Not long ago, when something was needed for the house or garden, or a specific gift wanted hunting down for a friend’s birthday, a trip to the shops to compare items and prices loomed and along with it went the inevitable impulse buys which after being brought home and looked at once were relegated to the spare bedroom, shed or loft.
Throw in the general family squabbles along the way, spousal arguments about too much money spent and it all equated to at least a day of a headache. That was all before eBay swept into being 15 years ago and swiftly secured its place in the conscience of consumers. Cut to today and with over 135 million users worldwide (over 14 millions active users in the UK) this particular “cyber nation-state” is as populated as the whole of Germany and France combined. It’s market capitalisation is about four times that of Amazon.com’s and 25% more than Yahoo’s – two Internet stars born around the same time.
So what is it that we love about the selling and buying global phenomenon, a company that in the truest sense was started and grown by trial and error?
A new generation of self-styled “wheeler dealers” and bargain lovers has made auction sites their own, playing a fundamental role in the way they have evolved, with management listening and responding quickly to the users of the site and tailoring their offering accordingly. The hobby element of using eBay and the thrill that comes from either a good price for goods sold or a bargain for those buying, is the heady combination that has ensured the massive success and unparalleled growth of the site on a global scale.
The future of eBay now rests in the hand of the company’s new CEO, John Donahoe, who predicts over the next few years, with the use of mobile devices driving more personalised services both online and in-store, the physical wallet will soon become obsolete. “Early on it’ll be young people and early adopters,” says Donahoe. “It won’t happen overnight but the mobile phone – the digital wallet – will replace the physical wallet because it’s safer and more convenient. Ebay must respond to this and tailor our development accordingly.”
The consumer, as they say, is king and one thing’s for sure. They’re championing eBay all the way.