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12/3/2010
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EBay To Buy Local Shopping Engine Milo

The acquisition will allow the online marketplace to offer inventory and pricing information on products at about 50,000 brick-and-mortar stores across the country.

Perhaps bitten by the same holiday shopping frenzy that's gripping many Americans, eBay on Thursday snapped-up Milo, a local shopping engine that provides consumers with access to accurate and real-time local store inventory and pricing information.

Through this acquisition, the online auction giant will be able to give shoppers information on millions of products at about 50,000 stores across the country. The move also will give eBay sellers the ability to reach more consumers, the company said.

"Local commerce companies like Milo are blurring the lines between in-store and online shopping," said Mark Carges, chief technology officer and senior VP of global products for eBay Marketplaces. "By making accurate, real-time, local store inventory and pricing available to online and mobile shoppers, we see a huge opportunity for local retailers, small businesses and eBay sellers to reach more buyers, and for consumers to make more informed buying decisions. Since eBay is an online marketplace and doesn't compete with brick-and-mortar stores, adding local store inventory to the eBay marketplace is a natural extension of what we've been doing for 15 years -- bringing buyers and sellers together to access the largest selection available anywhere."

Milo's stated goal has been to bring every product on every shelf at each store in the world onto the Internet, according to the company. The eBay acquisition will further that goal, the company said.

"We believe that the combined resources of eBay and Milo will be instrumental in changing the face of shopping for decades to come," according to a Milo blog post.

In its third fiscal quarter of the year, ended Sept. 30, PayPal -- not the online auction site -- accounted for the majority of eBay's revenue, the company's earnings report showed. In fact, PayPal revenue grew 23% year-over-year, hitting $798 million for the quarter, up from $650 million; by comparison, auction sales and fee-related income generated 3% growth and revenue of $1.186 billion vs. $1.182 billion in the 12 months prior period.

Working with eBay, Milo expects to bring more local retailers' inventories online, allowing them to more easily compete with larger stores and chains, eBay said. The agreement also will help existing eBay sellers that have retail stores and compatible inventory systems sell their wares locally, the auction house said.

"As one of the last true brick-and-mortar stores for skaters, we've been extremely fortunate to have our unique product selection visible to shoppers on Milo.com," said Konstantin Shostakovich, manager of Black Diamond Sports. "Reaching potential customers wherever they may be -- whether it's online or right outside the door -- is imperative in order to stay competitive and continue bringing foot traffic into our store."

The online auction company expects to integrate Milo's local product feeds into its online marketplace and mobile applications. In addition RedLaser, eBay's barcode-scanning iPhone app, soon will include Milo's local results, eBay said.

More consumers are researching online, then going in person to purchase products, researchers said. In fact, cross-channel shopping sales will be $1.3 trillion and account for nearly 50% of total retail sales by 2013, Forrester predicted.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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