Various blogs, TameBay included, and eBay message boards have been buzzing today with the suggestion that eBay wanted to shed “commodity” books and DVD listings. It seems, however, that this was playing Chinese Whispers with what Meg Whitman actually said: here’s my transcript of part of the actual speech:
However, the growth rate of overall listings and therefore GMV are not what we want them to be in the US and Germany. So let me spend a minute addressing the factors we think are specifically contributing to the growth rate in these two countries. First, as we told you last year, we continue to focus heavily on improving the buyer experience, by advantaging our auction listings and discouraging lower quality, poorly priced listings. This is absolutely having the desired effect of a cleaner site. However, as expected, this is putting some pressure on our listings and GMV growth in the US and Germany. But we still think this initiative will continue to substantially improve the buyer experience.
Also in line with the evolution of the internet and the changing environment around trust and safety, we have agressively stepped up our efforts around the identification and removal of bad sellers, with a variety of new measures. Some of these initiatives are impacting on GMV growth, but based on feedback we have heard from our buyers and rights owners alike, they are having an overall positive effect on the health of the marketplace.
In order to accelerate growth, we will continue to improve the user experience on eBay sites around the world, with state of the art search technology, especially around product based search and improved search relevence. And we will continue to advance our trust and safety efforts to make our sites the safest places on the internet to conduct business. I’m confident that we’ve identified the areas we need to focus on to reaccelerate growth in the US and Germany, but this won’t be achieved overnight and I believe we’ve put the right teams and the right strategies in place to make this work. Looking beyond the US and Germany, eBay around the world continues to be an impressive story.
In Europe, the UK showed strong growth in its acquisition of new users, hosting a 26% increase in the number of registered users from the previous year. France and Italy continue to be success stories in their own right, with very strong growth, while marketplace Belgium and Spain continue to drive high awareness rates and even higher user acquisition and activity metrics.
Though the technology categories were singled out for special praise in the Q&A section after the call, no specific categories were mentioned as problematic, only “lower quality, poorly priced listings”.
I think this is yet again going back to the changes to SIF pricings last year, and perhaps the ongoing move away from reserve prices too. In a question asking for her reaction to the news that fixed price goods now make up 39% of eBay GMV, Meg said that the fun of auctions and the convenience of the shopping experience can both be combined on the eBay site: I’m not hearing that there’s a crusade against any particular group of sellers, simply against overpriced goods that don’t sell.