LAS VEGAS — The Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) is partnering with eBay to further its members’ e-commerce strategies.

The alliance will lead to a storefront presence on eBay that will provide greater traffic for the buying group’s specialty A/V dealers and improved visibility for their value-added services, said Dave Workman, PRO Group’s executive director/COO.

Conversely, the partnership will “enhance eBay’s consumer electronics shopping experience through the selection, knowledge and service provided by the PRO Group’s world-class retailers,” said Noah Herschman, eBay’s senior director/chief electronics merchant.

The new pact is part of a larger initiative by eBay Electronics to build relationships with independent dealers and their vendors (see story). Herschman said his company can help support the independent channel by sharing its 11 million CE enthusiast shoppers and providing e-tail services including store design, payment options, inventory management and even mobile shopping apps.

Two PRO Group members, Huppin’s/OneCall and J&R Music & Computer World, already maintain eBay stores.

Getting in on the ground floor of the initiative will help give PRO’s “bricks-and-clicks” dealers higher priority on product searches, while helping eBay develop the CE category and change its image as strictly an auction site, Workman told TWICE. The e-commerce platform, which is the second most heavily trafficked in the U.S., also provides an alternative to the third-party marketplace on Amazon.com, where dealers have a smaller profile and remain in competition with the e-tailer.

“It’s an incredible opportunity and will be an important part of our e-commerce strategy,” Workman said.

Both partners said they plan to build on the relationship and develop specific initiatives early this year.

Herschman, who was a member of PRO Group during his tenure at Tweeter Home Entertainment, added that the agreement “represents the maturing of the consumer electronics retail business ... as a new retail environment emerges and the lines blur between offline and online shopping experiences.” The deal, he told TWICE, “will help foster a true specialty electronics shopping experience in this retail environment.”

The partnership was announced here Jan. 9 at the annual PRO Group and Home Entertainment Source (HES) reception at International CES, which was co-sponsored by eBay and the Consumer Electronics Association.

eBay describes itself as the world’s largest e-commerce company, with nearly $62 billion in auction and fixedprice transactions worldwide last year.

Herschman, whose nearly 30-year career in CE merchandising included senior stints at Tweeter and Amazon.com, joined eBay in August from Staples China.
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LAS VEGAS — The Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) is partnering with eBay to further its members’ e-commerce strategies.
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