THE BLOG
21/10/2015 10:59 BST | Updated 20/10/2016 10:12 BST

By Disrupting the Retail Landscape, We're Rocket Fuelling the UK's Small Businesses

What was the last thing that you bought online?

Perhaps it was something you couldn't find in a shop near your home. Maybe you wanted to browse as many different options as possible before you made a choice. Or maybe it was just the most convenient way to get that item that you really wanted.

Today, the convenience of online shopping is very much a part of our increasingly digital lives. Shoppers can view goods from around the world on their phone, buy at the push of a button and have their goods delivered straight to their front door.

So it seems incredible that just twenty years ago, before the online retail revolution, all of these options would have been off the table.

eBay was there at the very start of that seismic shift. We built the world's first global shopping community, created borderless digital trade routes and connected millions of buyers and sellers.

We introduced a level playing field for UK businesses, where the smallest retailers could compete equally with established high street brands and stay 'open for business' around the clock for our 157 million global customers.

And we provided unbeatable choice - powering more than 200,000 small British retail businesses to date.

The results were incredible. UK shoppers have embraced online like no other nation. The UK accounts for around 11% of total global internet retail sales and has the highest spend per head for e-commerce of any country. Today, 18 million UK shoppers visit us every month.

But we know we can't rest on our laurels. The UK's savvy shoppers have become even savvier, demanding even more convenience and value from their experience.

With that demand in mind, we're looking to the future of online shopping and partnering with our sellers to win.

eBay has always been disruptive when it comes to the retail landscape. Now we innovate on behalf of thousands of small businesses who depend on our vast digital infrastructure - so as we write the next chapter of our history, we must be just as disruptive as we've been in the past 20 years.

First, we need to stay restless. Through our powerful platform, we'll stay ahead of what our sellers need and customers demand - like our seamless mobile experience created so that our inventory is available at the touch of a button.

Second, we must provide customers with an even better choice of the things that are most relevant to them. By working with our sellers we offer an incredible range of products for every budget - with items from UK small businesses sitting right next to those from the more traditional bricks and mortar retailers. By introducing choice we've also created a level playing field, where the smallest retailers could compete equally with established high street brands - and we'll continue to innovate on the site to help boost our small businesses' coffers.

And third, we're going full circle on the all-important convenience factor for both buyers and sellers.

In 2013, we launched Click and Collect with Argos, facilitating more than three million collections from across 800 locations. We've been so pleased with the results that this month I'm launching the first ever national roll-out of an eBay drop-off service, enabling consumer sellers to drop off sold items at an initial 150 Argos stores nationwide by Christmas, with even more to come.

It means that sellers, no matter how big or small, will be able to sell an item on eBay and use Argos's industry leading delivery network to get that item to their buyer. The buyer can then collect their item from their local Argos - or even their Argos collection point in Sainsbury's.

Convenience has long been king for consumers, but this partnership offers convenience to small retailers too - disrupting the status quo in fulfilment.

It's proved again that the high street and e-commerce don't just cohabit - they can actually strengthen each other.

The ambition behind our deal with Argos is to grow and establish some of the most exciting and innovative fulfilment services in the UK - and I believe we are dissolving the lines between digital and traditional retail.

But this isn't just about giving customers the convenience and value they demand. It's also about providing the rocket fuel to our nation of online shopkeepers to allow them to continue growing, and innovating.

It is their dedication and hard work that is keeping shoppers satisfied and driving our economy forward. An even brighter future awaits for British retail, but to realise it we must remember our simple truth: it's when we disrupt that we succeed.

Tanya Lawler is the Vice President of eBay in the UK