The purchase of ecommerce provider GSI Commerce by eBay has stirred up the ecommerce industry, but what does it mean for retailers?

The $2.4billion acquisition of GSI Commerce by eBay signals more than ever the auction site’s intention to become an online marketplace. Initial thoughts are that it signals an intention to more seriously compete with Amazon.

Unlike other ecommerce technology providers, GSI Commerce has always been a little different, offering fulfilment services, customer service outsourcing and marketing services as well as an ecommerce platform.

Coming at a time when eBay is already trying to ingratiate itself with major high street and online retailers to offer them an additional outlet channel, the acquisition has some interesting potential consequences.

According to a report on the deal issued by investment bank Goldman Sachs, the acquisition will mostly help eBay to create a more holistic ecommerce proposition for existing retailers. The report says: ‘We view the strategic rationale for this transaction as primarily intended to enable eBay to better serve offline retailers selling online, mostly through GSI’s infrastructure and to a lesser extent eBay’s marketplaces. Most of GSI’s merchants already accept PayPal.’

Retail Systems Research managing partner Paula Rosenblum similarly thinks that the deal will help to endear eBay to major retailers. She says: “Adoption of GSI’s services model will give eBay more credibility with larger retailers, which is important.”

Rosenblum adds that for those retailers with their own branded product, better integration between the two could prove useful: “Adding eBay into the mix has the potential to create a more seamless transition from in-season to close-out product without a lot of physical product movement or process within the brand managers’ offices.”

It has been suggested that eBay hopes to take on Amazon with this deal. Whether or not the GSI Commerce deal proves compelling to retailers, it will need them on its side if such an ambition is to be realised.