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Q&A with eBay’s Tim Mackinnon

This is part of Retail Outlook, a series of articles running over the next four weeks that explore timely topics and trends for the retail industry in 2020. Click here to see more stories in the series.

Despite all the fanfare about rival e-commerce players entering Down Under, eBay is still the largest online retail concern in Australia and New Zealand – by a long shot. Ebay ANZ managing director Tim MacKinnon reflects on the year that was.

How would you describe the past year at eBay?

It’s been a dynamic year; a big year. One which saw us launch eBay’s world-first grocery offering, Coles on eBay, providing even greater convenience, selection and value to Australian shoppers.

As a result, Coles has increased its reach to incremental customers. In addition to Coles, we welcomed thousands of new major retailers to eBay including a relaunched Toys “R” Us, Adidas, Cotton On and Best & Less.

As we continue to bring new selection and great prices, we have seen an acceleration in our buyer growth. We have 11 million unique monthly visitors to eBay and remain the number one shopping destination in Australia.

What have been the highlights over the past year?

We have had some record shopping days like eBay Plus Weekend in June and Black Friday which have driven traffic, promoted the sales and deals
from thousands of retailers and grown eBay Plus members.

Ebay Plus has continued to grow as a shopping membership where Australians can get millions of items with free shipping, free returns and exclusive discounts.

We have also built more partnerships to help our sellers compete. Last year we launched our Ebay fulfilment partnership with Australia Post helping sellers to lower their costs and improve their delivery speeds.

For sellers who want to use their own warehouse, we launched a lower cost and alternative shipping option, with sellers able to print Sendle labels in bulk and book deliveries directly from the eBay dashboard – all at great rates.

What have been the challenges?

Online retail has seen the lowest growth in 20 years and retail has slowed, driven by cautious consumer spending.

However, we have been strong acceleration in shopping moments like Black Friday, which for the first time was our busiest online shopping day and exceeded our expectations in visitors to the site and spending.

We get up every day with the ambition of growing Australian retail and the 40,000 Australian businesses on our platform, especially when times are tougher.

How would you describe the Australian retail market?

Both dynamic and challenging. Australian retailers are facing more competition and a more challenging environment.

But overall, they are responding to competition better than other markets, they are delivering better prices and better selection than overseas entrants.

Have their been any interesting shifts in consumer behaviour in the past year?

There are two factors that haven’t changed – with price and range still top of mind for consumers.

We have seen an acceleration of shifts that started in previous years like the importance of shopping events like Black Friday, increased importance of apps and app notifications along with click-and-collect.

What plans do you have for the business over the next 12 months?

We have many exciting initiatives in the pipeline, including our partnership with Afterpay and enabling it as a payment option for our users in 2020.

It will be a game changer for both Ebay buyers and sellers.

Does bricks-and-mortar play into eBay’s strategy at all?

First and foremost, we are an online marketplace. However, bricks-and- mortar is an important component for our sellers as we offer shoppers the option to pick-up items in store from over 40 retailers like Myer and The Good Guys, which helps to drive traffic into stores, as well as offering parcel collection at Woolworths and Parcelpoint locations.

Are there any key trends in the e-commerce space?

Price and selection will remain the number one concern for consumers. However, shoppers are always looking for ways to get more value, and loyalty is the most significant shopping trend in recent times.

Our loyalty program, Ebay Plus, has grown as consumers look to be rewarded through savings and access to exclusive benefits. When retailers sell on Ebay, they get access to those customers who are loyal to Ebay.

In line with the growing trend for convenience, we expect to see more people using online to shop for everyday essentials such as groceries.

And then there’s the way people are shopping. We’re the most downloaded and highest rated shopping app in Australia. More than 70 per cent of our shoppers access Ebay via their mobile phone – either Mweb or via the Ebay app. It’s a quick and convenient way to shop on the go.

Where do you hope to see eBay this time next year?

This time next year, I hope Ebay continues to be Australia’s number one online shopping destination – for both buyers through our unrivalled range of products at the best price and sellers through our partnership and support.

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