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Ebay is Not (Necessarily) Your Enemy


http://www.sasrlink.comOn August 7, 2012 Reuters posted an article with following lead paragraph:

“EBay Inc , once a scrappy auction site for mom and pop sellers, is enticing some of the world's largest retailers by arguing it can help them compete better against e-commerce leader Amazon.com Inc.”

With all the hoopla about how customers using local retailers as their personal “showroom” before returning home to buy online, how is it that any online retail site could possibly help brick and mortar retailers to compete?

Well, the Reuters article refers to Ebay’s claim that “ Amazon is their enemy, while eBay is a friend because, unlike Amazon, it holds no inventory.” 

At first, although it is true Ebay doesn’t hold inventory, this claim certainly doesn’t seem to have the power to lay a small retailer’s mind at rest.  Showroooming remains a threat, as does online shopping in general.  However, here’s the clincher:  apparently a lot of Big Gun retailers are jumping on the Ebay bandwagon as a means to increase revenue and secure market share.  Proof of the pudding?  How do names like Ikea, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Radio Shack, Sears, and Neiman Marcus strike you? 

They all have storefronts on Ebay, – but should you?  Opening a storefront on Ebay does have potential benefits.  However, a storefront isn’t the only way small retailers can utilize Ebay as an additional revenue stream.  For instance, rather than set up a storefront, posting listings to unload stale inventory can make a whole lot of sense. 

But Ebay listings or storefronts, while potentially profitable, aren’t necessarily the most exciting option for small retailers.  Enter Milo.com, a search engine company that Ebay recently acquired.  What can Milo.com do for your small retail store?   Here are a couple scenarios to consider:

It’s been a long week and Customer Bill is looking forward to spending a couple relaxing days in the garden.  As a matter of fact, he’s wanted to install a fountain for a long time and decides to hop onto Ebay to see what’s there. He finds a fountain he not only loves, but doesn’t want to wait.  Ebay’s Milo.com results show a local retailer has the fountain in stock – Customer Bill grabs his keys and returns home with his fountain strapped inside the bed of his truck.

Customer Susie is hanging out with her high school friends at the local coffee shop.  The prom is coming up soon and they’re all checking out dresses on Ebay where she spies the perfect dress.  But she isn’t going to order it, of course she’s got to try it on.  Yup, there it is in a local boutique retail store – and they’ve got her size!  The girls pile into Susie’s car and that afternoon the boutique sells four prom dresses. 

And, so far, Milo.com is free to local small retailers.   All you do is download your inventory (check their website to see if your system is compatible) and “Voila”, your store’s real time inventory (and location) is now searchable and viewable to online shoppers.  You might think of Milo.com as “showrooming” in reverse.  It targets customers like Bill who wants to install that fountain today and doesn’t want to wait for delivery.  Or Susie, who loves the dress, and not only wants to try it on, but ends up buying it – teenagers aren’t known for their ability to delay gratification, making waiting for it to be delivered out of the question. 

If you’re wondering whether or not to synch up your brick and mortar store with online revenue opportunities, Milo.com might be a good place to get your feet wet.   


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