Online retailers need to innovate more: eBay's Briggs

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SAN JOSE, CA - The online retail space is growing with bandwidth expansion, and retailers need to match the growth with innovative ideas, according to a panel here at yesterday's Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition.

In his presentation titled "How eBay will Continue Reshaping the E-Retailing Industry," Gary Briggs, chief marketing officer at eBay, challenged his counterparts in attendance at the show to think more outside the box.

"Online retail is rapidly maturing but we are not doing enough to innovate," Mr. Briggs said. "I am offering a call to action to the industry to innovate more."

One problem with the retail industry today is that online is not given the credit for what it is, according to Mr. Briggs. Online spending is often much less than traditional retail spend.

Also, retailers are not coming up with their own ideas but merely copying others.

"There is a lot more to offer than just free shipping," Mr. Briggs said. "Free shipping is important but when I go to Web sites and look at how the marketing is done, there has to be more than free shipping to compete."

Mr. Briggs said the way to innovate is for the brand to give up control and listen more to the consumer.

One example is the introduction of eBay Motors. EBay noticed a trend of users selling cars on its site, but it did not have a category for it on www.ebay,com. Users were listing cars in categories like toys and this was not increasing the sales. Since eBay added eBay Motors in 2000, the online retail giant has sold more than 2 million passenger vehicles.

"Our system of innovation is more than what is inside the four walls of our company," Mr. Briggs said. "We are trying to let the users help us shape how we create our Web site and offer products to customers."

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