Stanley Gibbons to launch “eBay for stamps”

Philatelists Stanley Gibbons is planning to launch a marketplace for stamps sellers which it hopes will become the “eBay for stamps.”

Apparently the new website will feature specialist tools for collectables sellers, including heightened security checks and escrow fund protection. Sellers will also be able to link their sales to eBay so they don’t miss out on the action there. It will be interesting to see how they intend to do that. It’s also not clear if Stanley Gibbons intend to sell their own inventory alongside other sellers in the marketplace.

My very first job at eBay way back in 1999 was as the category manager for stamps and coins. And I recall conversations with Stanley Gibbons back then. They were sceptical and patronising. The fusty old timers were having nothing to do with eBay, the internet would not prove to be a viable channel and philatelists wouldn’t trade online.

So it is delightful to see a comment like this from the head honcho Stanley Gibbons Michael Hall: “eBay alone did $400 million in stamp sales last year. Even if we can get a very small market share, it will have a transformational effect on our profitability.”

Development of the website is currently underway and the investment in it has hit the firm’s profitability. The site will start testing in April with a full launch in the second half of 2014.

In a lot of ways, there already is an eBay for stamps. It’s called eBay. But equally these specialist marketplaces are very much part of the future and to be welcomed. And if anyone was going to build a special web market for stamps, Stanley Gibbons is the obvious choice.