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eBay Deal with Sneaker Marketplace Emblematic of New Approach

eBay’s new deal with a sneaker marketplace is emblematic of its new approach to consumer sellers and longtail inventory, making it more challenging for current sellers.

eBay is welcoming a marketplace for “sneakerheads” to its site. Stadium Goods announced on Monday it was launching an “exclusive engagement” with eBay – in addition to opening an eBay store, Stadium Goods will produce content for eBay.

Existing eBay sellers can’t be too happy to learn about the deal. The move is reminiscent of an agreement eBay entered into with Buy.com in 2008 in which eBay waived Buy’s insertion fees. The deal was the first proof of eBay’s mass unleveling of the playing field for sellers with the introduction of the Diamond Powerseller and special negotiated rates. Ironically Buy.com was later acquired by eBay rival Rakuten.

Sneakers are big business – not just the kind found at local retail stores – there are aficionados who pay big money for sought-after “deadstock” pairs (no longer in stock). A website called Campless devotes itself to research about that one area of footwear and provides a sneaker price guide. And its data is fascinating.

Campless found that last year, there were 131,807 sellers who sold at least one pair of “sneakerhead” sneakers on eBay (counting only the 1,311 sneakers it tracks – see this blog post for its methodology).

It found that 43% of those sellers sold only one pair – and less than 1% (.67%) sold more than 50 pairs.

Regarding the new eBay deal, Stadium Goods cofounder and CEO John McPheters said in Monday’s announcement, “As a leader in the sneaker marketplace, we’re thrilled to be partnering with eBay, the world’s premiere destination for selling and buying. We believe together, eBay and Stadium Goods, will offer sneaker enthusiasts around the world the most premium omni-channel experience that consumers have long been asking for.”

McPheters will also develop custom sneaker and street wear content exclusively for eBay. eBay vice president of merchandising Jill Ramsey was quoted in the announcement, “With the new Stadium Goods store, we’re excited to bring unique collection of sneakers and apparel to our global community of 159 million buyers.”

Stadium Goods sells sneakers on consignment, taking a 20% cut, according to a recent article on Complex.com.

While eBay’s new management team is talking a lot these days about attracting “consumer sellers,” the focus has been on letting those sellers send their items to eBay or one of its large partners to do the actual listing and fulfillment.

This summer, eBay acquired consignment site Twice to help it power its eBay Valet consignment program.

That’s in sharp contrast to the approach eBay used to take, which was to encourage its sellers to sell on consignment through the eBay Trading Assistant program, which it terminated 2 years ago.

With the exclusive deal eBay is entering into with Stadium Goods, sellers may find it more difficult to get attention for their sneakers.

Stadium Goods launched a new eBay store where it is offering sneakers and street wear apparel that it is selling on a consignment basis for their owners. Here’s how it explains the benefits to resellers:

“Currently, sneaker resellers have only been able to sell their goods either through footwear marketplaces or brick-and-mortar e-commerce retailers. The engagement between Stadium Goods and eBay will offer resellers access to a larger audience, while Stadium Goods manages all of the back end buyer interaction, fulfillment and customer service functions. Sneaker sales will be updated across all channels in real time and new sneakers will be added daily.”

It will be interesting to see how Stadium Goods deals with the fickle eBay buyer – other sellers will no doubt be watching.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.