EBay Unveils a Local Strategy That Has Nothing to Do With Daily Deals!

Groupon and LivingSocial, the poster children of local commerce, have done a bang-up job of making us believe that the trend is all about offering steep discounts to restaurants, spas or other nearby merchants.

In fact, hundreds of clones have built up all around them.

But eBay is taking a different approach, and–at least for the sake of variety–it has nothing to do with coupons!

This morning, eBay is unveiling some of its plans around local at the Web 2.0 event in San Francisco. Since Dane Glasgow, eBay’s VP of Global Product Management, has only 10 brief minutes on stage, we talked to him yesterday to get the whole picture.

Today, eBay is unveiling a new features with the general idea that the lines between online and offline are blurring, which is generally good for e-commerce since it makes up only about 10 percent of all retail sales.

“We see a really interesting intersection between online and offline,” Glasgow said. “It’s a pretty significant segment. It’s a consumer who is doing product research online but then picking up the transaction at a local store….The convergence of offline and online is what we call commerce 3.0.”

All of the new features, which can be found at ebay.com/local, are thanks to eBay’s December acquisition of Milo, which has been building a database of products from 50,000 U.S. retail stores, like Best Buy and others.

Since that acquisition, eBay has been quick to integrate the information into the e-commerce giant’s products.

Already, users can find that information when scanning a bar code with their Red Laser application. There was also a small trial over the holidays, in which Best Buy allowed eBay users to pay for items on eBay and pick them up in the stores once it was too close to Christmas to ship.

Now, eBay is integrating the Milo data into its general search results.

Initially, the feature will be in beta, but from the search bar users will be able to find local availability for products.

For instance, if you search for an LED TV, several models and brands will appear in the results. There’s also a handful of tabs at the top, including “Auctions Only,” “Buy It Now,” Products & Reviews,” and “Local Shopping.”

The final “local shopping” tab is powered by Milo.

The local search tab will also be found in product pages that have been developed for MP3 players and GPS devices.

For now, the local search results will only be seen by people who opt in to the beta on the eBay garden, a site where they let users demo new products. However, the product pages are live to everyone immediately.

EBay is also launching a new local tool for small merchants, giving them the ability to upload their inventory to eBay and Milo using Quicken Books software.

When eBay first acquired Milo, there was negative reaction from eBay’s current merchants, who were concerned that local inventory would create competition.

The beta launch of local search could mark the beginning of that rivalry.

However, Jack Abraham, Milo’s co-founder and eBay’s current director of local, doesn’t see it that way. “We think it’s beneficial to them. What’s good for buyers is good for sellers.”


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