Today Ztail is introducing an innovative new service that may be exactly what online stores need to bolster sales during the recession. The service revolves around eBay, acting as a pseduo-insurance policy that guarantees that customers will be able to resell the items they are purchasing right now for a substantial amount a year down the line. Even better, the service is totally free for the customer. It’s a bit confusing at first, but it also has a chance to really take off.
Here’s how it works (see the video below if you’re still confused):
- Visitors go to the Ztail store, where they can browse a variety of items including electronics, sports, and baby gear. They’re presented with the item’s normal price from a number of partner retailers, as well as its ‘Ztail price’
- When you purchase an item through Ztail, the site will guarantee that a year down the line it will retain its value and you’ll be able to resell it on eBay for a certain amount. For example, Ztail will guarantee that a $900 stroller sold through Giggle will sell for at least $359.60 on eBay.
- After purchasing the item, Ztail will Email you a link that you click whenever you’re ready to sell it (you can also access it through your Ztail account).
- Using an eBay auction wizard that was part of Ztail’s previous products, Ztail will post your item on eBay, auto-configuring all of the auction settings to maximize your return (you basically just need to enter your account information and ship the item once the auction ends)
- If the auction ends with a final selling price below the Ztail guarantee, Ztail will refund the difference. If it ends higher than the guaranteed selling price, you get to keep the extra money.
It’s a great idea because it makes it that much easier for customers to justify their new purchases, which in turn makes the system appealing to online retailers. Customers don’t have to pay anything extra for it either, as Ztail earns its money through affiliate programs with each partner store.
The system is ideally suited for goods that you know you won’t need forever, like baby carriages or the latest smartphone. Right now Ztail has a maximum time limit of one year for its eBay guarantee, which seems a bit on the low side (even the consistently-upgraded iPhone only comes out once a year). Ztail will likely offer longer time limits in the future after it affirms the viability of service.
But the current user experience needs work. For now Ztail is operating its own online storefront, with links to products on external retailers that are eligible for the guarantee. This means that you have to pick the item out through Ztail, which then directs you to the retailer’s site where you complete the purchase. Then you receive an Email a few days later confirming that everything worked and that the Ztail guarantee is enabled. In short, it’s pretty clunky.
In the future, Ztail hopes that retailers will integrate the service directly into their sites (eligible products will display a ‘Ztail badge’). Ztail says that retailers are excited about the service, but that they want to make sure it works before building it into their sites.
There are other systems in place that allow customers to swap their old items for cash, like Gazelle and Venjuvo. These services don’t require users to conduct their own auctions on eBay – instead, users ship their goods to the service, get their money, and let Gazelle or Venjuvo worry about selling it in a marketplace. But these services only can pay the user part of the item’s true market value (something around 60%) because they have to pay for handling and the auctions themselves. Ztail doesn’t deal with any of the items physically, so users can get paid the item’s true market value, which can work out to quite a bit more depending on the item.
Last year Ztail launched as a Kelley Blue Book For Everything, allowing users to appraise each other’s possesions and giving them an easy way to sell them online through eBay. Ztail has sidelined this functionality for now, with plans to re-introduce it in the next few weeks.