UBid Unveils Fixed-Price Feature

Internet auctioneer UBid has announced the debut of a fixed-price feature called “uBuy It Now.”

The new price format, which is becoming more prevalent amongonline retailers and auctioneers, lets UBid buyers purchase items at a fixed price without waiting for an auction to end. The feature also allows sellers to present items for sale at a specific price.

“The fixed-price feature is in keeping with themarketplace UBid has become,” UBid chief marketingofficer Alan Cohen told the E-Commerce Times. “We haveevolved from UBid Direct and now allow buyers toimmediately realize savings.”

UBid now offers the fixed-price feature on its UBid Directauctions and will introduce it on PreferredPartner and Consumer Exchange auctions next month.

Sales Trio

The Chicago-based auction company nowprovides three sales models for the liquidation ofend-of-life goods in such product categories ascomputers, housewares and collectibles.

Using the new “uBuy It Now” option, buyers can purchasea product outright at a fixed price. They also canpurchase items through competitive bidding in thetraditional auction format that the company has offeredsince its 1997 inception.

For some items, buyers can choose between purchasing the product at a specified price orsubmitting competing bids. In those cases, afixed-price buy automatically ends the auction,similar to EBay’s (Nasdaq: EBAY) Buy It Now feature.

Feedback Funnel

Clear customer demand for a fixed-price option droveplanning for “uBuy It Now,” Cohen said.

In fact, in one of the first auctions presented withthe new feature — a lot of 25 cameras — eightof 25 units were purchased at a fixed price,he added.

“‘UBuy It Now’ is the next step in UBid’s evolution,”acting UBid CEO Tim Takesue said. “This feature allows us to target those shoppers only interested in straight sales.”

Liquid Gold

With 3 million registered users, UBid is theNo. 2 online auction site, behind EBay. But analystssaid UBid’s model competes more with Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and EBay-owned Half.com.

“[UBid’s fixed-price feature] is another form ofmarkdown,” Forrester Research analyst James Crawfordtold the E-Commerce Times. “It contributes less tocompetition among bidders than it does to competitionamong other fixed-price merchants.”

Unlike EBay, Crawford said, UBid is the seller of thegoods on its site. EBay, on the other hand, relies on a tremendousaggregation of product and eyeballs to facilitate thesale of consumers’ own goods.

“There is a ton of material in the [productliquidation] channel and a ton of demand,” Crawford added.

Room to Boom

Perhaps due to its early entry into the lucrativeliquidation arena, UBid may be one of the few successstories spun by Internet startup incubator CMGI.

UBid’s auctions feature more than 12,000 productsdaily in 16 different product categories.

“UBid is like the last man standing,” Crawford said.”It has a niche in the liquidation space and is notchallenged much.”

But given the abundant supply and demand in theliquidation industry, Crawford added, there probably will not be asingle category-killer, leaving room for a number ofplayers to thrive.

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