|Sun Jan 20 2013 21:31:15|
eBay Working to Broaden Sellers' Access to Emerging Markets
By: Kenneth Corbin
In the months and years ahead, sellers can expect to hear a steady diet of news from eBay about its efforts to expand into overseas markets, opening potentially lucrative new sales opportunities in countries with increasingly affluent and Internet-connected populations.
Already, eBay has established a strong presence in Europe, Southeast Asia and Australia, but efforts to crack the emerging markets with major population centers have been moving more slowly.
Sure, news has been trickling out about the company's incremental progress in the international market - a PayPal trial here, a milestone in mobile apps there - and CEO John Donahoe lately has been bullish about the opportunities in emerging markets, particularly in reaching consumers via mobile devices. But where was the overarching strategy?
We were curious. So we got in touch with eBay International and spoke with global communication director Steve Milton about the company's designs on emerging markets, specifically in the heavily populated BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Milton made it clear that eBay, as it looks to build its business in foreign markets, has the twin goals of providing buyers in those countries with a reliable, consumer-friendly shopping experience, while also expanding sales opportunities for its sellers in the United States and elsewhere, who have historically had limited access to those markets.
What was striking about Milton's outline of eBay's strategy for China, in particular, was how easy the company is trying to make the process for U.S. sellers. In November, eBay announced a deal with Chinese ecommerce company Xiu.com to act as a conduit for U.S. sellers and Chinese buyers.
Milton explained that Xiu.com will provide top-to-bottom logistical support, but it will all be on the back end, unseen by sellers. That means that a seller could process an order and not even know that it's ultimately bound for China.
An order will come in with a domestic shipping address - that will be to a warehouse, where Xiu.com will then relay the merchandise to China and handle the local delivery. That's on top of the company's responsibility for payment processing and currency conversion, language translation to display listings in China, and oversight of customer service, including returns.
Now what works in China (if it works, and a big "if", at that) might not become the model for Russia and Brazil, where eBay is also looking to expand its operations. (India stands alone among the BRIC countries as an established eBay business, a "going concern," as Milton put it.)
Each market is different, to be sure, but a common thread is that all of the BRIC countries represent an enormous opportunity for U.S. sellers.
Click through to read our full report in Monday's newsletter on eBay's plans to open markets in the BRIC countries for imports, and let us know about your experiences selling overseas, along with anything you think eBay has done well or could do better in the international marketplace in the comments section.
See eBay Sees Huge Potential in Emerging Markets: Part One and Part Two.
About the Author
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects since 2007, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here.