Devin Wenig: The future of eBay & ecommerce

We keep banging on about the importance of mobile, and now eBay has once again confirmed how big the mobile market is. Between Thanks Giving (the start of the Black Friday weekend) and Christmas they saw 100 million items sold via mobile on our on eBay.

devin feateBay CEO Devin Wenig laid out his vision for the future at the World Economic Forum meeting saying: “The transformative effect of smartphones and tablets, not just on our business but also on the entire retail sector, has been staggering. Nobody understood the degree to which these devices would explode distribution and access points, and fundamentally change commerce“.

Devin also prodicts over the next five years, we’ll see the impact of five trends that will again transform the commerce landscape. These trends are: the age of everywhere, truly global trade, virtual reality as a retail tool, on-demand inventory and supply, and sustainable shopping.

The age of everywhere

This new, post-mobile age – sometimes referred to as the internet of things or as Devin prefers to call it “age of everywhere” – describes a world in which trillions of screens and sensors are connected to one another, and form an ecosystem of data that lives in the cloud.

The future of commerce in this new age is all about harnessing the power of data to add context. Contextual shopping is a smarter, more individualized shopping experience, tailored by data around everything from buyer preferences to the location of inventory.

Everything from your washing machine automatically reordering soap powder to being able to remotely warm up your car in the morning and literally buy anything anywhere on any device which may well not be a computer, tablet or smartphone, will be coming in the near future.

On-demand inventory and supply

The manufacturing model of today is the one that has existed for many years: manufacturers make one million of a particular product and then try to sell them. But imagine a world where you want a red cashmere sweater that is a certain fit, style and length. This is then immediately turned around in a manufacturing location somewhere in the world and at your doorstep in five days. That reality is closer than many believe.

If everything a consumer wants can be defined, sourced, generated and delivered in a few clicks, the supply chain as we know it will be turned on its head.

True global commerce

In the future, “global commerce” will lose meaning as all commerce becomes truly global. In many respects, that era is already upon us. But the headline statistics mask the reality, which is that huge barriers remain.

Customs, duties and tariffs, language and currency, and complex regulatory frameworks create a challenging cross-border trade environment. Devin believes it will get much easier opening up access to markets, driving job creation and eliminating the geographical arbitrage implicit in commerce today.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality’s integration into commerce has the potential to create disruptive change. This is especially true in emotionally driven categories, where the impact of online shopping has been inhibited by user interface limitations. These include categories such as art, fashion and even automobiles, where the ability to immerse yourself in the fit, feel and texture of an item matter greatly.

sustainable shopping

The way in which an emerging generation of consumers shops and thinks about consumption is changing. The decision to buy used rather than new is no longer purely a value-based calculation. Increasingly, consumers are seeing the value of secondary markets as a driver of sustainability.

eBay was one of the early pioneers of on-demand, offering consumers access to items they may only need for a short time, and the chance to resell them later — such as baby goods or electronics.

A $14 trillion opportunity

Devin wraps up by saying “Over the past few years, the speed of globalization has been astounding. The rate of adoption of the on-demand economy has been breathtaking. Technology, and mobile technology in particular, has driven a secular shift in the way we shop and live, causing the online and offline worlds to meld and fuse.

I believe the five trends I have outlined are capable of delivering another secular shift in commerce. It’s coming, and for companies ready to embrace it, there’s a $14 trillion opportunity at stake“.