eBay Ireland opened for business just two years ago, but has been an almost instant success. Earlier this year they achieved half a million registered users, not bad for a country with a population of just 4.3 million. TameBay spoke to John McElligott, eBay Ireland’s Managing Director, during our trip to eBay Live.
John was an experienced ecommerce consultant when he was head-hunted to run the new Irish site. Having worked in ten different countries, he thought eBay Ireland sounded an exciting and unusual place to work. Two years later, with the company having exceeded all expectations and targets, he says that he’s tremendously priviliged to have a job where “thinking about the future” is part of his brief.
The immediate future for eBay Ireland is about “figuring out how to grow local business”. We’re all used to hearing how big businesses are moving to Dublin, and how the Irish economy is booming, but ironically, the very strength of the economy could be holding back the growth of eBay Ireland: it may be that people simply can’t be bothered to sell off their unwanted items. But John believes that the next stage of Irish economic development will be entrepreneur led, and focussed on exports. eBay can allow rural communitites to engage with the global economy: wouldn’t it be great if the shoe shop in Dingle, County Kerry could sell shoes to the whole world?
But to achieve this, eBay need to achieve a critical mass of successful sellers. At the moment, one item is sold every minute by an Irish seller; in the same time, Irish buyers buy four items: clearly there’s room for a lot more sellers. John comments that certain areas of the site are very popular with local sellers – PCs and consumer electronics, high priced collectibles, and clothing – with many other categories definitely under-represented. He’s been working with County Enterprise Boards to encourage small established businesses to begin selling on eBay, and the feedback to those talks has been very good. Small businesses wanting to move onto eBay can email [email protected] to arrange a consultation. It’s a move that can bring huge new markets to your business; with Ireland’s small population, it makes sense to target larger populations in the UK and Europe. John comments that many small businesses in Ireland think about exporting from day 1: what better way to do that than with the help of eBay’s established global brand?
John says that he loves interacting with the growing community around eBay Ireland. With two Universities last year and another in March this year, he says “watch this space” for education events later in the year. You might also like to keep an eye out for news from eBay as the football and hurling championships come down to the wire. 😉 Other recent initiatives run a huge range from the Irish Seller of the Year and Irish Internet Association events, to features in “You and Your Money” magazine, and a series in the Craft Council of Ireland’s magazine about making money through eBay.
In a company full of nice, enthusiastic, approachable people, John McElligott stands out as nice, enthusiastic and very approachable. This is eBay Ireland’s first visit to eBay Live, and the green shirts with shamrocks on the back have proved a desirable item with eBayers: so much so, says John, that his team will be auctioning shirts this week in aid of Barretstown camp for very sick children. We wish John and his team every possible success.
I worked with John when I was at eBay last year. He is a tremendous guy and a real find for eBay IE. They’re incredibly lucky to have him.
He’s also great to go for a drink with.
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