eBay aims to be "omnichannel"

22 April 2013

SAN JOSE: Mobile devices are blurring the lines between online and offline commerce, and putting consumers in charge "more than at any time in history", according to eBay's chief executive.

John Donahoe told a shareholder meeting that the lines were not just becoming blurred. "These lines are getting obliterated," he said, referring to "one of the most fundamental changes that have happened in business in the last 20-25 years".

Donahoe described tablets and smartphones as "the mission control device in our lives" which meant that "consumers are in charge more than at any time in history".

With consumers now able to buy products anywhere, anytime, retailers are no longer able to dictate the terms of the shopping experience. Consumers are, he said, "telling the retailers, you have to come to me, on my terms and the way I want it".

Donahoe added that leading retailers understood this development and were innovating accordingly in order to reach consumers online and on mobile devices.

"A retailer might call that a multi-channel or omnichannel shopping experience," he observed. "A consumer calls that shopping."

As an example of this kind of innovation, Donahoe pointed to the installation of touchscreens on store windows so that even when they are closed at night, consumers can still come and shop.

The "new retail interface", said Donahoe, provided the best of online and the best of offline and that is where he saw eBay being positioned in the future, as he labelled the company's strategy as simply "we enable commerce".

"We view our addressable market today to be the $10tr commerce market," he declared. Donahoe went on to state that eBay planned to generate $300bn of that by 2015, through its collective capabilities, including eBay, PayPal and GSI.

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff