Although it's a separate site from eBay.com, the Reseller Marketplace is owned and operated by eBay. Once a business on eBay crosses into PowerSeller territory, an invitation to visit the Reseller Marketplace is issued automatically by eBay. The Power-Seller then sets up a free buyer's account by going to ebay.com/reseller, entering his or her unique PowerSeller User ID and password, and filling out the registration form that pops up with the first sign-on. The PowerSeller then has immediate access to Reseller Marketplace listings, which contain detailed information about the product and quantity available, terms of sale, shipping costs and so on. Using a credit card previously placed on file, the Power-Seller can bid immediately, and if a lot is won, that credit card may be billed automatically by the seller; there's no need to make payment arrangements. There's also no charge to the PowerSeller to use this valuable service beyond, of course, the cost of any lots that are won and the shipping charges associated with them. Continued access to the Reseller Marketplace is guaranteed as long as the buyer maintains PowerSeller status.
There are two types of listings in the Marketplace. The first is a one- to seven-day auction-style listing, which is usually placed by suppliers with inventory to liquidate. "Basically, these companies want to get rid of the stuff at any price," Rosenberg says. "Many of these [listings] start at $1 [with] no reserve. If enough PowerSellers are interested in the merchandise, there could be a bidding war."
In fact, that is exactly what happens with the $1 lots offered by Larry Peterson, president and founder of ToolWarehouse, a specialty tool distributor in Cape Coral, Florida, that also sells tools through the Reseller Marketplace under eBay User ID toolwarehouse. "We open and close 50 to 60 wholesale lots per week," says Peterson, 49, who projects 2007 sales in the low seven figures. "Power-Sellers can get some amazing buys in these lots, the majority of which contain brand-new, quality tools."
The second type of listing is the Fixed-Price "wholesale" listing, which lasts for one to 30 days and is usually used for items offered at wholesale prices. While a buyer can purchase these lots on the spot, this format is primarily a lead-generation mechanism that prompts buyers to contact the seller to discuss the product. The sellers may be liquidators, distributors or manufacturers who set the lot price at a fixed amount, then wait for an inquiry or a buyer. Often the price per piece is higher than it would be in an auction-style listing, but it's still possible to get a good deal.
No matter which type of listing a PowerSeller wins, he or she can be virtually certain that the seller will deliver the merchandise as agreed because each company is thoroughly investigated in advance. "Before we could sell in the Marketplace, eBay ran our D&B report, among other things," says Bill Frischling, 35, who co-founded Dyscern (eBay User ID: dyscern) with Jennifer Canty, 36, and John Angerer, 35. The Sterling, Virginia, company sells small consumer electronics through eBay, the Reseller Marketplace and their site, dyscern.com. "They really check you out to see if you're for real," says Frischling, who projects overall sales of $12 million for 2007, $1 million of which will come from the Reseller Marketplace.If there is ever a problem with a transaction or a supplier, eBay will step in to arbitrate. "Every seller is [vetted], but things can still happen," says Rosenberg. "Just like with eBay, the buyer and the seller are first encouraged to communicate, but if they can't resolve their issues, we'll [try to assist]. Though we don't have a public feedback system for the Reseller Marketplace, we do ask buyers for feedback after a transaction is concluded, and we track their responses. If we see repeated bad transactions from a seller, we'll take action. So PowerSellers can feel confident that they'll have a good experience."