The changing face of auctions and eBay

Posted: Tuesday 27th September 2011 in Retail Strategy, Thought Leadership.

The Comet auction site developed by Summit

eBay is one of the internet’s biggest success stories but its role in online commerce is changing — and points to new opportunities for retailers too.

Beginning as an auction platform that enabled consumers to buy and sell used or second-hand goods, eBay became probably the internet’s first true community. As usage has gradually changed, eBay has adapted and created new opportunities for itself and for retailers at large.

Changing slogans

Over time, eBay’s introduction of new features has enabled not just consumers, but also small and even large businesses, to sell through its platform. Buy it now and fixed price auctions helped retailers guarantee a return and has fuelled a real move from used to new items.

You can see the change clearly in the evolution of eBay’s slogan – from the old “Buy it. Sell it. Do it.” to the much broader “The World’s Online Marketplace”. Undoubtedly, eBay is still a place to get a good deal, but its emergence as a mainstream global marketplace shows the huge power of its community and the capability of the auction model to extend a retailer’s offer.

Opportunities for auction and retail

In fact, the consumers on eBay are just ordinary consumers. But the auction model entices them, creating a level of excitement and anticipation of a good deal.

For retailers, an auction’s ability to move distressed, obsolete or simply ex-display stock is a real benefit. It enables retailers to claw back cash, free up space and get inventory moving in our increasingly stagnant economy. But auctions bring another benefit; they create a new face for the retailer, the excitement of timed sales and the opportunity to save money. This can create buzz and excitement, new SEO opportunities and, with a little thought, can drive sales right back into the core business.

So before you disregard auction as a sales model, think about all the benefits it might bring to your business and brand. It’s about much more than a cheap price for penny-pinching consumers.