eBay announced on the day that they separated from PayPal that they are to acquire 2nd hand clothing consignment retailer, Twice.
The vision at Twice was to make selling as easy as shopping, and to make buying used feel like buying new.
How does the acquisition fit with eBay’s core strategy?
Talking of the PayPal spin off and taking over the reins at eBay as CEO, Devin Wenig laid out three core planks in his strategy for the newly single eBay marketplaces company:
A more robust commerce platform
eBay are using structured data to improve discoverability and user experience; grow and diversify their traffic sources; and invest in the reliability, security and stability of their platform
A vibrant marketplace
eBay are bringing unique inventory across a great spectrum of value to engage new and existing buyers. And they are laser focused on attracting sellers who will bring this inventory to their site.
Elevated product and brand experiences
eBay are creating beautiful, accessible and simplified multi-screen buying and selling experiences. Many of their new mobile experiences, such as their iPad and Apple Watch apps, show the path to come.
Devin has wasted no time stamping his mark on the new company with the Twice acquisition. Twice will close down by the end of the month (and if you’re a customer are holding a 30% off sale to clear their remaining inventory).
As a consignment business, Twice aligns nicely with what eBay once called a Trading Assistant, although that program closed in the US and has been replaced by eBay Valet.
How eBay will use the technology from Twice
eBay will be able to use some of the technology developed at Twice and integrate it into their broader assisted selling efforts. The technical leadership and engineering team from Twice will be joining eBay to help power eBay Valet.
One of the things I’ve heard from many people of late is that it’s simply too much like hard work to list and sell on eBay as a consumer. Even Dan has muttered the odd complaint at how many boxes there are to tick and Item Specifics to check off just to sell a fairly mundane item. That’s why businesses like David Brackin at StuffUSell is so successful as Trading Assistants make life easy for people with great inventory to sell but no desire to do it themselves (yes Trading Assistants still exist in the UK and consignment sellers still exist in the US even though the program was ended).
eBay Valet is the program where take your items to a drop-off center or mail them in with pre-paid shipping, let eBay Valets take care of listing and selling your goods on eBay and then get up to 80% of the sale price if your items are sold.
eBay Valet is pretty much exactly what Twice have been doing, except on their own platform. Now they’re part of the eBay family and one day Twice technology could spell the end of consumer selling on eBay for many. Why bother with all the hard work of listing, questions from buyers, feedback woes and potential chargebacks when you can let eBay do everything for you?
eBay’s richer without PayPal
Watch out for many more strategic acquisitions from eBay. Whilst it’s less than half the company it was last week, don’t forget that eBay is a highly profitable business generating something like $2.1billion in cash each year. Not only that but they’ve no longer got PayPal to swallow up all the investment money so there’s going to be a lot to share between investors, acquisition and growing the marketplace.