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Suddenly free - Ebay is now courting its German customers

The online marketplace Ebay is fighting against a loss of importance in Germany - with positive consequences for private customers.

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Suddenly free - Ebay is now courting its German customers

The online marketplace Ebay is fighting against a loss of importance in Germany - with positive consequences for private customers. From March 1, Ebay will be free for non-commercial providers, said Germany boss Oliver Klinck WELT. This applies to both sellers and buyers. Private sellers of used goods will save noticeably in the future.

The advance is not without necessity: In the past few months, Ebay has lost significant sales in Germany. This is not only due to the general weakness of online trade since the end of the shop closures due to the pandemic.

Ebay's free competitors are causing problems in precisely the business field with which the former online auction house grew: the trade in used goods by people who want to clear out their basements or get rid of collector's items. According to a statement by the US group to the stock exchange, sales in Germany fell by 18 percent to a good one billion dollars in 2022 - more than anywhere else.

Now head of Germany Klinck counteracts and is given an unusually large amount of leeway. In no other country does eBay waive the fees for private sellers. "This is a very big step for us," said Klinck.

Although there are no costs for sellers, which previously amounted to a good eleven percent of the sales price, payments continue to be secured via Ebay. Among other things, Klinck wants to set itself apart from free classifieds portals.

The group sold its own portal “Ebay classifieds” in 2021. Since then it has continued to run independently of Ebay, but may still use the brand name on a transitional basis.

The calculus behind the free offer, which will initially cost Ebay further sales in Germany: The marketplace should retain a functional size and a diverse range. "The strength of the market leaders is forcing the other providers to adapt their strategies in the current market weakness in order to remain relevant," confirms Jens von Wedel, consumer expert at the Oliver Wyman consultancy.

For Ebay, Germany is the third strongest market after the home market of the USA and Great Britain. The platform generated sales of $9.8 billion worldwide in 2022, six percent less than in the previous year. $74 billion worth of goods were traded through the platform.

As with other online retailers, the share has fallen in recent months - but not as much as with most Internet companies. That's because investors had lower growth hopes for Ebay even before the crisis.

Ebay's strategy is to set itself apart from online retailers such as Amazon and Otto with the widest possible range of car spare parts, sports shoes and collector's items. Ebay also needs used goods from private individuals for this. These contribute about half of the collectibles on offer.

Ebay is launching an advertising campaign in Germany for the changeover. Under the slogan "Let it go. Free” the Germans should be asked to clear out.

Most recently, Ebay had not advertised low costs, but with services to attract users. Since the middle of last year, for example, the marketplace has had luxury items such as handbags and sneakers, which are often bought by collectors, checked for authenticity - including in a warehouse in Berlin. These services were also retained in the free offer.

With the new tariff model, Ebay does without the income from business with private sellers who only occasionally sell something on Ebay. The income for the group from Germany will therefore in future come solely from commercial suppliers.

The conversion should bring these professional traders additional customers. "Anyone who sells on Ebay buys twice as much from us as other customers," says Klinck. "So with new sellers we are also gaining new buyers - and the most valuable ones we have." He hopes that the step will bring Ebay "extremely forward" in Germany and help to win back market shares.

Ebay competes strongly for smaller dealers, some of whom are not yet online. In Germany, the Americans are working with 30 cities. Retailers can present themselves in special Ebay city portals. Ebay has gained 2900 dealers through these cooperations.

Such initiatives are a sign of the increasing creative scope of the German branch on the outskirts of Berlin. Klinck has also hired an unspecified number of developers who expand the globally standardized software for German needs - for example when connecting regional partners. He also wants to ensure that the platform is easier to use for private users, for example when registering and placing goods.

"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 7 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.

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