EBay Hits the Mail

EBay is the latest online-only marketer to expand into print. The San Jose, CA-based Internet auction site mailed “several million” catalogs to a cross-section of its 125 million registered users. The catalogs should land in mailboxes late next week.

“We wanted to make the catalog a place where shoppers can find unique and hard-to-find merchandise,” says spokesperson Dean Jutilla. It’s part of the company’s effort to keep shopping on eBay top of mind. Though the catalog was already in the works, a fall research report from A.C. Nielsen confirmed the company’s faith in catalogs as a marketing tool. The report revealed that three out of four people “get some or all” of their gift ideas from catalogs.

The catalog does not have an 800-number but rather lists the URL on every page. Merchandise categories include apparel and accessories, jewelry and watches, computers, books, music, and videos. According to Jutilla, merchandise was chosen based on demand, seasonality, and distinctiveness. Among the hard-to-find items are retro childhood toys and tickets to sold-out National Football League games.

In keeping with the auction medium of eBay, many of the items are listed with two prices: the average retail price and what the product has sold for on eBay. Products are also listed with a search string that, when typed into eBay’s search engine, takes the customer directly to the product page to help narrow the focus.

San Francisco-based Haggin Marketing worked with eBay on the catalog.

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