Retail Week today carried a great article highlighting some of the successes of high street retailers on eBay. A few years ago it was rare to find main stream merchants embracing eBay, but the article emphasises just how powerful the eBay platform can be as an additional outlet.
It tells the story of and how they built their eBay sales from just Â£5 or Â£10 a day to some 2500 pairs of shoes a day, and impressively Littlewoods achieve comparable prices to those in retail stores. Geoff Dykes of explains how auctions sometimes fetch higher prices on eBay than in store as they’re reaching out to more people and specialist dealers, while Dan Lumb of Schuh highlights the importance of using eBay as customer acquisition by including literature directing buyers to the Schuh website.
Schuh highlight some of the challenges of trading on eBay, on their website from 3000 sales they might get around 300 emails, but selling through eBay they’ll get closer to 3000. Schuh have a dedicated eBay team to handle the workload and say if a retailer doesn’t respond to emails then they’re losing sales. An eBay business had different demands to a normal retail website.
Both Littlewoods and Schuh note scalability, business systems and stock control are essential (both use ChannelAdvisor software to achieve this). Schuh explains how they only list one size in a style at any one time and will sell as though it’s the last pair, but automatically relist the next pair as soon as the auction ends.
Brand protection is an interesting point, does eBay still have a flea market image? According to Littlewoords and Schuh having a dedicated eBay shop enables them to protect their brand. Both emphasise that making sure they can copy with customer service gives them the confidence they can manage their eBay operations well enough not to damage their brands. “It’s a case of embracing it as another channel rather than being frightened of it” according to Dan Lumb.
James Roper, IMRG Chief Executive suggested more mainstream retailers should harness the power of eBay saying “It’s a golden opportunity. If you make the right moves you can really clean up.”
With advice like this from Retail Week, and eBay experimenting with deals such as for Buy.com in the US we can expect many more highstreet stores to be opening eBay shops in the future.