eBay in 2014: what does the future hold?
E-commerce has enjoyed something of a revolution in the last few years. No doubt encouraged by the accessibility of tablets and smartphones, consumers seem more eager to click the 'buy' button than ever before.
The boom is so big that online retailers are being forced to look high and low for new ways to meet demand. The recent stories of delivery drones and predictive shipping, for example, tell the story particularly well. It's clear that firms are thinking outside of the box to make sure their products find their way to shoppers' front doors on time.
It'd be a little odd to discuss the world of online shopping without mentioning eBay. The internet auction giant has been a key player in web retail for almost 20 years now and has rather impressively managed to maintain its huge success without having to drastically change to its model. Of course, the odd adjustments here and there are inevitable, so how will eBay look to get ahead in 2014?
Waving goodbye to the high street
As well as offering a platform for consumers to find the products they want, eBay is now focusing on providing an outlet for major retailers to reach their target audiences. With the recession still taking its toll on the UK's high streets, many consumers have shunned their city centres in favour of retreating back home to their computers and smartphones - eBay is simply giving retailers a chance to follow them there.
The company is expected to spend the coming months working hard to improve its mobile presence. Dedicated applications on both Apple's iOS and Google's Android systems play a key part in eBay's growth and the recent acquisition of payment-processing firm Braintree, which specialises in facilitating smartphone and tablet transactions, certainly signals an intention to develop in this area in the near future.
A Beacon of light?
While it does have its critics, eBay-owned PayPal has played a big part in the success of its parent company. It is, therefore, safe to suggest that its soon-to-be released product, Beacon, will have some effect on the firm's fortunes in 2014. Going slightly against the direct emphasis on e-commerce, PayPal Beacon uses new technology to allow shoppers to complete their in-store purchases without any need for physical money or even cards - verbal confirmation will be all that is necessary. It has been suggested that this service could also be integrated with eBay's online services.
Cutting delivery times
Delivery times will play a key part in eBay's continued success over the next 12 months, but the firm seems to have everything in check. Towards the end of last year, it announced plans to expand its super-quick delivery service throughout 2014, with the residents of another 25 cities - including London - set to start receiving their products within 24 hours of ordering.
It could be said that eBay doesn't really have much to lose in 2014, but there is certainly a lot to gain. While it has all but killed the high street, the recession has put the auction site in a great position. With Amazon off focusing its efforts on streaming services and the tablet market, it'll be interesting to see how eBay capitalises.