August 8, 2011, 2:26 PM

eBay plans to add a fashion outlet for U.S. shoppers

The online marketplace plans to launch eBay Fashion Outlet in September.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

EBay Inc. plans to beef up its fashion offerings with the launch next month of eBay Fashion Outlet in the United States.

The shopping service, already available to consumers in the United Kingdom and Germany, enables consumers to buy apparel at up to 60% off retail prices, similar to the discounts at physical outlet stores that are generally located along interstate highways well outside of urban areas and which sell excess or out-of-season items. EBay launched those European sites in 2010.

EBay plans to debut its U.S. service Sept. 19, a spokeswoman for the online marketplace says. eBay Fashion Outlet mainly will target women between the ages of 25 and 44. EBay says it sold $9.8 billion worth of apparel last year.

The U.S. version of eBay Fashion Outlet will include products from 20 apparel companies, including Bluefly, No. 173 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide,  The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., (No. 39), William Rast and Fila. The retailers and brands selling through Fashion Outlet use an eBay-provided platform but own their merchandise and fulfill orders on their own. Consumers navigate to the Fashion Outlet site via eBay.com, fashion.ebay.com, and e-commerce sites operated by outlet sellers. EBay also plans a mobile app.

EBay says it will receive a percentage of sales, but gave no further financial details. Normally, eBay takes a 12% cuts of sales, says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, which helps e-retailers work with search engines, comparison shopping sites and online marketplaces.

“It’s a great was for retailers to get rid of excess goods,” Wingo says, “and it’s done very well in the U.K. and Germany. This could be a new channel for the fashion industry.”

Though one of the hottest trends in e-commerce is flash-sale retailing—a limited-time online sale, for instance, of excess designer and luxury apparel—Wingo doesn’t think eBay is going after those retailers with the pending expansion of Fashion Outlet. “EBay’s going after the offline outlet malls,” he says.

The upcoming launch of U.S. Fashion Outlet marks eBay’s latest move into fashion goods. The online marketplace in April 2010, for instance, introduced a dedicated fashion section on its home page, which was followed a few months later by an eBay Fashion iPhone app.

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