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Reverse auction feature a hit, eBay says

An online auction format that puts sellers into competition for individual buyers has attracted a quarter-million postings since its introduction in December, eBay says.
/ Source: Reuters

An online auction format that puts sellers into competition for individual buyers has attracted a quarter-million postings on eBay since its introduction in December, the Web marketplace said on Tuesday.

The success of the "Want it Now" feature, a reverse auction format, has led the company to explore moving the feature to its non-U.S. Web sites, said Bill Cobb, the president of North American operations for eBay Inc..

"Its initial success in the U.S. is attracting interest from our international markets," Cobb said, speaking on the sidelines of an investor conference.

Ebay has introduced features such as "Want it Now" and a haggling feature for fixed-price auctions to try to attract new buyers and sellers and grow trading volume. The company faces investor concerns that its primary markets -- the United States and Germany -- are heavily saturated and will be difficult to grow.

The reverse auction format has proven particularly successful in attracting new business, Cobb said. Half of all "Want It Now" postings have been matched up with sellers, he said.

Ebay introduced "Want It Now" in December, ahead of the holiday shopping season. Shoppers post requests for specific items, and sellers browse those postings, which have included everything from novelty T-shirts to a San Francisco-area strip mall.

Even with 250,000 postings, the feature remains a small fraction of eBay's total business. The auction site hosts an average of about 30 million items for sale at any given time.

Ebay has 147 million registered users, split about evenly between the United States and non-U.S. markets.