by Andy

Benda AE Interview

We talk to Jason Benda, President of Benda Corps LLC, about Benda AE's Auction Enhancement services.

Tags: Interviews

WR: You sell on eBay as well as providing auction enhancement services. How did you get into eBay selling and what kind of items do you sell?

We’ve been selling on eBay since 1999. In the early 1990s, the comic industry was in a downturn, and we were able to buy entire stores that were going out of business in our area. After many years of collecting this way and through making contacts at other, still functioning stores, eBay came along and gave us a way to turn our collecting into a viable business.

We sell Action Figures, Comics, all sports cards (baseball, basketball, hockey, etc.), magazines, and miscellaneous store items (such as comic posters).

WR: Why did you start Benda AE?
JB: When selling on eBay, we realized that many sellers were offering the exact items we were. How were we to differentiate ourselves from them? After a certain point, having excellent feedback and PowerSeller status does not set you apart from the crowd to an extent that you would like. To counter this problem, we offer many 'value-added' type services, allowing us to routinely receive the highest bids for our items, even though other sellers were offering the same or similar items.
WR: Your focus is on "auction enhancement". What is that exactly and why did you choose to specialize in it?

Auction enhancement is the counter-part to auction management. Both services aim to increase your profits. Auction management tries to cut your costs, while auction enhancement tries to get you more money for your items. In general, a seller needs to do both to succeed. Simple enhancement is not enough, and neither is good management.

For example, one type of auction enhancement is those galleries you often see that display your other items for sale in each auction listing, or a service that allows bidders to get text messages reminding them to bid on your auctions. These sort of services generate more bids and thus profits.

WR: How does your WISE service for integrating eBay and website selling work? Which ecommerce systems does it integrate with?

Our WISE service comes in two versions.

The first version (in Auction Plan 1) is targeted at those users who have complex HTML descriptions for their items. Turbo Lister makes editing any HTML-heavy descriptions extremely difficult, since you only have about a two inch long box to scroll through. Our program recognizes that most sellers only change a few things in their HTML templates for each auction (such as the heading at the top of the auction, an item condition section, the shipping, and a general description area) and, rather than having to "wade through" the HTML line by line, you can just enter these specifics into simple textboxes, just as you would do for an auction title, and our program inserts the proper description pieces where they belong in your HTML template.

The second version (in Auction Plan 2) improves upon the version in Auction Plan 1 and is for those sellers with their own website. For sellers who also sell through their own website, for each item they want to sell, they have to list it on eBay and their website through two completely different processes. This is a waste of valuable time, as they have to generate basically the same item "listing" for both eBay and their own website. Our WISE service (Website Integration Simultaneously with eBay) combines this time-wasting process into a simple, fast, one step procedure. Behind the scenes, it creates a simple file of your auctions that you easily import into Turbo Lister (which is known as a 'Comma Separated Values' file, or CSV for short), and it creates a database entry in your website for each auction as well at the same time. Of course, you must spend a few minutes configuring the program to work with your website database and to upload your Turbo Lister template. Our website provides detailed instructions on how to do all of this.

After the initial configuration, the time-savings are apparent. In fact, when we were selling on eBay, we had to switch from paying our employees per auction to paying them by the hour, since once they started using this software their productivity greatly increased.

WR: eBay and the industry around it are constantly changing. What do you think is the biggest challenge for new sellers?

Unfortunately, I believe the phrase "constantly changing," when concerning eBay, really means constantly increasing in complexity. The biggest challenge for new sellers is simply to grasp all eBay has to offer and to keep up as it evolves. eBay has added scores of new features since we started selling 6 years ago. I do not honestly believe they have all been beneficial, and each time they change something, you have to figure out how to take advantage of it with your auctions, or how to negate its effects.

New sellers must not be easily discouraged. eBay definitely has a learning curve, and they must stick with it, and constantly check eBay’s Announcement board so that they are not broadsided by new feature changes. Selling on eBay is a huge commitment of one's time.

WR: Where are you taking Benda AE next?

We try to introduce one new service every 6 months, and we continually add new features to existing services. We're hoping to set up some partnerships with template websites, which will allow our users further flexibility in creating their auctions.

We will continue to solve the numerous problems faced by online sellers.

WR: Thank you for your time and good luck for the future.

Discuss this interview here

Article Added: 3 October 2005
Last Updated: 3 October 2005

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