Every year, millions of people buy and sell on eBay in the UK. We're one of the world's largest and most vibrant marketplaces - and this year, we turn 21.
From the first item ever sold - a broken laser pointer for $14 - to the 1 billion products listed on the site today, eBay has grown in to the world's most powerful selling platform. We were among the first to recognise the retail power of the smartphone - our app has now been downloaded 314 million times. And we've helped an army of UK entrepreneurs set up shop from their laptops, trading with customers across the world - and around the clock.
To celebrate our 21st year, today we've released a new report - the eBay UK Retail Report - charting the year in the shopping behaviour of the great British shopper. It shows how trends are born and tastes shaped; from how Jamie Vardy's success at Leicester City drove searches for Walker's limited edition Vardy Salted crisps, through to revealing Brits are saving up to 45 per cent on high-street prices through the trend for refurbished tech.
But this report isn't just a marker for our business to celebrate the year that has passed; it's also a chance to look forward at what is coming down the track for us at eBay and in the wider retail world.
Here are our top five predictions for the future of retail:
1. Smarter personalisation. The searches and ads that shoppers see online will be even more tailored to them. Understanding likes and dislikes - and helping shoppers find the items they want quicker - is key to the next wave of online retail.
2. Smart stocking. The aim for a business is helping to fulfil the customer's needs. We'll use more and more smart data to spot when buyers are searching for things unsuccessfully. Plugging these inventory gaps is the way shops will stock in the future.
3. P2P selling goes hyper-local. We love shopping local and we'll be doing more of it online. We'll be asking people to help us to sell our stuff when we buy, and looking for deals in our neighbourhood to cut down the time it takes us to get our hands on the goods.
4. The Circular Economy. Trading our assets is an important way for customers to raise cash for new purchases. More and more Brits will start valuing and selling old assets to help pay for big purchases - including tech around Black Friday and Christmas.
5. VR becomes more than PR. Virtual Reality becomes a part of our shopping experience as the tech gets cheaper and more accessible. Our shopping world will extend into virtual reality as brands make the most of the new retail landscape. We've already trialled the very first virtual reality department store using Sight Search.
These are just a few of things we see shaking up the online retail landscape in the coming weeks, months and years. And as the original online marketplace, we're going to continue innovating to remain one step ahead of what the millions of buyers and sellers around the world are looking for.