eBay: Reflections on meeting Jordan Sweetnam

Dan and Jordan ebayA few weeks back I travelled to the USA for work and pleasure. Not only did I finally finish my year-long Shakespeare Quest but I managed to drop by San Jose, California. That’s where eBay HQ is based.

It was great to sit down and talk with Jordan Sweetnam, who’s VP of the Seller Experience. He was tasked to take over the job by CEO Devin Wenig late in 2014. He’s something of an eBay veteran despite his relative youth having started at eBay Canada and then heading to SJC.

We’ve got some audio that I recorded as we had a chat and we’ll publish that soon and also there’s plenty of stuff in the pipeline, including another seller release coming early next year. And we’ll obviously be reporting that.

But I thought it might be good to report some personal impressions of the time I spent with him which I hope will be useful.

Everything’s under consideration

Obviously, the first major tranche of reforms coming under Jordan’s tenure lie with changes to seller standards and also the new Seller Hub that has already launched in the US. He’s currently monitoring the Seller Hub and how it’s used with the opt-in users and they’re working to incorporate seller feedback and data they garner as sellers use it.

The Seller Hub is coming to the UK in 2016. He also made it clear that the whole suite of what eBay offers sellers is under review. I commented that one feature ripe for improvement was Turbo Lister. He said that one thing sellers said to him was cautioning him not to take it away because of the things it helps sellers do. So he’s juggling competing demands there. And that’s just one example.

It won’t be easy and it’s going to take some time

Don’t expect radical and immediate change because there’s a lot of things that need attention and he’s looking at a timescale of years not weeks but he is confident they are making good progress. This is a realistic approach when you consider the scale of eBay.

He knows eBay needs to win back trust

Jordan was candid when discussing some of the changes over recent years and how eBay had not always carried sellers with it and, indeed, done some things that had a detrimental impact on some sellers. And with that had come some justifiable suspicion. He considers one of his jobs to be revitalising trust between eBay and sellers and becoming much more of an enabler and partner in the future.

I think my overarching impression of the conversation we had was that Jordan clearly gets it. He has had extensive contact with sellers over the years and relishes that and is keen to keep getting out there to meet more sellers. (I extended an invitation to him to come to the UK and meet Tamebay readers which I hope he’ll take up.)

It’s worth noting that there have been some “stuffed shirts” at eBay’s top table in the recent past who weren’t naturally eBay-types and who treated it as just another corporate job in a career.

But I did not get that impression from Jordan. I was heartened by his sincerity, knowledge and enthusiasm and came away optimistic but the proof (as ever) will be in the results. So we’ll see. I suspect that the eBay Spring Seller release may be a major watershed.