eBay’s Acquisition Plans Take on a Local Flavour

Hyper-local is fast becoming a buzzword for the lodestars of the e-commerce world and eBay is no exception. The online auction website has recently completed a string of acquisitions that show a firm focus on connecting local retailers with shoppers. Last week the company bought out Where, a location-based mobile ad and listing service for restaurants and local stores and has just assumed a controlling share in eBay-inspired Turkish online marketplace GittiGidiyor.

Where features a location-conscious mobile application, which allows brands and retailers to reach an estimated 4 million users through geo-targeted, deals and offers. Over 120,000 brands, retailers and small merchants currently use the app to connect with shoppers and drive them in-store. eBay plans to integrate PayPal into the Where app, ensuring that users can purchase relevant offers as they receive them.

“The integration between mobile payments and hyper-local deals is a great opportunity for retailers as consumers can act on deals right within the app,” said Kathy Chui, a spokeswoman for eBay in an interview with Mobile Commerce Daily.

In February, eBay announced that it is scouting for deals that bridge the gap between bricks and mortar and online shopping shopping experiences, make better use of its PayPal unit and widen its global reach.

Dane Glasgow, eBay’s Vice President of Global Product Management recently addressed the company’s emphasis on local markets. “There is a really interesting thing happening in retail. We’re seeing a convergence of behaviour that has traditionally been only online with behaviour that is traditionally offline,” he said.

However, it is eBay’s buyout of local shopping startup Milo in December last year that is likely to propel growth in the hyper-local space. Functioning as a search engine for local shopping, Milo lists in-store product inventory in real-time for over 50,000 retailers across the US and covers major bricks and mortar chains such as Target, Best Buy and Macy’s. When used alongside barcode scanning app RedLaser, acquired in June last year, Milo helps eBay pack a powerful cross-channel punch.

“Mobile devices fall right at the intersection of online and offline behavior,” Glascow continued. “That’s one of the reasons why we quickly sought to integrate Milo’s local shopping features with our RedLaser barcode scanning mobile application, so that people can shop locally from mobile devices, and comparison shop.”

This foray into the local space will see shoppers determine whether a product is available locally in-store directly from eBay’s search results page. Product pages for a range of categories will include a tab for local shopping, either online or at a nearby bricks and mortar retailer.

“Retailers have been thrilled with the local shopping features on eBay, which really help drive more people into their stores to buy products,” said Jack Abraham, Director of Local at eBay.

“Retailers know that, increasingly, consumers are turning to the Internet to research and buy products. Traditional forms of reaching the consumer, such as Sunday circulars and old media, aren’t converting the way they used to. For retailers to remain relevant, they need to be present in the online spaces where consumers are making purchasing decisions,” he said.

eBay’s revamped acquisition strategy is part of the company’s effort to boost its marketplace division. The retailer has made a series of moves to achieve this in the last year, including overhauling its site and reducing upfront fees for sellers.

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