Blog: Leonie BarrieeBay's fashion focus

Leonie Barrie | 20 January 2011

Most of us probably still think of eBay as an auction site, so it's a bit of a wake-up call to know that 60% of the items it sells are through the 'Buy It Now' format. Add in the fact that its full-year revenues have just surged 13% to $9.2bn, and this 60% share - around $5.52bn - make it a formidable online retailer too.

Its competitors should be watching particularly carefully on the fashion front too. Fashion is eBay's most successful category with millions of visitors each month - in the UK alone its sales of clothes, shoes and accessories were 10% above the market average, the company says - and it is making a huge effort to build on this success.

Last year eBay launched its Fashion Outlet in the UK and Germany, attracting over 30 high street names and more than 180 brands including Superdry, Firetrap, G-Star Raw and Ed Hardy. And it has just bought German fashion site, brands4friends, for $200m.

What's more, not only is it taking on the high street and winning, but it's also tapping into new areas such as mobile applications, which are helping to position the retailer at the forefront of trends shaping the future of shopping and payments.

Bar-code scanning technology, the integration of selling and buying features into a single smart phone app, and of course the greater uptake of smart-phones and tablet devices have all boosted its mobile shopping credentials.  In 2010 eBay nearly tripled its global sales through mobile devices to $2bn - up by more than 200% on 2009.

The biggest clouds on the horizon? Increasing competition from major online retailers such as Amazon and Google, for whom the online apparel segment - a $27bn market in 2009, according to Forrester Research - is also proving an irresistible lure.


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