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eBay earnings call – what to expect from eBay Interim CEO

By Chris Dawson January 27, 2020 - 12:08 pm

This Tuesday, the 28th of January, eBay will be reporting their full year earnings for the first time with Scott Schenkel as eBay Interim CEO. There are many changes going on at eBay and, apart from their financial results, it will be interesting to see if there are any further announcements as to the direction of the company in the future.

eBay Leadership changes

First up, there has to be a CEO appointed sooner or later. Could Scott Schenkel be in line to become the permanent eBay CEO or will an outsider step in to take the reins?

We’ve noticed many changes at the top table at eBay recently and it’s significant that Rob Hattrell, VP United Kingdom, has joined the ranks of the elite eBay management team. His picture and bio recently appeared on eBay’s Our Leaders page and since then his photo has already been replaced with a better one. It’s significant that Rob is the only eBay Country Manager that’s made it to the top table, with Eben Sermon, VP Central and Southern Europe, also on the page.

Still on the page is Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, SVP & President, StubHub which is interesting as the page is obviously being maintained and StubHub has been sold. We’re also unsure what the future holds for Alessandro Coppo, SVP, General Manager, eBay Classifieds Group as there may be announcements this quarter regarding Elliott Investor’s call for a sale of the Classifieds business to be considered.

eBay UK plans for 2020

Closer to home, it’s possible to glean an insight into the direction for eBay UK this year through their job ads.

eBay Payments

We know that eBay Payments will be coming to the UK very soon – within the next 18 months as eBay have stated they expect the rollout to be more or less complete by the end of 2021. eBay are now recruiting a Director of eBay UK Payments to run this business unit who will be responsible for ensuring the compliant running of the entity. We fully expect to hear an update on eBay Payments, either in the earnings call presentation itself or through follow up questions from investors.

eBay Category Managers

eBay are currently recruiting Category Managers and Assistant Category managers on an initial 12 month contract. (If you’re interested, they’re looking for someone with ‘Strong experience as a buyer, trader or merchandiser within an online retail environment’, so I’m guessing if you’re an experienced eBay trader that could qualify you?).

“You will define the category strategy and execute this through working with strategically important sellers, brands and retailers in your areas to ensure that eBay has the inventory to continue to grow this area. As a Category Manager in the trading team, you will be accountable for both the operational and commercial success of the brand and retailer portfolio and the wider category.”
– eBay Category Manager job description

eBay Retail Revival impact

As well as an obvious strong focus on individual categories, eBay are also looking to recruit a Seller Acquisition Manager, also on an initial 12 month contract. Far from thinking that everyone already sells on eBay, they are looking to attract businesses who haven’t yet adopted the platform and get them selling – a refreshing change from the recent influx of Chinese sellers that we’ve seen. This role looks very much like an extension of eBay Retail Revival which ran for 12 months in Wolverhampton – eBay have learned how to take businesses not selling on eBay and accelerate their learning curve so expect to see outreach in many more areas of the country in 2020 as they build a merchant recruitment team.

“We are currently seeking a Seller Acquisition Manager to join our team in Richmond, initially on a 12 month contract basis. The role is to acquire new merchants for eBay who are not yet trading on the platform. As a Seller Acquisition manager in the Business Development team, you will be accountable for both onboarding the merchant onto eBay and assisting them to grow in their first year of trading. Whilst leads will not have a pre-existing relationship with eBay, they will be selected to have compelling reasons to start selling on eBay.”
– Seller Acquisition Manager job description

What would you do if you were eBay Interim CEO?

There’s a lot going on at eBay and from everything we hear eBay UK is performing strongly compared to some of the other territories around the world – perhaps the reason Rob Hattrell is now firmly established as one of the world wide eBay leaders. We’ll be listening in on the call with particular interest in what’s going to impact you as sellers and will report back. In the mean time, do you like the changes in leadership and focus eBay have already revealed? If you were interim CEO what would you be focusing on?

  • 3 weeks ago

    If I were eBay Interim CEO, I would be on the phone to Bezos and ask for a job cleaning his car.

  • Dav
    3 weeks ago

    eBay earnings will be the usual smoke and mirrors. Fake numbers, more lies about all the so-called improvements they’ve made, etc. No tough questions from analysts as everything is pre-approved and prepared in advance. It’s all a total sham. Anyone that really believes all this BS eBay spews should know better. Next quarter, more of the same. Rinse and repeat over and over again.

  • Get rid of chinese sellers who are masquerading as uk based inventory sellers. and Get rid of fakes on the site.

    Offer the ability for sellers to guarantee next day delivery on items and simultaneously allow buyers to filter for the same. No prime membership required. Just fast express guaranteed next day delivery.

    Give the equivalent of insta blue ticks to sellers who are the elite no nonsense sellers on ebay.

    The above would be a start.

    If I offer any more advice I might as well apply for the CEO job.

  • Jay
    3 weeks ago

    To be frank, the place is a complete joke.

    GMV will be down (again) and if it’s not, then that’s a blatant cover up. Everyone we’ve spoken to tells us continuously that sales are down on the platform, due to a lack of visibility. Simply a lack of traffic to the platform is the underlying concern for most.

    Listings just don’t get the “views” that they used to. The algorithm is in it’s worst ever state and that certainly doesn’t help.

    Innovation is lacking terribly on the platform. For the last 2 yrs every implemented change has been nothing short of a “hot-fix” with no real attempt to improve the platform for either sellers or buyers whatsoever.

    eBay was already light years behind Amazon and has no chance of ever catching it. Certainly not with this leadership. There’s just no value proposition, any new seller joining the marketplace today will quickly learn that their efforts will not be rewarded in comparison to the size of the effort required to get online. Only an “inside job” from a so called “Seller Acquisition Manager” directing traffic to new sellers will keep them engaged in the platform.

    Honestly my opinion? If you’re a new seller and never sold on eBay before RUN FOR THE HILLS now. Do not waste your life investing in this innovation-less platform. Your time and money is better spent marketing your own website and building a strong customer base through your social media channels. YES, it’s harder (much harder) than what eBay seem to offer, but remember one thing… eBay customers are eBay customers, they’re never yours and eBay will do all that it can to ensure it stays that way.

    If you’re business relies on eBay then you’ve a flawed business model and you’re effectively employed by eBay without any of the benefits. It’s the same as being a self-employed courier. You’ll achieve nothing but spend more time working for less than minimum wage if you invest your time here.

    Source: more than a decade worth of experience serving hundreds of thousands of eBay customers, to ultimately achieve nothing.

  • Stuart
    3 weeks ago

    If you look at any failing retailer or the failed ones, it’s more than often because they haven’t had a clear direction to go in. New CEO or owner every couple of years. Amazon has a clear direction, I can’t say the same for ebay.

    My personal belief is it often overlooks the small to medium seller, it’s good to see the Wolverhampton project and I think that’s where it should focus. Big business can be great but if they decide to up and leave they can’t. Once a small business is reliant on ebay it can’t just shut up it’s shop. Plus small business normally offer great ranges of stock you can’t find elsewhere.

    Also agreed Chinese crap has to at least be demoted in search and only UK seller should have access to promote your listings.

  • Don
    3 weeks ago

    Shift strategic focus from squeezing out as much revenue where you can to actually improving the marketplace for both buyers and sellers. Treat both buyers and sellers as customers.

  • As an analyst covering eBay for many years i can tell you all:

    1) the conf call Qs are pre-scripted and come from analysts with conflicts of interest (like wanting the mandate to sell classifieds)

    2) EBAY mgmt is beholden to a Board which is led by Bain private equity guy and has been captured by Elliot for a 3% stake, so its about draining the cash out of the business not helping you sellers make a living

    3) they will make a lot of promises and also outline many excuses (Brexit, sluggish Eurozone, Corona, Internet sales tax in US, etc.) to explain why they continue to badly lag e-comm growth rates.

    will post my take on #s via Chris post the results

  • Mark
    3 weeks ago

    Stop increasing costs and fees to merchants.
    After all the platform takes your fees as a percentage.

    Which means if your costs go up for.
    Stock, postage, rent, fuel, rates, returns and anything else i may have missed it means we have to put our prices up and economics says that means their money increases without having to add to our fees which then add another increase to items adding more to their fees and in turn making them lose out to cheaper platforms.

    Just like the idiot Lib Dem on the news in Hull Last night asking the government to give every person living in Hull £100 per week regardless of income which he says would help local businesses as well as the individual.

    Does he not realise that giving more money means landlords increase rent and shops increase prices.

    The world is full of idiots.

  • Paul S
    3 weeks ago

    It’s all too late, the supertanker is already half submerged. The new captain will join for a shed-load of cash because they’ve got nothing better to do apart from watch daytime TV, they’ll keep their life-jacket on and their CV circulating. No one can save Ebay.

    Now where’s my TV remote?…………….. I want to watch the dead parrot sketch again.

  • 3 weeks ago

    Here’s a rough outline of some of the marketplace-geared coverage we’d hope to get updates on beyond mentioned above and the core financials:

    GMV ACCELERATION PLAN OF ACTION
    -Particularly US market

    PAYMENTS
    -Last Q on eBay payments Schenkel remarked, “Look, sellers love a simpler -experience…I mean, what’s not to like?”
    A: Payments tech issues and glitches (PayPal in particular)
    A: Hidden money-grab per-listing fees for multi-listing purchases (particularly hits sellers with multiple listings of lower-value items)

    -Buyers being bounced to-and-fro from eBay to PayPal ostensibly in a hot-potato game of who’s going to own the resolution and support costs.

    INNOVATION & AGILITY
    -Plan to prevent having categories cut out from under eBay, like musical instruments (Reverb, now owned by Etsy) and the booming sneaker market (with $1bn GMV largely taken from eBay by StockX, now helmed by ex-eBayer Cutler).

    -Q4 missteps with the botched item specific updates in the Clothing, Shoes, and accessories category no-doubt gave a big lift to Poshmark, in particular)

    COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS
    – DHS in US is today set to release a report outlining its immediate actions and longer-term goals for enlisting ecommerce players to combat counterfeit products(!)
    – This could be very good news for both buyers and sellers, but with revenue implications, perhaps not so much for other stakeholders.

    FRAUD & ABUSE
    -X-ref with the US administration’s demand to clean-up marketplaces (eBay and Amazon have been explicitly called-out, repeatedly by US administration officials).
    -Kobe Bryant – Kobe’s tragic death has resulted in eBay’s marketplace being flooded with an influx of counterfeit Kobe-autographed items, for example.
    -Kobe GMV boost – Kobe’s tragedy (sadly) will also boost eBay’s GMV this quarter (keep in mind for next Q, and Q1 2020 a-la “Fidget Spinner”)

    CHINA EXPOSURE
    -CoronaVirus
    -X-ref Counterfeit Products
    -Tarrifs
    -eBay’s massive investments in China seller-partners (which gets no journo coverage in US)

    MARKETING OPTIMIZATION
    -Growing buyer-base how? (will eBay announce another 4% growth?)
    -Is there a strategy beyond Retail Revival?
    -Social. E.g., BI just published a piece last week touting Walmart’s success with TikTok “luring a new generation of Gen Z shoppers.
    eBay doesn’t even have a TikTok account).
    – Leadership refresh?

    CATALOG
    -Unstructured data
    -Botched Q4 “Item Specifics” update
    -Sellers’ pain-point in time-cost & friction for listing items with recent updates (like filling out a massive form) compared to Poshmark’s simple/quick listing flow (CTA categories)

    BUYER & SELLER PAIN-POINTS
    -Analysts generally appear unaware of eBay’s chronic technical missteps and “glitches’ which underpin many of the root-issues impacting eBay’s shrinking growth vs. peers and negative user experience (the only one we know of is Arete research, and apparently eBay’s unwilling to take their tough questions).

    PROMOTED LISTINGS
    -Investors and analysts are also largely not going to be familiar with the in-the-weeds issues sellers faced with eBay’s recent botched PL changes, including the either/or promoted/organic, nor the resulting problems with ad-blockers.

    Usability & CX
    – Platform technical issues persist (the one’s former CEO Wenig exclaimed as ‘Unacceptable!” in the 2018 eBay Open conference.
    Payments-related issues
    Seller & Buyer User experience

    MANAGED DELIVERY
    US INTERNET SALES TAX

  • Jonah
    3 weeks ago

    eBay what a farce, yesterday’s newspaper in the local chip shop bin. A lesson in self induced death by a thousand cuts, rudderless management and clueless short term money grabbing schemes. A very dangerous place for sellers with next to no support and no seller protection.

  • NorthCrystal
    3 weeks ago

    That it?!? Are those all the features eBay want to “implement” this year? They need to do 100x more if they want to catch up the game and continue doing it for few years. Then they might even level up with their “inspiration” called Amzn.

  • BFT
    3 weeks ago

    So eBay are looking for a “Seller Acquisition Manager”. That’s a great way to spread the very thin customer base even further – that means most sellers will sell less.
    What about a “Buyer Acquisition Manager”. That is what I pay my exorbitant fees for – eBay to bring buyers to my shop, not bring in more competition (especially the Chinese fake pedlars). Another fail, nail in the coffin, overloaded camel etc.

  • Kurt
    3 weeks ago

    Keep those useful observations/opinions coming. Much appreciated.

  • james
    3 weeks ago

    “What would you do if you were eBay Interim CEO?”
    That is an interesting question.
    First thoughts are to do X, Y and Z to try and save the platform.
    second thoughts are, it’s all just too late.
    In reality, i’d probably spend my time as CEO looking for some chump to buy this sinking ship so i can cash out asap.
    The soul departed ebay years ago, they’re just covering the corpse with make-up and doing all they can to hide the fact at this point.

  • Jay
    3 weeks ago

    We might only be a handful of sellers just here, but we can’t all be wrong surely?

    Neither any of us have ever met, or even spoken with one another, yet we all share the same opinion of eBay.

    There’s thousands more comments from sellers in their troves if you just look practically ANYWHERE on the internet where the word “eBay” is mentioned and a comment box follows.

    So how can thousands of people from around the world, whom have never met, never once spoken or discussed anything with each other, all share the same opinion?

    We Can’t all be wrong eBay. Time to wake up or pack up.

  • 1 week ago

    That’s a hell of a bonus for doing nothing to improve sales.

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