eBay President and CEO Devin Wenig has been talking to eBay sellers and outlining his vision for the company at the eBay Open event in Las Vegas this week. He has said several interesting things at the event, including his belief that eBay could (and perhaps should) have as many as half a billion shoppers using the marketplace.
To put that into some sort of context: in the second quarter of 2018, eBay reached 172 million active users and now claims to have added 3 million in total. And, to mention Amazon (which Wenig apparently didn’t), it compares to Amazon’s 310 million.
So what does Wenig have in mind to bring in more buyers? He cites two specific areas. Improving the eBay platform and investing in marketing. He also apologised for site glitches that buyers and sellers had suffered this year calling them “unacceptable” and saying action had been taken internally.
I start and stop with the product and customer service. The first thing you do is build a great product, the first thing you do is service customers really well.
– Devin Wenig
On the marketing front, he promises big spending in the final quarter of 2018 and they’ll be targeting groups that they haven’t looked to before such as women and millennials. So we’ll see what he has in mind come the peak season.
Is half a billion eBay shoppers a realistic goal?
Wenig’s product approach and some more marketing don’t seem like quite enough to entirely reinvigorate and fully grow eBay to its possible potential. It sounds like stuff that should be happening anyway. But half a billion is possible.
There’s nothing wrong with a decent stretch target that is essentially an aspiration: it’s a good thing in business and life. And, of course, Wenig doesn’t apply a time limit on his aspirational goal either (which is fine).
There is plenty of scope for international growth. But that does also point to another of eBay’s particular weaknesses: it is overwhelmingly focussed on the ‘core’ business in North America and not quite so innovative when looking abroad. We’d welcome and celebrate a more international approach. (Efforts in eBay Australia have, however, been a flavour of what they could be doing in other geographies.)
And even more, it’s about being clear and passionate about what eBay is. It does offer something different: it’s interesting to note that the average visit duration on eBay is reportedly 50% longer than on Amazon. That’s something that can be capitalised on.
What do you reckon about Wenig’s aspiration?