eBay has been trying to fend off competition from Amazon for years. Now it’s got a new challenger in its sightlines: the online referral site, Angie’s List.
After trying out the model in the United Kingdom, the e-commerce giant recently introduced a limited beta version of a new service called eBay Hire. How it works: Local service providers—whether plumbers, caterers or piano teachers—can sign up to create a profile and be listed in a database of providers specific to their area. Consumers in their area can then browse the providers' profiles and fill out an online form to contact any provider. The service provider can then write or call back with a quote. The service is booked and then paid directly with the professional.
eBay currently doesn’t charge service providers commissions for business they generate through eBay Hire, but it plans to add them in the future, according to TechCrunch.
The company said in a blog post it’s working with service pros from the Professional Tennis Registry, the U.S. Golf Teachers Federation and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. It says it plans to cross-promote service providers so when, say, a consumer shops for golf clubs on eBay, an ad may pop up for golf lessons from a local professional.
“This limited beta launch is another example of eBay Inc. using technology to connect buyers and sellers in new ways,” Steve Yankovich, eBay’s vice president of innovation and new ventures at eBay said in a statement.
The big question, of course, is whether eBay can truly compete against the already well-established list of online referral sites, such as Angie’s List and Home Depot’s Red Beacon. Angie’s List charges consumers a subscription fee; however it provides them with very detailed reviews and ratings on service professionals, including cost information and quality of work performed.
Angie’s List also offers “flash-sale” deals and coupons for specific services. eBay hasn’t indicated what level of reviews and ratings or deals or discounts it plans to integrate into the site.
For local service providers, eBay Hire—if it gains traction—could become another tool for reaching consumers in their local areas. Some providers have become frustrated with Angie’s List due to its search-result listings and questionable accuracy of some reviews. A recent Forbes contributor predicts that Angie’s List will soon lose ground to free services like Yelp that don’t charge consumers money.
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