eBay Takes Local to the Extreme with Gifts-Nearby Search Portal
By Ina Steiner
eBay is driving shoppers away from its own listings and to a search portal instead where they can find products at local brick-and-mortar retailers. eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff told AuctionBytes that "GiftsNearby" was developed specifically for the final days leading up to Christmas and would be available until January 3, 2011.
The Gifts Nearby portal features a search engine for finding items in-stock at local brick-and-mortar retailers, and is powered by its newly acquired service, Milo.com. The site displays item availability and pricing and also features driving directions to make it easy for shoppers to drive to the stores to pick up items on their shopping lists.
Hoff said the move strengthens eBay's position as a starting point for shoppers, by offering them a choice of shopping options. "By giving shoppers even more reasons to come to eBay through new experiences like GiftsNearby, we're making sure that eBay sellers and local retailers alike can benefit from an increased amount of traffic looking for eBay's incredible selection and great value."
In industry discussion boards, eBay users are comparing it to a Hollywood tale. In "Miracle on 34th Street," the Macy's Santa sent people to a rival department store to get items Macy's didn't carry. In the movie, it all worked out well for Macy's, which benefited from shoppers' goodwill, but eBay users are skeptical that eBay can carry off a similar strategy. Sellers in particular are more apt now to think of eBay as a different fictional character - "the Grinch" - with smaller sellers reporting lagging sales and finding it difficult to compete with the large merchants eBay now favors.
Hoff said GiftsNearby is complementary to eBay's mission of connecting sellers with buyers - "whether they're looking for gift ideas around the world, across the country, or closer to home."
eBay's growth has been stagnant for several years as CEO John Donahoe attempts a multi-year turnaround. Whether or not moves like Gifts Nearby can help it pull off a Christmas miracle of its own, eBay is unlikely to regain the magic of its first decade.
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About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to email@example.com.
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