You get Bonanzle an eBay alternative that is quite simply, the best I've seen in my four years of reviewing and writing about start-up marketplaces aimed at taking sellers away from eBay.
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One of the biggest problems that we find on many of the smaller alternative sites, and even on the big sites including eBay itself, is that in their attempt to be so feature-rich, they actually make listing items a chore for experienced sellers and for novices the task can be rather overwhelming.
As a seller, I know I am not alone in my frustration. From having to go through seven or more screens just to select an item category, to doing just as much work to create my own storefront category names (not to mention copying HTML templates from one Web site to another), listing online for the small, average seller is becoming more complex and awkward and you need to invest far too much time in the actual listing process.
During an interview with Ecommerce-Guide.com, the site's founder, Bill Harding, summed up the heart of Bonanzle.com's philosophy when he said, "Do we really need five or more screens to list a single item?"
|Easy Listing with Bonanzle.|
(Click for larger image.)
When I clicked the sell button on Bonanzle, this little paragraph-size window popped up, and within that single screen I saw fields for everything I needed to list an item. I knew there had to be more to it, and after taking a good look at the screen, I spotted an "advanced" link. Hitting that brought up a measly two additional lines.
I knew I was looking at an alternative that was very different from the rest of the sites out there.
What Does Bonanzle Have That Others Don't?
To sell an item, you simply click the sell button and fill out a basic single screen listing page; you will need to provide an item title, category, description, price and choose the shipping options from a drop-down menu. It is important to note several key features within the listing screen.
First, when choosing a category, you start typing and suggested categories will appear letting you quickly fill in that part. You can also search Amazon and Yahoo for a description of your item, right from the listing screen, and the system will also display the average selling prices for items matching your own item description. When listing your item, you can save a lot of time by copying the description or by selecting a price shown from Amazon or Yahoo to use for your own Bonanzle products.
|Bountiful Ease of Use with Bonanzle Image Cropper.|
(Click for larger image.)
Setting Up Shop and Chatting in Real Time
Bonanzle also has booths, which is their own version of an online store. In a way, it is like the storefronts you find on eBay and other alternatives; however it's a lot less work. You simply provide details on which site format you are most used to (eBay or Craigslist), post your items, set up your seller account and confirm your details. To add additional items later on, you only need to list them on Bonanzle to include them in your booth. No custom category editing required.
|Get Cozy in a Bonanzle Booth.|
(Click for larger image.)
Another unique aspect of Bonanzle is that it gives the buying and selling community ways to communicate in real-time from within the Web site. When I use Kijiji, for example, it's amazing how much time I have to spend in e-mail. Some prospective buyers want to know the item's history, others want to barter or discuss viewing and pick-up times. On Bonanzle, you can specify pick-up times, and buyers can also use the site's Quick Chat feature to ask sellers these questions in real time, while they are online.
Sellers can keep the chat as an archive for others to view or delete it. You can also opt to receive instant messages (IM) through AIM, Gmail, MSN or other Jabber networks. Bonanzle lets you receive messages from within your booth, and also send messages back from your IM client. It's surprising that no one has considered this style of Quick Chat or seamless IM integration before, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it start surfacing on other sites after seeing how well it works on Bonanzle.
Not a Here Today, Gone Tomorrow Effort
Of course it takes more than a quick listing screen, a built in picture cropper, instant messaging integration, Quick Chat and an online booth to be the kind of marketplace where sellers want to list. But the options and features I've mentioned so far are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
To be an alternative that people trust, you also have to show you're in it for the long haul. Sellers are growing weary of the one hit wonders, and want stability and a growing seller and buyer user-base. Part of what makes Bonanzle standout from the other eBay wannabes is that you can tell time, hard work, knowledge and dedication has gone into it. It's not an off-the-shelf package that someone has purchased, edited admin options and then put up on a Web server somewhere.
The Bonanzle platform was designed in-house from the ground up, so not only does the site look very different from other alternative sites, but this is the reason why the tools and features on this site are so radically different.
Harding calls Bonanzle 'the alternative to lookalike Craigslist and eBay alternatives.' I would agree, but the site and its services go well beyond that. The best way to experience Bonanzle is simply to log on and try it. What you will find is that Harding and his team of self-titled "action-minded experts" have managed to offer sellers more features in this one site than any alternative to date, yet keep the entire site and selling process simple, compact and super-easy to use.
Like other eBay alternatives, however, Bonanzle's hurdle is going to be drawing in the many online sellers and buyers that are combing the Web looking for a new marketplace to call home. Currently, the site does show active booths and sellers. On the topic of traffic, Harding said that since the site's "unofficial" beta launch, traffic has steadily increased.
The Cost of Doing Business on Bonanzle
Bonanzle offers free listings to sellers, and for now, while in its unofficial beta stage, you also won't pay any fees when you sell. Harding told Ecommerce-Guide.com that at a later date, final fees will be added to the Web site. Sellers can expect a sliding final sale fee system as follows: no charge for items that sell for under $10, items under $50 will incur a $1 fee, a $100 sale will have a $3 fee, and so on, up to a $10 fee for items selling over $1,000. Harding also said that listing on Bonanzle will always be free.
We'll be checking in on Bonanzle from time to time to see how well this new stellar site performs. Until then, we welcome your feedback and comments on this and any other eBay alternative site you may be using.Vangie Beal is a seasoned online marketplace seller, frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com and avid online bargain hunter. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com.
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