eBay Looks To Buoy Independents With New CE Strategy
By Alan Wolf On Jan 10 2012 - 9:29pm
SAN JOSE, CALIF. —
eBay is coming to International
CES with a new electronics team and a fresh
market strategy designed to bolster the independent
The plan, which was first deployed successfully
for the company’s automotive and fashion stores, is
intended to give specialty CE dealers a leg up in etail
by leveraging the services and selling platform of
the world’s largest e-commerce company.
The approach is two-fold, explained Noah Herschman,
a longtime industry veteran (Tweeter, Amazon.
com, Staples) who joined eBay in August as
senior director/chief electronics merchant: first, to
work directly with vendors to enhance the presentation
of their specialty brands within eBay’s electronics
store; and second, to provide an e-commerce
alternative for dealers who are experts in audio and
video, but may trail more sophisticated e-tailers in
The initiative, he said, would help level the online
playing field for independents, allow vendors to help
shape the way their brands are presented, provide
a richer shopping experience for the 11 million CE
enthusiasts who shop eBay, and strengthen a critical
but consolidating distribution channel for manufacturers.
“It’s a way for regional dealers to have a robust
online strategy,” Herschman said.
Under the plan, the CE section would be redesigned
using the company’s “trusted and tailored
experience” format, which, as with eBay Motors and
Fashion, presents a storefront-style homepage and
highlights individual brands and sellers.
“We will work directly with the brands to create
a fantastic buying experience and tell a great brand
story,” Herschman said.
In the meantime, beginning with cellphones, cameras
and TVs, the electronics store is rolling out an
improved product-based presentation that re-organizes
listings, sellers, buying options and reviews
around specific SKUs.
To support vendors’ channel management efforts,
eBay is also developing a program that will allow
authorized dealers to be designated as such on the
site, and is creating a MAP treatment that dealers
could use at their discretion to remain compliant
with suppliers’ advertised pricing policies.
Vendors will also be encouraged to open their own
direct-sell storefronts, like the Official Sony Store on
eBay, for moving “A” or “B” stock, Herschman said.
Conversely, dealers can tap into eBay’s vast tech enthusiast community and leverage the company’s lowcost
retail services, offered through its PayPal, Magento
and RedLaser subsidiaries and open x.commerce
platform, which include store design, payment options,
inventory management and even mobile shopping apps.
Specialty dealers already maintaining stores on eBay
include Abt Electronics, Adorama, and Progressive Retailers
Organization (PRO Group) dealers Huppin’s/
OneCall and latest member J&R Music & Computer
The connection between PRO and eBay will grow
even tighter this year in the wake of a new partnership
announced at the buying group’s annual International
CES reception with Home Entertainment Source on
Jan. 9 (see story, p. 12).
eBay, which is co-sponsoring the PRO party with the
Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and is also
sponsoring this year’s CES badges, is meeting with
vendors at this week’s show to discuss its electronics
strategy and introduce its new CE team. The latter includes
former Best Buy merchandise director for digital
imaging Debra Russell; John Melchek, a veteran of
Amazon.com, XM Satellite Radio and Sony Electronics;
and former Buy.com video gaming merchant Jay Wong.
The company will also continue to spotlight CE in its
upcoming ad campaigns, following a humorous boardroom
spot that aired in the third quarter.
Added Herschman, “When we invest resources to
make the experience superb for the seller and buyer, we
can grow everyone’s business.”