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eBay can help Aust retail, new boss says

Petrina Berry  |  21 Sep 2017Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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BRISBANE - [AAP] New eBay Australia boss Tim MacKinnon is unfazed by "hype" around the arrival of Amazon and says his online operation seeks to support traditional retailers rather than "destroy" them.

"What sets eBay apart is how we grow Australian businesses on the platform," Mr MacKinnon, eBay Australia and New Zealand's managing director, told AAP.

"We partner with them; we don't seek to disrupt or destroy the market."

His comments come as eBay celebrates its 18th anniversary in Australia and prepares for the arrival of fierce competitor Amazon which now has a warehouse in Melbourne and plans to roll out its full offering soon.

Mr MacKinnon said many sellers on eBay have told him that they were "weary" of Amazon.

This is despite some major retailers with a presence on eBay, including Myer, declining to rule out also opening a store on Amazon's platform.

"Some of them will try Amazon but some sellers are concerned about a platform that can compete with them," Mr MacKinnon said.

"So, if they are successful on Amazon, they may end up in a situation where Amazon decides to source the same inventory."

eBay is an online platform for sellers, while Amazon is not only a digital marketplace but is also a retailer known for being able to sell products up to 30 per cent cheaper than the traditional market.

Mr MacKinnon is confident eBay has first mover advantage, with a strong local network of more than 30 major retailers, including Myer, Target and The Good Guys, where people can use click and collect to purchase and pick up an item in one day.

However, Queensland University of Technology retail expert Gary Mortimer said eBay has more to lose than other retailers when Amazon rolls out its full offering in Australia.

"eBay will be more exposed than your average bricks and mortar retailer because it's a fundamentally similar platform to Amazon," Associate Professor Mortimer, of QUT's Business School, said.

"Amazon is a platform where consumers can buy products locally and that's the same as eBay."

He said while Amazon will take a slice of Australia's $22 billion online retail sector, he did not believe it would destroy Australia's mainstream retail market.

"eBay and other pure play online retailers already have an established relationship with customers and retailers and that's one of the challengers Amazon faces when it leaves it later and later to enter a market," he said.

eBay launched this week a new image search on its platform that allows shoppers to use pictures instead of words to search for an item and has promised to compensate customers when items don't arrive on time.

It is also looking at partnering with logistics companies to provide faster and cheaper deliveries.


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