2021 Retailers To Watch: eBay

From new formats to game-changing omnichannel strategies, and with the coronavirus pandemic impacting all aspects of the industry, the world of retail continued to evolve in 2020 as a number of leading chains and e-commerce pure-plays launched a range of key initiatives in an effort to enhance differentiation from their competitors.

Housewares and home were a focal point for many of these omnichannel-oriented retailers, which worked with leading vendors to launch new assortments ranging from kitchenware to home furnishings.

HomeWorld’s fourth annual Retailers To Watch, in the November 16 issue, takes a look at eight retailers that have made moves to further strengthen their respective businesses heading into 2021 through a range of initiatives, from new omnichannel directions to new retail formats. Selected by the HomeWorld editorial staff, each retailer selected is taking aim at growing top-level sales in the coming year and placing housewares and home at the forefront of their respective growth strategies.


eBay has been transforming its business over the past several years, but not everyone knows that yet, and therein lies the challenge. Walmart is about to pass it as the number two online retailer, both well behind Amazon, and eBay is increasingly challenged by competitors, both emerging and established pure players and omnichannel operators who are finally learning how to use stores to gain real traction in the virtual marketplace.

However, eBay is making its own moves, becoming a more broadly operating e-tailer. Originally known for its auction business, the company has been consistently developing and expanding marketplace operations, creating new ways for more partners to work with it. It hasn’t abandoned “enthusiasts” and wants to build business with them, but it also has launched initiatives designed to engage more consumers through the auspices of third-party partners.

What to Watch

eBay has built on its original auction business by building a consumer to consumer marketplace and a business to business marketplace while spinning off major operations including PayPal, StubHub and, more recently, its classifieds business. Meanwhile, eBay has been developing programs to help small businesses get online, and not only creating a space for them, but going into markets such as Akron, OH, and Lansing, MI, to bring its selling propositions into communities, creating grass roots connections to consumers who might still think of it primarily as a site focused on auctions they aren’t prepared to trial.

eBay has declared that becoming a partner of choice for sellers and cultivating lifelong relationships with buyers is critical to its strategy going forward. The company also is finding ways to partner with vendors based on market trends such as its launch of a Certified Refurbished operation with the likes of DeLonghi, Dirt Devil, Hoover, Makita and Philips, not only as a way of appealing to bargain hunters but also younger, environmentally conscious consumers who like the idea of keeping products out of the waste stream.

eBay is not only finding new ways to reach the consumer it is also seeking out ways to be more relevant, and, to the extent it gains consumer interest with that strategy, the company could establish itself as a distinct and attractive proposition to a lot more shoppers. —Mike Duff

2021 Retailers To Watch (click on name for profile)

Crate & Barrel


Ocean State Job Lot




Dollar General

Bed Bath & Beyond