eBay’s VP Christopher Payne at IRCE
Thanks Christopher for continuing the theme of my previous post by mentioning right away that “the race is on” in ecommerce. Before we race into Christopher’s comments, though, let’s take a look at what actual retailers are dealing with every day. Here’s a recent video about customer service on the ShopVisible ecommerce platform by Kevin Suda, Manager E-Commerce, at Incipio: httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYN-e2NtBXc
Keeping in mind retailers driving growth value integration and customer service, I wonder about those options when Christopher shared that:
- eBay’s making major acquisitions at a fast pace–from Magento, the ecommerce platform, to Milo, a local search firm, to where.com and RedLaser, a barcode scanning app.
- He says integrating local is the biggest thrust for the etailer. “Our goal is to bring all offline inventory online.”
The company is also integrating a free Quickbooks Point of Sale device named Fetch to help small etailers to interface with eBay.
“We are building a cloud-based open commerce operating system. It will provide demand generation, payment, identity, and fulfillment, as well as analytics, customer service and loyalty programs….” eBay calls this thing of beauty “x.commerce.” (X as in x-men? x as in “we haven’t figured it out yet but it’ll be cool?)
“One of the things I am most excited about is that in order to make a platform work well you need a large community of developers that can build on that platform. eBay and Paypal have been building out the developer network to allow that to happen. There are about 60,000 Paypal developers.”
Christopher summarized it that it’s an exciting time to be in ecommerce. Clearly eBay intends to be leading the pack.
A few things he didn’t address, however, are that larger retailers are looking for stability. Magento, Fetch, Milo and others in the eBay family are agressive, and that’s great–but sites with major traffic peaks and valleys in service don’t sit easily on a volatile platform constantly under development by a massive, loosely organized developer network. eBay’s path is clear and Christopher developed the message with confidence–it remains to be seen if more than mom and pop retailers want to pay attention. He also painted a big sketch of where eBay is going with x.commerce…. but it remains a cloudy picture with that x not quite in focus. Bringing products online is one thing–but is using Milo to “fetch” product on eBay really going to drive the sales that serious retailers demand?
For that, some enterprise retailers like Target and Best Buy turn to the megaliths of product search like Channel Intelligence, which just reported at IRCE that “a 58 percent year-over-year increase in sales on Google in the first quarter of FY2011 on a same-seller basis. This industry-leading performance is at least two times greater than the results reported by other providers.” (Worth asking a question about that at the booth today.) You can see a summary report by Internet Retailer here.
And finally, leaving the session, a big retailer I know mentioned to me, “eBay sounds good but the price point would put me out of business,” pointing out yet another issue with consolidators and aggregators like Amazon or eBay. Taking a note from our work with the hotel industry–where those who hold room inventory are often locked into working with consolidators like Orbitz and TripAdvisor–profit margin is a big point to ponder when you pick platform.