Retail tie-ups vital for eBay

24 December 2012

NEW YORK: eBay, the online retailer, has formed a range of mobile partnerships with bricks and mortar chains like Macy's, Toys R Us and Target in a bid to enhance its position in the overall "commerce pool".

As a result of these agreements, eBay will create mobile technology, tools and apps to assist shoppers entering physical stores in various ways, from finding desired products or reclaiming vouchers.

"This is part of our playing in the commerce ocean, not just the e-commerce pond," Steve Yankovich, eBay's vice president, mobile, told Bloomberg.

"We're going from a several-billion-dollar market in ecommerce, and in connecting through mobile to the actual physical store, we then have eBay Inc playing in the trillion-dollar ocean."

A recent project eBay worked on means the mobile app from Macy's can now recognise when users enter its branches, send them a coupon and show them where the product on offer is located in stores.

The updated app boasting this feature was rolled out ten days before Black Friday, yielding 200,000 fresh downloads, while a third of existing users also installed the new version.

"I can't say that we had eBay on our list of development partners until they came to us with this opportunity," said Jennifer Kasper, vice president, digital media and multicultural marketing at Macy's.

"As a consumer and as a marketer, that's not where I had situated them in my mind."

Best Buy has joined Macy's, Toys R US and Target in forming such a tie-up with eBay, and Yankovich suggested a "lot more" firms were set to sign up.

This initiative builds on eBay's expanding digital portfolio. Last year, it bought GSI Commerce, which provides retailers like FAO Schwarz, a unit of Toys R US, with online and offline marketing services.

"We would look to continue to leverage our initiative with eBay on multiple fronts," said Milton Pappas, vice president, ecommerce customer experience, at Toys R Us. "GSI, EBay Now, Gift Finder with FAO - they've been a great partner for us."

Daniel Kurnos, an analyst at Benchmark, said, "I'm not sure from an immediate monetisation standpoint that it's a huge opportunity, but from a brand-building and mobile-penetration standpoint, it's probably a significant opportunity … eBay is becoming more and more of a technology play."

Data sourced from Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff