eBay has had a chequered journey in India since it started in 2004 (see timeline below). It launched by acquiring a desi auction site (Baazee.com) at a time when ‘e-commerce’ was yet to become a buzzword in the country. The internet population was small, connectivity was poor, and the smartphone boom was yet to happen.
eBay managed to build a decent seller base in the initial years and reached more than 240 Indian towns. It had more than 2 million registered users. Then the tide turned… slowly yet surely. Flipkart was born in 2007; Snapdeal in 2010; and the final nail in the coffin, Amazon India launched in 2013. As more and more Indians flocked to the internet, these companies pulled them with jaw-dropping propositions. ‘Discounts’ became the new buzzword in e-commerce.
While Flipkart and Amazon invested heavily in customer acquisition and aggressive marketing, eBay stuck to limited investments and a laid-back approach. It not only failed to capitalize on its first-mover advantage, but also lost out on trust and customer loyalty. And a decade later, it had neither a vibrant user base nor any visibility. ALSO READ: Flipkart completes eBay India acquisition; will run it as an independent company
As losses widened and sales declined, it resorted to cutting jobs. But unable to turn tables still, eBay ended up selling its India business to market leader Flipkart in 2017. It is now a Flipkart-owned company and the latter has just announced that Anil Goteti (Flipkart’s marketplace and retail products head) would be leading eBay India. The San Jose-headquartered firm is embarking on its second innings in the country.