Cooqy – Giving eBay A Facelift

By Jackson West

Robert Yeager of Atlanta-based Cooqy feels there are problems with eBay’s feedback system. “eBay users have two personas — one as a Buyer, one as a Seller. eBay’s feedback forces a singular system for two competing interests. As a Buyer, I have to be worried about a seller retaliating against my feedback. This has personally happened to me where a seller shipped me a counterfeit Sony memory stick — I dared not leave a negative feedback b/c he was doing that to other buyers who complained.” In the new tagging system built into the eBay browser, “Tags can have a positive or negative disposition, a tag type (i.e. ‘counterfeit’), and a long 1024-character ‘reason’ — eBay’s shortened feedback length is another area of frustration. Another twist is the ability to tag fair prices for items and shipping.” Members can police the system by out-voting negative feedback with positive feedback.

What started as an entry into the last eBay Developers Challenge, Cooqy uses eBay’s web services to provide an alternative interface for search and browing auctions. What struck me about Cooqy is both the density of the tool set and the speed at which results are delivered (though leary of the flash-based interface, Yeager assured me that OpenLaszlo — now offers a DHTML version of their platform client). According to Yeager, because they’re just pushing product data (and not front-end data like HTML code) to the client, results load even faster than they would if you were browsing eBay’s regular website. Advanced searching tools allow you to quickly refine searches by generating misspelled versions of your query to find the best prices, looking in your neighborhood or state for reduced shipping and items with zero bids and/or a ‘buy now’ option. I was won over by the seemless integration with Yahoo Maps to plot your search results.

The project is still very young (debuting in late January and rolled out to the public in March), but already has a revenue stream, his team is continuing to develop new features to compliment and expand eBay’s functionality. As a certified eBay Solutions Provider and Affiliate, they make money every time a user purchases something through Cooqy. Yeager is a veteran of the startup scene, having started “something like five companies.” Of course, the social tagging feature for such a huge database won’t really shine until a critical mass of users is reached. Registered eBay users can sign up for a Cooqy account so that they can tag both individual products and individual sellers, but casual surfers will also be able to see this data for themselves. But the benefits for those stuck on dial-up and feedback frustration by power users could be key assets in growing the user base.

Jackson West writes about Web 2.0 and other topics for GigaOm.