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Going Once...Going Twice...

Site Selection

Entrepreneurs need to consider several factors when deciding which site to list their items on. Rozanski, for example, uses Amazon.com because of services like 1-Click that help sellers. His decision was also influenced by eBay's frequent down times, which became problematic for his business.

Johnson, on the other hand, believes it's well worth enduring an occasional site outage in exchange for the service she receives through eBay's PowerSeller program. "We have a wonderful [PowerSeller] representative," she says, "who helps us with everything and arranges immediate contact with eBay."

Businesses may also want to consider straying from the beaten path and trading quantity of eyeballs for a more focused audience on business-oriented auction sites, such as uBid and Onsale.com. If you've got some cash to work with, another option to consider is a listing on a mega-umbrella auction portal like FairMarket AuctionPlace, which will put your auction, by category, on a host of other Web sites.

When looking to increase sales, it also doesn't hurt to take advantage of different advisory resources offered by auction sites. EBay representatives attend hundreds of trade shows each year, where they host workshops on how to sell via auctions. Yahoo! has recently published a book, Online Auctions for Yahoos, co-written by bestselling marketing guru Seth Godin and Yahoo!'s Commerce Group vice president, Tony Surtees. Its pages feature valuable tips for making money through the auction format.

Finally, be vigilant about what you post, how you post, and how you present yourself and your products to online customers. Keep in mind that, in linking up with an auction, you're placing your business in front of a worldwide audience of demanding shoppers and just about every business decision you make can have global repercussions.

"It's like dancing naked on a stage in a public square," says Rozanski. "Every single thing you do that can be perceived as negative can be told to 100,000 people by a disgruntled customer, with unbelievable speed."

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This article was originally published in the February 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Going Once...Going Twice....

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