The impressive next generation of eBay’s Marketplace management

By Chris Dawson October 17, 2012 - 7:23 am

You’ll hopefully have read my reports of the many eBay updates that are coming to the site in the coming months. They’ve been reported widely on Tamebay and elsewhere. But the changes we’ll see to the site shortly are only part of a story I witnessed when I was in New York last week at the “New eBay” launch.

I think you had to be there on the ground to fully understand the nature of the change that is going on at eBay right now. As far as I can see, not a lot has been said about the change in corporate culture, and the change in momentum at eBay, that accompanies the site updates.

I’ve been watching eBay for a long time and remember the old days of Meg Whitman and Bill Cobb and others like the late Rajiv Dutta, Dinesh Lathi and Lorrie Norrington. Then John Donahoe came along and soon pretty much every familiar face was gone from the top table. But it’s difficult to remember who replaced them.

But eBay also lost a great deal of the magic and fun that had attracted me to the site in the first place. Yes, I was there to make money but there was a community spirit and a camaraderie that was diminished by the concentration on bigger retailers and the relentless focus on fixed price. I for one missed the ‘golden years’ when people turned up in their 1000s for eBay Live!

John Donahoe remains an enigma to me. But in New York I was excited to meet the new generation of eBay Marketplaces executives who are now in charge of running eBay. Interestingly, they’re all relatively new to the business.

Devin Wenig, the eBay marketplaces President, has only been with eBay for a year. Richelle Parham, Chief Marketing Officer, has been with eBay for two years. Mark Carges, Chief Technology Officer, is one of the longer serving hands, having joined eBay in 2008.

Others are even newer to eBay and still fresh from a start up culture are not afraid to do things differently. Jack Abraham founded Milo in 2008, sold it to eBay in 2010, and invented the new eBay Feed over the past few months. He’s definitely a talent to watch.

But being fresh faced isn’t in itself enough. These guys are also buzzing with ideas. All of them clearly come with genuine enthusiasm, different perspectives and radical ideas. It was refreshing to meet people who are really excited about what eBay can be.

Most importantly, whilst they want to push eBay forward they also seem to recognise that eBay has roots reaching back all the way to 1995. They seem to recognise that eBay has lost its way over the past five years and want to correct the course. But equally, the new eBay they want to build is going to be very different to what we’ve seen before.

eBay Marketplaces felt to me like a young vibrant company again, freed from the shackles of a corporate monolith governed by fusty managers worrying about share prices and group performance.

This new team is concentrating first and foremost on buyers. The buying experience needs to be exciting and addictive if eBay and its sellers are to really thrive. And auctions are back (if you don’t believe me, check your eBay Feed). Unique inventory is back too. Discovering that coveted one-off item will be easier than ever before and eBay will be more personal starting right on the home page.

Lots of sellers I know will be cautious about eBay changing. But it has to. And having met the people who will be leading the charge, I feel very confident for eBay’s future.

  • Glenn
    5 years ago

    The changes all sound very exciting and I’m sure, indeed I hope that things improve dramatically. However I and other sellers have jumped through so many hoops over the last few years that I am tired of eBay.

    I don’t doubt that there are many sellers making a decent, good or very good living from eBay and I wish them luck, but for me it’s all a bit too late. As soon as Christmas has come and gone I’m off. Going to try and clear some old stock at rock bottom prices and then close shop.

    I have heard all the arguments about selling on multiple channels, I have even supported this argument, but eBay has just about worn me down. I have so many tales of poor CS, rip off buyers and anonymous vindictive low DSR’s by competitors looking to sabotage my TSR status that I have had enough.

    Placing all our eggs in one basket ‘Amazon’ might be a risky decision and I may well regret it down the line. Amazon is far from perfect and I have encountered some problems, but when comparing against eBay they are few and far between.
    So good luck eBay and eBay sellers – I wish you well.

    I know that the closure of our small shop wont even be noticed and therein lies the crux of the problem – small sellers aren’t noticed or considered and eBay doesn’t give a fig about us.

  • rick
    5 years ago

    we turn over around 500.000 thousand a year on ebay, we think this deserves better than being treat as naughty children bothering mummy by ebay support, this is our only real problem with ebay

    • T Hughes
      5 years ago

      hahaaa have to agree with that statment:

      “we turn over around 500.000 thousand a year on ebay, we think this deserves better than being treat as naughty children bothering mummy by ebay support, this is our only real problem with ebay”

      Same here turning over 1,000,000+ and still get treated like children

  • 5 years ago

    There is a great deal of distance between the Exciting Ideas and Developments at the top and the reality of what is actually happening at the sharp end. In my case I have been sat on and sat on again by ebay CS because I was the innocent victim of a Postal Fraud. Yet that happened in May 2012 and here I still am being sat on by ebay so called CS. I was the INNOCENT victim. I wonder what if anything was done to the Guilty Party who had the Books that he ordered but still said that he had not and demanded his money back and then left foul Feedback and DSR’s. My guess is that nothing happened to him. Yet ebay is still putting me on Trial and Finding me Guilty and Punishing Me.

    So to me all the Wonderful Ideas coming out of ebay at the higher levels means nothing because the reality is very differant.

    So I again call upon somebody in ebay to examine just what has happened and is continuing to happen to me. If I was a criminal and was caught by the Police and put on Trial I would essentially be tried once. I would be sentenced once and serve my sentence. Yet ebay has tried me numerous times and sentenced me on numerous occassions and I was the INNOCENT VICTIM. I want to get it sorted out but all CS do is send me meaningless standard emails that have little or nothing to do with the problem.

    So yes lets see a wonderful future but it has to arrive. For me it is just smoke and mirrors. The reality is very differant.

  • rick
    5 years ago

    we get had over at least once a week,! you just need to win more than you lose, thats why many sellers have the attitude they have

  • Carl
    5 years ago

    Amazon have been overtaking eBay for a while now. It is exciting to see eBay finally fighting back.

  • 5 years ago

    Hi Glen, Chris & Nick
    Thanks for teh comments above.
    We have been listening to sellers and that’s why we launched this week the ability to report unreasonable or abusive buyers.

    I hope this goes some way to increasing your trust in eBay as a place to sell. Please keep selling we do appreciate your business.

    Patrick Munden
    Head of Seller Communications

    • rick
      5 years ago

      sorry Patrick
      we have no confidence in this program, what so ever
      we see no tangible evidence or even any future prospect of tangible evidence,of any benefit to sellers,
      as far as we are concerned nothings changed,
      only today a USA buyer has made an item not received complaint with a complete fabrication , only 10 days after they paid ,
      our money instantly froze by ebay without any input from us

    • Patricia013
      5 years ago

      Patrick – is this yet another one of those “we’ll track the buyer’s patterns” nonsense? Its to the point now where I won’t list anything of real value on Ebay because of the charlatan buyers! I can’t afford to get “stung” for a lot of money. I’ve been selling on Ebay 14 years and its pretty hard to convince me Ebay is listening! At least in the old days – we could report these people and usually by the 4th report these buyers were gone…as it should be. You can’t gain revenue or reputation from charlatan buyers!

    • JonW
      5 years ago

      Hi Patrick,

      ebay should have acted on the problem buyers it has created long before now. The patterns of unreasonable buyer behaviour are there to see in feedback left for others, refunds received and messages sent. Ebay should not need sellers to report these matters!! Sellers now have to deal with the obvious scammers and the ebay resolution center gamers who think getting a bit of a refund is part of ebay.

  • rick
    5 years ago

    We have been listening to sellers

    sorry I need convincing, ebay listens only to its pocket book

    • Patricia013
      5 years ago

      Not even to its pocketbook I’m afraid…else it would never have just turned away from what made it so wildly popular in the first place in order to become just another online catalog store like so many others!

  • Greg
    5 years ago

    Ebay actually seems to be truly operated by Chinese government officials and corporate executives…these officials and executives are the unseen face behind the junk product corporations that Ebay gives prime search spots too…and there is no doubt in my mind these Chinese officials and execs are heavily invested in stock. In terms of market share and stock price Ebay is beyond pathetic compared to Amazon and smells of a situation where a few insiders are milking what there is to milk out of a dying brand name in the few years leading up to Amazon taking basically the entire market. The revolving door of people posing as Ebay management figures and the site makeover can’t change the fact that Donahoe and his Communist Chinese cohorts have been purposely destroying this site for half a decade….and getting overpaid to do it. They all know that the minute Visa introduces its Paypal competitor, Ebay is finished.

    • 5 years ago

      This is my front runner for the most amusing comment ever left on Tamebay. :o)

  • Patricia013
    5 years ago

    The new people better concentrate on “traffic” because without it all their fancy new ideas will be worthless! From what I see there is still a place for small sellers of unique and vintage items…if not, Ebay best say so instead of just allowing them to become so disillusioned they leave for other venues! I don’t see Ebay being “magic” or “fun” anymore and it certainly doesn’t have the spirit of the Ebay I saw at Ebay Live, New Orleans 2004. Those days are gone and what is emerging (sorry folks) is ho-hum, run of the mill and stale. Its the reason why I go to Amazon first and foremost and Ebay as an afterthought!

  • Rich
    5 years ago

    The last major batch of changes on ebay really helped me grow my business I must admit, but too often like many posters I find myself on the defensive dealing with truly awful buyers lately.
    It’s good that ebay is moving forward, and I think at the least the new report a buyer process will act as a sort of scarecrow. My plan was to reduce profit margins, which would be good to ebay, my customers and possibly me too, but I can’t do that really because of the problems: it’s really as simple as that to my mind, just protect us, I don’t need all the fancy stuff.

  • Glenn
    5 years ago

    Having read the various comments on this feature it appears that the only people who are excited about the changes are eBay.

    With all the various changes over the years, eBay should at this stage be a robust, safe, secure and easy to operate selling platform – it isn’t!
    Perhaps new sellers coming to eBay might appreciate and benefit from all these changes, but as a business seller I take the view that it’s not a good business to be part of. I sell to make money, that’s my business and if I was making lots of money I would jump through all the hoops eBay thinks up, but the profit from trading on eBay isn’t worth the hassle.

    Put the profit back with sellers and I for one would stay.

    eBay – Annual increase of Gross profit approx 2 -3 % pa + Frequent grief = Business just about keeping up with inflation

    Amazon – Annual increase of Gross profit approx 10 -15% pa + infrequent grief = Business Growth

    • Rich
      5 years ago

      It’s a very thought provoking posting. Ebay is the only option for me as I am operating outside UK. It is profitable, but even then stress is stress, and I’m wondering how I can grow when so much of my time is taken over with problem customers, some of whom haven’t even paid!! and they can still hold sway over me. I think for ebay it eally is about priorities and sorting about a few basic issues to do with buyers.
      It must be noted they are trying to do that it seems, so perhaps much of the criticism is too much.
      It’s a bit of a shame Glenn has to close his account, I’d think twice, maybe just maintain a skeleton presence.

    • Glenn
      5 years ago

      I will be keeping a watching brief on eBay in order to remain competitive on Amazon, and will be selling the odd collectable now and again, which is where I think eBay beats Amazon, but otherwise its unlikely that I will business selling on eBay.

  • rick
    5 years ago

    90% of our sales used to be with ebay its now more like 60%
    things are turning full circle the increase in ebay fees and the extra postal costs coupled with more realistic retail rent and terms, has made our bricks & mortar outlet more viable

  • Jim
    5 years ago

    They want to exapnd ????

    Bring back Checks and Money Orders as payment options. Then I’ll be back selling on eBay.

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