eBay: Victory at the Terminal

Shopping may be a sport to some, and eBay's competitive bidding process on anything from a parcel of land in Arizona to an Evel Knievel lunch box can stir...

Shopping may be a sport to some, and eBay’s competitive bidding process on anything from a parcel of land in Arizona to an Evel Knievel lunch box can stir excitement among even the most determined couch potatoes. That’s where the company’s new ad slogan, “Shop Victoriously,” comes in.

This story first appeared in the September 27, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“It’s how people feel at the end of the experience,” said Kevin McSpadden, senior director, brand marketing, at eBay. “Our job is to connect people and things; to shop and be entertained by shopping.”

Worldwide, eBay has 241 million users, and $1,840 in merchandise is traded every second. In fashion, on a daily basis, the site sells 4,500 dresses, 5,300 platform wedge shoes and 9,600 leather handbags. Worldwide, $4.5 billion worth of clothes, shoes, and accessories are sold annually.

McSpadden said the company’s brand merchandising philosophy begins with creating a sense of urgency and includes building a social connection, rarity of items, news appeal (connecting to cultural moments) and opportunity.

“It’s about the thrill of victory,” he added. “It’s better when you win it.”

All of this comes at little expense to the company’s bottom line. McSpadden said marketing is only a small percentage of eBay’s annual spending. “We have a pretty stable margin,” he added.

The next frontier for eBay is building upon its video offerings. Instead of posting a picture and description of that prized guitar, eBay is encouraging sellers to enhance the experience via video. One user did this, and it resulted in four times the normal bidding amount that similar guitars garnered on the site.

EBay also utilizes social networking, via its “community.” There are discussion boards, common interest groups and chat rooms, and the site will even help users start their own eBay blogs. Next, the site will focus on reaching a younger customer base, perhaps through social networking.

And more changes are on the way for eBay. New features planned for eBay shoppers include eBay countdown, window shopping, one-click bidding and using a “bid assistant” to help manage bidding on multiple items at once. Looking ahead, “we will continue to focus on branded content development,” offered McSpadden.