EBay shows how to serve thanks to sellers
December 26, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Today is one of the
busiest shopping days of the year. It's the day after Christmas.
Huge crowds. Harried sales clerks. Customer service? Forget about
it. You don't expect good service today, do you?
But you should!
advice to brick-and-mortar retailers. Treat your customers well
today. If you do, they'll become evangelists who will sing your
praises throughout the year. Borrow a page from Meg Whitman, CEO
of eBay, which is known for listening to its customers. Consider
how Whitman's company is treating 34-year-old Wes Shepherd. EBay
is serving him breakfast in bed. He's more than a loyal eBay customer.
He's a committed eBay evangelist.
CEO of Evanston-based ChannelVelocity. His two-year-old startup
just raised $750,000 in a Series A round. His business is red
hot. ChannelVelocity helps companies such as Netherlands-based
Royal Philips Electronics, with some $41 billion a year in revenue,
figure out their strategy for selling products on eBay. According
to Shepherd, Philips sells through traditional retailers, but
wasn't sure how to sell on eBay.
product was selling on eBay and it was creating a channel conflict"
with its brick-and-mortar clientele, Shepherd says. The solution
was simple. Shepherd and ChannelVelocity built a virtual outlet
store for Philips on eBay, just like the outlet stores in the
distant suburban malls. Only this one is on-line.
everything to retail their product on eBay -- the warehouse, the
fulfillment, the customer support, auction management, everything,"
outlet stores on eBay is big business for Shepherd. He's doing
the same for Milwaukee Power Tools, Belkin (the computer accessories
company), Oreck vacuums and Nestle's Nespresso line of espresso
a big deal to eBay. The eBay execs don't take him for granted.
Even though it's a busy season, they called him. Shepherd says,
"They wanted to send something special. They picked several
of the largest sellers on eBay to receive gifts.
shows up in my office saying, 'I'm from eBay.' He's carrying a
black tray, an eBay mug, a juice glass, a rose and some pastries.
He says, 'We're delivering you breakfast in bed because you are
too busy to have it at home.'"
stop talking about how impressed he is with eBay. He's out there
evangelizing right now.
I hope your
business partners treat you as well today.
for mad cow
After a two-year
hiatus, Japan is accepting U.S. beef again. Bill Moffitt, CEO
of Northbrook-based Nanosphere, wants to close the nearly $700
billion U.S.-Japan trade deficit, and keep American beef exports
To do that,
he is looking for better ways to test for mad cow disease, the
reason Japan blocked U.S. exports.
don't know why mad cow starts or everything about its transmission.
They know it results from an errant folding of brain-cell proteins.
Today, there are no tests that can detect the aberrant protein
in live animals. Brain cell tissue must be examined to confirm
mad cow's presence.
find a diseased animal, how do you test that herd?" Moffitt
asks. "You have to slaughter them all.
a test that allows us to work on live animals for research, and
to screen the food supply," Moffitt says. Using nanotechnology
developed by Northwestern University professor Chad Mirkin, Nanosphere
is commercializing what it calls "biobarcode technology"
that is much more sensitive in identifying abnormal proteins.
The company recently received a patent for biobarcode.
to Moffitt, it could enable future researchers to test for mad
cow in cerebrospinal fluid or even the blood supply of living
animals. That would be good news for meat eaters here and overseas.
is a city that should have a thriving development- stage biotech
business," adds Moffitt, who says a successful mad cow test
would put Nanosphere and Chicago on the map.
It would transform
Chicago from "hog butcher to the world" to a leader
in biotech diagnostics while simultaneously reducing the trade
deficit and keeping people healthy.
something to wish for in the New Year.
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.