digital disruptors | Oct 26, 2016 |
EBay delves into high-end antiques and design biz with new platform, eBay Collective
Boh staff

By Katy B. Olson
One of the world’s largest online marketplaces is launching a concerted effort into the digital antiques market. EBay Collective, a new digital destination for interior designers and consumers featuring an edited inventory of furniture, antiques, contemporary design and fine art, debuted last week, with a number of the antiques industry’s leading dealers on deck, including Newel, Maison Gerard, Todd Merrill Studio, Bernd Goeckler, Arte Antiques and more. EBay itself boasts 164 million active buyers and 1 billion-something listings—and the new initiative, which includes an editorial syndication partnership with Architectural Digest, is now channeling its expansive reach to this niche market following its springtime launch of the eBay Wine platform. 

The concept is in part the result of conversations with dealers, all of whom have been selected and vetted by eBay, says Jill Ramsey, eBay’s VP of Soft Goods: “We gathered a group of dealers together last month, where we presented the eBay Collective experience. Coming out of that gathering, many dealers expressed interest in the eBay Collective and believed it would be a great channel for them, citing the elevated branding and experience combined with the massive customer reach.”

Explains Bernd Goeckler, proprietor of the eponymous dealership, which specializes in 18th- and 19th-century antiques: “Bernd Goeckler has been selling lighting, furniture and decorative items in New York for over 25 years. Most of our pieces are from the early to mid 20th century, though we pride ourselves in having a large selection of contemporary artist-made works exclusive to Bernd Goeckler as well. We believe that eBay Collective is a great opportunity as well as a change in the market, and we look forward to being among the first galleries to take part in this wonderful new venture, which will bring high-quality furnishings vetted and curated at the highest level to the collectors in the eBay marketplace.” Additionally, stories from ArchDigest.com and the print magazine, focused on decorating, shopping and industry news, will appear on the site. 

EBay Collective, which is also available via mobile app, focuses on furniture, antiques, contemporary design and fine art, promoted via the dealers’ own eBay storefronts. Dealers can offer trade-only discounts, and eBay has also provided a white-glove shipping service, offering flat-rate shipping on U.S. freight. 

Designers and consumers alike can shop by category (seating, tables, case pieces and beds, decorative objects, lighting, fine art, Asian antiques, silver, sculptures and carvings); by dealer; by style (Scandinavian Cool, The Country House, Artful Decor, The Manor Reborn, American Classics and Eastern Influence); and via a dedicated editorial section called Design Inspiration from Architectural Digest. A Shop the Look feature, using image-recognition software, lets users hover over an image on the site, which in turn searches matching inventory across eBay. Among the goods that made their debut with eBay Collective’s launch: a pair of Giò Ponti armchairs; a Mies van der Rohe chaise lounge in original leather; a cabinet attributed to Osvaldo Borsani; a rare, signed Andy Warhol “Mao” exhibition screenprint; and a desk and chair by Ado Chale.

Jill Ramsey chatted with EAL about the development of the design-centric platform: 

Who was on the development team?

EBay Collective was developed by a cross-functional team at eBay made up of a core group of individuals spanning merchandising, business operations, and marketing teams. 

How did you decide to target interior designers specifically? 
While there are many individual collectors and buyers for high-end products in this category, our research revealed that the majority of purchases in this category are either made by interior designers for their clients, or made by clients based on the advice of their interior designers. As such, we believed this type of experience would suit the needs of the interior design community.

What has feedback been like so far?
We’ve had great feedback so far from both dealers and interior designers. Dealers are excited about the potential that eBay Collective has to provide them with an elevated environment to showcase their amazing products, while exposing their inventory to a new and broader set of buyers. Interior designers are equally excited that there is now a place on eBay that they can easily find the finest-quality items while having the comfort of buying from vetted, trusted dealers, who are considered some of the best in the world. 

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