When I see the words eBay in my mind the first thought that comes to mind is the marketplace concept in which users can list their second hand goods in either a “buy-now” or auction environment.  It was the element that placed eBay on the map and subsequently provided a launch pad for them to raise capital to buy shopping.com (comparison shopping engine), paypal.com (payment gateway) and stubhub.com (live event ticketing platform).

Many people are not aware that eBay is also in the classifieds space through their Kijiji group who have the popular South African classified provider Gumtree in their stable. The point that I am trying to make is that they have a multi-channel platform to capitalise on the entire eCommerce value chain.

eBay have 4 business pillars for the future and are basing their acquisition strategy on these:

  • Local
  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Digital

In the last few months they have been buying and adding various businesses to their repertoire  and I must be honest, I have been paying close attention as I believe eBay are making the right decisions.

It all started with their purchase of RedLaser, a smartphone application in which users can scan barcodes and QR codes to find products and prices immediately. Smartphones in my opinion will disrupt traditional retail until retailers realise that they need to cater for it or they will lose the shopper in store.

Then eBay bought Milo a comparison shopping engine that provides local pricing on products in a geographic area. The geolocation space is hot at the moment with foursquare and gowalla in the US but local is a play in which ecommerce platforms will have to be in or be left behind.

Recently Roy Rubin , CEO of Magento shopping cart software made it public that eBay owns a 49% stake in their business. It might not seem like much but it is a big deal. Magento is currently one of the most popular shopping carts used by eCommerce shops due to its customizable nature.  So eBay are ensuring that they have a stake in the traditional eCommerce shop that can be run by the “mom and pop” market. They can then provide the shop owner, the ability to use the Paypal payment gateway to accept payments from users for goods.

Then eBay announced their intention to buy GSI Commerce. For me this is the biggest deal of all their recent purchases. GSI Commerce is arguably one of the biggest eCommerce providers in the world. If you have opened any of Internet Retailers printed books then you will see the impact that GSI has on North American ecommerce. Plainly, they are massive.  What GSI commerce can provide eBay is the ability to open another revenue stream with large retailers through analytics and other services that they provide.

eBay announced just last week that they have increased their share of ownership of GittiGidiyor in Turkey to 93% . I don’t mean to be vicious but I case can be made that initially GittiGidiyor was an eBay clone.

Then today they announce the acquisition of Where.com .

eBay Inc. has reached a definitive agreement to acquire WHERE, a leading location media company and local discovery mobile application. WHERE is expected to enhance the company’s position in local and mobile commerce and deepen its ability to connect retailers with consumers.

If you look at the entire picture of all the businesses that eBay has bought in the last 18 months it becomes pretty obvious that eBay are planning to reenergise their business and their entire value proposition. I can honestly say that by looking at all of this it may come as a surprise to many but I am expecting eBay to challenge Amazon as one of the leading exponents of eCommerce sooner rather later.