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Online Selling, Specialisation and Co-operation?

Since ceasing to trade on eBay Inc months ago, I’ve looked at a number of ‘other’ auction sites, most are free to list on, most have very low final value fees, most even seem to be based on the same software but none stands out as a potential rival to eBay Inc.

Even the most successful of the alternatives pales into insignificance beside the giant.. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Do we really want another eBay? Most wannabes turn into scam ridden sites full of fake designer goods where you still run a risk of being hijacked and cyber-mugged if you try to buy anything of high value.

On the other hand, find yourself a specialist site, where collectors trade, and you’ve found yourself a community, all interested in their subject and usually far more knowledgeable and helpful than you would find on a general auction site. Small is beautiful, because the users are a community, interested in protecting their community, you will rarely find a scam on a specialist site.

In the real world, if you want to buy certain items you visit specific stores, the internet should allow you to place all those stores in your personal virtual High Street instead of them being scattered all over town, yet that facility isn’t readily available.

Why not? Oh, sure, you can add various sites to your favourites list but first you have to find them and it isn’t always easy. Some site owners know nothing about search engine optimisation and think all they need do is publish their site and people will come, it isn’t quite so simple and many good sites out there in the wilds of the web are completely overlooked.

What can be done to remedy this? Well, a good place to start is by taking a look at the mechanics of the Summer Solstice Blue Moon promotional event being co-ordinated by Pheebay.com. The plan is to link many of the smaller auction sites and sellers together in one virtual ‘place’ and use the combined energy of the many to generate the publicity to grab the attention of the buying public. It’s a good place to start but why stop there? Why not make these links more tangible, more permanent and not only continue the joint marketing but also the single page portal to a range of sites and sellers?

Why not then go a little further and group them into areas of interest, the soft furnishings and home décor ‘district’ perhaps, the cards and gifts ‘mall’ and all the better if there are specialist auction sites within the various ‘precincts’. Then enable the buyer to select from each area the stores in which they are most interested and let them personalise their High Street or Mall with only the stores/sites they want to see.

It isn’t a huge leap of technology to implement this and enable it to display in a comfortable visual form, the technology already exists, so what has prevented this from happening?
Although many ex-eBayers, myself included, openly admit that had it not been for eBay they would probably not have started selling on the internet, it was through eBay they discovered the ease and the pleasure with which it can be done, but what many don’t even realise is that the prevailing attitude on eBay of sellers towards other sellers is adversarial and highly competitive. Whilst many find freedom from selling on eBay, they carry that attitude with them, seeing only rivals and competitors where there are, in fact, allies. EBay has introduced many individuals to business but not necessarily to the best business practices.

By forming co-operatives with similar or complementary sites so much more can be achieved in terms of web-presence, by combining such co-operatives under a single banner, the individual’s web-profile becomes so much greater than if they were alone.

Why shouldn’t it be possible for the many to set aside their minor differences and come together in their combined interests to promote the variety of shopping experiences available across the world wide web? Think of a thousand sites linked together, small sellers and large, full sites, simple landing pages, general auction sites and specialist auctions, all linked, all found under one banner.

Many markets with one voice, how strong would that be.

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eCrater Store Sellers Can Now Earn Adsense Revenue

eCrater say that, in most cases, sellers will receive 100% of the revenue coming from store pages and eCrater will receive the revenue coming from seller pages displayed in the main marketplace. Sensibly, eCrater says sellers will be able to filter out any specific competitive ads if they wish to.

To participate sellers must have at least 5 active products in their eCrater store. Sellers products must be compliant with Google AdSense standard policies although, if only some products are not compliant, a sellers can still participate although Google AdSense ads will only appear on pages that are fully compliant.

Sellers sourcing products from affiliate, cataloged or dropshipping programs are excluded. Participation is also restricted if stores become inactive for more than 60 days, listings appear in non specific product categories, if no product image is uploaded or a sellers does not enable payment by Paypal or Google Checkout.

eCrater has already proved itself as a reliable and well established free listing and free sales solution for web sellers and this move means it is not only disaffected eBay sellers likey to be attracted but those of fee charging competitors such as eBid or Bonanza.

Read more at eCrater and discuss this Adsense sharing initiative in our dedicated eCrater forum.

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So What Is Art Deco Design?

This movement was, in a sense, a broad umbrealla covering many different artistic styles and movements in the early 20th century such as Neoclassical, Constructivism, Cubism, Modernism, Bauhaus, Art Nouveau, and Futurism. Its popularity peaked in Europe during the so called “Roaring Twenties” and continued strongly in the United States well in to the 1930s Although many design movements have had political or philosophical influences, Art Deco was purely decorative and considered as functional, modern and elegant.

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Live Online Auctions For Art-Deco Items
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The roots of the Art Deco design movement stretch back to the Universal Exposition of 1900 where various French artists came together to form a group called La Société des artistes décorateurs (the society of the decorator artists). Group founders included Eugène Grasset, Raoul Lachenal, Hector Guimard, Paul Follot, Maurice Dufrene, and Emile Decour and these mames are now recognised as fundamentally influencing the birth of what has become Art Deco. This group organized the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art) which promoted French art commercially. The terms Style Moderne and Art Deco both derive from the exposition’s title, though Art Deco was not adopted in to comon use until publication of the 1968 book Art Deco of the 20s and 30s by Bevis Hillier.

In the summer of 1969, Hillier was the driving force behind the exhibition titled “Art Deco” at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts which opened in July 1971. As a result of this exhibition and the publication of Hillier’s book based on the event, “The World of Art Deco”, interest in the design movement soared.

Art Deco is fundamentally based on geometric shapes. Opinons sometimes differ but many considered Art Deco to be a form of elegant and stylish modernism influenced by a variety of sources including so called “primitive” arts of Africa, Ancient Egypt and Mayan designs from Central America. More modern influences included the major technologies of the period like aviation, electric lighting, radio, ocean liners and the skyscraper buildings. Design influences were usually expressed in fractionated, crystalline, faceted forms of decorative Cubism and Futurism. Other popular themes in Art Deco were trapezoidal, zigzagged, geometric, and jumbled shapes, which can be seen in many early pieces. The Fisher Building and the Guardian Building in Detroit, Michigan being fine examples.

Art Deco is often characterized by the use of artificial materials, most notably stainless steel and glass but other materials such as aluminium, lacquer, inlaid wood, sharkskin, and zebraskin all featured widely. The bold use of stepped forms and sweeping curves, chevron patterns, and the sunburst motif are typical of Art Deco. Such motifs can be found adorning ladies’ shoes, automible radiator grilles, the auditorium of the Radio City Music Hall, and the spire of the Chrysler Building.

Art Deco was an opulent and contrasted with the austerity suffered during World War I. Its richness could be seen demonstrated in many designs between the wars including the Golden Gate Bridge, interiors of cinema theaters, the Queen Mary liner. Super examples of Art Deco design can be found in America’s train stations of the 1930s. The first art deco train station in the United States was the Union Station in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Art Deco movement slowly declined in the West when it began to be derided as gaudy and presenting a false image of luxury and the advent of World War II saw its end. However in many colonial countries such as India and the Philippines it continued to be used well into the 1960s. A resurgence of interest in Art Deco came with graphic design in the 1980s, where its association with film noir and 1930s glamour led to its use in ads for jewelry and fashion. South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida has the largest collection of art deco architecture remaining in North America, as well as a section of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Napier, New Zealand has an almost entirely art deco town centre.

Some of the finest surviving examples of art deco art and architecture can be found in Cuba, particularly Havana. Just as the 1950s automobiles from the U.S. have been preserved and restored so have many buildings like the Bacardi Building

Although Art Deco fell out of vogue in the 1940s, it has had small subsequent rebirths. Its designs frequently appear in modern architecture, entertainment, and media when a “classic retro” look is sought. In media, such examples are obvious in Batman: The Animated Series from the early 1990s in which the show’s creators used art-deco styling fused with a deliberate darkness to create a variant style often referred to as Dark Deco. Films such as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Dick Tracy, and King Kong featured various art deco elements also.

In Singapore, the Parkview Square building, completed in 2002, is built in an art-deco style and includes an art-deco-styled lobby. Art Deco can also be found in the graphic design of various video games, such as BioShock and the Fallout series where it gives high-tech settings a retro but futuristic appearance.

Today Art Deco design items are a favourite among collectors and interior designers and there’s no better website than eBay to see art deco design implementations where thousands of items are now traded.

For more information about the art deco design movement visit the Art Deco pages at Seek you Out.

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eBay Numbers Inflated By Shopping.com Product Listings?

As per normal with eBay, the conspiracy theories are already circulating about inflated listing numbers to disguise the boycott impact and artificial stats to satisfy Wall Street analysts.

Preferring to keep my feet on the ground I’d rather accept for now this is an apparent glitch involving data being used between Shopping.com, eBay Express and the main eBay.com website. If listing counts have been inflated short term as a result it will quickly get resolved as news of the rogue listings circulate and they get removed.

While we don’t like to spoil the fun of a good conspiracy for those who like them, there are much easier and less detectable methods eBay could employ to inflate their numbers if they were so minded. For instance, listings on other eBay international sites could be granted temporary visibility on eBay.com and very few people would become aware. So to deliberately add what appear to be incorrectly formatted Shopping.com product feeds in to eBay.com listings looks more likely to be a simple cock up by someone down the line. So, for now, I’m betting Murphys Law is driving this event rather than any evil empire.

As a possible explanation I can imagine that, following the closure of eBay Express in the UK, there are some major changes underway at Shopping.com and the rest of the convaluted group of eBay websites if the US eBay Express site is also to close shortly.

For me this isn’t a significant issue in isolation but there is a potentially more worrying aspect to this story. Many readers will share the belief of many that eBay has never been good at introducing new or changed code leading many users to feel like Beta testers all too often. With the amount of changes planned for the coming months I have a hunch today is just one of a string of “cock ups” we will be reading and reporting in the near future.

Want to comment on eBay’s changes? Visit our auction forums.

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