eBay for Small Business

From 3 Tracks of German Rock To 3 Billion Sales - eBay UK turns 15

The first item sold on eBay.co.uk was a three track CD from German rock outfit, The Scorpions, going for the princely sum of £2.89.




1999 was the year that Posh and Becks tied the knot, the year the Euro made its currency debut and when one in five UK homes surfed the net to the tune of dial-up. It was also the year that eBay arrived in the UK.


The first item sold on eBay.co.uk was a three track CD from German rock outfit, The Scorpions, going for the princely sum of £2.89. From there the only way was up, and eBay has since evolved into an important market place for business sellers, leading high street retailers and UK exporters - hitting three billion sales worth £65bn1 on its 15th birthday.


The evolution of eBay also tells a story of how far e-commerce has come in the UK. Up until 2007 online accounted for less than 4% of all retail sales2. Today, the amount spent online accounts for 11% of all retail spending3.


Appy shoppers

In 2008, eBay launched the first e-commerce apps on iTunes at a time when online shopping was starting to make a big impact.


By 2010, more Brits were shopping through the eBay mobile app than any other country in Europe, snapping up fashion items like they were going out of fashion, with five pairs of jeans, 19 pairs of shoes, 18 t-shirts and four handbags bought every minute on eBay in the UK in 2010.


Mobile sales tripled to nearly £1.2bn that year and accounted for 10% of all purchases on eBay by 2011. Today, 34% of all e-retail sales (not just on eBay) are through a mobile device, with mobile also driving 43% of all retail site traffic4.


From auction site to retail powerhouse

In 2009, 170 of the 123,000 British businesses trading on eBay in the UK hit the landmark £1m a year turnover through eBay sales alone.


This growth of SME sellers was a catalyst in eBay reaching a tipping point in 2010 when buy-it-now sales overtook auctions for the first time - accounting for almost two thirds of listings - and over 100 big high street brands could now be found on eBay.


Sellers without borders

The strong contribution of SMEs to the UK’s e-commerce sector continued in 2010 as eBay’s small business sellers bucked the economic downturn by clocking up £446m in export sales - an increase of 128% since 2007 compared to a 20.5% increase in exports in the wider economy over the same period.


Today, 81% of small businesses operating on eBay in the UK sell internationally to four or more countries.


Back to the high street

In 2013, eBay and Argos launched a Click & Collect trial with 50 eBay retailers and Argos stores nationwide. Following the trial, the two brands announced the roll out of the scheme to 65,000 sellers across 650 Argos stores by the end of 2014.


Last year 79% of people in the UK used a click and collect service and 40% of Christmas shoppers used clicked and collected their festive gifts5.


Tanya Lawler, Vice President, eBay in the UK, said: “The UK will spend an unprecedented £45 billion shopping online this year and the evolution of eBay over the past 15 years is a good illustration of the transformation of the nation’s retail sector.


“Shoppers expectations have changed dramatically in recent years. Now on eBay in the UK a pair of shoes sells every 10 seconds, a handbag every 23 seconds and a tablet every two minutes via mobile. The best retailers have adapted to keep pace and today, more than 140 UK brands and retailers – from fashion to homeware, toys to electricals - are using eBay as part of their omnichannel approach to ensure customers can shop anytime, anywhere on any connected device.”


eBay’s UK birthday facts

  1. The first item sold on eBay.co.uk was a three track CD from German rock outfit, The Scorpions, for £2.89
  1. In 15 years eBay has sold three billion items, worth £65bn
  2. last Christmas, 14 gifts were bought on eBay each second
  3. Lady Thatcher's Handbag sold on eBay for £103,000
  4. Princess Beatrice’s royal wedding hat (aka ‘the pretzel’) fetched more than £80,000 on eBay with proceeds going to Unicef and Children in Crisis
  5. Ahead the Brazil World Cup, 24 football shirts sold every hour
  6. In the UK an item is bought every second via the eBay app
  7. A pair of shoes sells every 7 seconds a handbag every 19 seconds via mobile
  8. 9pm is the peak time for tablet shopping

10.  Today, more than 140 UK brands and retailers can be found on eBay

11.  75% of items sold on eBay are sold at fixed price

12.  UK businesses selling on eBay each export to an average of 39 counties – higher than anywhere else

13.  Over 200,000 businesses large and small sell on eBay in the UK

14.  Close to £70 million  has been raised from the generosity of Brits buying items through eBay for Charity, raising funds for thousands of charities across the UK

15.  Over 19 million Brits visit eBay every month - that’s well over one third of the UK’s adult population