Whenever I read about the Facebook Marketplace and see accounts of millions of Facebook users buying and selling goods among their connections, I cannot help thinking about the eBay Skype mistake. Had eBay kept Skype and had they known how to use it, they might have by now become the social commerce platform that the Facebook-Messenger combo is aspiring to be.
In 2005 when eBay’s CEO Meg Whitman decided to buy Skype, many shook their heads in disbelief. Analysts had no clue what eBay would need Skype for and the check she had to write to acquire the unprofitable Estonian startup was considered too high.
From today’s perspective this decision makes perfect sense. Ever since its humble beginnings eBay has drawn its strength from its community. Amazon sellers don’t hang around together to chat – eBay sellers will use every possible venue to exchange their opinions, be it eBay’s own forum or a LinkedIn group. To leverage the strength of their community by giving it a new tool was an ingenious idea to attach eBay sellers and buyers to the platform and drive adoption. eBay could have become a part of the Skype app, allowing Skype users to buy and sell goods while holding a conversation. It could have also included Skype in the eBay platform so that sellers’ customer service reps handle buyers’ queries via live chat or even calls without ever having to leave eBay. It could have become the ultimate place for social networking just as it was, back in 2005, the preferred destination for selling and buying goods.
None of this ever happened. eBay’s executives didn’t seem to have an idea as to why they bought Skype in the first place or what they were supposed to do with it. It has become a very expensive toy that they readily got rid off in 2009. The acquisition of Skype and its later sale have become synonimous with eBay’s decline and lack of vision.
Think about these same executives now as they have to watch sellers and buyers bleeding from their platform to buy and sell via Facebook and Messenger thus bringing to life the dream that Meg Whitman had and buried when she first bought and sold Skype years ago.
Going online is not an obvious choice for many car parts sellers. Car parts tend to be heavy and bulky (just think about tyres!) and you may consider there aren’t so many buyers out there willing to purchase them online.
Yet, buying a spare part for your car online is a much more obvious choice than touring the local shops – the selection online is definitely wider, thanks to bigger competition buyers are more likely to get a better deal and they don’t need to touch and feel the part before buying it, the way they may want to try out new clothes. As a consequence, car parts sellers not only easily get rid of some parts that have been waiting on their shelves for ages once they start selling online but also have an easier job than online sellers of other types of products – less returns, less complaints, less hassle.
With all this in mind, you will agree that online may be the best channel for car parts sales, both for buyers and for sellers. What else do you need to know?
eBay is the right place for you
- with their recent purchase of Cargigi eBay showed that they really want to focus on eBay motors, their cars and car parts section
- Motors is actually the fastest growing part of eBay (or, the only growing part of eBay) so definitely they will keep investing in it and promoting it
- with their separate eBay Motors site and a sophisticated car parts-specific search engine eBay is a better fit for selling car parts than other marketplaces
Don’t limit yourself to your domestic market
- it may sound counterintuitive to sell car parts abroad but at WebInterpret we have seen too many success stories not to believe it makes sense to do so
- as a UK seller, make sure you sell at least to Germany and France, as a German seller, select France and the UK. eBay.it and eBay.es are not as strong but growing very fast!
- it will especially make sense for you to sell to continental Europe if you’re selling parts compatible with European brands – unsurprisingly German car parts sell well in Germany, French car parts in France. Knowing the European currency is now pretty strong compared to the British Pound or US Dollar, you may actually end up being more competitive in terms of pricing than the local sellers.
Make sure you know when to sell
- car parts sales are highly seasonal – make sure you know when to list to reap the highest reward
- in the UK we see strong sales of car parts in January, then from March till June (with a peak in May) and then again in November
- in Germany the best months are January, March and from May till July
- Germans change Summer tyres to Winter tyres from October and then Winter tyres to Summer tyres in March – make sure you have some of these online and that you allow delivery to Germany and you’ll be amazed at how many buyers are willing to shop for tyres abroad
Use car parts compatibility tables
Remember different brands sell on different markets
- as mentioned above, German and French buyers are more likely to look for German and French car parts than for Japanese car parts
- also, some brands have different names depending on the location – did you know that the car you refer to as Vauxhall is known as Opel in Germany?
If you follow the above guidelines, you will be amazed at how fast your business can grow once you start selling your products online and abroad. Make sure to get your listings ready before the sales peak in May!
Have you seen your eBay sales drop over the past few months while your business on other marketplaces and your own website is thriving? Here is what eBay are doing to reverse this trend.
Overview: Buyers will be allowed to write product reviews and not only seller reviews on eBay. Two kinds of reviews will be possible – verified reviews from users who actually purchased the item and unverified reviews from users who didn’t.
Pros: Adding product reviews makes perfect sense
Cons: A lot of things can go wrong with product reviews
- buyers may review their poor buyer experience (such as late delivery) instead of the product itself
- eBay will recognise matching products using EAN’s – have you added EAN’s to your listings yet? Are you certain they are the correct ones? Otherwise, you may find your product attached to a review of something completely different
- eBay has been created basing upon a belief that people are honest but, sadly, quite often they are not! Sellers will end up buying fake reviews – positive for their products, negative for their competitors, buyers will write negative reviews to force you to refund their purchase etc. eBay will have to track fraud very carefully.
All of the above are genuinely exciting changes and I believe they are going in the right direction. Do you?
Last-minute promo from eBay.co.uk yesterday took buyers and sellers by a surprise and numerous buyers reported issues with making their purchases at 20% off.
Still, our data shows that international sellers selling in the UK via WebInterpret noticed an important increase in sales.
It seems that eBay’s decision to spend their marketing money this way rather than on a Super Bowl commercial paid off!
It has become fashionable to complain about the lack of growth of “the world’s marketplace” and various media eagerly reported flat top line, unsuccessful competition with Amazon, disappointing results during holiday season and what not.
Indeed, eBay themselves seemed disappointed with their Q4results and made very modest predictions for Q1 and 2016.
Our data so far, however, seems to indicate that the marketplace’s results can be better in Q1 than they were in Q4 and, indeed, better than expected.
YoY growth in eBay sales of e-merchants using WebInterpret was 11 percentage points higher in Q1 than it was in Q4. Moreover, WebInterpret using sellers actually earned more in Q1 on eBay than they did in Q4!
Some reasons why this might be happening :
- Our sellers always see slower growth on eBay during Christmas than they do on Amazon. With its long delivery times eBay simply isn’t the right place to purchase Christmas gifts anymore
- Q1 is a high season for car parts – with its sophisticated car parts search engine and huge selection eBay works better for buyers looking just for the right part that would allow them to fix their car
- Q1 is also a high season for fashion in some countries – in Germany and Italy buyers search eBay for fancy dress so that they can enjoy the carnival season. With its wide selection of fancy dress and rather smooth fashion-shopping experience (as a buyer I find it easier to shop for fashion on eBay than on Amazon) eBay is the perfect marketplace for these shoppers.
Knowing this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, at least in Europe eBay sellers seem to be more successful in Q1 than they were in Q4. Is it also your experience? Did you see your sales grow compared to Q4? Did you see them grow compared to last year?
eBay have been going on and on about it, sellers have been going on and on about it, even we have been going on and on about it!
Why should you add Product Identifiers to your eBay listings? Should you add them at all?
Our data shows you should! The charts below are based on a few millions of listings on eBay Australia.
Being a mom, I buy more or less every other product I need for my baby, my house and myself on amazon. Once you have a Prime account you hardly ever think about buying elsewhere. At work however, I have been brought to deal with eBay and eBay sellers. That’s why, while hunting for the perfect egg coddler I decided to give eBay a try.
Amazon give you an impression of storing more or less anything you would ever be willing to purchase, from corn flakes to electric guitars. However, when it comes to egg coddlers, the selection is surprisingly poor. I had a choice between three or four coddlers, which got even smaller once I activated the “available for Prime” filter. The coddler I finally chose was neither good value for money nor visually appealing.
Compare this with eBay with its awe inspiring selection of beautifully decorated porcelain coddlers! I didn’t have much time to look at all of them but still was very happy with the coddlers I chose.
Point for eBay!
2. Making a purchase
Whereas it’s easy to find a beautiful coddler on eBay it is not at all so easy to buy it! The purchasing process took at least three times longer than on amazon, with its (un)famously patented one click and required logging in to eBay and to PayPal.
Point for amazon!
Quite a surprise here. Whereas I expected my Amazon purchase to arrive faster than the eBay one, I was amazed to see it being delivered before the product purchased on eBay was even dispatched!
Point for amazon!
The Amazon-purchased coddler was quite a disappointment. The lid broke after the first usage. My vintage china coddlers bought on eBay are beautiful to look at and still serve me well.
Point for eBay!
It seems that amazon is by far the most convenient place to buy anything online. However, when searching for some specific products I will keep in mind to check eBay (or Etsy?) for their wider selection. As of today I am a happy owner of three egg coddlers, enjoying my coddled eggs every Sunday morning while doing my Sunday morning online shopping.