eBay has just announced it is to acquire GSI Commerce, “a leading provider of ecommerce and interactive marketing services”. At US$2.4 billion, this is the company’s second-largest acquisition, surpassed only by its purchase of Skype for $2.8 billion in 2008.
In the press release, John Donahoe is quoted as saying:
We intend to lead the next generation of commerce innovation. The acquisition of GSI, which offers the most comprehensive integrated suite of online commerce and interactive marketing services available, will significantly strengthen our ability to connect buyers and sellers worldwide. … With eBay, PayPal, GSI and our global platform capabilities, we are focused on delivering new ways for retailers and brands of all sizes – from sole proprietors to large merchants – to drive innovation, engage customers and help people shop anytime, anywhere and on any device.
GSI has some of the biggest brands in retail on their client list, providing multi-channel order management and fulfillment ecommerce technology. So what will they bring to eBay? My money’s on the company moving inexorably away from the single site “buy it on eBay” model, to eBay (with PayPal) as a technology provider, allowing merchants to reach customers wherever they are, however they’re connected. Expect to see more emphasis than ever on mobile; expect to see eBay providing inventory and order management for other channels (eBay-powered Amazon listings? yes, I think so); expect to see eBay providing (eventually) stand-alone ecommerce solutions.