Lansing’s Next Game Changer

Gillespie Group’s new project further transforms the Stadium District while solving two of the city’s biggest inconveniences The multinational e-commerce giant eBay is working w…

Gillespie Group’s new project further transforms the Stadium District while solving two of the city’s biggest inconveniences

The multinational e-commerce giant eBay is working with Lansing to launch a Retail Revival program. The goal: Help Lansing businesses extend their grasp to include eBay’s global marketplace. The fact that eBay has around 175 million buyers worldwide makes that an extensive reach.

Training small business and the entrepreneurial community is key to the program’s success. Samantha Harkins, chief of staff to Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said, “We are thrilled to be chosen as eBay’s second Retail Revival city. This program is a great way to support our local businesses and help them grow. EBay provides access to the global market and gives Lansing businesses the extraordinary opportunity to have an international reach. We know Lansing’s time is now, and eBay choosing Lansing for this program is further proof of that.”

Akron, Ohio, was the first city to take part in the program, which launched in March. Scott Cutler, eBay America senior vice president, said, “Our Retail Revival pilot program in Akron, Ohio, has shown the impact online marketplaces and a little bit of training can have in supporting local businesses to grow and thrive in the current environment.”

EBay has pointed out that Michigan sellers already using its platform generated $939 million in revenue in 2016 while selling to 190 global markets. Lansing’s contribution to those figures: $10 million dollars in sales to
157 markets.

In response to hypothetical storeowners asking why they should participate in the program when ecommerce has been harmful to their businesses, eBay wrote this on its
program page:

“The data is pretty clear: e-commerce is here to stay. Seventy-nine percent of Americans shop online, and 51 percent regularly use their mobile phones to make purchases. Having a digital business presence is therefore key to maintaining your long-term viability
and success.

“Through Retail Revival, we are stepping off our platform and into American communities on a very simple mission: to help small businesses thrive locally by selling globally. Our hope – and our intent – is that you keep your doors open, hire from your communities, live where you work and continue to enliven your local economy, and our belief is that expanding your business on eBay can help.

“One last important note: eBay is a pure marketplace, meaning we carry no inventory of our own. We connect our sellers to buyers – we do not compete with them. So, our success is intertwined with yours, incenting us to support you along each step of your business journey.”

An Aug. 10 report on eBay’s website stated that at five months after the launch, Akron Retail Revival sellers had sold to all 50 states and 51 international markets.

According to an report dated Aug.10, the 70 most active of the Ohio businesses in the program had collectively made over 6,000 sales.

“We are tremendously excited to be a part of this project to help Greater Lansing businesses connect, grow and thrive using eBay’s powerful platform to market their business around the world,” said Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Business Development Michelle Rahl. “Our mission is to support our members and the business community to help them grow their business. Retail Revival will be an important tool to help us do that.”

One way of looking at the program is to think in terms of brick-and-mortar stores harnessing the power of the online retail world, or as Schor put it, “You hear about online versus retail. This is a merger of the two.”

With so many physical stores closing in the United States – one estimate puts the number at just under 8,000 recorded closings in 2017 – the eBay-Lansing union could be a masterstroke in helping businesses here thrive.

“We knew we found an ideal partner in Lansing after seeing firsthand its strong community of small businesses, and we’re looking forward to working with these businesses to bring their products to our 175 million buyers around the world,” said Cutler.

EBay’s method of promoting Lansing’s businessowners is through a dedicated website landing page, similar to one already put in place for Akron, combined with one-on-one training, a customer service team and an eBay store subscription. EBay’s services are available to its partner cities at no cost.

“It’s a win for Lansing. It’s a win for the region. There is no downside,” Schor said.


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