"Internet has allowed us to gather data we did not know how to process"

The managing director of eBay Spain and Italy, Susana Voces, explains that the US platform’s strategy is to increasingly prioritise the online shopping experience

Susana Voces, managing director of eBay Spain and Italy | Ceded Susana Voces, managing director of eBay Spain and Italy | Ceded

Black Friday is especially successful online, where the tradition is most established. The eBay platform, for example, is this week offering discounts of up to 60% and free delivery: from watches to smartphones, televisions, fashion, accessories... Black Friday is a key day for the platform that, in 2002, sold its first fashion product in Spain: a case for a Rolex watch. Today, 15 years later, the US firm sells a wristwatch every four minutes and its best-selling article is a screen protector for the iPhone 6. "If we extrapolate this to large purchases, we see that a lot happens in 60 seconds, a lot of sales," says Susana Voces, the managing director of eBay Spain and Italy, during the talk she gave in the Epson headquarters in Sant Cugat del Vallès.

An expert in ecommerce after 10 years in the company, her trajectory is intimately tied to online sales, as previously she was sales and business development manager for PayPal in Spain and Portugal. From her perspective, Voces tells VIA Empresa about the recent evolution of the big marketplace and she even gives a few predictions for where the sector is going in the future.

Ebay began in 1995. What condition is the business in today?

Ebay is one of the few businesses that is a veteran of ecommerce; there are few firms that can say that. It has evolved a lot because it was set up as a company to sell used goods at auction, but right now 87% of its products have a fixed price and more than 80% are new products. We have millions of vendors, in the end we are a marketplace with millions of vendors on the platform. We have 168 million buyers in the world and we are active in 190 countries. Our aim as a company is to invest a lot in technology and innovation to create positive experiences and to be able to attract all these products our vendors, companies or individuals have for sale, for the millions of buyers. This is how we have evolved and the latest figures for eBay show that we are still growing and evolving. We are in a sector that is growing a lot and our aim is always to do things better.

"We want to be the first place the consumer thinks of, so that when they want to buy something it is eBay that comes to mind"

How has the arrival of other players like Amazon or Wallapop affected eBay?

This is a sector that is growing and competition is always positive. The growth rate of ecommerce in Spain is 7% and on a global scale it is just as high, which makes it normal that it should attract competition. We want to be eBay. And eBay does not do everything nor is it everything; it is a platform that wants to be a partner for vendors around the world and to connect with buyers. We want to be the first place the consumer thinks of, so that when they want to buy something it is eBay that comes to mind. Our aim is for the vendors to make money along with us. Today we are working to create optimal user experiences, we have to invest because the buyer wants shopping to be increasingly easy: buying with voice commands, instant payments, for the product to arrive as quickly and safely as possible. And we have to invest to be the best in doing this, the other players have other things to do and we want to be what we are doing.

Susana Voces Epson

Voces taking part in the Epson event | Ceded

You refer a lot to artificial intelligence and the application of natural language to the sector. Is that the future, or is it already part of eBay?

In the case of artificial intelligence, it is something that sounds good but also something we are not quite sure about, even though we are applying it every day. The fact that the experience is increasingly more personal, that when I go to my home page everything is adapted and customised for me, that means artificial intelligence is being applied to what the consumer wants. On eBay in the United States we are now launching a service that recognises products through images: people will no longer have to search by keywords but will be able to find anything they want on the net by taking a photo and searching for it on eBay. And with GoogleHome, we will be able to talk to the platform because that is something the user wants. Our advantage is that we have more than a billion articles, and what we have to do is to order them in a way so that when the user is looking for something in particular, they find it as easy as possible.

A billion articles also implies data in its billions. How does big data influence the business?

In the end, data, artificial intelligence, is tied to the management of data and that is something a lot of companies have to deal with: the Internet has allowed us to gather a lot of data that we have not known how to process adequately. Artificial intelligence means ordering these data to create patterns and analysis that will go on to allow the experiences we were talking about earlier.

"If we do not understand ecommerce, if we do not know how to connect with the public, we lose market opportunities"

In your talk you spoke a lot about the figure of Laura as an example of the buyer of the future.

Yes, because in 2020, some 50% of purchases in developed countries will be by Millenials and Generation Z, who are the people now between 16 and 20. As for ecommerce, it is true that when it began it was more masculine in nature and of a higher social class, but now it is increasingly for everyone, and I think women always take more purchasing decisions than men. What I see now is that online shopping can be more feminine and younger and that if we do not understand that, if we do not connect with that public, we will lose market opportunities.

Spanish vendors on eBay sell more than 12.6 million items every year and 12 of them make sales of more than a million euros a year.

There are things we need to improve, because we have a lot of fledgling companies for which we are a great distribution platform. Our difference from competitors is that we do not develop products nor compete with the companies that do, we are partners of these companies. It is what we want to be.

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