Innovation That Matters

Next generation eBay feeder business

Work & Lifestyle

In a March 2004 briefing, our sister site featured a trend it dubbed feeder businesses: new services that feed, and feed off of, web stars like eBay, Google, and Amazon. One of the examples given was drop-off shops for online auctions, which allow any consumer to drop off an item at an eBay seller’s physical location, and have them sell it online in return for a commission. Services that help ordinary consumers sell have proliferated since 2004, feeding the eBay monster (eBay users posted a total of 559 million listings in Q2-07, generating a gross merchandise volume of USD 14.46 billion). A notable newcomer is Zippi, which is taking the field to another level by introducing sophisticated tools aimed at helping eBay sellers make more money. Over the coming months, Zippi will launch a marketing campaign to promote its consumer-facing hotline. Anyone with clutter to unload can call 1-877-GO-ZIPPI to submit an item for sale. Using a database of trillions of past eBay transactions, Zippi automatically appraises the item and gives the owner an indication of its estimated value. The owner sets a minimum amount his or she is willing to sell for. Zippi then contacts an affiliate in the owner’s area. Affiliates are eBay sellers who have signed up with Zippi. The affiliate visits the owner, picks up the item, lists it on eBay and takes care of shipping. Once an item is sold, the consumer is paid, the affiliate receives his commission and Zippi take their cut. While basic enrolment starts at USD 49.95, for USD 1399.95 sellers can buy the Zippi Affiliate Pro Bundle, which includes a handheld device that enables sellers to go to a consumer’s home, take a picture of the item they’re offering for sale, scan barcodes, create a description through a template that’s pre-populated by Zippi’s call center, and create a listing on the fly. As described by Zippi, this “brings eBay to the doorstep of American households and businesses,” while allowing affiliates to act as highly mobile franchisees. For added revenue, affiliates can become ‘Zipsters’, recruiting and training other sellers and receiving a percentage of every commission they earn. Which brings Zippi more affiliates and lets Zipsters build a scalable business. Last but not least, Zippi formalizes the process for selling on behalf of friends and family. Since Zippi automatically doles out both the owner’s and the affiliate’s shares of a sale, selling on behalf of one’s social network becomes much easier: sellers don’t have to negotiate a cut or write a cheque to the owner once an item has been sold. By making it simpler to sell a bicycle for a neighbour or a lamp for a cousin, sellers are stimulated to tap into a new pool of products. If it takes off, Zippi’s integrated approach could create a large network of consignment shops on the go, generating leads for sellers and easy access to eBay for consumers who just want to offload stuff without figuring out how to use an online marketplace. Opportunities if you’re not an eBay seller? Zippi only operates in the US. Partner with them to bring the concept to other large eBay markets. Spotted by: Amy Leung



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