Devin Wenig: eBay’s “not particularly focused on big retailers”

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In the quarterly results from eBay we reported this week, the CEO Devin Wenig was asked about the company’s strategy when it comes to big retailers and brands. Interestingly, Wenig said that big retailers weren’t of particular importance to the marketplace but brands are. He also noted that SMEs were also of vital importance to the eBay ecosystem.

You can check out the full call transcript here, where his comments can be found..

We’re not particularly focused on big retailers. Brands are increasingly coming to eBay. We’re extremely pleased with the rate of brand acquisition… So brands that may, years ago, have been skeptical of selling on eBay are now successfully coming to our platform, and they are coming at an increasing rate.

There was a time when eBay was very focused on big retailers. We’re not now. That doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t situationally partner with a big retailer here or there, but we’re not at all dependent on big retailers for our GMV and, quite frankly, it’s not an area of significant focus for us. It is about brands and it’s about our small and medium-sized sellers. That’s always been the engine of our growth.
– Devin Wenig, eBay CEO

To some extent the difference between big retailers and brands is not a distinct one for most observers of eBay. From a merchant perspective, doubtless what more sellers would like to see is a much greater focus on smaller, independent retailers who bring the choice and diversity that make eBay unique. And, needless to say, we’d welcome greater efforts there to support and celebrate SMEs on eBay.

But what should those efforts look like? Just today there have been some technical problems on eBay so site stability is worthy of improvement. But are there specific new initiatives that would improve eBay from the lifeblood smaller traders? What would you suggest?

9 Responses

  1. The confusion in Wenig’s statement illustrates the confusion in his own mind about how to run Ebay.

    The fact that he sees no contradiction in courting brands whilst claiming not to be chasing big retailers is frankly laughable. As is the tacked-on bit at the end about small sellers being the lifeblood of Ebay. Really? Stop kicking them in the nuts, then.

    There is no place for smaller traders on Wenig’s Ebay and the only solution now is to separate the site into two: the big brands side (Amazon 2.0) and a separate site for all the interesting non-branded stuff, which would retain the auction option.

    The so-called “engine” of Ebay’s growth appears to be spluttering badly. Amazon have announced 43% growth, whilst Ebay’s figures look palid and mostly based on fee hikes.

    Wenig’s calling card is to keep talking about a future vision which never actually materialises. This draws attention away from the problems facing sellers on Ebay now, which he has no intention of addressing. It also buys him more time as he keeps pulling levers and pressing buttons, in the hope that one of them will work.

    In any case, he will soon abandon Ebay to continue his corporate exec career, either with a bigger role at GM, or somewhere else, leaving sellers to wonder why the f*** the site was messed with in the first place.

  2. @ Andy, you seem to be very cynical. Mr Wenig has introduced some great initiatives on ebay.

    It is you that seems confused if you think there is a contradiction in brands and large sellers.

    i am a relatively small seller and have ALWAYS received excellent support from ebay and I can’t fault Concierge (was this not one of his initiatives?).

    Its easy to throw stones when someone is not present to defend themselves.

    I think its hilarious when some sellers come on here accusing CEOs of not understanding the platform …….. then you see some of the drivel written by said sellers. It then becomes obvious who doesn’t understand the platform………. and its not Mr Wenig.

  3. @ Andy,

    you seem to take my comments personally. I wasn’t necessary referring to you with my reference to drivel. I like some of your posts.

    To answer your points:

    The initiatives from Mr Weing and changes are numerous. You are not experiencing the benefits in your business? I think thats for an entirely different post.

    I dont think its anything to do with how long you have been on ebay – I think you are barking up the wrong tree with that one.

    I do stand by my previous post. there is a lot of drivel by sellers. Over the past few months I have seen sellers propose a “veto” or “strike” of sellers on ebay (doh!) , I have seen suggestions for petitions to eliminate the free packaging vouchers , I have seen persistent and consistent trashing of ebay from sellers who sell on ebay proposing the readers of their article to buy from somewhere else! Utter stupidity. If that aint drivel I dont know what is. Claims that ebay will be bust within the year etc etc etc. Drivel, driver drivel…….

    Many sellers (as you say unanimously) are twisting figures to try and show ebay are failing. Have you heard of the phrase “what the mind can believe and perceive it will achieve”? Talk about sellers committing finial suicide. these sellers are damaging everyone who is trading on the platform. These folk do not deserve respect ……. they are potentially adversely effecting my business (and yours).

    Finally you say that ebay execs “dont engage”. Did our own UK President Rob Hatrell not spend several months traveling round real ebay businesses to learn how they work? Tamebay themselves done several excellent articles on his visits.

    No Andy, we are certainly not on the same page. I cant believe you wouldn’t at least agree that there is a lot of drivel written by many many sellers.

    I am sorry if my post implied the drivel was coming from you ….. thats not what I intended. I didn’t agree with your view but at least it wasn’t drivel.

  4. Absolute rubbish!!!!!!!

    I have a friend who works for a huge retailer on eBay and he was running a few things by me and explained why we will all be left behind on eBay.

    He discussed one particular product with us that we both sell on ebay and this is the breakdown.

    BIG buys item for £8 as they buy thousands of units
    SMALL buys item for £20 as we buy 20’s to 30’s.
    BIG needs to sell at £16
    SMALL needs to sell at £40
    BIG sees smalls price and sells at £36 still making more than they need.
    eBay take their fees leaving the following.
    Big left with £32.40
    SMALL left with £36
    Big offers Freepost it actually cost as we all know but only £1.20 for them due to volume discounts. Still leaving them £31.20
    SMALL offers free post actually costs around £3 as smaller volumes leaving them with £33.
    Sales are lower for the SMALL due to pricing on eBay then eBay help the BIG boy more.

    BIG offers free returns Actual cost £1.20 leaving them £30.
    SMALL copies actual cost £2.40 leaving them £30.60.
    Big offers 30 day returns
    Small has to follow so slowly becoming a lending library.
    Item comes back unfit for anything anymore.
    Ebay say sellers can now give a 50% refund.
    BIG refunds £18. leaving them £12
    SMALL refunds £20
    BIG is left with £4 profit after purchasing a replacement product.
    SMALL is left with MINUS £9.40 after purchasing a replacement item.

    Then if you cannot meet all these standards which obviously many small businesses cannot. You are in trouble.
    Because eBay promote the sellers offering it and discount final fees for those that do therefore promoting the big boys over all the small sellers further.

    eBay are allowing the BIG companies to set the bar on everything they can meet and very little the small companies can meet.
    My friend says you start off worse and then eBay just allow them to push you even further down. Why not just charge everyone the same and left the best service practices rise to the top on their own merits.
    As the old saying goes cream always rises to the top.

  5. Mark, I don’t think that post has any no merit, your post can be summed up as this, if your paying £20 for item that other are buying at £8, then clearly your never going to be competitive. END OF DISCUSSION. Before even making stupid assumptions about others postage costs that aren’t even realistic.

  6. So if there is so much focus on ‘Brands’ what about the independants? Those that can’t claim to be afamous brand or even sell them? Alot of small businesses fall into this category. Sadly what is being clearly missed is that the big retailers and brands dont need to worry about masses of nega tives etc as the sheer volume of sales they do keep them afloat. A quick glance across some big players like Argos etc will show you the shocking levels of service offered when things go wrong.. But people will still shop there as it’s Argos!
    Now if my company had a large amount of negs alll statinmg terrible service, i would go out of business because i can’t rely on being a national brand to bring people in regardless.
    I too have seen very little on offer to help small businesses. What i have seen is regular fee hikes, extra work load, stupid requirements, lack of action on fraud, lack of action on private sellers who should be registered as businesses, lack of action on Chinese sellers claiming to be in the UK, in fact although on occassions ebay have supported me, more often that not i havent even bothered pursuing things as the result of daring to question a fraudulant buyer if a strike against you for not being able to sort something! Not even going to start on the issues of downtime, glitches and weather related delivery times!
    Nope… Ebay see small businesses as small money and more likely to question things, so more work. If i hear them talk of the future any more i will scream. I have been hearing this for over 10 years and i have seen is them sink further and further behind the competition with a worse and worse reputation in the public domain.
    Ebay vertainly isn’t dead…. but it’s trying very hard to become that way!

  7. Mark, what you have described and are complaining about is that other retailers are better then you. Isn’t it unfair that customers would rather pay less for the same item, off of somebody else then pay over the odd’s, by buying it off of you.

    I can guarantee that every week someone new will start selling on ebay starting small, (then branch out on to Amazon, once big enough) and eventually through hard work and making sure that they are buying the right products at the right price and through lots of hard work over time i.e. quite a few years of hard work, that in time there businesses will make them millions.

    There are plenty of people on who read tamebay, who I have just described in the paragraph above, that have done this and are doing this right now. What they didn’t do is complain that it isn’t fair that they can’t compete; they just look for the right stuff to sell, to begin with and go from there.

  8. and yet a quick glance at the daily deals page, shows Argos have not one, but two whole sections exclusive to them, plus feature prominently in every other section.
    Homebase have their own section
    Halfords have their own section…..

    in fact 90% of the deals featured on the Daily Deals pages, seem to be from big retailers (at least the ones prominently advertised by ebay are).
    not only are they featured exclusively in a way none of us would ever be offered, they’re allowed to hide their feedback away, display contact numbers, and get all sorts of preferential treatments which we certainly don’t.

    based on this evidence, one might conclude that ebay are, in fact, focused on big retailers, despite wenig talking out his a** again.

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