September marks 20 years of eBay in the Australian online retail market so RetailBiz spoke to managing director, Tim MacKinnon about the company’s transformation over the last 20 years, fundamentals to market growth and predictions for the future of online retail.

When asked about the most significant milestone in eBay’s 20 years, MacKinnon said for buyers, it has been product selection. “We started as the place to buy unique and quirky before becoming the go-to for people to sell their belongings. Fast forward to now and we are Australia’s number one shopping destination with 40,000 Australian retailers including Myer, Coles and The Good Guys. We’re also the gateway to the best of small business,” he said.

“What this has meant for businesses is that we have delivered new source of growth. We have created tens of thousands of start-ups including Catch, Kogan and Matt Blatt and thousands of millionaires. Our purpose is economic empowerment and we’re the only marketplace in the retail landscape that is not a retailer – we partner, we don’t compete with our sellers.”

He believes eBay has changed online shopping, just as Westfield changed offline shopping in Australia, by becoming the equivalent of an online shopping centre – changing the game in selection, value and convenience.

“Our 11 million unique monthly users can shop from 1.3 billion global listings and 40,000 Australian retailers at the best prices. With the addition of Coles on eBay in March we’re now a true one-stop-shop with everything shoppers need – from tech to groceries – all in one place.

“As the first marketplace in the world, the eBay model has had an even broader impact, with Uber adopting the model to taxis and Airbnb to hotels.”

MacKinnon said 89% of Australians now shop via online marketplaces and 48% of shoppers use marketplaces to start their shopping, ahead of search engines. Why?

“There are a few fundamentals driving growth. Firstly, people want the convenience of a one stop shop on their phone. eBay Australia is one of the top-rated shopping apps in the app store. As more people shop on mobile, we see significant growth. Secondly, people always value great prices and selection. As we add more retailers and more selection, people find more of what they are looking for and better prices.”

He believes price and selection are fundamental to meeting customer needs, along with free shipping for online purchases and making the process easy. “Customers should find what they need wherever they shop – in marketplaces, in social, in search, in stores or in shopping centres.”

Another major trend is shoppers looking for more value, often through loyalty programs. “Our loyalty program, eBay Plus, delivers value through free delivery and free returns on millions of items, access to exclusive deals, double flybuys points and free delivery when you spend $49 on Coles on eBay. When retailers sell on eBay, they get access to customers who want subscription shopping.”