August 7, 2000
Going Once, Going Twice, Sold!
Auction sites are a simple alternative to e-commerce-enabled sites
To sell online or not to sell online, that is the question facing many retailers. On the positive side, an e-commerce enabled site can bring in more revenue, and customers might appreciate the convenience of purchasing on the Net. However, it costs money to purchase e-commerce software and maintain the site, and it can be a lot of extra work. E-commerce sites don't just run themselves. Instead, they bring in more phone calls, service problems can happen at any time and there is task of keeping up with orders and shipping on time. Not every jewelry store has the extra time or money to handle the demands.
So how can jewelry stores use the Web to increase sales and get rid of old merchandise without all the hassle of e-commerce? Many jewelers have already discovered one simple alternative is to use one of the popular auction sites like eBay, Yahoo! or Amazon. Listed on eBay on Aug. 2 were over 116,000 jewelry items, 16,000 watches and 43,000 gemstone jewelry items. There were diamond rings, pearl earrings, gold necklaces, estate jewelry and so much more. And there were bids on many of the items.
With over 15 million registered users, eBay can be an ideal place to make additional sales, says Rick Salesky from New Jersey, who used to own a chain of mall jewelry stores. He began selling some of his merchandise on eBay while running the stores, but eventually he was selling enough on eBay that he closed the stores. Now he sells merchandise only on the Web and is eBay's third-largest seller. Salesky may be an extreme example of how eBay can work for retailers, but he is not the only jeweler to find more customers on auction sites. Many stores are having luck on eBay too, but in a smaller way. In a CNN.com article, Sun Jewelry reported it sells about $200,000 in merchandise a month on eBay without advertising. That is more than many jewelry Web sites sell in a month.
Selling on an auction site is easier than it may seem. Sellers must register with the auction, and then they can put up auction listings. Creating a listing can be as simple as typing in a description and scanning in pictures of the merchandise. For a more professional look, Salesky suggests using an auction assistant like Honesty.com. Services like Honesty put the product information in a nicely formatted template. Then all that is left to do is to manage the auctions and respond to potential customers, and Auctionlogic.com provides management tools that can save sellers even more time. Credit card service is even simplified. Many people on eBay use Pay Pal to handle credit card purchase, which charges companies less than 1% per transaction.
Using auctions to your advantage really couldn't be simpler. As Salesky suggests, pick an auction, read the seller's agreement, see how others are doing it and just go for it.
- by Julia M. Duncan