Online retail site eBay has launched its Pinterest-style Collections range in Australia, but retailers and experts have mixed reactions about its online shopping impact.
Collections, which launched in Australia in late April, allows customer and retailers to sort products into theme-based sets, eBay Australia’s head of strategy Jo Ann Hicks told SmartCompany.
Users can also build their own Collections homepage, follow buyers, sellers and curators on eBay, and share Collections across social media.
“eBay is great when you know exactly what you want. What Collections will do is when you’re in that browsing mood or you’re not quite sure what you want, or you do but it’s broad, this is fantastic,” Hicks says.
eBay sees Collections as revolutionising the way retailers, particularly SMEs, market themselves online.
“They can put together merchandise around key retail moments… like the EOFY or Father’s Day,” Hicks says.
“It’s a fantastic tool for small and medium businesses because they can sell themselves in a cost-effective way and really quickly begin to nimbly create these collections on the fly and they can really build up their brand and profile.”
Digital strategist for business Fi Bendall told SmartCompany smaller retailers will be more proactive than larger businesses in taking advantage of eBay Collections.
“Smaller retailers are more active. They’ll just jump on it because they don’t have the complicated structure of larger retailers… who seem to have a problem moving quickly,” Bendall says.
Mark Taylor, the director of online department store The Nile, told SmartCompany eBay Collections gives his company access to a new type of customer.
“It’s a way to hit a different type of consumer, who is looking to browse around a range of collections rather than just going for what they know they want,” Taylor says.
But Retail Doctor Group’s Brain Walker told SmartCompany the future of Australian retail will remain predominately bricks and mortar.
“Online retail sales are only at 8 or 9%… The vast majority of retailing in Australia happens in stores and this will continue,” Walker says.
Walker says the Australian launch of eBay Collections also brings the company closer to becoming a bricks and mortar store.
“It’s a very tangible step towards eBay becoming a retailer. To grow their retail capabilities, they’re going to have become omni-channel,” he says.
The serivce has been operating in the United States since October 2013.