The president of eBay Global Marketplaces Devin Wenig issued a report to promote eBay’s message that companies of all sizes can benefit from global trade opportunities in the age of the Internet. The report builds on another study published by eBay called “Towards Commerce 3.0 – Roadmap for Building Sustainable Growth into Commerce” in which the company argues that trade policy has traditionally been viewed as only being beneficial to large firms seeking to access new markets.
eBay did a great job of building out its international presence in the first ten years or so of its corporate life, and now its biggest growth opportunity is in emerging markets and cross-border trade. Physically getting items to international buyers is a challenge for sellers, one eBay is trying to solve through its Global Shipping Program. But it’s also on a campaign to ease trade restrictions and reduce “frictions.”
Wenig’s report, “Technology-enabled Global Trade: The opportunities and challenges on the road to 21st century commerce,” states that the economic benefits of increased global trade are tangible and powerful, but, traditionally, only the largest of businesses could secure the gains from access to global consumers. “The Internet enables everyone – from the individual entrepreneur to the largest of businesses – to access the same set of global customers.
Wenig describes some of the activities eBay is undertaking to improve global trade, including the following:
- Machine translation: “We are investing heavily in machine translation to create localized versions of product listings and help to break language barriers.” (See this EcommerceBytes Blog post.)
- Shipping: “We are making shipping and tracking processes more efficient, understandable, and cost-effective.”
- Personalization: “We are helping businesses to create personalized experiences for their users, even when they are on the other side of the world.”
- Payments: “Our integration with eBay Inc.’s PayPal service ensures that consumers can transact with trust and merchants can receive their payments quickly and securely.”
eBay cites statistics from the Department of Commerce that indicate less than 4% of businesses in the US export, and of the small businesses that do trade, 59% of them only trade with one foreign market.
Its own research shows 97% of U.S. “technology-enabled” commercial sellers engage in exporting, and over 60% of them survive their first 5 years. And it says similar sellers in the developing world show nearly identical patterns.
Wenig included four case studies in the report, and not surprisingly, the report concludes with recommendations for policymakers to consider “when looking to shape the future of trade.”
“The biggest gains, from the policy arena, to be made for technology-enabled traders are in the arena of removing the red tape and friction associated with trading physical products across national borders. When the frictions are removed cross border inclusive commerce grows, jobs grow, and prosperity grows. Raising and harmonizing de minimis levels (the level below which customs duties and paperwork are exempted) would be the most straightforward method for facilitating technology enabled trade.”
eBay also noted that technology-enabled traders utilize individual small shipments to deliver their products often using national postal services for product delivery, and it said traders would benefit from efficient and just dispute resolution systems.
The full report in PDF format is available on eBayMainStreet.com.