Doing Business on eBay Alternative for a Buck a Month

Online vendors listing on The SOC Exchange pay just one dollar a month or $10 a year to sell, with no other fees. Plus, eBay security updates.

eBay Alternative: The SOC Exchange Offers Unlimited Selling for a Buck a Month


The SOC Exchange, an online marketplace community created by Australian entrepreneur Franco Lagudi, officially launched in the U.S. last June. Setting itself apart from many of the eBay alternatives available to sellers, the SOC Exchange charges sellers just one dollar a month or a $10 per year to sell, with no other fees.

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Franco Lagudi told Ecommerce-Guide that he doesn't believe in taking a big slice of a seller's profit, and the flat rate seller fee will be a permanent feature of the site.

As with several of the most recent alternative sites we have covered, The SOC Exchange opened for business without offering any auction-style selling.

Like newer alternatives, Bonanzle, Wigix, and and eBay's successful online classified site, Kijiji, The SOC Exchange lets online merchants list "buy now" prices with the option for interested buyers to submit offers (OBO) to sellers on items they are interested in purchasing. It appears many new sites are using this format instead of auctions because it is easier for both buyers and sellers.

The SOC Exchange, however, does not work exactly like a classified site where most transactions are local. Rather, sellers still have the option to accept payments and ship items out to non-local buyers. Lagudi, however, did say that auction-style listings may be offered in the near future.

Setting Up Your SOC Store

Currently, when you join The SOC Exchange as a seller you get immediate access to your own blog, e-mail alerts, your store URL, RSS feeds and other features. The SOC Exchange works in such a way that once you have uploaded your items, your inventory is in a Web store format. Setting up your account is also a quick four-step process.

First, sellers will need to register and choose a subscription plan and enter in their basic store details, such as your name, store name, and Web site name. Then, you'll want to continue with adding your seller specific information, including your accepted payment types, shipping details and a college or university name if you want to sell within your local college community.


The SOC Exchange
The SOC Exchange offers lots of features for sellers and charges just a buck a month.
(Click for larger image.)

After you have included the basic seller details, you can customize your store with a logo, template and choose your store colors. The available templates offer a quick and easy way for sellers to feature one, two or six products on their main store page.

The last two steps involved in setting up your Web store on The SOC Exchange are adding stock and publishing your site. The process of listing items, one at a time, is easy, and can be quickly done, especially for those used to selling on alternatives.

You simply need to provide item specifics, such as price, a title, a description and special shipping details. You can choose to accept any of the following payment options: Cash Credit Card, PayPal, Check, Bank Transfer or Google Checkout, and you can also include a product code and mark the item if you are willing to accept OBO offers.

Sellers can include up to four images with each listing, however Lagudi said that this will soon be increased to seven per listing. For those currently selling on eBay, The SOC Exchange offers a bulk uploader, or if you keep your inventory in an Excel spreadsheet, you can also bulk upload using that.

With your store and seller options set and inventory added, it's as simple as clicking the Launch button in the administration interface and your items will be listed online at The SOC Exchange.

Cool School Features and More

One thing that The SOC Exchange has in place is a community for college and university students. By affiliating yourself with your own school, you can buy and sell within your own community. 

The SOC Exchange
Setting up shop on The SOC Exchange is easy and you get a blog, e-mail alerts RSS feeds and ability to affiliate your store with your old college or university community.
(Click for larger image.)

Other differences sellers will find here is how the 'feedback' system works. On SOC you can choose to review a seller or buyer. The reviews are not restricted to a maximum character length, giving you the opportunity to go into detail and tell others how the transaction worked for you.

The reviews are given an average star-rating at the end. Naturally, buyers can read a seller's review, but sellers can also choose to read reviews left by other merchants for that buyer to determine if they want to do business with that individual.

For the most part, The SOC Exchange is offering online sellers a lot of features and options for a flat-rate of just $1 a month. In terms of volume, Alexa and Compete show traffic at The SOC Exchange is lower compared to other popular alternatives we've recently covered.

However, we do expect to see this go up as The SOC Exchange builds its university communities and the word gets out to sellers looking for an eBay alternative that you can do business for just a dollar a month (or $10 per year).

Only on eBay...Security Updates

This past week eBay beefed up its Fraud Prevention Policy with the introduction of two new security updates.

One update, called "trusted selling with identity confirmation," has been in testing since April. This new policy is designed to prevent fraudsters from gaining access to members' accounts by asking anyone listing an item from an "unknown" computer to confirm his or her identity. During the testing phase, eBay says it began noting which computers members typically use when they buy and sell on eBay, then two months ago, started testing the identity confirmation process for a small population of users.

John Canfield, senior director for fraud prevention policy, says that the test was successful and that this initiative will be expanded to the entire eBay community within two weeks.

Another security initiative that was introduced last year is going to be updated. Anonymous bidder IDs, which prevents others from seeing bidder details when a bid goes over $200, has been successful in protecting bidders from fake Second Chance Offers.

However, eBay says that the winning bidder's ID is currently visible to everyone after the listing ends, and this continues to lead to fake checkout offers and other spam. For this reason, eBay says that it will be extending anonymous User IDs to winning bidders, as well. Sellers will still be able to view all bidder IDs on their listings.

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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