Ecommerce: in France, eBay dreams of defending second-hand and responsible consumption

It sounds like a line from a movie. “Can we go back when we never left? The American platform eBay comes out of silence as of this Thursday, September 22, to publicize the change in course made by its French subsidiary. Black Friday or Green Friday is over (the version of the commercial event that intends to be more respectful with the environment), no more Christmas news on the website, with, implicitly, the desire to promote “responsible consumption in line with of the customer”.

A new program where second-hand and second-hand items will take center stage. “It’s the return to your original eBay values, Return to routine the Anglo-Saxons would say”, analyzes Carine Moitier, founder of the Cross Border agency, which has analyzed e-commerce sites. With this strategic change, the American giant wants to expand its target, win back some of the millennials that stopped competing and that only equated eBay with a site for collectors of sneakers or Pokémon cards.

Ten million unique visitors in France

Since the birth of the American distribution platform 25 years ago in the United States before its creation three years later in France, the world of e-commerce has changed a lot. He who first bet on the sale of objects between individuals saw the birth of scions with long teeth like Le Bon Coin or Vinted. And even in new products, another part of its business, the Amazonian ogre leaves only crumbs.

Big in the world (140 million buyers and 88.5 billion euros in sales), but a player among others in France. It is this paradoxical situation that eBay must face. If the American has 5 million active buyers and a flywheel of just under 10 million unique visitors (Mediamétrie and Fevad study the first quarter of 2022) in France, he is far behind the leading trio Amazon-Le Bon Coin-Cdiscount.

The situation does not worry Céline Saada-Benaben, eBay’s general manager in France, who points to the extreme fragmentation of the tricolor market. But the dynamic chef would like to “conquer” her compatriots “in line with the values ​​we believe in, namely more sustainable and equitable consumption”. As such, all new hires on eBay receive as a gift the comic book “Un monde sans fin” by Mathieu Blain and Jean-Marc Jancovici.

To achieve its ambitious project, which involves reducing CO2 emissions, the distribution platform has no alternative but to reduce the exposure of new consumer goods.

“Going further in the sale of spare parts for repairing appliances, cars, bicycles”.

eBay didn’t wait for the boom in Europe’s second-hand market over the past two years to turn it around. “We are starting from a very good base, assures Céline Saada-Benaben, but we want to go further, for example, in the sale of spare parts to repair electrical appliances, the car, the bicycle on which we have done + 70% over the last five years or refurbished products far beyond phones and tablets. As it already exists for auto parts, eBay’s services will support both sellers and buyers, because “not everyone has the same degree of knowledge in the repair industry.”

The strategic shift was therefore no longer compatible with Black Friday. The promotional event at the end of November will no longer be allowed on the site. For the other strong commercial moment, the year-end festivities, “no new products will be presented, including for decoration”.

For Julien Pillot, “eBay wants to become eBay again”. The economist and professor at Insec considers that the platform “had to come out of the super niches like selling old video games or old game cards in which it was locked. If the seats were taken second-hand, what he describes as an “electronic garage sale” has its place, especially as the spirit of the times is “favorable to projects that respect the environment. It’s the right time. »

“There is purchasing power in the closets”

eBay’s strategic shift is also part of a context of extreme pressure on prices. “There is purchasing power in the closets”, insists Céline Saada-Benaben on the matter. In the spring, her teams commissioned a study that estimated the number of objects sleeping in closets and attics at 717 million. In this second, or even third or fourth hand market, the apparel market is extremely dynamic.

In its second study of sustainable markets in Europe, agency Cross Border noted that eBay was already in second place behind Vinted. “The fashion resale market is currently growing 11 times faster than traditional retail. By 2030, it will be twice as big as Fast Fashion.”

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