Movers & Shakers Q&A with Tanya Lawler, VP of UK trading, eBay


Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail

Tanya Lawler, vice president of UK Trading, eBay

1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?

I see the greatest opportunities coming from emerging trends – especially the rising demand for both utility and engagement. At eBay we’ve been working to bring together the best bits of these two elements to help buyers and sellers get the most out of shopping.

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2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?

Innovation. I want to drive disruptive innovation and ask what’s next. We have to change the game, and thinking differently about things is what we love to do at eBay.  Our heritage as a technology company enables us to innovate quickly. For many retailers that’s a challenge – the ability to move at pace, particularly with technology.

Rapid innovation is part of eBay’s DNA. In fact, we’re starting to see our power to innovate as a competitive advantage in itself, one which our retail partners value in their relationship with us.

3. With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?

We’ve been relentlessly working to improve the customer experience for a long time, but I always ask myself what more could we do, and in today’s changing environment perhaps I would have liked to move faster and pushed harder to achieve best in class retail standards for our customers, in partnership with our sellers.

4. What is the future of the physical store?

Online commerce will not devour offline retail, but it will transform how we shop and technology allows high street retailers to engage with consumers in new ways and encourage them in-store. Local delivery and Click & Collect are just two of the ways that we’re seeing retailers begin to embrace an omni-channel strategy.

5. What will the high street look like in a decade?

Retailers and brands are under increasing pressure to engage with their audiences and every channel has its part to play, including the high street. Great retailers and brands have always been led by their customers and we all need to respond to new shopping behaviours.

6. Will mobile devices be the primary sales channel in the future?

I wouldn’t take a channel-specific view.  Look at it through the customer’s eyes: mobile devices are now the mission control for our lives. They are always on, always with us, and are changing everything, including how we shop and pay. No matter which channel the shopper starts and finishes their purchasing journey, consistency is the key. For retail, mobile is the glue that brings these online and offline experiences together. It’s bringing the online world into the store to enhance the experience for the customer.

7. What other retail business do you admire?

Supermarkets have been innovating rapidly, and competing fiercely, for many years.  I am very interested to see some of the innovations in this space and, of course with some bias, I’m a big fan of what Sainsbury’s are doing. Kate Spade in the US is also doing some great stuff with us at eBay, but for their total reinvention of the retail experience I’d have to say Apple.

8. If you hadn’t been a retailer/service-provider-to-retail what would you have liked to do?

That’s a great question! I recently finished the Great River Race, which almost killed me, but perhaps with a bit more training…who knows.

9. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?

It’s difficult to say. I’m never content and the great thing about the retail arena is that thanks to its continual innovation and rapid pace it’s impossible to ever achieve a 10. There’s always more we can achieve and new ideas we can explore. I’m just glad to be doing it at eBay.

10. Who would you place in the Top 20 Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers?

My focus is on our customers, and delivering for them – I don’t tend to think in terms of rankings.  Actually, thinking about it, I’d place Britain. I genuinely believe we are leading the world in the future of retailing – anytime, anywhere, seamless shopping.