Last year, eBay launched a live commerce pilot program, eBay Live, in an effort to keep up with the changing e-commerce landscape and offer consumers and businesses another way to connect.
PaymentsJournal recently sat down with Avritti Mittal, Vice President and Head of Global Payments for eBay, to discuss the company’s ongoing live shopping efforts as well as to get a pulse on the evolving payments space.
We’ve seen a lot of change in the payments space—increased adoption among consumers, more payment methods, in addition to some other advancements. Can you speak to this shift, and what you expect to see in the next few years?
Payments and commerce experiences, overall, look very different from a few years ago. And we’re seeing this across industries. Digital transformation has continued to accelerate across various verticals, and payments is no exception.
We also see that the way consumers are shopping, and the way they access and consume products, has also changed significantly. The COVID-19 pandemic played a really big role in accelerating the adoption of digital and mobile payments. For example, in 2021, the global share of mobile e-commerce exceeded that of desktop e-commerce. In 2022, nearly nine out of 10 Americans were using some form of digital payments, which is pretty massive.
We’re seeing heightened customer expectations around friction. From a payment method perspective—while credit and debit and other more traditional forms of payment methods are still quite popular and prominent, digital wallets, as well as buy now, pay later (BNPL) offerings have become more mainstream.
We’re also seeing growth in embedded financial services. Brands are embedding financial products and services within their core e-commerce experiences to offer consumers more convenience and value.
Are you seeing a generational shift when it comes to payment methods?
We are seeing a significant shift in behavior. When I think about Gen X and prior generations, they may continue to lean toward more traditional ways to pay: debit cards, credit cards, cash as well, or even bank payments.
When we talk about Millennials or Gen Z, they didn’t grow up with checkbooks or having to visit a bank. They’re basically digitally native generations who are demanding convenience, simplicity, and transparency in their payment experiences.
So in terms of payment method preferences, we’re definitely seeing a shift in Millennials and Gen Z, who are heavily leaning toward digital wallets. Even the overall shopping experience itself is evolving. Live commerce experiences are very much mainstream now, and as an example, live shopping is expected to proliferate even more with an emphasis on social.
We launched our live shopping pilot last year, and we’ve since held multiple events across verticals, including luxury and collectible. We’ve seen a lot of success with the pilot and are looking forward to expanding more in that space.
Do you find that the social element of live shopping helps drive consumer engagement and, ultimately, product sales?
Yes, absolutely. This is an element of community that has always been the way forward for eBay. It’s about connecting communities and unlocking economic opportunity for all.
The beauty about live shopping experiences is that it brings the community together and [collectively] helps them experience something. It definitely results in more excitement and enthusiasm about the category, and we’ve seen promise with conversions as we’ve done some of these sales in the past.
Let’s talk about merchants and small businesses. In your conversations with them, are there challenges they’re facing, whether it’s with new tools or keeping up with the constantly evolving space?
If I take a step back and think about the small-business persona, they’re focused on operating their business efficiently. Time is the most precious asset, and they often don’t have access to financial resources that larger businesses do. These businesses are pretty much always a labor of their entrepreneurial passion, and so digging a little bit deeper in the SMB space and their needs, we published a small-business report, which was our inaugural report last year. And we discovered that eBay is a crucial economic driver for many of our sellers. Two-thirds of respondents said they rely heavily on eBay for their business.
In terms of the needs, specifically, as they relate to payments enablement, we’re fully committed to fueling the business growth of these sellers and ensuring they have the flexibility and control they need when it comes to managing their money. I’ll give you a couple of examples here. Our payments platform simplifies payment operations and gives sellers access to everything they need in order to sell and get paid, including reports, fees, and protections. Another thing that’s important, especially for smaller sellers, is timely access to funds. We offer our sellers a significantly wide variety of payment schedules and payment payout methods, including daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, and on demand. And the idea here is that we put the seller as the customer front and center. They are in the driver’s seat, and they have the access and control for their choice in order to access their funds and reinvest in their business.
We’ve spoken a lot about the rapid change the payments space has seen. As we look ahead, do you anticipate any continued changes?
There’s certainly been a lot of change that has happened over the past several years. When I look at 2023, as well as the next several years, I’m personally excited about the innovation and disruption.
Technological advancements, as well as dynamic consumer and business expectations, are continuing to evolve as well. As is the evolving global regulatory landscape. We’ll continue to lean into this space. It’s going to be incredibly important to keep the customer need front and center and let that drive how we create products and experiences for our customers.
I had mentioned embedded financial services earlier, and that’s an area we expect will continue to grow. In 2021, financial services embedded in product e-commerce experiences accounted for about $2.6 trillion of total U.S. financial transactions. By 2026, these transactions are expected to exceed about $7 trillion, so that’s massive growth that we’re talking about. This notion of embedded financial services is really expected to grow significantly because it promises consumers more convenience. And it also creates more opportunities for brands and businesses to unlock new revenue streams while deepening customer relationships and increasing that stickiness with their customers.