eBay: Reflections on meeting Jordan Sweetnam

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Dan and Jordan ebayA few weeks back I travelled to the USA for work and pleasure. Not only did I finally finish my year-long Shakespeare Quest but I managed to drop by San Jose, California. That’s where eBay HQ is based.

It was great to sit down and talk with Jordan Sweetnam, who’s VP of the Seller Experience. He was tasked to take over the job by CEO Devin Wenig late in 2014. He’s something of an eBay veteran despite his relative youth having started at eBay Canada and then heading to SJC.

We’ve got some audio that I recorded as we had a chat and we’ll publish that soon and also there’s plenty of stuff in the pipeline, including another seller release coming early next year. And we’ll obviously be reporting that.

But I thought it might be good to report some personal impressions of the time I spent with him which I hope will be useful.

Everything’s under consideration

Obviously, the first major tranche of reforms coming under Jordan’s tenure lie with changes to seller standards and also the new Seller Hub that has already launched in the US. He’s currently monitoring the Seller Hub and how it’s used with the opt-in users and they’re working to incorporate seller feedback and data they garner as sellers use it.

The Seller Hub is coming to the UK in 2016. He also made it clear that the whole suite of what eBay offers sellers is under review. I commented that one feature ripe for improvement was Turbo Lister. He said that one thing sellers said to him was cautioning him not to take it away because of the things it helps sellers do. So he’s juggling competing demands there. And that’s just one example.

It won’t be easy and it’s going to take some time

Don’t expect radical and immediate change because there’s a lot of things that need attention and he’s looking at a timescale of years not weeks but he is confident they are making good progress. This is a realistic approach when you consider the scale of eBay.

He knows eBay needs to win back trust

Jordan was candid when discussing some of the changes over recent years and how eBay had not always carried sellers with it and, indeed, done some things that had a detrimental impact on some sellers. And with that had come some justifiable suspicion. He considers one of his jobs to be revitalising trust between eBay and sellers and becoming much more of an enabler and partner in the future.

I think my overarching impression of the conversation we had was that Jordan clearly gets it. He has had extensive contact with sellers over the years and relishes that and is keen to keep getting out there to meet more sellers. (I extended an invitation to him to come to the UK and meet Tamebay readers which I hope he’ll take up.)

It’s worth noting that there have been some “stuffed shirts” at eBay’s top table in the recent past who weren’t naturally eBay-types and who treated it as just another corporate job in a career.

But I did not get that impression from Jordan. I was heartened by his sincerity, knowledge and enthusiasm and came away optimistic but the proof (as ever) will be in the results. So we’ll see. I suspect that the eBay Spring Seller release may be a major watershed.

13 Responses

  1. Best part of 20 years we have been selling on ebay and its the the same old same old, ebay do whats good for ebay its that simple,

  2. One big thing he could do is change customer supports ethos of being troops in the trenches and the first line of defense ,into actually giving some help & support to sellers rather than treating them as the enemy or trying to send them into a stupor with reams & reams of waffle and bolllocks when they respond

  3. though to be honest we dont care how they present the ebay seller experience as long as we are actually selling not spending our lives jumping thru hoops and ticking boxes

  4. ONE of the first things eBay need to do and do now is STOP HIDING PEOPLES LISTINGS and STOP LIMITING SALES to sellers who ARE providing a decent service.

    How can anyone build a stable business when their host is limiting the growth of their business and hiding there items?

    This is why so many sellers are going to social media and there own websites. You won’t get these people back.

    When an eBay employee released this on the US forums, you deleted it. That says it all really and made me and a LOT of other sellers lose trust in eBay forever.

    Even today, I won’t buy on eBay because, if i find an item, how do I not know there is another seller who has it cheaper? but your not showing that seller to me and I cannot find them, but maybe tomorrow you will show them to me?. Leaves a bad taste with buyers also and this is mentioned a lot on eBay reviews and Facebook.

  5. Sadly we have heard it before.

    eBay is institutionally unable to work with sellers as it sees itself as critical to the transaction rather than as a platform.

    If they stopped interfering and concentrated on providing a stable, well marketed and functional platform, we would be happy. Very happy. Until then we will have to tolerate their fiddling.

    In a way I feel sorry for them as they have sold the diamond in their portfolio, PayPal. They are now struggling for a strategy.

  6. I call BS.

    1) If you look at Jordan’s resume – he has ZERO real world experience in big box stores/wholesale/retail/mail order/ecommerce.

    If putting him in charge of anything – except restocking the soda machines – makes anyone feel that eBay is going “in the right direction” …. “you’ve got another thing comming”.

    2) He may be looking at it in years or months, but theres no reason that ANY change cant be done ASAP. Jordan (the man with no experience) … how about making changes BEFORE the holiday not after so that people can profit from those changes.

    3) Jordan didnt mention the obvious “white elephant” in the room – eBays adversarial relationship with its sellers. Why are they always trying to blame sellers for things they cant control ? To make things worse, when ever theres an issue, eBay cuts and runs. eBay no longer even stands behind sellers when other sellers steal your listing pictures, never mind trying to get a fair shake in other complicated areas like returns fraud.

    4) As for time itself … ? When theres a “VERO” issue, eBay jumps to it IMMEDIATELY. There’s no months or years when it comes to eBay possibly having an issue. But …. its ok when its on the sellers dime.

    5) The list of issues that eBay needs to fix (to become relevant again) is SO LONG, that there isnt enough bandwidth to list them all. However most can be summed up in 4 words MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!. That should be eBays general mantra, stay out of a sellers business unless asked. Letting people like Jordan IN, is a prescrition for disaster.

    6) Seller Hub is invite only ATM and reports of sellers being locked out of it already (not able to list or ship) have already been reported. WAY TO GO JORDAN.

    eBay has 23,000 employees – 20,000 too many. eBay is bloated, snarky, self absorbed – and those are its GOOD points.

    Martha Stewart and her brand just left eBay and Carl Icahn dumped his shares ….. Jordan doesnt have months or years – he has days maybe weeks.

  7. ” He also made it clear that the whole suite of what eBay offers sellers is under review. I commented that one feature ripe for improvement was Turbo Lister. He said that one thing sellers said to him was cautioning him not to take it away because of the things it helps sellers do. So he’s juggling competing demands there. And that’s just one example.”

    So The dude can’t authorise development of Turdo’s replacement and even run it alongside of Turdo to give sellers a choice ???
    Total evasion..

    Was the subject of VAT evasion as detrimental to UK/EU based sellers even raised?

  8. “…one feature ripe for improvement was Turbo Lister. He said that one thing sellers said to him was cautioning him not to take it away…”
    – I dont understand the conflict here.
    nobody asked you to take it away, we asked you to improve it.

  9. Jordan listen to me son, everyone knows I’m a straight shooter, eBay is the most diverse marketplace on the planet. You and your corp. need to invest in maintaining and improving the marketplace.

    Not worrying about courier integration, not messing with estimated delivery times, not fiddling with best match search, not dabbling in translation.

    You concentrate on platform, policing, infrastructure and policy enforcement.

    Think of it like you own a big indoor market where the stall holders pay you rent to be there. You keep it water tight, clean, secure and attractive. You don’t get involved in serving the customers direct.

    You cut the BS.and clamp down on frauds by policing your own site and enforcing your rules and please know that the good sellers will look after their customers.

    Give the good sellers the best platform and trust me, good sellers will do the rest.


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