After 20 years of disruption, what next for eBay?

By David Brackin April 20, 2016 - 1:14 pm

David-BrackinDavid Brackin is a regular contributor to Tamebay and is the co-founder of Stuff U Sell. He has sold over 250,000 different items on eBay.

He was at the ChannelAdvisor Catalyst Connect event today and reports on the talk by Andy Lippert from eBay Europe

After 20 years of disruption, what next?

Andy Lippert is the Senior Director of the eBay Seller Growth TeamAndy Lippert is the Senior Director of the eBay Seller Growth Team, eBay Europe and he flew in to speak to the Catalyst audience today. He sees the development of eBay over the past 20 years as being two steps of disrupton — first a move into allowing direct commerce between buyers and seller ans then tearing down international barriers and technology barriers to go global and mobile. Andy reflects that now eBay is no longer the start-up. It is no longer quick and agile, and with $83bn of GMV from 25m active sellers – it has become more at risk of now being the disrupted rather than disrupter.

So how will it stay ahead of those who would snap at its heels?

Andy’s vision for eBay is to become the world’s leading virtual mall — to move from merely presenting sellers to buyers to also allow brands to present themselves in a consistent global manner. He would like online sales to be a consistent seller experience with the traditional bricks and mortar stores, and he thinks that data can be much better used across all the channels — for example the “Authorised Seller” program which allows brands such as Bosch to take more control over the sales of their items.

Perhaps most excitingly, Andy said that the drive for eBay’s in this is to gather together the world’s biggest collection of unique inventory (across a spectrum of value — used, refurbished, new etc) — he would like buyers to say that eBay made it “simple and fair for me to find the item I wanted”.

While the idea of brands taking more power from the retailers may be met with many readers with some scepticism, this last statement is something which should interest everyone engaged with the channel — it sounds like it’s a real vision coming from eBay about what they stand for. And ultimately it is having a clear North Star to have the organisation head for which prevents large businesses from becoming themselves disrupted.

Do you agree? Has Andy got it right? Or should eBay be securing its leading position in other ways?

  • Steve
    1 year ago

    eBay need to step back and look at what created the growth before it started to stagnate and concentrate on that area been everything to everyone will not work eBay’s USP has always been its ability for small and private buyers and sellers to trade in recent years eBay’s has implemented changes that work against the very thing that makes eBay its USP.

    This latest idea “Authorised Seller” is another one that will alienate the small seller how long before the only ones allowed to sell the “Authorised Seller” brand is the “Authorised Sellers”

    I hope that all these “Authorised Sellers also spend their PayPal money on eBay like the small sellers eBay is alienating its another nail in eBay’s coffin from a management team with no vision running around like headless chickens doing everything that the core users of the site don’t want.

  • Andy R
    1 year ago

    How about making it “simple and fair” for sellers to sell on Ebay?

    Eh? Eh?

    More goobledegook techno-jargon.

    The site is never bug free any more, why not fix that instead of more nonsense?


  • DS2987
    1 year ago

    This is exactly the problem with eBay, too many ‘visions’ from corporate individuals all wanting to be right.

    I read last year ”Devin Wenig, eBay’s incoming CEO and the company’s current marketplaces president, has outlined plans to refocus the San Jose, California-based retailer on its roots, getting back to its core customers and mom-and-pop sellers that have traditionally come to eBay to exchange unique and hard-to-find items”.

    It seemed there was a move away from large retailers and big brands in favour of small business sellers with unique or hard to find items, that was of course until the new vision came along…

    One thing to say about Amazon it has been run by the same guy for a long time with the same determined vision (regardless of how unrealistic that vision may be).

    Face it eBay you are lost!

    • Dave P
      1 year ago

      I agree with you. It seems very strange to hear an ebay exec suddenly turn around and go on about big brands etc when there seemed to be a clear and consistent message from Wenig and co that there was a refocus on smaller sellers.
      Catalyst tends to attract bigger retailers and brands so perhaps it was just a case of tailoring the talk to the audience. Even if ebay are focusing on the smaller sellers more, I doubt that means they want to completely ignore the big brands.

    • Martin
      1 year ago

      Exactly, first thing that struck me was how inconsistent this was with Devin Wenig’s message.

      Weren’t we being encouraged at some stage to register our objections to brands banning/controlling Ebay sales, and now there seems to be a suggestion of the exact opposite. Besides which, is it even legal? I thought the whole point of competition legislation was that brands can’t enforce their will on retail channels.

    • Lynn
      1 year ago

      Do these eBay execs ever communicate with one another? Does the left hand ever know what the right hand is doing? They need to have a meeting, decide once and for all exactly what direction they are going to take. One day they’re going back to their roots and focusing on unique, hard to find merchandise offered by small sellers, the next day they’re back to wooing the big brands. It’s an absolute shambles and unless they make a decision as to where they’re going and stick to it, it will just get worse until they completely self-destruct.

    1 year ago

    DETACHED rather than disrupted

  • Ian A
    1 year ago

    ‘Virtual mall ‘ ‘brands’
    This sounds like a step back to the JD vision of large retailers away from what wenig said about mom and pop sellers

    It’s really very simple. They need to improve the search so it’s organic not manipulated badly by Cassini, the seo with Google and connect more buyers with sellers.
    They need to make it a simple safe place to do business easily and stop interfering with sellers ratings and policies. Trust sellers to run their businesses and make sure they register properly to weed out the scammers and vat evaders.

    Whatever they do they need a clear vision and they need to stick to it or the sales decline continues. The message boards are quite ugly at the moment with many businesses saying its drying up on eBay. Though this could be a reflection of retail sales generally.

  • Roger C
    1 year ago

    I am a small seller on eBay who has converted traditional auctioneering into using eBay as one of my few means of on-line trading for my small business. I realise that makes me “small fry” if not a “square peg in a round hole” compared to many selling on eBay today. I am though an example of the Seller/Buyer that build eBay’s business for them.

    What do I make of the report? Words, simply fancy words with nothing in there for me at all.

    Just let me know eBay if you’re going to continue as an “auction web-site”? That’s all I need answering.

  • Sam O'levski
    1 year ago

    Not so sure I find it exciting that ebay want to make it ‘simple and fair’ for buyers to find stuff – ‘simple’ could be interpreted as meaning only those items correctly and precisely identified by the seller being shown at the top of searches, so the buyer doesn’t have to browse through similar things which they might otherwise have been tempted by.
    ‘Fair’ could mean that it’s made as easy as possible for a buyer to find the cheapest item, so ensuring the average seller gets as little as possible in return, due to an increasing amount of sellers trying to undercut any competitors.
    Surely ‘unique inventory’ has to also mean misdescribed little treasures appearing here and there, so that every now and then buyers get a genuine bargain, which will keep them hooked for far longer than a quick trip to a virtual mall with identical items having identical descriptions and priced within a penny of each other ?

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