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May 30, 2011

FROM PeSA AUSTRALIA

Australian eBay sellers face global challenge

eBayAustralia will utilise eBay's global network in a bid to attract more people to its down under site - but what does it mean for Australian sellers?

eBay Australia recently unveiled new plans to make US and UK listings more prominent on eBay.com.au in a bid to attract more buyers to the site. The online auction house believes utilising eBay's global network to fill in product gaps down under will draw in and retain more Australian buyers.

"Displaying relevant listings from the UK and US will increase the likelihood that shoppers will find what they are looking for on eBay.com.au, and continue to shop and buy from eBay.com.au sellers," eBay Australia announced on its website.

"Australian consumers are buying more online yet local ecommerce sellers do not offer full product ranges online to enable shoppers to find what they are looking for locally. Hence, buyers are turning to overseas websites."

eBay Australia also stated that the new change will only affect categories where "inventory gaps" exist, as well as categories where statistics show Australians already buy a high proportion of goods from overseas sellers. But the ambiguity surrounding these affected categories is leaving Australian sellers confused and in the dark.

SelbyAcoustics owner Shaun O'Brien finds eBay Australia's lack of information regarding what categories are affected and how they are affected a real concern. "It's hard to identify the impact on Australian sellers if we don't know what these categories are," says Mr O'Brien. "If we see the site flooded with competing products that are well represented, of course Aussie sellers will lose out. Only time will tell."

Since eBay Australia launched, it always appeared to stick by a policy where local listings had preference and were advertised separately to foreign items. The new makeover means international listings are now intermingled amongst regular search results which raises questions on how clear it is going to be to the Australian buyer that they're buying overseas.

In Mr O'Brien's experience with offshore selling, many buyers on eBay.com think they are buying from America, and he believes the same thing will happen in Australia."International buyers started complaining after it took so long to receive something from Australia. They didn't realise they were buying from here and it turns out to be a negative experience."

DirectShopSolutions owner Nathan Huppatz says the overall change may be positive for buyers, but it does not bring any positive benefits to sellers.

"Often international sellers are larger in volume and size; especially more mature markets in the US and UK. They will sell the same product for a cheaper price with cheaper shipping," says Mr Huppatz. "The Australian sellers aren't at fault. It's due to obtaining cheaper manufacturing prices overseas and cheaper postage." Mr Huppatz thought it would have been nice if eBay Australia made the product gaps known to Australian sellers so they could keep an eye out on the site.

"Australian markets would have liked the opportunity to know which gaps need to be filled, rather than taken over by US and UK sellers. eBay Australia should identify gaps in the market and give sellers three months notice to supply products in the required broad categories."

Really, is it fair of eBay Australia to bring these changes down under at a time when the media is reporting that Australian sellers are crying out for online retail sales declining due to the high Australian dollar? Giving international listings more visibility on the Australian eBay site isn't going to benefit sellers here, that's for sure.
  
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