eBay is a lot of things to a lot of different people it's an online flea market of oddities as well a primary destination for shopaholics searching for great deals on everything from used socks to private islands. More than anything else eBay is a loyal, thriving community of bargain hunters a society of buyers and sellers where strict rules govern the actions of those engaging in online commerce.
More and more small businesses are becoming aware of what eBay has to offer when it comes to general office supplies, computer hardware and office equipment. eBay wants to build on this awareness, making certain small businesses understand the value proposition of "doing it eBay." Toward this end, this week eBay announced a special contest specifically designed for small businesses.
The promotion is part of eBay's next wave of marketing for its business-to-business efforts. Its goal is to translate eBay's success with the consumer market into some measure of small-businesses appeal. eBay Marketing Manager Jay Fiore said the idea behind the promotion is to offer "Big Savings for Small Business."
Big Savings for Small Businesses is a contest in which small businesses have a chance to win $25,000 to put toward purchases made through eBay. Small businesses need to register online to enter the contest, then answer this question: "If I won $25,000, what would I buy on eBay to help my small business and what impact would it have on my company?"
Entries should be no more then 250 words and there is a limit of one entry per eligible person per e-mail address. The contest is open to all small businesses with 100 employees or less. The promotion runs from Aug. 25 to Sept. 30, ending exactly at 11:59:59 p.m. PST.
Winners will be selected according to the following criteria: How buying business equipment and supplies on the eBay Site positively impacts your small business (40%), your passion for eBay (30%), and your clarity of expression (30%). Winners will be judged by Marden-Kane, who will provide an independent of experts to review the entries.
Judges will award one Grand Prize worth $25,000 that the winner can put toward purchasing computers and other business equipment on the eBay site. Five First Prizes will also be awarded, each worth $5,000, and again put to use purchasing computers and other business equipment on the eBay Site. Prizewinners will be selected on or about Oct. 17 from all eligible entries received.
Fiore said you don't have to look too hard to find a small business success story about buying office equipment through eBay. Wm. R. Golden & Co. is a certified public accounting service based in Roswell, N.M. When the small businesses needed to upgrade its office equipment, Fiore said it turned to eBay.
"Golden needed new computers for a small accounting firm," Fiore explained. "They bought 10 new Dell desktop PCs for about half the price of what other sources were charging. The company saved a bundle."
Fiore said it's the same story over and over again, especially for cash-strapped startup businesses that need to make major purchases.
"There was one pizzeria startup that bought about $30,000 worth of restaurant equipment for about $3,000 through eBay," Fiore said. "We offer big cost savings to just about any small business and the selection is tremendous."
More and more small business owners and operators are yielding powerful values through buying and selling their goods and services on eBay. Fiore simply said small businesses are buying into the idea that eBay is a place to transact business.
"In 2002 overall sales made to small businesses totaled more than $1 billion," Fiore said. "About half a million new listings for small business are made on the site every week."
This is why eBay launched its business-to-business subsite in January. Fiore said eBay Business is just part of the online auctioneer's commitment to small businesses.
"Rather than hunting through more than 500,000 business items listed for sale each week on its consumer site, small business buyers can quickly browse through a collection of business-only marketplaces at eBay Business," Fiore explained. "The site consists of three core indexes that include vertical industries, office technology and wholesale lots."
In addition to eBay's B2B subsite, the company signed a letter of intent in July with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to collaborate on ways the two organizations can work together for the benefit of small businesses across the country. The new relationship focuses on providing training, education and information to entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on management issues, financial assistance, government contracting and international trade.
Come to think of it, winning $25,000 from eBay could be one way to secure a micro-loan without having to file papers with the SBA. Based on what our readers tell us, it's probably a heck of a lot simpler, too.
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