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eBay Spawns New Feeder Business

eBay has spawned yet another new feeder business, this one called AuctionDrop, a San Carlos, Calif., company that lets anyone sell goods on the auction giant by simply dropping them off.

The premise is that not everyone has the time or inclination to learn the requisite skills to be a successful eBay seller.

The deal is that AuctionDrop does all the heavy lifting -- photos, descriptions, shipping -- in return for a nice commission -- 20 to 40 percent -- on the sale. Once an item is sold, the customer gets a check in the mail.

"We've created the easiest way to sell on eBay," says Randy Adams, chief executive officer of AuctionDrop. "You don't need any experience. You don't even need a computer..."

Customers can bring in anything that is legal to sell on eBay and can be shipped by United Parcel Service (under 150 lbs. with some size restrictions). AuctionDrop will evaluate it, photograph it, write a description and list it on eBay. The only catch is that the item must have an estimated sales price of at least $50.

The concept has enough appeal that the San Francisco-area company has gained venture capital backing from Draper Associates and Mobius Venture Capital. If it works, the idea would seem to be a natural for a nationwide business model and the company has said it plans to open two more outlets in San Francisco's East Bay and South Bay areas later this year. The company plans 25 outlets in the West in 2004, and eventually hopes to have a nationwide chain.

AuctionDrop was founded by Adams, Bill Rollinson and Andy Jeffrey. Adams and Rollinson founded the Internet Shopping Network in 1994, and sold it within six months to Home Shopping Network.

What if an item doesn't sell? If doesn't go the first time, AuctionDrop lists it again for free. If it doesn't sell the second time, the customer can choose to pick it up or have it automatically donated to charity for a tax deduction.

The company opened its doors (1125-B Industrial Road, San Carlos) on Monday and accepted a fur coat, a native American drum, some golf clubs, a finely crafted Japanese screen and some antiques and collectibles. Its Web site has a link to its auctions on eBay.