Salman Malik, CEO at Brightpearl, a supplier of cloud-based business management software, on the retail potential of the UK eBay phenomenon
The number of Britons using the UK eBay site has seen double digit growth year-on-year, so it’s no surprise the UK was recently announced as eBay’s fastest growing market.
Today the site is considered to be something of an internet phenomenon. It attracts 17m unique users each month and more than 180,000 businesses now trade on it, which is an increase of 50% from 2009 (source: The Daily Telegraph).
While these growth figures are a positive sign for UK retailers – especially for those who trade on eBay – the industry-wide picture is not so rosy. Testament to this, a recent report from Deloitte found the number of retail liquidations have increased by 11%.
This is despite the biggest rise in retail sales between November 2011 to January 2012, since the summer of 2009. Retailers are by no means out of danger and these figures emphasise why they need to embrace every single channel to market to maximise sales opportunities. Incorporating the likes of eBay into their selling arsenal will, for many retailers, result in adopting a smarter multi-channel approach.
Multi-channel is not a new approach for the retail industry, for years retailers have been selling online, in-store and through catalogues. However, for many complacency has set in and in such a challenging economic climate, failure to look at new channels to increase customer touch points has been crippling. It follows those retailers who align more closely with ever changing consumer shopping habits are more likely to succeed. Therefore, using sites such as eBay and capitalising on trends like mobile commerce (m-commerce) are paramount.
Mobile use on eBay already accounts for 10% of the sites total traffic. Devin Wenig, president of global marketplaces at eBay, recently said: “As smartphones and tablet ownership increases there will be even greater potential rewards for companies investing in mobile, and this is particularly true for retailers.”
Ebay is a great example of why retailers of all sizes need to be looking at how they can embrace m-commerce as part of their multichannel strategy. Smaller retailers may be initially put off due to the perceived cost; however, with the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) predicting “Britain will be by far the biggest market in Europe for mobile retail”, it really isn’t a channel that can be ignored.
However, it has to be a long-term strategy and retailers must consider how they will manage all the data generated across the multiple channels. To ensure they are working as efficiently as possible, they have got to adopt a joined up approach to manage the data in terms of invoicing and stock control to ensure their back-off is supporting the front end of the business.
To avoid the pitfalls many retailers have faced over the last couple of years, UK retailers need to be taking advantage of the substantial uptake of sites like eBay and propositions like m-commerce to allow them sell smarter, sell better and sell more.