Innovation At The Heart Of eBay's Formula For Success

At the recent FT Innovate 2012 conference in London, eBay's Jacob Aqraou spoke about how the company rose to glory, embracing innovation, constantly evolving and transforming itself and commerce as a whole.

The company came into being in an innovative way and, since its humble first sale of a broken laser pointer for less than $15 in 1995, it has never stopped looking to transform the retail space and to evolve. Today, eBay is all about enabling retail. Through innovation, it had unleashed the potential of shopper-centric commerce. Shoppers on eBay are now able to buy anything they want, in any way they choose and from any location in the world. In addition to bringing the multichannel shopping experience to the consumer, the company is partnering with retailers of all sorts to change the world of commerce.

But to constantly expand its business, the company recognizes the need to keep its focus on innovation. As more change in how customers shop and pay will come in the next couple of years than there has been in the past 20 years put together, eBay is going all-out to lead that change. And its innovation in the future will be driven by the same three things it was in the past: the consumer, technology and the right business culture, Aqraou said. As a business, eBay has always looked at consumers and their needs and shaped its services around these needs.

Understanding the needs of customers and catering to those needs is the most fundamental element of any future innovation at eBay. Second comes technology and the way eBay uses it to meet the changing needs of consumers. Here, the company has a unique advantage - lots of data and deep insight on customers' shopping habits, attitudes and shifts in purchasing decisions and experience. Third is setting the right business culture - at eBay it is about drawing talent and creative minds and delivering the promises the company makes when it hires. The phenomenal success eBay has experienced so far rests on the creativity, passion and commitment of its human capital, combined with its unique culture which focuses on risk-taking and, importantly, a bit of fun, Aqraou says.

To stay ahead, businesses need to innovate faster and more often than before as the speed of change at the consumer end is poised to accelerate further. eBay has found its growth formula and is sticking to it: the consumer insight, the enabling technology and the right culture.