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As eBay UK celebrates its 15th birthday, we take a look back at the highlight reel

1999: Posh and Becks tied the knot, the Euro made its currency debut and one in five UK homes surfed the net to the tune of dial-up. It was also the year that eBay arrived in the UK. The first item sold on was a three track CD from German rock outfit, The Scorpions, going for the princely sum of £2.89. From there the only way was up.

2002: ebay absorbed one of its prominent European competitors, iBazar, founded the year before ebay hit the UK. They also bought PayPal, a crucial strategic move in accelerating the company’s growth.

2008: eBay launched the first e-commerce apps on iTunes at a time when online shopping was starting to make a big impact. The company also sold Skype for $2.75 billion and fostered a partnership with fellow auctioneers Sotheby’s.

2009: 170 of the 123,000 British businesses trading on eBay in the UK hit the landmark £1m a year turnover through eBay sales alone.

2010: more Brits shopping through the eBay mobile app than any other country in Europe, snapping up fashion items like they were going out of fashion, with five pairs of jeans, 19 pairs of shoes, 18 t-shirts and four handbags bought every minute on eBay in the UK in 2010. The strong contribution of SMEs to the UK’s e-commerce sector continued as eBay’s small business sellers bucked the economic downturn by clocking up £446m in export sales - an increase of 128% since 2007 compared to a 20.5% increase in exports in the wider economy over the same period.

2013: eBay and Argos launched a Click & Collect trial with 50 eBay retailers and Argos stores nationwide to 65,000 sellers across 650 Argos stores. Last year 79% of people in the UK used a click and collect service and 40% of Christmas shoppers used clicked and collected their festive gifts.

TODAY: eBay has since evolved into an important market place for business sellers, leading high street retailers and UK exporters - hitting three billion sales worth £65bn on its 15th birthday. The evolution of eBay also tells a story of how far e-commerce has come in the UK. Up until 2007 online accounted for less than 4% of all retail sales. Today, the amount spent online accounts for 11% of all retail spending.

…THE NEXT 15 YEARS? Tanya Lawler, Vice President of eBay UK, believes the future is bright for eBay, pointing to the “unprecedented” £45 billion spent shopping online this year as evidence of this. eBay helped to change expectations and transform the way the UK shopped: “The best retailers have adapted to keep pace and today, more than 140 UK brands and retailers – from fashion to homeware, toys to electricals - are using eBay as part of their omnichannel approach to ensure customers can shop anytime, anywhere on any connected device.”

eBay’s UK birthday facts:

  1. The first item sold on was a three track CD from German rock outfit, The Scorpions, for £2.89
  2. In 15 years eBay has sold three billion items, worth £65bn
  3. Last Christmas, 14 gifts were bought on eBay each second
  4. Lady Thatcher’s Handbag sold on eBay for £103,000
  5. Princess Beatrice’s royal wedding hat (aka ‘the pretzel’) fetched more than £80,000 on eBay with proceeds going to Unicef and Children in Crisis
  6. Ahead of the Brazil World Cup, 24 football shirts were sold every hour
  7. In the UK an item is bought every second via the eBay app
  8. A pair of shoes sells every 7 seconds, a handbag every 19 seconds via mobile
  9. 9pm is the peak time for tablet shopping
  10. Today, more than 140 UK brands and retailers can be found on eBay
  11. 75% of items sold on eBay are sold at fixed price
  12. UK businesses selling on eBay each export to an average of 39 countries – higher than anywhere else
  13. Over 200,000 businesses large and small sell on eBay in the UK
  14. Close to £70 million has been raised from the generosity of Brits buying items through eBay for Charity, raising funds for thousands of charities across the UK
  15. Over 19 million Brits visit eBay every month - that’s well over one third of the UK’s adult population
Published on Friday 22 August by Editorial Assistant

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