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A conversation with Rob Eroh, Head of Product at Milo, a division of eBay Local
With online activities and research still influencing a lot of shopping off the Web, eBay is looking for new ways to bridge the gap between the two shopping experiences. In other words, eBay is trying to get more people to complete their purchases online, preferably on an eBay property.
EBay launched a new X.Commerce open platform at its Innovate Developer Conference 2011in San Francisco. X.commerce is a multi-channel commerce technology open platform designed for all the varied ways consumers choose to shop today. Basically, it brings together the developer communities to all of eBay’s properties, including Milo, PayPal, Magento, WHERE, Zong, RedLaser,GSI, and others.
Jack Abraham, CEO of Milo, made the announcement this week. Milo was acquired in 2010 and is now a division of EBay Local.
Considering shoppers changing habits and the wide influence the Web now plays, it is not surprising that eBay properties are digging deeper into how to bring together offline and online shopping.
Forrester estimates that $917 billion worth of retail sales in 2010 were Web-influenced and in 2014 that percentage will grow to 53%, when the Web will be influencing $1.4 billion worth of in-store sales.
Yet, the consumer experience often leaves room for improvement.
What does the eBay Local/Milo joint announcement mean for consumers and how will it improve and influence its offline and online shopping experience?
To answer these questions and others, we had a brief chat Wednesday afternoon with Rob Eroh, Head of Product and Engineering for eBay Local/Milo.
Ane Howard: What are today's needs for social, local, mobile and digital-driven commerce?
Rob Eroh: Today only five percent of commerce is done purely online. The other 95 percent is still done in stores, but a growing number of those in-store purchases are influenced by online research that shoppers do ahead of time, resulting in what we call cross-channel commerce.
As technology improves, consumers want to be able to shop where they want, when they want, for what they want - solutions such as Milo's open API are enabling them to do so all across the Web.
What is Milo's contribution to the X.commerce platform?
Milo’s contribution to the platform is to open its API, which developers will be able to access through X.commerce, which is inclusive of the entire eBay community (eBay, PayPal, Milo, StubHub, etc.)
How does this announcement fulfill today’s digital-driven commerce needs?
By opening our API, we allow Web and mobile developers across the world to harness the power of local commerce and bring it to their users in innovative ways. Opening the API also increases the reach of local inventory data, allowing our retail partners to reach shoppers they otherwise would have missed, helping drive additional foot traffic and sales to their storefronts.
Who is behind the development of this API?
The team worked to ensure that Milo's API would become open, enabling individual developers to have the opportunity to engage and experiment with the API.
As cross-channel commerce continues to grow, it's important that developers be able to utilize Milo's data to create additional online features that will enhance the consumer shopping experience and provide more choices for shoppers. EBay as a whole is transitioning from connecting buyers and sellers to enabling commerce on a grand scale. This fits into that.
How do you plan to monetize the API?
At this time, there are no plans to monetize the API. Currently, there is no charge to use the API for developers or for retailers to participate.
Why is Milo better than your competition?
Milo allows true local searching and even tracks retailers' real-time inventory. Gone are the days where consumers bounce from store to store trying to find their product in stock. A quick search on Milo.com or through the RedLaser mobile app provides all the information they need to find their product the first time. We are bringing more visibility to local businesses and expanded choice to shoppers.
Milo was acquired by eBay in 2010, and you are now a sub-division of eBay. What has this acquisition meant for Milo?
EBay is the world's largest marketplace with 97 million active users and more than 200 million listings at any given time. Using Milo technology, eBay has integrated local shopping results for all products in the MP3 and GPS categories as well as introduced a local search experience; this provides more choices for consumers who expect to be able to shop for whatever they want, when they want. By increasing the visibility of small businesses on the web, Milo and EBay are giving independent retailers a new channel to reach today's shoppers.
What kind of growth have you seen in this past year that can be linked to the acquisition
As part of a public company we do not comment on growth statistics.
What are your market predictions for 2012?
As part of a public company we do not comment on shifts in the market.
Why did Milo make the announcement and not eBay?
It was a joint announcement, EBay was announcing many things during the conference, so each individual sector of the company did their own outreach. Milo.com is a subsidiary of eBay.
The conference is taking place in San Francisco, October 12 to the 14. Moscone Center West, and is expected to attract over 4,000 attendees.
Another big announcement which came out this Wednesday morning at the conference is that eBay and Facebook have formed a deeper relationship.
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