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While 12-volt retailers battle flat sales, eBay says its car audio business soared 57 percent last year and is still growing.
"In a down economy, people tend to think of eBay first," said chief marketing officer Gary Calega.
The online auction site's 12-volt sales reached $135 million in 2002, with mobile video accounting for $12 million and navigation for $20 million, Calega said. These two categories have been offered on eBay for about a year.
The company hopes growth this year will continue due to its new Buy It Now program that lets users buy new in-the-box products at a set price without bidding. Calega said that most car audio sales on eBay are under this new format.
"In car audio, over 75 percent of the equipment sold is new. It has one of the highest adoption rates of the new fixed-price format," he said.
A leading 12-volt eBay retailer, Ikesound.com, says its business continues to increase, mainly because Buy It Now allows it to sell more products faster. 'Consumers don't have to wait several days to find out of they won something at auction,' said owner Ike Arvilli, noting that he has over 20 percent more customers than last year.
He noted, however, that price competition continues to stiffen. "There are too many monkeys in the jungle who are pushing the prices very low. A [car] radio that cost $100 should sell in the store for $160 to $200. On the Internet, that radio can sell for $105 to $110. When I started, I made 25 to 30 percent, now it's gone down to 10 percent if I'm lucky. That's in the past two years. In the past year, it went down 2 or 3 percent," Arvilli noted.