eBay UK has proved a significant outlet for entrepreneurship during the recession, with the number of new businesses registered on it growing by nearly a fifth since the recession started.
eBay says 25,000 new businesses have registered on the UK auction site since September 2008, taking the total to 140,000, a jump of 18%. Between them these new businesses have turned over more than £200m since then.
The figures chime with a new study from PayPoint.net, released today. It found that a third of Britain’s office workers, fed up with the drudgery of office life, would like to start their own online business.
Of the new businesses that have registered on eBay, the biggest category has been home and garden, where nearly 9,000 new sellers have turned over £31.5m since September 2008. That’s followed by clothing, shoes and accessories, with more than 6,000 new sellers turning over more than £22m since September 2008.
Most of eBay’s businesses are small or medium-sized, but large businesses are also turning to the site. Currently there are 21 high street retailers selling through the eBay Fashion Outlet, launched in May 2010.
Laure Reillier, head of eBay Seller Proposition, said large businesses, employing more than 10 people and turning over £1m or more, are also emerging from the smaller retailers to which eBay plays host. “We’re seeing an increase in the number of large sellers who probably started their business on eBay and over time have increased turnover, recruited staff and become more and more professional.” She added: “The growth we’re seeing on eBay in the UK is very much supported by business sellers, especially in the area of new products and fixed price.”
Like the rest of the e-commerce industry, she says, many of these businesses have improved what they offer to customers. “We have seen certainly an improvement in the quality of service and the customer experience they have been providing to their customers,” she says.
“It’s not just on eBay – when you look at e-commerce sites in general the quality and customer experience keep increasing and buyer expectations keep rising.”
The growth in businesses registered on eBay UK has come at a time of fast growth for the auction site. In 2009, ebay.co.uk grew by 17%, with business to consumer growth up by 20% compared to the previous year. The busiest day of the UK site’s year was November 29, when buyers bought 14 items per second. In the last quarter of 2009, top-rated sellers saw sales rise by 35%.
The update came as eBay announced new features for sellers ahead of the busy Christmas trading period, a time when, according to the Online Business Index, online businesses do 19% of their annual turnover.
New listing analytics will show businesses how much interest their listed goods are seeing, allowing them to revise in order to boost sales.
And new standardised delivery services, economy, standard and express, have been introduced with a view to reducing delivery-related questions from buyers.
Other changes include improving bulk edits and listings, and the ability to use My Messages to manage buyer emails.
Reillier said: “These features will definitely help sellers prepare for the biggest period of the year at Christmas. They will help them to be more efficient during that period. They will spend less time listing and managing listings and more time focusing on selling itself."
Picture caption: Laure Reillier, head of eBay seller proposition