CEO John Donahoe: Personalized Shopping to Take Center Stage

eBay Inc. Staff

Commerce is undergoing a transformation and the world will see more change in how consumers shop and pay over the next three to five years than it has seen in the last 10 to 20 years, according to eBay Inc. President and CEO John Donahoe.

Addressing thousand of attendees from the retail and ecommerce industry at the 2014 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, Donahoe said, “we are still in the early days of how we leverage data."

While many retailers have recognized the value of using consumer data to personalize the shopping experience, it is still a nascent field. Donahoe pointed to important new ways for merchants and commerce providers to yield insights from data.

Data, he said, is the next frontier in offering personalized experiences for consumers, and engaging them more deeply.

“We haven’t yet got true personalization,” he said during his keynote address. “There is a lot of experimentation going on, but no one has quite cracked the nut on how to build a strong connection with consumers and how to provide consumers with the best experience possible."

“This is going to be one of the biggest sources of innovation over the next three to five years,” he added.

eBay Inc. is a force in ecommerce and enabled $212 billion of commerce in 2013, while focusing on a commerce revolution driven by consumers shopping and paying from multiple types of devices, often on the go.

The company generated $20 billion in commerce volume through mobile devices last year, and PayPal generated $27 billion. eBay Inc.’s mobile apps have been downloaded more than 240 million times.

Donahoe said that consumers today are shopping in different ways – on a smartphone, on a PC, in a store to feel an item, and on a tablet computer, noting that the lines between ecommerce and retail are blurring as consumers want seamless experiences.

“Smartphones have become the mission control devices of our time,” he said. “People are buying 10,000 cars a week on their smartphones. Meanwhile, the iPad transforms consumer behavior. At home at night, consumers are buying on their tablets, whether they are in front of a TV or lying in bed.”
“In over 60 percent of transactions that closed in a retail store last year, the consumer accessed the web at some point during the shopping experience. The connected consumer is clearly in charge during this commerce revolution," he said.

Jack Sheng, one of the largest sellers on eBay, was in the audience for the keynote address, and Donahoe called him out as an example of how eBay allows individual merchants to reach a global audience of buyers.

“We are focused on giving merchants of all sizes greater opportunity,” he said.