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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 d├ęcor ‘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.