Half.com is a subsidiary of eBay, in which sellers offer items at fixed prices, usually items that have a UPC, ISBN or other kind of SKU, rather than rare, old or collectible items. The items available on half.com are limited to books, textbooks, music, movies, video games, and video game consoles.
There are no fees to list items on Half.com, but rather the company takes a commission of every completed sale. As of January 2009, the commission is 15% if the fixed selling price is $50 or less, 12.5% if the price is more than $50 but less than $100.01, 10% if the price is more than $100 but less than $250.01, 7.5% if the price is more than $250 but less than $500.01, and 5% if the price is more than $500.
The seller is responsible for shipping any item within three business days of a sale and paying the actual shipping costs. A shipping and handling fee is added to the transaction and is (partially) credited to the seller as a reimbursement. The buyer can choose either USPS Media Mail or expedited delivery. Depending on the weight of the item, the reimbursement amount may often be less than the actual shipping costs. For example, the current shipping reimbursement for any DVD sent USPS Media Mail is $2.39. On the other hand, the reimbursement amount may exceed the actual shipping costs. In this case, many sellers will offer a "free upgrade" to first class shipping, which is not much more expensive than media mail for small items such as CDs.
Half.com was founded in 1999 by American entrepreneur Josh Kopelman (Infonautics, Turntide, Comcast Interactive Capital, First Round Capital) and Sunny Balijepalli (who more recently founded ZoomIn.com). As an advertising gimmick, in December of the same year, the company paid the town of Halfway, Oregon US$100,000 and donated 20 new computers to change its name to "Half.com, Oregon" for a year.
eBay purchased Half.com in 2000 for roughly $350 million, integrating its user management system, buyer/seller feedback, and account information into eBay. Like its parent company, Half.com is not a retail site and has no physical stock or inventory. Rather, the site offers a place for individual sellers to list their items and potential buyers a central location in which to view them, offering both a standardized transaction and money exchange process. Unlike its parent, Half.com is not an auction site; sellers offer their wares at a bid price of their choosing. Like Amazon.com, Half.com plays a large role in the used textbook and CD markets. eBay planned to integrate Half.com into eBay and eventually close down Half.com. Many of the features that made listing media items such as CDs & DVDs quick and easy have been integrated into eBay, but eBay have chosen to keep Half.com running separately primarily for the textbook market.
Sellers do the bidding
Half provides a platform where sellers competitively "bid" against one another, based on Universal Product Code. The seller can see the average sale price and most recent sale price for any particular item to determine the selling price desired. A potential buyer sees the available inventory for any particular item and can choose the seller. This is the opposite of eBay where buyers bid against one another. The Pre-order feature allows buyers to set a price and quality rating of a particular item they would like to buy. Sellers see the pre-order listed when they put an item up for sale and may sell it to the buyer if they agree with the buyer's price.
- The "quality rating" of an item (Brand New, Like New, Very Good, Good and Acceptable), is disclosed to buyers before order placement, along with a text description entered by the seller. These ratings indicate whether or not, in the case of a CD, for example the artwork/inserts will accompany the CD, a part of the product which is often missing on used CD web purchases elsewhere. The condition of the CD is also clearly described.
- The feedback about each individual seller is disclosed before order placement, linking the eBay feedback system, which allows the buyer to choose their merchant.
- Buyers can sort the search results of available CDs (Performer by Best Selling, Price, Alphabetical or Release Date).
- CDs and many older video games can commonly be found at the entry level of US$0.75.
- Standardized shipping prices across all merchants.
- "Half.com Policies - Seller Payment & Commissions". Half.com Inc. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
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- Nora Macaluso & Chet Dembeck (14 June 2000). "eBay Broadens Scope with Half.com Buy". E-Commerce Times. ECT News Network, Inc. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- Gilbert, Alorie (6 March 2003). "eBay to close Half.com". c|net. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- Cohen, Brian (10 February 2013). "eBay's Half.com Begins Accepting PayPal". ecommercebytes.com. Steiner Associates LLC. Retrieved 22 February 2013.