November 10, 2004

eBay as Pricing Authority

Commerce By: ams

Tony Gentile pointed eBay’s move to release pricing data as a Web service:

eBay announced the availability of Pulse, a tool that aggregates bids to provide up-to-the-minute (and historical) values for goods (and some services).

Yes, that’s right… eBay, who, unlike your local newspaper, has transactions that clear (i.e., you know that the item was sold and how much it was sold for), knows the fair market price, globally, of millions of different goods… and they’ve just opened it up for mining!

Many implications:

1) We’ve seen the high-water mark for The Kelley Blue Book’s value (and similar companies). Through Pulse, eBay Motors can be mined to provide near real-time and historical pricing information, on any make or model, in a narrow geographic region (i.e., local search), with car photos documenting the condition of the car, etc. Nice.

2) Data availability will impact marketplace participant behavior, likely resulting in Meta-marketplaces, ‘day-sellers’ and increased competition. For example, much as built a meta-marketplace by arbitraging SEM marketplaces (Google, Overture, etc) until finally finding a profitable niche in home mortgages, the ability to monitor demand on eBay for a particular good or service may result in speculative and opportunistic seller behavior, resulting in more (and more immediate) competition in eBay’s marketplace.

Interestingly, just as with Overture/Google, tools that make the marketplace more efficient, as described above, may have a negative short-term impact on revenue (as anything that decreases the avg selling price of an item on eBay would), but will likely result in significantly greater long-term impact as the increased transparency leads to greater trust, allowing more transactions to move online.

3) eBay continues to ensure its Web 2.0 relevance by extending its existing services 1: Classified Listings and Transaction clearing (core marketplace), 2: Payments (via PayPal), and 3: Reputation (core marketplace), by adding its first data product service, Pricing.

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