Ebay on moving away from its ‘online car boot sale’ image

Ebay is looking to eradicate its ‘online car boot sale’ image and instead focus on communicating the brand’s warmth and the breadth of its product range according to Gareth Jones, its new UK senior marketing director.

ebay christmas

Jones, formerly of Compare The Market, only joined Ebay in September, with the the UK arm of the brand having been without a marketing director since Sarah Calcott was promoted to senior director of operations last October.

And, as the online auction brand faces increasing competition from the likes of Amazon Marketplace and etsy, Jones says Ebay must tap into the warm sentiment it holds above its rivals.

He told Marketing Week: “Obviously people have copied but we were the original marketplace and we have a very unique warm perception among consumers – something that we will hone in on through our marketing in 2016.

“There is maybe a misconception that Ebay is still associated with this online car boot sale image but we are changing that image and developing offers that will add more surprises to the shopping experience.”

Creating more surprises

Mobile, in particular, is fundamental to this strategy with Jones claiming that 60% of transactions now have a mobile touchpoint – a figure he expects to rise this Christmas.

Last week, Ebay UK used Facebook and Instagram to run a 20% flash sale for the first time in a bid to generate surprise among consumers. It has also recently upgraded its mobile platform to give sellers access to more data on mobile behaviour.

It has also partnered with Argos so customers can use click and collect or sell eBay products through physical sites. “Every person within the UK is now 10 miles from an Argos store so it’s about giving us a bricks and mortar operation, which is important with the rise of convenience. We need to give more flexibility and options.”

Ebay, which celebrated 20 years in business this year, is not without is challenges. Its profits for the third quarter, in the wake of its split from the more lucrative and faster growing payments business PayPal, fell 2.4% to £1.36bn.

Jones, however, believes the business is heading in the right direction. “If you look at it from the point of view of our customer, the PayPal split has had little impact, if any at all,” he added.

“It is in our DNA to have a forensic focus on driving great customer experiences and disrupting the retail sector, we’ve done that for 20 years and we will do it for the next 20 years.”

Standing out at Christmas

This Christmas, eBay will have an above the line investment but not on TV, with its agencies Mediacom and Adam & Eve DDB, instead focusing on online and social media ads with the hashtag #MyLittleBigVictory. Jones said the plan is to return with a TV ad for Christmas 2016.

“Christmas will once again be critical and we are very much focused on post-Christmas too and the customer looking to sell unwanted gifts, perhaps socks from the grandparents, on our platform,” he jokes.

“The social and OOH Christmas strategy is all about driving consideration for eBay and we’re investing a lot in Facebook and Instagram to observe customer behaviours at the transactional end of the conversion funnel.”

KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 21, 2014: Woman holding a white Apple iPad Air with eBay welcome message on a screen. eBay is the worldwide online auction and shopping website that founded in September 3, 1995.
Tablet and smartphone users, especially the latter, are becoming a key focus for Ebay

Black Friday

Black Friday is also becoming a bigger focus for Ebay. Jones believes the US sales holiday, which has migrated to the UK in recent years, is now a part of the British shopping psyche.

“I was at Carphone Warehouse when it first hit the UK and I expect it to now become the first £1bn shopping day,” he added.

“At eBay we are working on the assumption that we will see 30% more people captivated into making a purchase than the same Black Friday weekend last year. It really has become a part of the public sub conscious and I’m sure it will get even more media coverage this year.”

Ultimately, Jones said Ebay wants to continue to innovate its marketing through technology and become more of a platform for SMEs.

He concluded: I’m all about the notion of personalisation to scale and eBay will start to experiment with technology a lot more in our future marketing endeavours.

“We need to get the understanding in customer’s minds that eBay should be the first online retailer they choose. Around 18 million people shop with us weekly and I want that to grow further.”

Hear all about the importance of online retail at this year’s Festival of Marketing. Taking place on 11 and 12 November there will be 12 stages and hundreds of speakers. Click here for information and to book tickets.

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