New tool from eBay uses Facebook Friend-Power for commerce, but what does it mean for retailers?

May 02, 2012 Comments Off by

Finding smarter ways to successfully combine  online commerce with social networking is one of the holy grails of many businesses today.  Here’s how eBay are doing it…  What can you learn?

A recent FastCompany article on smarter e-Commerce includes eBay’s new ‘Help Me Shop’ browser plug-in.

According to eBay’s website, ‘Help Me Shop is a fun and easy way to get shopping advice from your friends. Just save items from any website to the Help Me Shop bookmarklet in your browser bookmarks bar, then invite your friends to help you decide what to buy.’

In the article, eBay’s Don Bradford, VP of Social Product,  says “What makes Help Me Shop really powerful is that it goes beyond eBay’s inventory. It’s really about a social shopping experience that goes wherever I am and allows me to engage my friends in the shopping experience whenever I think it’s useful.”

eBay's Help Me Shop browser plugin smarter strategies for retail

I’m pretty sure Don really means that  Help Me Shop is really powerful for eBay.  And it probably will be, if it catches on.  I’m still trying to figure out how this browser helps retailers who are not selling through eBay, but for those who are – or who are thinking about it – this new tool for customers may help make sales.

Your Business and eBay

What do you think of eBay?  Some retailers selling on eBay absolutely swear by it.  Many others swear at it.

Depending on your business, selling products on eBay may be worth considering, as long as you don’t engage in a pricing race to the bottom.

As a seller, differentiation between eBay retailers on factors other than price is possible,  but can be difficult to achieve.

Finding products for the lowest price is a  driver, but if you ask any person who uses eBay to buy products,   there’s always more to it than just price. Trust  is (as usual) a key factor.  Customers need to be able to trust that the seller will fulfill their obligations and quickly deliver the right product.

Trust comes from establishing and maintaining your track record of happy customers, and this is where the physical world retailer using eBay as one of the channels to use to sell online has major advantages over a pure-play online retailer.

Having an expensive storefront can be a liability, but the biggest rewards in retailing in the future will go to those businesses who can most successfully turn this potentially massive liability into an a massive asset.

I’ve spoke with more than just a few retailers who lose money in their expensive physical shops and generate their profits through their eBay sales.  They need to maintain their physical shops in order to be allowed to buy products from certain manufacturers and suppliers, but they also use their physical location and presence of their shop to build trust in the online world.

We all know many retailers are finding it tough to come to terms with the changing online world.

  1. Is eBay making your business growth better or worse?
  2. How many of your customers now prefer to buy through eBay?
  3. And what are you doing about it?

Here’s eBay’s promo YouTube vid…


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