Is Branding on eBay the Right Thing for Your Business?

Posted on January 31, 2009. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , |


We are often asked why we have 3 different eBay selling IDs.  Now, while we do sell a variety of different items in several categories, which would make sense to break out on different eBay IDs, it is much more than that.  We do use the various selling IDs to run different tests sometimes, to try a certain strategy on a lower-volume account before fully implenting on a higher volume eBay ID. 

There are a number of reasons we have multiple eBay IDs but one very important reason is branding.  There are many articles written about the importance of branding and some of them are very clear that you should put your name “out there” everywhere you go.  However, we have a little different perspective about branding.  We think that eBay sellers have unique branding challenges as well as unique opportunities and we have found a combination of branding approaches that work for us on eBay.  Let me illustrate by describing how we approach branding for each of our three eBay accounts.

Account #1 – Branding 100%
We have one eBay selling ID which as the same “name” as our ecommerce website.  On eBay, for this account, we make sure to take advantage of the long tail and it is pretty obvious by our descriptions and store offerings that we are expert in our field.  We also make sure to always include informational and advertisement flyers in our packages to point customers to our ecommerce website. 

The purpose of this particular eBay account is not necessarily about making the sale on eBay, since we are most often the highest priced seller, although that does sometimes happen.  For us, it is about simply having a presence on eBay where people can find us and learn about us and then ultimately buy from us when the “cheaper guy” eventually disappoints them or does not have what they are looking for.  The product we sell on this eBay ID is one where there is a very high rate of repeat sales so it is worth taking the time and spending the money for customer acquisition.  Our eBay store is just an extension of us, just one platform where our customers can find us and one of our product lines.

And this is one of the unique opportunities that eBay does offer sellers.  It is possible to brand yourself on eBay in a way that you simply cannot do on some other platforms like Amazon.  The pictures and the descriptions in your eBay listing are uniquely yours and this creates a huge opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition and to take advantage of branding opportunities.

Account #2 – Branding 0%
We manage one eBay selling ID where we make sure we specifically disassociate ourselves from our core business.   Our name is not associated with any other ecommerce store or brick and mortar store.  Simply put, this is our liquidation selling ID.  The customers who buy from us do so simply because of price and we do not have any expectation that we can build a relationship with them nor do we want to.  The transaction is beneficial to each of us but we both know it is a one-time shot.  This separate ID for liquidations allows us to avoid cannibalization of our regularly priced items, too. 

We do not put any effort into branding our eBay name and we specifically avoid linking our eBay efforts on this account to our core business because of the inherent problems of doing so.  Customers who purchase at such a great discount on eBay then visit your website or B&M store and want to haggle over price to get the same good deal they got on eBay.  It is a huge drain on resources to disassociate yourself after the fact once the bargain hunter extraordinaire realizes that you have a huge treasure they think they can plunder.  Before developing separate eBay IDs, we wrote the book on “101 ways to say no politely to eBay buyers who simply won’t go away”.     

Account #3 – Partial Branding (Branding 50% / No Branding 50%)
This eBay ID is a little unique.  Because of eBay’s “interesting” Best Match formula, we are pretty much forced to run auctions, starting them at a break-even price, which then drives traffic to our BIN listings.  Thus, some of our items sell at the break-even price but then some of our items sell for the full value. 

We do not engage in direct branding for this eBay account because we do not want the auction buyers to become a detractor in our core business.  We need and want the auction buyers but we could not have a profitable business by servicing only those buyers.  They are a necessary component of our eBay business model but they are not the customer with whom we want to build a relationship. 

It’s not that we go out of our way to disassociate our core business from this eBay account but we only include advertisement flyers in the boxes of any eBay customer who pays our full Buy-It-Now (BIN) price, a flyer which we use to inform the buyer that we have off-eBay channels.  

So we have two eBay accounts where we market to our customers, either in part or in whole, for different types of products.  Of these two eBay accounts, we make sure our brand is easily recognizable only on one account which is the selling ID where we are known to be experts in our field.  And we have one eBay ID that we use to clear out stale inventory or imperfect items, such as those with badly damaged boxes but where the product is fine.  We definitely want to be unrecognizable on that eBay account.

For us, eBay provides a very unique branding opportunity since customer acquisition on eBay is profitable for product lines where repeat sales are likely.  But eBay also provides a unique opportunity to liquidate product, such as stale inventory and imperfect items, without harming our company’s reputation or detracting from our core business. 

There is no “one size fits all” strategy for selling on eBay and whether branding on eBay is right for your business depends on a number of factors.    “To Brand or Not to Brand on eBay” is the question but only you can answer that for your particular business.

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3 Responses to “Is Branding on eBay the Right Thing for Your Business?”

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Another very enlightening article! Thanks Brews, you are a jewel!

speckles, you are way too kind

[…] what is happening in our local communities. In the recent seminars I attended, the importance of branding and of carefully controlling the way in which your name is used to represent your product was […]

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