eBay Canada says it’s positioning itself as a distribution channel to help move end-of-life, refurbished or excess computer equipment.

This is the first time the company has set up a booth at Comdex Canada. In the past, said Casey

Rovinelli, computer category manager for eBay’s Canadian arm in Toronto, people have perceived Ebay as a site for auctioning off collectibles. But now, he said, it’s being accessed by businesses that want to clear out their inventory and by customers who want a good deal on tech gadgets.

“”We’re at the point where we have some manufacturers and distributors who have excess inventory problems or have product that is stuck at various levels that they don’t a have channel for,”” said Rovinelli. “”It isn’t efficient for them to do it because there isn’t much of a market for onesies and twosies (single products). But how do they get rid of it? They can sell it on eBay.””

The online shopping site does not intend to compete with the channel but to complement it. One way is by promoting products so new that they haven’t yet gained momentum in the channel, said Rovinelli.

For example, when the first two Xboxes came out in Canada, eBay bundled them with other products and auctioned them off for around $1,500, with the proceeds going to charity, he said. “”We’re good for creating a buzz around a product launch.””

Once a product is established, the channel kicks in and takes over the majority of sales. And as the product comes closer to the end of its life cycle, he said eBay can help flush out older products to help make room for newer equipment.

“”The channel is very good at moving the next new product out, getting that out to consumers. We’re good as a sort of liquidation channel. It’s a separately-branded channel that you can use to reach new customers that may not have bought from you.””

IBM Canada is already using eBay to push some of its products, and according to IBM statistics, 73 per cent of the customers buying IBM products through eBay are new. “”For whatever reason, that customer didn’t try IBM before — they might have felt they were too expensive or just didn’t think of buying from IBM — but now they came through eBay. In [IBM’s] example it’s a customer acquisition tool.””

Based on this year’s first-quarter results, eBay Canada has projected $2 billion in sales this year, an estimate Rovinelli said is conservative.

According to the company, 6,480 pieces of software, 2,100 laptops, 2.430 desktop PCs and 264 monitors are sold every day.

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