The Marketplace That Matters: eBay Celebrates 18 Years in Australia

Press Release

  • Two billion hours spent on over the past 18 years
  • Nearly 3000 Aussie eBay self-made millionaires
  • 18% off site-wide on Thursday 21st September


To celebrate its coming of age, has today released new research uncovering past, present and future predictions for the online retail landscape in Australia.

Founded in 1999, has evolved from an online auction house to a retail power house with more than 40,000 small businesses selling on the platform and over 11 million unique Aussie visitors every month.

In the last 18 years, more than 228,000 years’ worth of browsing time has been spent on the Australian site – of this, 70 per cent of visitors do so via their mobile phones, 90 per cent of products sold on the platform are brand new, and 80 of Australia’s top 100 online retailers operate on the site today.

Managing Director Tim MacKinnon says the company’s success in Australia is due to the power of eBay’s unique community.

“Every week we connect millions of Australians to local businesses and global customers, creating opportunity through connected commerce,” MacKinnon says.

“The power of the marketplace is indisputable, offering unrivalled range and convenience. eBay landing on Australian shores almost two decades ago meant we were no longer bound by geography. We could trust someone at the other side of the country or the world to send us a package we had paid for. This was a huge leap at the time, but something we now take for granted.” 

Then to Now

The online shopping revolution all started with an Australian selling a Harman Kardon amplifier to a US buyer. This single exchange ignited a change in the way we shop forever. In its first full year of operation in Australia, shoppers spent over 1 million hours on eBay, which at the time exceeded expectations. In 2017 alone, more than 239 million hours have been spent browsing, searching comparing and purchasing products on eBay.

MacKinnon says the increased time spent online can be directly attributed to smart phone uptake in the market, with Australia having the second highest smart phone penetration per capita globally.

“Australia leads the way when it comes to mobile shopping. It has been incredible to watch mobile traffic grow from 8 per cent in 2010 to the 70 per cent it is today,” MacKinnon says.

“eBay has always been in the game of not only predicting but creating the future of shopping. We saw the mobile trend early and invested ahead of the curve. Our app was one of the first shopping apps in the Apple store in 2008 and remains the most downloaded shopping app in Australia today.”

Australian shoppers have also continued to be patriotic in the way they shop, with eBay data showing that New South Wales is the most supportive of local Australian products, making up 30 per cent of all Aussie products sold. That’s followed closely by Victoria (25 per cent) and Queensland (21 per cent). eBay continues to connect communities; when it comes to the biggest buying suburbs in Australia, Sydney’s CBD is followed closely by Toowoomba in Queensland.

Emerging Technology

‘Image Search’, a new product innovation announced today in Australia provides a new experience for shoppers to use pictures instead of words to search eBay’s global catalogue of 1.1 billion items, making the world around them shoppable on their mobile device.

With Image Search, shoppers can simply take a photo or use an existing photo from their camera roll, of an item they want to purchase. By entering it into the Search bar, eBay will then surface listings that are a close match or visually similar so users can purchase more seamlessly.  

Similarly, ‘Find it on eBay’ will allow shoppers to share images from social sites like Facebook or their favourite blog or website with the eBay app to find visually similar products on eBay.

Image Search and Find it on eBay are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver a fast and reliable shopping experience backed by one of the world’s largest commerce data sets.

“Gone are the days of spending hours scouring the web or trying to find the right keyword for a product you saw,” MacKinnon says.

“By applying artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, we are able to make it easy to check eBay for anything, extending the convenience of the marketplace and aligning the retail experience with the way consumers want to shop.”

New Generation Business Owners

eBay has been supporting small business growth and ambition since its outset, providing a powerful and ubiquitous platform to those making their first foray into the new world of online retail, or expanding existing operations.

With over 40,000 Aussie SMBs represented on the marketplace, eBay has continued to make business easy for its sellers by introducing innovations to attract customers. The latest addition will be the introduction of eBay Guaranteed Delivery which will protect both the buyer and seller and meet the increasing demand of immediacy in retail. This will help local businesses that ship items fast to sellers. Our tracking data shows 21% of Australian sales ship within two days.

Recent research found choice and availability are the most important factors to the Australian online shopping experience (63 per cent). Some 72 per cent of Australians also agreed personal interaction with a small business owner, either in-store or online is important to them.

“Small businesses are what add the colour to our vibrant marketplace community. Australians shop with eBay because they know they are getting the widest range and availability, teamed with the uniqueness of what many small businesses offer,” MacKinnon explains.

“We are excited to celebrate our 18th year in Australia by taking a moment to reflect on how eBay has grown to reflect the Australian retail fabric. And there’s no slowing from here, as we continue to innovate on our own platform to remain the leading online retail choice for Australian sellers and buyers,” MacKinnon says.

eBay is the largest online marketplace for businesses large and small. Nearly 3000 Australians have made more than $1 million in sales on eBay Australia since it launched in 1999, which is more than the US and UK per capita.


18 Things about

  1. The first item sold on was a Harman Kardon amplifier
  2. There are 2923 Australian businesses that have made more than $1 million in sales on
  3. Australian coins have been the most popular collectable item over the past 18 years
  4. In 2006 someone tried to sell New Zealand for 1 cent
  5. One of the most expensive items ever sold on was a successful Fish and Chip store based in Gladstone which sold for $110,000
  6. Over the past 18 years, 2 billion hours have been spent on, which would equate to 228,000 years for one Aussie shopper
  7. In 2014 the last Ford GTF to roll off the production line was sold for $394,000 to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation
  8. Nearly 90% per cent of Australian SMBs on eBay export globally (compared to 5 per cent of all Australian registered businesses)
  9. In 2012, The Wiggles sold their Big Red Car on for $35,700 raising money for SIDS for kids
  10. A few years ago a Perth man sold his whole life (worldly possessions) including his car, his motorbike and his house
  11. In 2016, bidders fought it out for the Kings Cross Coca-Cola sign. The lowercase ‘C’ in the word ‘Coca,’ sold for $18,700. The total money donated to Wayside Chapel by Coke and eBay was $100,700
  12. The good folks of Toowoomba have consistently been some of the most active eBay users in Australia over the past 18 years. Good on ‘em!
  13. One lucky fella was paid $17,000 for a patch of dirt from which Jon Aloissi kicked the world cup qualifying goal
  14. In 2010 Powderfinger gave a mid-air performance after their sunset farewell tour sold out immediately raising over $100,000 for charity
  15. NSW is the most patriotic state, with 30% of buyers in the state purchasing local Australian products, followed by Victoria (25 per cent) and Queensland (21 per cent)
  16. In 2016, Click and Collect grew dramatically with 800,000 sellers offering more than 4 million items
  17. Victoria and ACT are the biggest night owls staying up even later to shop than the rest of the nation and doing the majority of their shopping between 8pm – 10pm
  18. Between midnight and 1am, ‘Magic: The Gathering’ cards are the highest selling item

eBay has created a dedicated online hub which celebrate 18 years in Australia, the colourful community and the way shopping has evolved. Visit here to view trends and data.




About the research:

Research was conducted by Pure Profile, with over 1000 Australian online small business retailers, and 1000 Australian online consumers in July 2017. All eBay trends were sourced from eBay internal data over the last 18 years. Telsyte predictions were produced exclusively in partnership with eBay (and based on the Telsyte Australian Digital Consumer Study 2017). Smartohone penetration data based on the list of countries by smartphone penetration measured by the Pew Research Center survey conducted in 40 nations among 45,435 respondents from March 25 to May 27, 2017.


About eBay Marketplaces:

eBay is one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, connecting people with the things they need and love virtually anytime, anywhere. eBay has 171 million active buyers globally and more than 1 billion live individual and merchant listings at any given time. With mobile apps available in 190 countries, eBay delivers a personalised shopping experience and seamless access to inventory from down the street and around the world. Tailored shopping experiences customise buying and selling; and eBay provides variety and choice for sellers by enabling them to offer goods through online, mobile and local channels to consumers around the world. For more information, visit