January 27, 2005
Wishing to offer eBay customers relief from expensive listing fees
and sales commissions, ClassifiedBuyers.com announces it is directly
targeting eBay users with the launch of its new "performance-based,
fraud-protected Web marketplace."
The website has been in existence in beta form since 2003, but re-launched with all guns blazing in late December as a full-featured, no-frills online marketplace.
It's unclear, however, if ClassifiedBuyers represents a real challenge to eBay or if it's just taking advantage of the negative user sentiment generated by eBay last week as a result of higher listing fees in many areas.
The Gardena, California-based site is organized like the classified section of a local newspaper, with familiar "want ads" and "sell ads" listed by category. ClassifiedBuyers says it offers a secure method for conducting business on the Internet, and users benefit from a host of free features, including built-in payment service, secure transaction technology, competitive offers, automatic email notifications, and shipment tracking.
Sellers on ClassifiedBuyers can list their complete inventory at no cost. If an item doesn't sell, there is no charge. That, says Monica Lopetegui, spokesperson for ClassifiedBuyers, Inc., is something that should entice power sellers to move goods through the site.
"We think we have a good site going right now," she said on Thursday. "We recently implemented a bunch of changes, which coincided with eBay fee increases."
Lopetegui said the site takes suggestions from its users seriously and the new features were all user-driven.
"The enhancements are the bulk upload feature and to list multiple listings. Users can also post free audio clips for selling CDs," she said.
ClassifiedBuyers.com interface was designed to be simple and user-friendly. Suggestions from users are taken into consideration during the design process.
In addition to the free listings and other features, all sell ads on ClassifiedBuyers.com are uploaded every night to Froogle, Google's aggregator service, giving sellers a worldwide presence overnight.
"If free ads and fair closing costs don't persuade users to jump on the ClassifedBuyers' bandwagon, the unrivaled fraud-protection will," said David Humphrey, President of ClassifiedBuyers, Inc. "The system keeps everyone honest. Fraud is only common on auction sites because buyers must send their money to complete strangers before receiving their purchase. We've changed all that. On ClassifiedBuyers, both buyers and sellers are protected because money does not change hands until both parties are satisfied."
Users can browse or search by keyword to find an ad, make an offer to buy or sell and wait for acceptance by email. Once offers are formalized with a purchase order, funds are held for safekeeping in escrow.
Like other escrow sites, as the sale progresses, key details and milestones are displayed on the site and both buyer and seller are kept informed through automatic email notifications. There is a 7-day approval period, giving buyers a chance to confirm a purchase and authorize the seller to be paid.
ClassifiedBuyers claims the concept of buyer approval distinguishes it from any other online marketplace, and protects both parties from fraud.
Other features that ClassifiedBuyers claims make it attractive to buyers and sellers is that sellers can pre-qualify their offers with AutoAccept and AutoReject, while both buyers and sellers can benefit from AdAlert, an automated feature that notifies the user when ads meeting their conditions are placed.
Personalization also plays a role here, with the My CB and My CS control panels where users can manage their ads, account details and transactions.
Despite all of these selling points, can ClassifiedBuyers really compete with eBay and other auctioneers? Even Internet high flyers Yahoo Auctions and Amazon have had little success with auctions.
As of this week, Lopetegui said more than 2,500 users has signed up for the site.
"We've lured away some power sellers," she said, adding that the bulk upload feature is a hit with users.
Chief Operating Officer Casey Cosgrove said the company is talking to a lot of new users, and some of them are skeptical of the low costs involved.
"Ironically, most of the questions are 'C'mon, you can't do this, can you?' It's great because there hasn't been anything like this before," he said.
Cosgrove said he's well aware of the "David vs. Goliath" challenges the company faces in jumping into a market dominated by eBay - with its claim of having more than 100 million community members - but he said the company is comfortable with its mission and can survive and still profit from being a niche player.
"There's definitely a niche of people that don't want to deal with fraud, upfront payments, or any of that risk. We can be the 'In and Out' (a popular burger chain on the West Coast) and they can be the McDonalds. We can still be very successful," he said.
Article by Devin Comiskey,
Source: e-Commerce Guide.com
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