Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How Will Skype Benefit eBay Sellers?

How Will Skype Benefit eBay Sellers?

One of our blog readers asked a good question yesterday:

"I am an eBay PowerSeller, and I have heard a lot about Skype- but I don't quite know what it is or how it might affect my ebay business. What exactly is Skype and what will it do for me?"

Here's my short form answer:

What it is:
Skype is a voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Web service that allows people from computers to "call" other Skype users for free and regular telephone numbers for very low cost (2-3 cents per minute, usually). VOIP just means that the voice is translated to digital 1's and 0's then routed over the Internet to it's destination ear and translated back into analog audio via speakers (whether this is a headset speaker or plain old computer speakers or full 5.1 surround on a Media Center PC doesn't matter). If you're calling another Skype subscriber (it's free), the only "cost" with VOIP is your Internet Service Provider fees. If you dial a regular phone number from within Skype, you usually pay 2-3 cents per minute. Some weird countries with strict price controls, like Cuba, charge more.

What will it do for me, an eBay seller?:
eBay hasn’t rolled out the specific details yet, but here’s my guess. eBay will allow sellers to post “Skype Me” icons on their listings so shoppers can call the seller with a question (if the seller is online at the time). It would work well for certain types of merchandise, like cars and real estate, and not so well for others. You don’t want to spend 5 minutes on the phone with every curious shopper if you’re selling single t-shirts, for instance. So it’s not for everyone. It might require a service fee to have the Skype Me icon.

eBay will probably continue to offer the Skype service much in the same way it exists today. They’ll make money from the 2-3 cents per minute charges and charge additional fees for add-ons like voicemail and ring-back tunes, etc. I think that’s the way it’s set up at the moment.

Did I miss anything? Any other guesses as to how this will play out?

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At 6:25 AM, Blogger Joe Muka said...

Just checking out blogs for ideas to add to my site about voip system and other voip stuff. (I know its a boring subject) I liked your site

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