eBay Drop-Off Service Shuts Stores in UK, Goes to Home Pick-up Model
By Ina Steiner
Auctioning4u has decided to concentrate on the "already bustling" home collection part of its eBay consignment business and will close its eBay drop-off stores. The UK company has three shops of its own in London, two franchisees, and a number of shop-in-shops located within third-party storage companies that it had begun rolling out on a trial basis. The company will close all stores, including the shop-in-shops, and will keep its central processing center as its only drop-off point for customers.
According to the company's announcement, it had surveyed its customer base and found that clients put maximum emphasis on convenience. "The company's main demographic are busy professionals who don't necessarily have time to visit Auctioning4u's shops and prefer the company's handy home collection service; they want collections from their homes and business at times and dates of their choosing."
Auctioning4u CEO Christian Braun said the company employs 120 people. Selling for companies is the largest part of its business, but Braun said that while consumers take longer, he envisions them becoming an increasingly important part of the business. The new strategy away from drop-off stores comes after an "in-depth review of the customer psyche," Braun said. "People want us to come to their home - they want full convenience." He wasn't sure if the findings would translate to businesses across the Atlantic, stating that his experience has only been in the UK. He cited the nightmare of driving in London as a major factor in his customers' preference for pick-up service.
A spokesperson for Auctioning4u said "we have discussed and amicably settled with both our franchisees." Braun said one franchisee had operated his own eBay drop-off store, then worked for Auctioning4u for 6 months before opening up an Auctioning4u drop-off store. "He knew what he was getting into," Braun said, and he is considering joining Auctioning4u as an employee again.
The other franchisee belonged to Mark and Catherine Clough, former iSold It franchisees who signed on with Auctioning4u after the iSold It UK master franchisor, Online Revolution, closed down. Mark Clough said the couple had decided it was not economical to transfer to London from Manchester where they are based, and said he was "quite happy" with the settlement they received from Auctioning4u. The Cloughs have plans to look for another business, but probably not eBay-related. "It's quite hard to do the franchise and make money," Clough said. "Doing eBay is profitable, but not when you must give money from the pie to the franchisor."
Dan Thomson, Auctioning4u's Managing Director - Consumer Division, stated in the company press announcement, "Our proposition really comes into its own when customers are moving house, have an inheritance, or just want to clear our their old possessions. Our ability to process and sell a wide variety of items collected from consumers' homes is unique in the UK."
Auctioning4u said it will add to its fleet of home collection vans, currently numbered at four, and will hire additional full-time Home Collection Consultants.
In addition to the home collection service, Auctioning4u offers a "Mail Your Goods" service for smaller goods. Auctioning4u has negotiated a special deal with DHL: for 6.50 pounds, customers can mail in their goods to the company from anywhere in the UK (up to 31KG / 69Lbs).
As to why Auctioning4u is abandoning its trial of the "shop-within-a storage company" model, Braun said there was "too little business for the immense amount of training needed made worse by high staff turn-over."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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