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eBay-Accenture deal aimed at big guns

In an attempt by the online auction giant to raise revenue, it is teaming with the consulting firm, eBay and Accenture are set to announce.

eBay is teaming up with consulting company Accenture to bring more big businesses to the online auction giant, the companies plan to announce later Tuesday.

Accenture's new service, called "Connection to eBay," is expected to go live this fall, but Accenture has already begun testing it out, said Lisa Gordon-Miller, a spokeswoman for Burson-Marsteller, which is handling publicity about the service for Accenture. The companies plan to announce the partnership at the NetWorld+Interop conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, she said. Miller declined to say how Accenture would charge clients for the service.

eBay representatives did not return calls seeking comment.

Accenture will be competing against a number of smaller consulting firms that have made it their business to help companies list on eBay. Companies such as ChannelAdvisor, FairMarket and ReturnBuy have targeted the same high-end clients that Accenture will be pursuing.

Meanwhile, companies such as Andale, AuctionWorks and AuctionWatch have typically wooed smaller eBay sellers. Microsoft's bCentral also began providing eBay-listing tools to small businesses late last year.

Such companies typically provide software tools that help businesses link or list their inventory on eBay and other online auction sites. The companies also typically provide ad templates, help direct customer e-mail inquiries and sometimes help handle fulfillment.

With eBay's striving to reach a goal of $3 billion in revenue by 2005, the company has been pursuing big businesses, trying to encourage them to list on its site. Already, companies such as Intel, Eastman Kodak and Dell Computer are selling on eBay.

Scot Wingo, chief executive officer of ChannelAdvisor, said that eBay would find more success in attracting big businesses to its site by working with the companies directly and helping them sell successfully, rather than by signing up additional consulting partners such as Accenture.

"We feel like the people at eBay just don't get it," Wingo said.

ChannelAdvisor isn't afraid to compete with Accenture, he said, noting that ChannelAdvisor has some 50 big business clients, including IBM, Ingram Micro and Handspring. The lower cost structure at ChannelAdvisor will allow it to charge lower rates than the consulting giant, he said.

"We've been helping companies do this for two years," Wingo said. "We look forward to competing with them."