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eBay Fashion Gallery a coup for retailers

Wednesday, 12 October 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Online auction site eBay has launched a fashion-specific selling platform for major local brands, although smaller retailers may also be able to utilise the platform in the future.

 

Almost 30 local fashion labels – including Witchery, Alannah Hill, Seduce, Seafolly and Supré – will be sold through a specific section of the eBay site, referred to as a “Fashion Gallery”.

 

Jo Hicks, eBay Australia’s head of fashion, says while most of the brands available on the site already have their own transactional websites, they will use eBay to tap into a larger audience.

 

“We get over six million unique visitors, and three out of five of Australia’s entire online shopping population, coming to eBay each month,” Hicks says.

 

“As we know, fashion retail is not doing that well… Stats in August [from the Australian Bureau of Statistics] showed us that the clothing category had declined by 1.4%.”

 

“What we are seeing on eBay is that fashion is growing 24%, year on year.”

 

Despite initially being set up as a secondhand online auction site, almost 80% of all fashion items now sold on eBay are brand new. This includes clothes, shoes and accessories.

 

Hicks says the new fashion initiative will enable local brands to adopt an online strategy by piggybacking on eBay’s market share.

 

“We invest in infrastructure and technology so that our retail partners don’t have to,” Hicks says.

 

Last year, eBay launched flat-rate satchels for its sellers, with the online community purchasing 85,000 satchels on the first day they became available.

 

According to Hicks, it’s up to individual labels whether they allow shipping beyond Australia, but enabling shipping worldwide will expose brands to 93 million eBay consumers.

 

eBay has indicated that smaller retailers may also be able sell items in the Fashion Gallery, although couldn’t say when this is likely to happen.

 

O’Brien says consumers also tend to have tunnel vision when they shop online, in that they search for a specific item and are less inclined to buy other products in the process, so having offline stores enables the business to cross merchandise.

 

Phil Leahy, founder of the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance, says sales growth and data suggest that growth is stronger than ever with people starting up on eBay. 

 

“Australia is about four to five years behind the US in terms of eCommerce. Australia is now playing catch-up, with 2011 a signpost year” Leahy says.

 

According to Leahy, eBay is the best place to learn about transacting online.

 

“It is the best place to get your feet wet and has fostered some of Australia’s best examples of standalone online retailers like DealsDirect and Daily Deals,” he says.

 

“By starting on eBay you can acquire a customer profitability, learn the nuances of customer service, the importance of page design, tools required for scaling your business, branding and cross-promotion, trust and safety, etc.”

 

“The drawbacks are that it can be expensive, especially when starting out. Typically the cost of sales, excluding postage and handling, ranges between 9% and 15%, and can be as high as 25% when you start out.”

 

“My advice is to start with eBay, then open your own website and look towards Google, comparison sites, SEO, affiliates, social media, Amazon, etc and find your market.”

 

Leahy says in addition to the above, eBay newcomers must ensure they set up an ‘About Me’ page providing essential information about the business.

 

Phil Leahy, founder of the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance, says sales data suggests growth is stronger than ever with people starting up on eBay, describing 2011 as a “signpost year”.

 

“It is the best place to get your feet wet… By starting on eBay, you can acquire a customer profitably, learn the nuances of customer service [and] the importance of page design,” he says.

 

Michael Fox, co-founder of online retailer Shoes of Prey, says start-ups should treat eBay no differently to other online channels – test it, measure the results and review your strategy.

 

“eBay is a great place for a new online retailer to test their products, and if it’s working for you then you should stick with it, even if you end up opening your own store,” Fox says.

 

“If you’re not getting the return on investment you’re looking for, then you either need to change your strategy on eBay or look to other platforms.”