By Steve Bauer
After more than two years of development and a year of testing, eBay Motors recently officially launched its redesigned Web site to the general public. And while it’s no surprise that eBay has been working on the new site for some time, the company is also making a major adjustment in its marketing strategy to attract mainstream consumers, particularly from the female and Gen Y sectors.
A kinder, gentler eBay
Curtis Kroeker, director of vehicles for eBay Motors, says the main goal behind the site’s redesign was to make it more user friendly for customers who aren’t considered traditional enthusiasts.
Some of the new features of the site include drop-down menus to display specific vehicle make and model categories, searches that allow a user to quickly find a specific model based on year, price range, features, etc.; and a real-time area that shows when the last bike being searched was sold, along with an area for product reviews and price ranges for a product based on past eBay transactions.
Kroeker says that the company’s goal of attracting a new consumer base and the growth of the Internet necessitated the redesign.
“All the features and functionalities we’ve added and pieced together to the site led to a complex design that was difficult to navigate,” he said. “We also heard from our community of users about new things they wanted, such as more integrated price research, ability to get ratings and reviews on items and have it all integrated into a single site. So it made sense that we create a site that was both easy to navigate while at the same time integrating these new features that allows us to continue to be the leader in online motor vehicle sales.”
Kroeker adds that eBay intentionally started small with its initial rollout of the site last spring, allowing access to only 3 percent of its users. Eventually that number was increased to 10 percent, and at that point several suggestions from users prompted the company to stop the launch and add even more features. “At that point we decided a lot of the suggestions that were coming up from this small section of our users needed to be added to the site before we could roll it out to everyone,” he said. “So in doing that it took longer than we officially thought, but in hindsight it worked out well because it allowed us to focus on our target audience even more before going public with the new site.”
A new marketing strategy
One of the biggest changes outside the Web site eBay has made is its marketing efforts to attract consumers who aren’t already familiar with eBay Motors. To do that, the company has began advertising in more mainstream publications that don’t focus on powersports.
“We’ve been around for nearly a decade, and the hardcore enthusiasts are all aware of our site,” Kroeker said. “We want to continue to market to those guys because they’re our foundation. But as people in general become more comfortable with selling and purchasing on the Internet, we want to capture more of the mainstream consumer as well, so you’re going to start seeing our ads in magazines that maybe cater to women or younger generations.”
One trend eBay picked up on almost immediately with the site relaunch was the number of women who showed interest in the friendlier site navigation. Kroeker says eBay recognizes what a potentially big market it is and is making efforts to attract women to its site.
“The national estimate is that more than
10 percent of motorcycle riders are women, so that’s a large number we want to try and capture,” he said. “So we’re advertising in women’s health publications and things of that nature, and so far the results have been very positive.”
The Gen Y sector is another focus for the company but is one that eBay is still struggling to figure out how to capture.
“Gen Y hasn’t traditionally been a big focus of ours, but we recently just launched a Facebook for eBay Motors,” Kroeker said. “Right now it’s car-oriented, but we’ll see where users take it in the future, and I have no doubts that powersports will be a big part of that.”
Kroeker says the Facebook venture is the company’s first test toward generating interest from younger consumers but says he expects the marketing pace to pick up dramatically.
“Obviously they’re big into consumer electronics, and cars as well, but motorcycles are right up there in surveys when you talk to younger people as to what they find exciting,” Kroeker asked. “So we know that’s going to be a focal point for us.”