|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2993 - February 04, 2013 - ISSN 1539-5065 3 of 5|
eBay CEO John Donahoe said he predicts more change in how consumers shop and pay in the next three years than we've seen in the last 10 to 20 in an interview with The Wall Street Journal's Deputy Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Blumenstein on Jan. 30 as part of the Journal's Executive Breakfast Series. "We're on the cusp of what is one of the most exciting and transformative periods in two enormous industries in which we participate: retail and payments," said Donahoe.
Donahoe noted it was analogous to how people now consume media in a fundamentally different way since the advent of the iPad. "I now get the majority of my media through my iPad. I want my media when I want it, how I want it, when I want it. It's now on my terms." The same thing is about to happen in retail, he said. "And in this case, a piece of technology is having a transformative effect" - in particular, "the smartphone is blurring if not obliterating the line between online and offline," he said.
"Three years ago I'd have said eBay competes in the ecommerce market, a $400 billion market, and ecommerce is 5% of offline retail, and it's going to double or triple...but consumers have grabbed hold, and now that line between retail and ecommerce is obliterated, so we just call it commerce now," he said.
eBay Now and Disruption from Acquisitions
Donahoe used eBay Now as an example of how eBay likes the founders of the companies it acquires to stay on and help innovate. Blumenstein noted eBay had acquired more than 40 companies, and that it was an "interesting way of taking talent on, as most companies would clean house." In the consumer Internet there is a need for "disruptive innovation," said Donahoe; where "someone sees the world differently." He said he found acquisitions "a great way" to bring that in. "We've made 20 acquisitions roughly in last two years," he said, and 18 of them were small, but "with them often comes founders." The screening criteria is, "Does the founder want to stay and innovative its scale inside eBay?" he explained.
It was Jack Abraham, the young founder of eBay's acquisition Milo, who was put in charge of eBay Local and came up with the eBay Now concept, said Donahoe. "He builds it in three months; we launch in San Francisco, and people love it," he said.
Editor's note: Fortune Magazine reported on Jan. 28 that Abraham was leaving eBay, though retaining an advisory role on areas like shopping innovation.
From Mostly Used to Mostly New
The iPhone is driving some of the growth of new, fixed-price goods; "eBay is on the top ten on the iPhone Deck" (a sidebar menu where people can access their favorite apps), and "for many, many people, and that's where all the action is," said Donahoe.
PayPal Here...and at the Deli
Thoughts on Amazon.com
Selling on eBay a Cinch with Mobile
"Please, try today!" answered Donahoe. He then touted eBay's mobile selling app: "we're getting two million listings a week off mobile devices. So you have something you want to sell, you enter two fields, take a pic and boom, you're done."
Blumenstein couldn't let Donahoe go without asking about his view of the economy and the outcome of the election, given as both he and the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney were both veterans of management consulting firm Bain and Company.
Donahoe replied that his wife is an ambassador for President Obama, to the human rights council. "People ask, "who did you select?" I supported the president for one and one simple reason, which is that I like to sleep inside," he quipped.
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Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at YardSalers.net where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.
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