As a global online marketplace, eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) has made headway in numerous countries across the globe. However, eBay still is struggling to make its presence known in India, due in part to the country's strict e-commerce market policies. But eBay's presence in India could expand soon, especially if several of the nation's e-commerce regulations are eased in the near future.
India's Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) asked various stakeholders for feedback about its e-commerce policies last week. Currently, Flipkart, an Indian e-commerce company founded in 2007, dominates the Indian marketplace. But India's GDP growth remains a major concern for many of the nation's officials. India's GDP growth dropped from 9.3% during the 2007-2008 fiscal year to 5% during the 2012-2013 fiscal year, leading many Indian officials to reconsider their stance on the nation's strict e-commerce regulations.
By allowing foreign investments in e-tailing, the Indian economy could improve quickly. According to Tech Crunch, eBay and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) are getting ready to make their pitches to Indian officials in the hopes that they will ease their e-commerce rules. If e-commerce policy changes are made in India, eBay, Amazon, and other online retailers could significantly increase their revenues. Meanwhile, eBay stockholders could be the biggest beneficiaries, as the company's stock could rise accordingly as well. India boasts an e-commerce market of nearly $3.1 billion, but many experts anticipate major growth in this market within the next five years.
Firstpost notes that the increasing incomes of Indian citizens, along with the nation's rapid urbanization, are among the biggest factors that will influence the e-commerce market. Because more disposable income could be available to Indian residents, these people may look to e-commerce marketplaces to buy a wide variety of items. In fact, DIPP officials have predicted that the Indian e-commerce market is expected to reach $12.6 billion in profits for 2013, a 34% year-over-year increase.
But eBay still would need to find a way to distinguish itself from Flipkart to succeed in India's e-commerce marketplace.
The heat is on Flipkart
In the meantime, eBay faces stiff competition from Flipkart, which expects substantial profits in 2014. Flipkart recently launched its own fashion line, and co-founder Sachin Bansal told The Times of India that his company could earn $1 billion in profits this year.
However, regardless of whether Indian officials make changes to their e-commerce policies, eBay could still watch its profits grow in India this year. Earlier this week, eBay-backed Snapdeal, an Indian online marketplace, introduced a same-day delivery service that is likely to turn up the heat on the Indian e-commerce market. According to Livemint, Snapdeal officials anticipated their company would exceed $321 million in profits during fiscal year 2013-2014. As a result, Flipkart and other eBay rivals may need to find new ways to stay competitive in this market, while eBay, which already has a major stake in Snapdeal, could reap the rewards of its recent investment.
Can eBay still compete with Amazon?
eBay Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe provides plenty of reasons to be optimistic about eBay in 2014. Donahoe has served as eBay's CEO since March 2008, and has been able to identify changes in the online marketplace that have helped eBay extend its reach over the past few years. For example, eBay has made at least 34 acquisitions over the last five years under Donahoe, as he constantly searches for ways to help the company increase its profits. As a result, eBay has become more than just an online marketplace, and now offers advanced capabilities to help merchants in numerous ways. Retailers can use eBay to create interactive storefronts, manage electronic payments, track inventory, and much more.
Meanwhile, eBay continues to be an innovator in the mobile market. eBay was one of the first to provide a secure way for buyers to make online purchases. By acquiring Paypal in 2002, eBay took charge of the e-commerce marketplace, separating itself from Amazon and other competitors.
Investors might be foolish to ignore eBay in 2014. If eBay continues its steady growth, and makes headway in India's e-commerce market, it could prove to be a valuable investment for stockholders across the globe.
Fool contributor Daniel Kobialka has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com and eBay. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and eBay. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.