According to the Financial Times the UK leads the world in our takeup of online sales as roughly £1 in every £8 spent is now spent online.
Whilst Amazon takes most of the headlines eBay is not so very quietly increasing their sales- and not just in the UK.
Once a quirky online flea market, eBay has morphed into a giant retailer, with 70pc of its business now selling new stock. The site attracts 60 million unique users a month in Europe- 19 million of which are in the UK, and now accounts for one in two of all online shoppers here.
Small firms have joined in droves, particularly since the recession – numbers have jumped from 120,000 to 200,000 small traders in a few years. “We have over 300 self-made millionaires,” says Clare Gilmartin, vice-president of eBay and boss of the US firm’s Europe division.
To attract big businesses to eBay, Gilmartin has forged “partnerships” with retailers. “Three or four years ago, it was so hard to get a conversation with anyone,” she says. “They thought eBay was just auctions and private sellers, and their brand would be damaged. We started selling their terminal inventory. But those conversations have obviously moved on drastically. We have over 100 retailers, names like House of Fraser, Office, Superdry, Karen Millen. In motors, there’s BMW.”
Gilmartin is now preparing to launch an eBay Click & Collect service. “Ironically, customers find it convenient to collect from stores,” she says. “And you save on
But the big driver at the moment is technology, particularly mobile. “From a buyer’s point of view, we’ve seen more change in the past three years, than the past 100 years, and that’s because of mobile,” says Gilmartin.
“About one in three transactions in the UK for us is mobile – it’s growing at about 80pc year on year. Globally we did £8.5 billion in mobile transactions last year; that will be £13.5 billion this year. It’s not simply a replication of buying on your PC, it’s actually very different. People have their mobile phone with them 100pc of the time, so shopping opportunities have exploded and the chance to touch consumers has exploded. Their phones also has a camera, which has huge potential.”
eBay launched its first app in 2007, one of the first commercial apps- and since then it has been downloaded 160 million. It has special features for cameras, so you can take a photo of a vehicle registration number and find the right car parts, or a particular pattern and find similar clothes.
The company is now working on ways to take photos of a handbag or clothes on TV shows and allowing people to buy them immediately.
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