Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon June 16 2014 16:32:44

Should eBay Launch Premium B2C Marketplace for Branded Goods?

By: Ina Steiner

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Some online sellers have long believed that eBay should separate its marketplace in order to have different policies for different types of items. One proposal years ago involved eBay making separate sites for auctions versus fixed-price listings. Another proposal involved separate sites for new, commodity goods versus used goods and collectibles. eBay may be headed in this direction, as we noted in January, following a path Alibaba has successfully pursued.

The reason some advocated a spinoff marketplace was due to eBay's "one size fits all" approach to policies, features and marketing. For example, clothing sellers feel they should be allowed a shorter return policy than other types of items due to the high rate of returns abuse by apparel shoppers. Another example: unique antiques and collectibles require different approaches to customer service than easily substituted commodity items.

Smaller sellers of used and unique items have said they hoped a separate marketplace for new commodity items would allow them to operate with more realistic, suitable restrictions.

eBay actually tried creating a marketplace for new commodity items called eBay Express in 2006, but some believe the company didn't give the site enough time and resources to fully determine its viability before shutting it down. So up to this point, all entities, whether global brands or casual sellers, list on the same eBay marketplace.

In China, Alibaba took a different approach. It launched a consumer-to-consumer marketplace called Taobao in reaction to eBay entering the China market. But in 2008 it launched a business-to-consumer marketplace called Taobao Mall (now called Tmall) that let major retailers and internationally known brands sell directly to Chinese consumers.

The Wall Street Journal pointed out today that the B2C Tmall marketplace is growing faster than the C2C Taobao marketplace. Here's what Alibaba said about it in its SEC filing:

"The overall increase in total GMV transacted on these marketplaces (Taobao Marketplace, Tmall and its group-buying site Juhuasuan) was primarily driven by increases in the number of buyers and the level of their spending. The rapid increase in GMV transacted on Tmall in particular was attributable to the increasing number of buyers making purchases on Tmall, reflecting consumer preferences for branded products and a premium shopping experience, increases in the level of spending of buyers and the beneficial impact of promotional events."


The desire for shoppers to purchase branded products directly from major brands themselves may be why eBay launched an initiative called Designer Collective last week, a direct-to-consumer platform in the clothing category.

However, since Designer Collective listings are also integrated in eBay search results, it's possible eBay could actually push listings from low-volume sellers lower in search results.

Should eBay split up its marketplace, and how should eBay handle B2C sellers? And, as one reader pointed out, what's in it for the brands?




Comments (23) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

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by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 16 16:47:21 2014

Should they YES, will they don't hold your breath. Fleabay does nothing unless it enhances the bottom line.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Mon Jun 16 17:30:22 2014

If only Johnny Ho had even a fraction of the brain power of Jack Ma ...

Even the Ho's latest experiment with B2C, "Designer Collective", will surely bear little fruit—just as most of his other ideas have been fruitless in improving eBay’s stock price, or providing eBay’s long-suffering shareholders a cash share of the loot ...

“Buy direct from brands you love [on eBay]”

http://www.ebay.com/rpp/designer-collective

What on Earth gives Johnny Ho the idea that any woman who is prepared to pay the full retail price for any expensive, “designer” brand item, will pass up the opportunity to “be seen” buying that item in a fashionable designer B&M retail outlet, and instead, will choose to anonymously buy the item (at the full retail price) on his clunky, atrophying marketplace? Could it be yet one more delusional idea from another of his rare “thinking days”?

The likes of Kim Kardashian may “sell” stuff (to put it figuratively) on eBay but I doubt they would ever buy on eBay, for you cannot “be seen” buying, on eBay …

Apparently, the Ho believes that even though you strangle the goose, the golden eggs will keep coming—dream on Johnny Ho …

eBay Inc, where the incompetent mingle with the malevolent and the outright criminal, and the just plain stupid ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 16 17:33:00 2014

I don't hold out much hope for eBay under this management.

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by: moto-science This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 16 20:20:51 2014

I could care less what Ebay does at this point.
I don't shop there...anymore.

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by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jun 16 22:38:25 2014

All over the news on the internet today that eBay is expanding into Chicago and it will create 360 new jobs. That math isn't looking so good. 360 new jobs in downtown Chicago created by eBay yet 40,000 or more small mom and pop sellers unfairly purged last year and an estimated 90,000 more to get suspended by the new Defect Rate in August. Many of those sellers last year thrown under the bus were dependent in large part for some or most of their livelihoods from eBay sales. Amazing that eBay can get good press out of creating 360 jobs while having created unemployment for thousands. There's something very wrong with this picture.

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by: LinneyPinney This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 16 23:12:10 2014

Same here. I couldn't care less. I don't sell there much anymore.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Jun 17 00:37:11 2014

eBay under John Donahoe has proven time and again that they can not build or grow their existing marketplace.

I do not think anyone believes this inept bumbling management team could grow mold on three month old cheese let alone build a secondary marketplace separate from eBay.

John Donahoe's three year turn around plan for eBay is now in year seven and has failed to produce any significant growth despite changing so many systems, policies etc...

This management team fails to learn from their many mistakes and miscues.

A secondary marketplace using the eBay name would serve little purpose except to water down sales in eBay's existing marketplace due to the company's alienation of buyers over the years with senseless changes made for the sake of making changes.

These days, it would appear that buyers want less eBay, not more.

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Tue Jun 17 01:28:32 2014

Only a fool would purchase at full retail price unless immediately needed (not to be confused with wanted or desired) or having considerable wealth. The execs at eBay are indeed fools.

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by: etail This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 17 02:10:04 2014

In trying to be everything to everyone Ebay itself has no brand identity or indeed a negative one: Behemoth, Monopoly, Fleabay, Scambay.
It needs to segment to survive. Most people don't have time to wade though many thousands of listings. In clothing, electronics and homewares they don't necessarily want the cheapest but a combination of quality and price which equals good value. Sellers of used, vintage, collectable and antique items have a qualitatively different offering frequently with an element of scarcity, uniqueness or other differentiation which brands can't offer.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Jun 17 02:24:48 2014

What ebay needs more than anything else is a completely new management team which would include dispatching every one of them to their families or to the Ukraine.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Jun 17 06:04:13 2014

Been saying they should try it for years.

About time something that is apples and oranges gets treated like apples and oranges!


At least eBay gives the ability to separate new and used items if you know where to look. One venue I can think of gives the choice of either 'new only', or 'new & used together' without a used only choice! If you aren't interested in new, you have to sit & scroll through it anyway... Grrr...

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 17 06:33:25 2014

if you need it immediately - why would you buy online???  Branded items have their own sites - why go to ebay?

Why does ebay make announcements anymore?  For the sake of the wall street idiots?

Nobody cares anymore what ebay does or doesn't do. JD and staff (including the board) are total idiots and should have been booted out after the first 3 year turnaround failed.

I was TRS and fed up. No more ebay for us. That is in both buying and selling.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jun 17 06:38:12 2014

They can't run their current marketplace properly. I think adding a separate marketplace would just make it worse.

And to Ming's point, yes, new management team.  And a management team who doesn't show such disdain for their sellers (i.e. the customers).

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jun 17 06:45:40 2014

One more point....if someone else is doing it, and doing it successfully, eBay will likely try it.  eBay have been copying Amazon for years, and eBay never seem to have any original ideas of their own, so if they see another mega-site having success with something that they have implemented, they will likely try it.

What Alibaba is doing fits Donahoe's "vision" ( use that term vision very loosely) to a T.

An eBay seller never knows what eBay will do next.  Who wants a company like that for a business partner? Build your own.

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by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 17 09:57:14 2014

When I am looking to buy a “brand name” item on the Internet, I first go to Amazon.  Finding items is easy, price comparison of new and used items is also a snap.  Shopping on eBay is a second or third choice.  

As a long time seller on eBay, my small business (that grows smaller and smaller) continues to slide down, down, down.  

My biggest DEFECT seems to be that I continue to support eBay.  A profit oriented company  that long ago gave up supporting small dealers.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Jun 17 22:25:09 2014

People have been saying for years that eBay should break into two sites, one for new items, and one for collectibles/used items. But at this point it's probably too late. Can anyone trust eBay to do anything for the benefit of its sellers?

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by: gramophone-georg This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 18 01:54:30 2014

eBay's strategy since 2008 has been that if you can't make the features and programs you have work- no problem- just add a new one!

First they wanted to be Amazon and failed, so now they want to be Alibaba, and they will fail at that, too.

eBay Express... Fail.
eBay Now...Fail
eBay Valet Service... Fail.

eBay was successful as eBay, but no, they don't want that.

What a bunch of dilettantes.

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by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 18 08:47:15 2014

There is no way ebay will fix it's policies to make sure the sellers in different categories which require completely different sales and different buyer involvement in the transaction.
I already have brought this up to ebay concerning customized goods that are unique ti the individual buyer, ebay provides no solution for these items that REQUIRE CUSTOMER INPUT TO COMPLETE THAT TRANSACTION. Ebay does not provide the customer input boxes for buyers to type in their personalization, this causes confusion for the buyer that is new does not know how to send a ebay message or leave a note in the ebay or paypal checkout and therefore does not send the required information to the seller. This delays the shipping as the buyer many times does not answer the ebay messages, the emails or the phone calls and messages left on their voicemail or their information is out of date and you cannot reach them at all. Ebay then punishes the seller when the item is not shipped within the handling time listed.
I was transferred four times while speaking to ebay customer service, and finally I was told we have send this problem to management and we will get back to you in 3 to 5 days.
No we aplogize for wasting your time, no apology for wrongly adjusting my seller perfprmance rating for something I have no control over, and most importantly no reply from management whom judge sellers on their customer service and business policies.
It is ironic that ebay has horrible customer service, hands down it is bad.
The one size fits all will not end, too much time is being spent on TRS, defect rate and all of that nonsense which for many honest sellers is detrimental and you cannot get ebay to open their ears to anything.
Ebay needs a retail executive badly and that is not going to happen, they would probably resign in no time under the present regime. So many executives have come and gone from ebay and paypal under John Donahoe,WHY?
My opinion they do not agree with what is going on.
I do believe that 11main and etsy will continue to grow while ebay flounders, 11main is going to cause ebay a world of trouble and the present ceo is not going to change his policies.
Therefore a sinking ship is ebay.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 18 17:18:31 2014

Is it me? Am I obtuse?

eBay already has this - in spades ... what kind of new creation is Ina referring to?

1) eBay has 10 GIS companies - they are on eBay
2) eBay has the Noah Hershman guy who was supposed to do this with big name electronics people (this was 2 yrs ago)
3) eBay already has platinum/anchor stores for many brands (Monster, Skullcandy and many fashion brands)

So please pardon my not understanding the question ... what MORE - do you think - eBay should to in the B2C arena?

In any case - regardless of what they decide to do - it will be an abject failure.

eBay ONLY KNOWS ONE THING - how to steal from people - a quality they are famous the world over for (LMFAO "seller protection", 90 day returns, DSRs, defects and the list keeps on going)(oh yeh on eBay uk the paypal returns are 180 days) ...

There isnt a person on this planet except maybe "Lyin Ryan" who doesnt know "about eBay".

Let eBay so what they want - smaller sellers dont/wont care, larger brands will eventually learn about how eBay treats its "partners", and buyers will learn about the myrid of fakes, chinese rip off sellers, and all the other crap that eBay allows.

"whatever" ....

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by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 19 00:22:29 2014

***eBay was successful as eBay, but no, they don't want that.***

Very true - when Ebay was just being Ebay, all was right with the world.

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