addition to the 11 started since March. The stores let sellers drop off items, with PostNet handling every process from storage and cataloging to shipping and disbursing funds after the auction.


"I believe that the identity of the drop-off/seller assistance-type service will be TradingPost for eBay," said Brian Spindel, PostNet co-founder and chief operating officer. "Eventually, the consumer will identify with the brand as a place that can help them sell their unwanted or unneeded items.


"Equally, buyers will buy with confidence from TradingPost locations because they know a third party has possession of the item and it is in secured, insured storage and, more importantly, what they see online is what they actually are bidding on."


The process from the eBay seller's -- and the PostNet customer's -- standpoint is simple. The seller registers at postnettrading.com or goes straight to the PostNet store franchisee to drop off the item and provide information.


The PostNet franchisee builds the title and description based on the information provided by the seller. Digital photos can be taken, too. The franchisee then logs onto a system for bulk-listing technology provided by Marketworks, Atlanta, and uploads the data.


PostNet staff check the listing to ensure it meets internal quality standards and launch the auction on eBay. All of its auctions are seven-day listings. When the winning bid is in and paid, all parties involved are notified. The franchisee packs and ships the item, and the funds are disbursed. PostNet is paid based on the level of service rendered.


Marketworks, whose self-named hosted application targets retailers with inventory dispersed across multiple locations, plays a key role in TradingPost for eBay.


"We enable distributed selling," said Kyle Antcliff, vice president of corporate development at Marketworks. "It provides them a platform by which to operationalize the complexities associated with multi-location online selling."


Whether they are items brought in by customers or inventory already in store locations -- for example, returned, open-box or excess inventory -- the Marketworks system aims to help the collection and sale at the store level as well as the administration at the corporate level.


PostNet intends to roll out TradingPost for eBay across 100 locations nationwide by year's end. All 500 PostNet stores in the United States -- now offering digital copy, document, printing, finishing, Internet, office supplies, shipping and notary services -- will have TradingPost for eBay functionality by the end of 2005 out of the 935 worldwide.


When the service launched in March, it initially garnered 400 customers for PostNet stores. These eBay sellers brought in skis and golf clubs, personal digital assistants and cell phones as well as collectibles. Small-business owners brought in used notebook computers, printers and overstocked or outdated inventory.


PostNet franchisees photographed the item, wrote a description, posted the item for sale on eBay and tracked the item during the auction. If the item sold, PostNet processed the payment from the winning bidder and packed and shipped the item.


PostNet's decision to enable eBay in the auction process creates a new revenue stream for the 11-year-old company. It claims 90 percent of customers bringing items into stores are new to the brand.


TradingPost for eBay is similar to the function performed by chains such as Mailboxes Etc., now known as The UPS Store. It also adds to PostNet's services, including operating as United Parcel Service and FedEx authorized shipping centers.


"We think that aligning with a brand like eBay is very beneficial," Spindel said. "We're very pleased eBay has welcomed the drop-off concept."


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