I don’t think I have ever done an ‘interview style’ blog post so this is a first!
Auction Software Review has been around for as long as I can remember as a hub for neutral advice and discussion around eBay mostly, the tools, the third party services and industry news.
So I posed 10 questions to Andy and here they are:
1. From a start in Politics what drew you to online marketplaces?
I’ve had a strong interest in computing since childhood – I was programming in BASIC on the Commodore VIC-20 (with 3.5KB of RAM!) in the early 80s. It’s hard to believe we used to wait several minutes to load programs from cassette tapes while watching flickering lines on a portable TV. I graduated through the Commodore 64 and Amiga and finally onto Windows in the mid-90s. My Politics degree feels like it was a diversion from computing, rather than online marketplaces being a diversion from Politics!
Liz – gosh I remember being very proud of myself changing the screen colours on our vic-20, however I was 4 at the time!
2. What was your thinking when you first started Auction Software Review?
I discovered eBay and like many enjoyed selling every bit of halfway-valuable junk around the house. Even selling a few household items at a time is a chore, so I wondered how the big-volume sellers cope. I wanted a new programming project at that time and considered writing a tool for eBay sellers, but on discovering how much was already out there (in 2003!) decided there was more value in building a portal about the software already available, rather than jumping on the bandwagon with yet another tool.
3. The site has been around for a while, what do you think contributes to it’s success and longevity?
Software for online marketplaces can be a really confusing area, and I have seen few other sites try to tackle it. When I started ASR, even eBay didn’t have their own directory of compatible software. A few generalist ecommerce sites have put some effort into the area, but ASR has kept focused on software and I think developed a really rich coverage over the years that has helped it stand out all this time.
4. What are the future plans for Auction Software Review?
I recently updated the site to reflect the focus on all multi-seller marketplaces, not just eBay. I’ll continue to look at technology for selling on all marketplaces, and software for running your own web store where it includes integration features for one or more marketplace. Many sellers nowadays are quick to look beyond a single channel and want tools to bring all their selling together – which has several challenges!
5. What do you hope that users get out of Auction Software Review as a site?
I hope they expand their knowledge of software for online marketplaces, and can make a more informed choice about the right tools for them. Sellers’ needs are really varied, and potential providers numerous, so ASR can’t always make it easy – but I hope it’s a big help.
6. If you had to be an e-commerce avenger who would you be? What is YOUR e-commerce super power?
Um, I’d be Captain e-commerce, a traditional technology soldier happy to fight in the trenches but also able to direct the troops. Yes, I realise that doesn’t make much sense… read into it what you will…
Liz – sorry for sucking you into my current ‘superhero’ e-commerce anecdotes world đź™‚
7. What was the strangest thing you ever sold online?
I sold hundreds of CDs of vacuum cleaner noise several years ago. It’s great for getting cranky babies to sleep, and I received some fantastic feedback like “MIRACLE WORKER!” and “hope it works-if not posting the baby to you LOL!!” Someone contacted me very recently and asked if she could get another copy as her daughter still listened to it and was traumatised when the disc got scratched… I sent her an MP3!
Liz – A friend of mine had such a CD and I really thought it was bonkers…till I realised her kids will sleep through the housework and all kinds of random noises with no trouble!
8. Do you have any e-commerce ‘tales’ you tell at parties?
When ASR first started, it was called the “eBay Software Review” but I soon received a not-so-friendly email from eBay’s lawyers telling me to cease and desist!
Liz – unless you have had such a letter you don’t really live in this world…!
9. Who is your biggest influence when it comes to online marketplaces?
I don’t know if I have big influences, but have met some great people over the years (many never in the flesh) and am grateful for their support. For example, Gene Chandler of SpoonFeeder [eBay software that’s no longer around] was my first advertiser and helped me realise the site could generate some income.
10. If you ruled the e-commerce world, what would be the FIRST thing you would change?
I would make it so we don’t have to register to shop at any more websites!
Liz – Ug, yeah…there has to be a magic way this can be phased out!
Make sure you get yourself over to Auction Software Review and check out the directory and reviews of third parties. Why not review a company you have used or suggest a new one? If you have e-commerce questions or woes ask your fellow e-comrades as we all know sometimes being an eBay seller or selling online can be a lonely business!
Thank you Andy for this interview!
I would love to incorporate more interviews into this blog so drop me an email if you want to be featured. Normally I have to have known about you for a while, met you in person or used your software and LIKED it to interview you. I ask some sensible questions and some silly.