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AuctionWatch to launch business service

The auction-management company, known as the home for smaller auction buyers and sellers, will launch a service geared toward large-scale manufacturers and retailers.

AuctionWatch.com, known as the site of choice for mom-and-pop auction sellers, is setting its sights on bigger customers.

The San Bruno, Calif.-based auction-management company will announce on Sunday its new business service, which is targeted at large-scale manufacturers and retailers interested in selling on eBay. The new service, which AuctionWatch plans to launch next month, will tie into companies' existing inventory programs and e-commerce software.

"This will enable a much easier use of the auction channel for large businesses," said Mike Effle, AuctionWatch's vice president of strategy.

A growing number of big businesses have been turning to online marketplaces such as eBay to offer new, in-demand products and to get rid of old inventory. Sun Microsystems, for instance, began selling servers on eBay last year. More recently, luxury goods e-tailer Ashford.com set up shop on the top online auctioneer.

As big businesses have set their sights on eBay, auction-management companies have begun offering services to help them market their goods. Sun and Ashford are both customers of ChannelAdvisor, formerly GoTo Auctions. Meanwhile, Ritz Camera has begun offering goods on eBay through AuctionWorks.com.

To date, AuctionWatch has been the dominant player among the auction-management companies. About 35,000 auction sellers use its services to launch about 2 million auctions each month, according to the company.

But AuctionWatch has largely been known as the home for smaller auction buyers and sellers. The company began as a discussion board for auction users and did not begin charging for its seller tools until this past March.

As part of the new service, AuctionWatch will help customize its auction-management software to different companies' inventory and payment systems. For some customers, AuctionWatch will manage the entire auction process, from listing the items to selling the products. However, Effle said, AuctionWatch will focus on helping companies use its software to do their own listings.

"We can do some hand-holding," he said. "But we are looking much more at the technology end, integrating your technology with ours."

Effle said AuctionWatch already has several billion-dollar companies testing its new business services, though he declined to name the companies.

Effle also declined to give pricing for AuctionWatch's business service, saying the company will provide more information when it fully launches the service next month.

Earlier this month, AuctionWatch competitor Andale relaunched its own auction-management service, targeting another trend in the evolving auction world: the move toward fixed-price and other non-auction venues. But bugs in the new software delayed its launch and caused headaches for sellers for days afterward.