|Tue Sept 10 2013 21:18:34|
Could Amazon Crush eBay's Collectibles Business?
By: Ina Steiner
Amazon continues to encroach on eBay's turf with its moves into the collectibles space, and today it announced a deal with one of Hollywood's top talent agencies, Creative Artists Agency, to boost exclusive memorabilia on its site through Prize Authentics - a "best-of-brands business relationship" between Amazon and CAA.
But as EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor Greg Holden writes in tomorrow's Newsflash newsletter, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison with eBay's collectibles business. He spoke to expert Harry Rinker who said this is a move by Amazon into the primary rather than secondary (resale) market. Greg writes, "As an investment, buyers need to realize that it can take 30 years for an object to move from what Rinker described as a "desirable" item to a "collectible.""
The question may not be whether Amazon "could" crush eBay's collectibles business, but whether it wants to. Amazon keeps tight reins on every aspect of its business - sellers must be pre-approved to sell in collectibles categories, and Amazon spokesperson Erik Fairleigh told Greg that Amazon has "hundreds" of sellers in the Sports Collectibles store on Amazon. Compare that with eBay's hundreds of millions of users, any of whom can list a collectible at any time.
Amazon and eBay are both struggling to grow their third-party seller business but from opposite positions. eBay wants to reduce fraud and control and limit who sells on its site (it went through another recent purging of sellers last month). Meanwhile, Amazon wants to keep fraud at bay but increase the number of third-party sellers.
Interestingly both companies are turning to "facilitators" - Amazon with CAA, and eBay with its recent decision to let Collectors Universe's Professional Coins Grading Service (PCGS) power its coin catalog.
But it's a bit like trying to regulate flea markets - there will always be demand for rare and unusual items, and buyers will always be willing to take a certain amount risk in attaining such goods (all the way up to the high end art market, by the way). If eBay and Amazon are too restrictive about who can sell on their marketplaces and what they can sell, collectors will find another way to get their hands on prized treasures.
Looking out 5 or 10 years, where will collectors and dealers conduct business? Will it be eBay, Amazon, or one of the numerous alternative marketplaces? Or something else altogether?