EBay.ie gets people talking

27 Jun 2006

The Irish version of eBay, the auction website, is to add Skype voice-calling features onto its website next month in a move the company said would make it easier for buyers and sellers to communicate with each other.

The new service lets sellers include free voice calls over the internet and instant messaging to their listings. These functions will be available as a a “Skype Me” button on the eBay.ie listings page that buyers see.

By clicking the button, buyers will be able to talk to sellers or use Skype instant messenger to ask about items and discuss deliveries or postage. The communications will be available at no cost to the user, eBay.ie said.

The feature will be available from the middle of next month on a pilot basis. It will first be trialled in several categories such as art, antiques, stamps, coins, pottery and glass, sports memorabilia, real estate, baby products, musical instruments and audio consumer electronics.

According to eBay, these categories were selected because Skype will make the transactions easier in cases where there may be high selling prices, complex products or categories in which buyers may need extra details about the items for sale.

John McElligott, head of customer development at eBay Ireland, said the company expects the service will reassure buyers and will “dramatically” increase sales, both in volume and value.

EBay originally acquired Skype last September for US$2.6bn in a move that surprised many observers at the time. The online auctions company claimed that the addition of Skype would “streamline and improve communications between buyers and sellers as it is integrated into the eBay marketplace”. It also said that Skype would increase the speed of trade on the site, particularly in categories that require more involved communications such as business and industrial equipment, used cars or high-end collectibles.

EBay conducted extensive research among buyers and sellers on its site before deciding to launch the voice and messaging service. The company said that sellers felt the purchase process would go more smoothly with the ability to communicate more with buyers and share information about their products. Buyers, for their part, felt the service would help them learn more about both seller and product.

By Gordon Smith