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John Donahoe, eBay chief executive, thinks the line between offline and online shopping is blurring, and his company plans to serve consumers as they move back and forth between them.
Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit today in San Francisco, Donahoe said his company has set up an open commerce platform so that eBay can essentially become an operating system for commerce. That means that eBay will assist consumers as the lines blur. For instance, Donahoe said that half of all retail purchases are made after consumers consult the web for prices and other information. Increasingly, they’re checking the web on smartphones while they are shopping in stores.
eBay has made acquisitions of a number of companies such as Milo (a $75 million deal) that help consumers look at products in stores and get the best prices. You can take a picture of an object at a friend’s house and search for the nearest store to buy that item. You can order and then pick it up at the store, using eBay software.
Retailers can tap into the eBay commerce platform and use it to set up better relationships with their consumers. eBay can provide this kind of help to retailers, Donahoe said, because eBay doesn’t compete directly with them, in contrast to Amazon. Donahoe said more than 50 million people are using eBay’s mobile app.
“The wall between etail and retail is crumbling stunningly fast,” Donahoe said. “Enormous change is coming to retail. They realize and we realize that we can’t do it all ourselves. We are not a retailer and never will be.”
Donahoe said that Facebook looks more like a partner while Google is a competitor, but Donahoe said he believes such web-based companies will remain focused on their core business, and won’t necessarily change to change to become arch competitors to eBay.