eBay has recently made some interesting acquisitions that I’m sure has someone at Amazon paying a little closer attention. For those that have not used eBay (yes there are some) it’s more than an auction site. It’s an ecommerce site and with the ability to ‘Buy it Now’. I’d never purchased anything from eBay until recently. Pretty easy experience and not quite the level of visual spam that Amazon puts you through on your way to checkout. eBay has recently acquired these companies.
- Redlaser – barcode scanning application that lets you do realtime comparative shopping between the product that’s physically in front of you and that product online. It dumps you right into the ecommerce for that product across numerous vendors. Excellent tool for price matching.
- Milo -Local product inventory technology; now tied into Redlaser.
- Critical Path Software – A mobile app development shop.
- WHERE – A local-based advertising company
eBay is no stranger to the increasing power of mobile having earned $165 billion on 2010 through mobile commerce. Amazon is also no stranger to mcommerce having earned more than $1 billion, but keep in mind, Amazon is one massive online store. (They do have thousands of small business partners providing a wide array of products, but they are still one online company). eBay however wants to enable the smaller brick & mortar businesses through “anywhere commerce”. They want people to be able to buy products online (Internet and mobile Internet) AND enable them to buy products via their mobile device from there local businesses, and then go pick it up. This is something that Amazon does not do.
Although this is an excellent strategy for eBay, they’re not alone. Google, who just happens to OWN search/mobile search, is looking to get to the hyper-local level as fast as possible and have already enabled mobile product search with real time inventory capability. They arguably have a head start but eBay may be able to acquire its way into deeper market segments. After all, hyper-local is about niche.
The one thing that will prove very difficult for these companies is that teaching small businesses – I mean micro business; 5-10 employees – about mobile marketing is going to be more of a B2C effort than a B2B effort. The owners work the counter! Most of the business in the US that would benefit most from the ecosystem that eBay and Google are building. In the mind fo these business owners Google has an advantage in that they are thought of as the new Yellow Pages.
Oh and by the way, Facebook just joined the fray with their Facebook Deals offer. Right now people see it as a challenge to Groupon but trust me, FB already has the consumer part of the hyper-local conversation. Now, if it can get the micro-businesses.
It’s going to be an epic race!