eBay Q4 revenues hit US$2.5bn – fashion outpaces e-commerce

20 Jan 2011

E-commerce giant eBay’s fourth-quarter revenues grew 5pc to US$2.5bn, or 10pc, excluding VOIP player Skype, eBay said. In the UK, the company said its Fashion Outlet business is delivering 10pc higher revenues than e-commerce.

The company, which employs 1,700 people in Dublin, recorded fourth-quarter net income of US$559.2m, or US$0.42 per diluted share. For the full year, eBay Inc. posted US$9.2bn in revenue and net income of US$1.8bn, or US$1.36 per diluted share.

The company’s PayPal business delivered strong fourth-quarter performance, expanding its leadership position in global payments. PayPal ended the quarter with 94.4m active registered accounts, adding about 1m active accounts per month.

PayPal’s net total payment volume was US$26.9bn in the fourth quarter, driven primarily by growth in its Merchant Services business, including strong growth across global markets, increased merchant adoption and greater usage by customers. Nearly half of PayPal’s revenue in the fourth quarter was generated outside the United States, reflecting PayPal’s global growth.

PayPal continued to innovate in mobile payments and digital goods, launching new products and services to expand its presence on new devices and platforms. For the full year, mobile payment volume increased five times compared to 2009 and exceeded expectations.

The company’s Marketplaces business continued to deliver improved performance during the fourth quarter. Gross merchandise volume (excluding vehicles) increased to US$15.0bn and sold items grew 10pc, reflecting gains in the US, the UK and Germany.

eBay’s fashion business, a focus for the company in 2010, grew faster than e-commerce in the UK and Germany in the fourth quarter and performed well in the United States. Steady consumer adoption of eBay’s portfolio of mobile applications contributed to strong holiday shopping momentum in the fourth quarter and pushed total mobile gross merchandise volume for the full year to nearly US$2bn.

“We delivered a strong fourth quarter and a solid year, driven by our customer focus, commitment to technology-led innovation and our operating discipline, which is enabling us to reinvest in growth,” said eBay Inc. president and CEO John Donahoe.

“We are driving strong global growth at PayPal and strengthening our core eBay business. And we are innovating quickly in areas such as mobile, which is helping to position us at the forefront of trends shaping the future of shopping and payments.”

Dedicated followers of fashion

eBay UK’s fourth quarter has been boosted for a second consecutive period by a market-beating performance in its fashion category, with sales of clothes, shoes and accessories on the UK e-commerce site at 10pc above the UK market average for this category.

Across the entire UK site, sold items grew 25pc in Q4 and the value of all items sold (gross merchandise volume) was up 19pc.

Last year, eBay launched Fashion Outlet and has since attracted more than 30 high-street names and more than 180 brands, including current fashion favourites Superdry, Firetrap, G-Star Raw and Ed Hardy.

Although historically known as an auction site, 60pc of all items sold on eBay are now sold through the ‘Buy It Now’ format, demonstrating that consumers are increasingly turning to eBay for quick purchases of top brands at exceptional prices.

Taking on the high street

eBay’s Christmas deals programme also contributed to the strong Q4 performance, with UK sales up 170pc from the previous quarter.

For the first time this year, eBay went head to head with the high street and online retailers with a seven-week programme of price comparison market-beating daily and weekly deals, focusing on the must-have toys, consumer tech and fashion items for Christmas.

Some of the most popular items included Superdry jackets, laptops and a Syma Chinook remote-control helicopter, which sold at four per minute.

Mobile commerce growth

Other factors, including the introduction of bar-code scanning technology, and the integration of the selling and buying features into a single smartphone app, both have driven strong mobile commerce growth, aided by the greater uptake of smartphones in the UK and the popularity of tablet devices.

UK consumers have adopted mobile shopping faster than any other market in Europe, with a purchase being made every two seconds.

In 2010, eBay generated US$2bn in global sales through mobile devices alone – up by more than 200pc on 2009.

“While other retailers have suffered from the tough trading conditions and Arctic weather, eBay UK has outperformed both the online and offline markets,” Clare Gilmartin, VP eBay Europe, said.

“These results are the clearest indication to date that we have become a serious fashion player in the UK. In the run-up to Christmas, up to 5m people a day logged onto the site with shoppers snapping up nearly 1.4m gifts in a single day.

“Our strong performance has been driven by eBay business sellers who have seen a year-on-year Q4 growth of more than 20pc. And having spoken to many of these businesses personally, I know they worked extremely hard over the Christmas period to ensure consumers were not disappointed,” Gilmartin said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years