SAN JOSE, CALIF. —
eBay is coming to International CES with a new electronics team and a fresh market strategy designed to bolster the independent dealer channel.
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 online know-how.
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 World.
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.”