In Focus
E-COMMERCE | Staff Reporter, Australia

How eBay reaches out to Australia's struggling merchants

Through its Always Open on eBay Australia initiative, over 1,000 retailers have set up online shops on its platform.

Australia has seen its ecommerce scene accelerate over the last few months. According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), e-commerce took up only 2% of the country’s retail in 2007, but has since expanded to 11% in the last seven years. This trend was reflected on eBay Australia as well, with two in three Australian adults now visiting the site.

“As a result, online has never been more important and we’re seeing a spike in retailers - big and small - joining eBay as another channel to reach customers. In the last few months we’ve welcomed more than 1,000 retailers to eBay including Country Road, L’Oreal and Bonds,” eBay Australia and New Zealand’s managing director Tim MacKinnon told Retail Asia in an exclusive interview.

Despite this, data from Ibis World and ABS revealed that 57% of the country’s retailers are still offline which is concerning given lockdown measures have pushed many retailers to close their doors. Hoping to support these businesses and help them get online, eBay Australia is running an initiative which enables new sellers to sell on the platform without any fees charged for three months. Dubbed as Always Open on eBay Australia, it aims to help them establish their online presence or add a new channel alongside their website and is running until December 31.

“We’re pleased to say we’ve already helped more than 1,000 retailers set up on eBay during this period across a broad range of categories including fashion, homewares and fitness. And it has been great to see businesses both large and small take up the program - from those setting up online for the first time, to those expanding their channels to reach new customers,” MacKinnon said. “We’re looking forward to helping more retailers over the coming months.”

Amongst those who availed for the package is the sheepskin products store Yellow Earth Australia, which quickly pivoted to an omnichannel strategy as its brick-and-mortar stores closed in March. “Before lockdown began, online accounted for just 5% of our overall sales, whereas it’s now around 60%. eBay is already responsible for half of these sales which is more than we could have ever expected in such a short time,” Yellow Earth Co. director Matthew Liu said.

MacKinnon found the program to be a huge success. “The challenge now is ensuring we continue to support these new sellers each in various stages of their eBay journey. We want them to get the most out of the partnership and the global reach eBay offers,” he said.

On top of support measures, eBay Australia has also partnered with local fintech company Afterpay earlier this year, to offer buyers flexibility on their payments and allow them to responsibly manage their personal finances amidst an uncertain economic climate. “Additionally, offering Afterpay on eBay benefits our 40,000 Australian retailers who gain access to Afterpay as a payment option at no cost to them,” added MacKinnon.

eBay Australia also recently partnered with Australian Made, aiming to support local manufacturers in growing their businesses online. The partnership gives its 11-million monthly visitors access to Australian Made on eBay, providing a central hub that offers shoppers one location to find products bearing the accreditation across a range of categories including fashion, health and beauty, automotive, and home and garden.

Australian Made’s first partnership with an online marketplace comes as a growing number of online shoppers demonstrate their desire to support local businesses, with eBay recording a 54% surge in items purchased from Australian sellers since mid-April.

From here, the company will remain focussed on supporting local retailers and helping them grow their businesses online. MacKinnon shared that they will roll out managed payments in Australia this year, which would mean that buyers will have a variety of payment options including credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay. For merchants, this will enable them to have everything in one place along with fast, direct pay-outs, reduced costs and wider payment options for their buyers.

“We’ll also ensure eBay Australia continues to be at the forefront of innovation. We try to make sure we are the test market for anything new that eBay is doing globally. Australia is relatively smaller than other markets and further away so we have an appetite to run experiments. Each year we test a lot of new features and products,” MacKinnon said.

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