Ever since eBay’s acquisition of Skype over two years ago, there has been speculation as to how eBay and Skype should be “integrated” to enhance the auction process. While not the world’s most active eBay participant, I have used it several times to acquire items not normally available in Canada and to sell (ironically) a “surplus” Nortel PBX a few years ago. But I have also had the opportunity to attend a couple of eBay Live events and gain some of the flavor of the extent of the Ebay domain and the enthusiasm of its resellers, especially the several hundred thousand who run a full time business through eBay.
During these eBay Live sessions I have noted two key facts:
- There is very little Skype awareness amongst the eBay reseller community.
- When one or two Skype training sessions are available over the three days of eBay Live, they are well attended with an eagerness to learn more about Skype
My primary question has always been, how would one maintain the integrity of the auction process while engaging in real time conversations. It appears there are several stages to the auction process:
- Setting up the individual item’s auction information
- Executing the auction, accepting bids and “Buy Now” requests
- Finalizing the payment transaction
- Delivering the item, and
- Exchanging buyer and seller feedback.
The key for the first two stages is to enhance the integrity of the auction itself by ensuring that information exchanged between seller and bidder is available to all potential bidders. Real time one-on-one Skype chat and voice conversations have the potential to violate the integrity sought. Yet, with Skype there are two solutions:
- Establish a Skype Public Chat that can be joined by any bidder who is on Skype; the reseller can manage who remains on the chat to eliminate “spammers” and others wh go off-subject..
- Establish an ongoing asynchronous voice conversation using Evoca’s hosted voice recording and playback services. This allows all (potential) bidders to have an asynchronous, ongoing conversation with the seller incorporating all the additional information disclosed as a result of bidder queries..
For the last three stages, standard Skype conversations (voice, IM chat and video) can be used to provide customer service and support, as appropriate to the individual auction. Should their business be ongoing with sufficient transaction volume, even OnState’s ACD Call Center solution can be invoked (at $38 per seat per month – no capital costs) to ensure calls are directed to an appropriate party.
But then there is a bigger challenge beyond simply installing Skype and creating Skype accounts: training eBay Resellers on how they can implement and use Skype to their business’s advantage. It is not sufficient simply to make Skype buttons available for eBay Resellers. The Skype ecosystem not only offers basic real time conversation support but also, through its Skype Developer Partners, call recording and conversation archiving as well as collaboration and conferencing tools which may be useful for certain categories of resellers. But they need training to realize the full potential of Skype.
And then there is the missed viral opportunity yet to be fulfilled.
Tags: Skype, eBay, Skype Developer Partners, Skype Public Chat, Evoca, OnState