Mainland Chinese consumers are increasingly going online to purchase clothing and other goods, and the head of online auction site eBay Inc. said Tuesday that China will someday overtake the United States and become its biggest market.
EBay chief executive Meg Whitman said she is optimistic about prospects for EachNet, a subsidiary of the U.S.-based site that does business in China and is being renamed eBay EachNet.
The Chinese site is still losing money, but online sales are booming and eBay is most interested at this point in gaining market share "for a very strong business over the long haul," Whitman said.
EachNet now has 4 million registered users, who traded the equivalent of $44 million in merchandise in the fourth quarter of last year, she said.
"Ten to 15 years from now, I think China can be eBay's largest market on a global basis as we build up the local trade and the export trade," Whitman told an audience of business executives.
"We think China has tremendous long-term potential and we want to do everything we can to maintain our No. 1 position," Whitman said.
EachNet has employed 220 employees in Shanghai, but eBay plans to expand its staff size by "several hundred" over the next few years as it launches a development center.
Founded as an antique and collectibles auction site in 1995, eBay is now the world's largest online auction site. It is based in San Jose, Calif., and has 94.9 million registered users globally.