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eBay Australia boss warns retailers about Amazon

By Dan Wilson November 23, 2017 - 2:31 pm

with Amazon making its debut in Australia at the moment, it has been the subject of criticism. Retailers warn that the ecommerce giant will have a detrimental impact homegrown businesses and be bad for consumer shoppers in the long run. And the latest critic to join the fray is Tim MacKinnon, the managaging director of eBay Australia and New Zealand.

In particular, he has warned retailers that Amazon is not just a marketplace but a retailer and has a reputation for using seller data to it make descisions about what to sell. He notes that eBay doesn’t sell anything itself and seeks to help sellers grow their operation and is in no way competitive to retailers.

He says: “We let every retailer big and small compete. Where you get players that try to use the data they get and then decide to go and retail those items themselves, that’s where it becomes a little unfair. We will be watching that carefully.”

“So whenever a seller sells, they expose how much they sell (to Amazon). The retailer can decide, ‘Actually I’ll make more money if I sell that directly myself,’ and then they can make another decision, ‘I’ll make more money if I make it myself.’ I would say to Australian businesses, that they should compare their experience they have today on eBay with others.”

“Our goal with Australian businesses is to help them grow. We provide them account support, we provide 11 million unique visitors every month, we provide 160 million people globally if they’re exporting. And we also don’t compete with our retailers — we don’t use their data and then decide to cut them out and go directly to their suppliers.”

He said of Amazon’s entry into the Australian market: “It will be interesting to see what they actually launch with, to see if they live up to the hype. eBay has been in this market 18 years, three in five Australians have bought something on eBay in the last 12 months, 90 per cent of what we sell is new, we have 60 million listings located in Australia — that’s what Australians expect.”

It’s an interesting from eBay Australia and is a further example of the fear and worry that Amazon Australia’s arrival is causing. There has even been suggestions in the Australian parliament of a digital tax to level the playing real for bricks and mortar retailers. We’ll see what happens.

  • Ross
    3 weeks ago

    As a growing business on Amazon in the UK and a previous seller on Ebay, I don’t think there’s a comparison. It’s far easier to grow a business on Amazon, in my experience.
    Not only do Amazon invest in businesses (via Amazon Lending), they have fulfilment facilities to more easily increase capacity. Breaking new products is also easier on Amazon.

    Also, as a supplier to Amazon and a seller it isn’t my experience that they go after selling products themselves at a better price they’re usually happy to let marketplace sellers do the work and take their (not inconsiderable) cut.

    Obviously Ebay have long had the Australia market to itself so understandable that they’d be worried.

    • Carl G
      3 weeks ago

      I think perhaps you are looking at Amazon through rose coloured glasses.

      Amazon are a competitor to ALL sellers on their sites, both now and in the future.
      The only time they will not be a competitor is if they stop selling directly.

      All competition is good, but when Amazon use your ASIN’s, and ignore your concerns about it, it is wrong and immoral.

    • Ross
      3 weeks ago

      I do have rose coloured glasses as far as Amazon goes, they help earn me a very good living.
      As for competition, I don’t know that Amazon are any different to any other competitor. They know what they earn on marketplace sellers without the work and infrastructure needed to sell it themselves.
      As it happens we manufacture about 50% of what we sell and that’s increasing so we’re happy to supply Amazon as well as sell on their platform.

      Ebay doesn’t give any of that and they are happy for new sellers to come in and take over an existing seller’s market.

      I know Amazon’s model has its faults, I just think that the Ebay guy is talking nonsense that Amazon’s competitiveness is detrimental to selling on there.

      If I could I’d ask Tim MacKinnon what Ebay have done to support businesses in Australia and New Zealand. Do they give them advice/support? Have they helped any of the businesses there with funding? How many Ebay employees are there in NZ/Aus? How much warehousing/office space do they have there?

      Amazon will be employing tens of thousands of people in Australia, they’ll have warehousing in several areas. Ebay will likely have an office with a dozen people in at best.

  • Phl
    3 weeks ago

    “And we also don’t compete with our retailers — we don’t use their data and then decide to cut them out and go directly to their suppliers”….

    That’s right Tim, you just feed that data to other retailers to create a relative race to the bottom to increase your volume and profit at their expense. If you were able to compete like Amazon does, you would but you can’t offer decent shipping so you act like it was all by design.

    “Warning”? Smells like major fear to me – imagine being the boss who’s on watch when it all starts to go bad….

    • james
      3 weeks ago

      Yeah, some confusion between “we don’t” and “we can’t” there.

      He’s right about Amazon cutting out the middle man, but as far as the rest of his claims “We let every retailer big and small compete” is absolute tosh and he knows it. the lack of small retailers on the Black Friday Sales page today is testament to that fact.

      not sure he wants to be chucking stones in that direction, Amazon will fire cannon back his way.

  • Mark
    3 weeks ago

    The chap from eBay wants to pick his words more carefully they do not let every retailer big and small compete.
    They give higher ratings if you can do all the things the big boys can do with all their 1000’s of employees like dispatching in just a few hours dictate what time couries will call to collect their stuff and offer refunds and free returns for months. All the things us little fish cannot do. They should actually charge for promoting and if the big boys want to promote they would pay just like the millions they spend on TV advertising.

    Oh and make sure all you little people remove any contact info !! but if you are Argos or Tesco feel free to put your logo all over the listings as no -one knows who they are or that they have a website. DO THEY????

    • james
      3 weeks ago

      on second thought, that’s slightly unfair. they DO let big and small companies compete.
      if it were a hundred yard race, Argos & co would be starting on the 90 yard line, and we’d all have our shoelaces tied together back on the start grid.
      you can technically still call that competing, at a stretch.

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