EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3104 - July 09, 2013     2 of 4

eBay Aggressively Courts Large Retailers Across Europe

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From London to Milan, from Berlin to Paris, eBay is working to attract brands, large retailers and manufacturers to its marketplace. eBay's new EU Merchant Development Organisation is hiring salespeople and is tasked with providing merchant support through Strategic Account Managers who identify growth opportunities for large accounts and provide them with marketing and operational support.

The new sales organization is a sign of how much things have changed under the leadership of John Donahoe, who has worked to transform eBay away from a C2C marketplace to a B2C platform.

eBay's Merchant Development Organisation has been recruiting salespeople and business development managers in Europe. The message to would-be employees describes how eBay now sees itself:

The retail landscape is changing at a rapid pace. The boundaries between online and offline have never been more intertwined. The web now influences more than 50% of all retail sales yet just three years ago, this figure stood at just a fraction.

Over the past few years, we at eBay have seen this change first hand; from our evolution as a site known for auctions to one where today, fixed price or Buy It Now products represent 65% of our total sales; to our early lead in becoming a global leader in Mobile Commerce.

Crucial to this success has been building relationships with leading retail merchants, which has helped grow our global position as a site with unrivalled selection. In the process, we've become a trusted advisor, able to provide merchants with a service that forms a fundamental part of their global, multi-channel offering.

But we don't want to stop here. Our ambition is to be the strategic partner of choice for every leading retailer, brand and manufacturer across the world, moving our relationship from the warehouse to the boardroom, and cementing our reputation as a company that is truly redefining commerce.

These days eBay makes no secret of the fact it does special deals with large merchants and brands, but the years immediately following Donahoe's rise to the position of CEO were painful for eBay's loyal base of small sellers who were not told of eBay's ambitions. They'd been promised by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and former CEO Meg Whitman that eBay would always remain a "level playing field" for sellers of all sizes, and large merchants would never receive special treatment.

Donahoe did not enlighten sellers of his major shift in strategy. In fact, when EcommerceBytes wrote about the impending Large Merchant Services program (Operation Catalog) that was potentially set to flood inventory onto the site during the crucial 2008 holiday shopping season, eBay discredited the report; two months later, eBay released the Large Merchant on-boarding program.

While attracting brands to the site globally, eBay is also attempting to be more strategic about inventory selection particularly in its biggest categories (automotive, fashion and electronics) and "emerging verticals" - Sporting Goods, Toys, Home and Garden (including Health & Beauty), Tools and Musical Instruments.

For example, the U.S. Electronics team is in the early stages of developing an accessories store, starting with cell phone accessories. The accessories business is currently growing quickly, according to an eBay job listing posted in May, "and is one of the 3 core pillars of the eBay Electronics strategy in 2013." It aims to grow sales of import accessories from sellers outside the U.S.

Helping eBay to reach brands and large retailers was its acquisition of GSI Commerce in 2011. In a sign Donahoe is growing confident that eBay's brand is moving away from its earlier image as a flea market, the company rebranded its GSI Commerce unit to eBay Enterprise, after having rebranded to eBay Commerce Network in April.

In a job posting for a Strategic Account Manager, eBay's EU Merchant Development Organization described just how much support it would be giving strategic merchants, writing that the position called for someone to "proactively provide direction to the merchant on Search & Listing Optimization, marketing, inventory management, shipping economics, fulfilment strategy, improving the buyer experience, risk management, fraud, Trust & Safety policies, negative account actions, and other strategic and operational needs to ensure eBay store is optimised for sales growth."

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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

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