EBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) hasn't hosted a live auction in five years, but the online retailer will soon relaunch the program in an effort to create excitement and activity for shoppers.
The new live-bidding platform, created in partnership with Invaluable, will offer buyers the opportunity to participate in traditional live auctions through real-time online bidding at auction houses internationally. Invaluable's partner auction houses collectively offer more than $4 billion of inventory, a selection that will soon be available on eBay's new platform.
Live auctions will be deeply integrated into eBay's website and not operated as a separate or standalone store within the site, Gene Cook, GM of emerging verticals at eBay Marketplaces, told EcommerceBytes. Searches for items within eBay will return live auctions along with other listings.
Later this summer, eBay will launch a destination specifically tailored to shoppers looking for premium art and collectibles. Auction catalogs will be uploaded to Invaluable's live bidding platforms and promoted through eBay. EBay will also host special events.
EBay may have made a name for itself as an auction site, but the retailer hasn't hosted a live auction since 2009, following the arrival of CEO John Donahoe. Reasoning ranged from a desire to distance the retailer from a flea market or garage sale reputation to the need to avoid growing litigation around some live auction practices, including the bidding process.
The effort allows eBay to create a greater sense of urgency for visitors and incorporate visual imagery, an increasingly important tool for retailers. Video, in particular, is critical for all businesses with an online presence, including retailers. It also gives the online seller an entry into the lucrative world of collectibles and art, as offered by exclusive auction houses including Christie's and Sotheby's.
EBay live auctions are expected to launch later this year.
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