Auction Powerhouse Unveils First Formal Channel Program
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eBay Sunday launched its first formal solution provider program, an on-ramp initiative aimed at getting VARs to dispose of older IT products on a new eBay IT Asset Recovery Center site. The news came at CMP Media's Xchange conference here in Chicago.
The new site, which will launch midweek at ebay.com/assetrecovery, is aimed at tapping the tens of thousands of VARs who have considered entering the business of disposing of older IT products, but haven't yet taken the plunge.
The On Ramp program, an invitation-only initiative exclusively for XChange attendees, provides six training sessions to get VARs up and running with toll-free phone support. The free on-ramp training program is effective through Oct. 15.
A new IT Asset Recovery Center will include profiles of IT Asset Recovery sellers and link them with buyers. The eBay resource directory will provide VARs with local, regional and national partners that they can affiliate with to get rid of older IT assets.
Ebay will also assist VARs in establishing E-Commerce connections and provide software tools that diagnoses the health and performance of networks and systems.
Richard Anderson, senior category manager for eBay, promised that the auction powerhouse will continue to evolve the program to meet the needs of VARs. "We are going to make sure it is relevant to you so we can be a great business partner," he said.
"This is a valid alternative channel and it should provide incremental sales opportunities," said Steve Harper, president of Network Management Group, Hutchinson, Kansas. "We will use it."
Harper said he is interested in getting more detailed information on the costs of entering the business. "Based on the information we have it looks like a valuable program," said Harper. "You have 114 million people out there on eBay that you can sell to." Up until now, Harper said, he has not considered entering the business of disposing of older IT assets.
Manuel Villa, president of VIA, a San Antonio, Texas solution provider, applauded the new eBay program, but was concerned about the hidden costs of entering the business. "The big question is how affordable is it going to be for the reseller to participate," he said, noting that VIA is a services oriented business that is concerned about the costs of moving product. "We got away from all of that stuff," said Villa. "We no longer need a warehouse person."
Gregory Engle, business unit manager for Information Engineering, a Huntsville, Alabama solution provider, said eBay is going to have to overcome vendor reluctance. "The biggest concern that I have is my vendors have a view of eBay as a gray market," he said. "I know what they are trying to do with this is get some adoption from those vendors to use eBay as a channel. But it is going to be tough."
Engle said a number of companies are selling major products, including Cisco products, on eBay without vendor licenses. "Someone can technically buy it and use it, but you just won't get Cisco support," he said. "EBay is going to have to figure out how to get sponsorship from those big vendors or it is just not going to work."
EBay moves $2.4 billion in computers and networking equipment with 1,990 laptops being sold everyday, according to the company.