Devin Wenig: I want eBay to have half a billion buyers.

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eBay President and CEO Devin Wenig has been talking to eBay sellers and outlining his vision for the company at the eBay Open event in Las Vegas this week. He has said several interesting things at the event, including his belief that eBay could (and perhaps should) have as many as half a billion shoppers using the marketplace.

To put that into some sort of context: in the second quarter of 2018, eBay reached 172 million active users and now claims to have added 3 million in total. And, to mention Amazon (which Wenig apparently didn’t), it compares to Amazon’s 310 million.

So what does Wenig have in mind to bring in more buyers? He cites two specific areas. Improving the eBay platform and investing in marketing. He also apologised for site glitches that buyers and sellers had suffered this year calling them “unacceptable” and saying action had been taken internally.

I start and stop with the product and customer service. The first thing you do is build a great product, the first thing you do is service customers really well.
– Devin Wenig

On the marketing front, he promises big spending in the final quarter of 2018 and they’ll be targeting groups that they haven’t looked to before such as women and millennials. So we’ll see what he has in mind come the peak season.

Is half a billion eBay shoppers a realistic goal?

Wenig’s product approach and some more marketing don’t seem like quite enough to entirely reinvigorate and fully grow eBay to its possible potential. It sounds like stuff that should be happening anyway. But half a billion is possible.

There’s nothing wrong with a decent stretch target that is essentially an aspiration: it’s a good thing in business and life. And, of course, Wenig doesn’t apply a time limit on his aspirational goal either (which is fine).

There is plenty of scope for international growth. But that does also point to another of eBay’s particular weaknesses: it is overwhelmingly focussed on the ‘core’ business in North America and not quite so innovative when looking abroad. We’d welcome and celebrate a more international approach. (Efforts in eBay Australia have, however, been a flavour of what they could be doing in other geographies.)

And even more, it’s about being clear and passionate about what eBay is. It does offer something different: it’s interesting to note that the average visit duration on eBay is reportedly 50% longer than on Amazon. That’s something that can be capitalised on.

What do you reckon about Wenig’s aspiration?

10 Responses

  1. i am having loads of trouble with the new ebay pages especially the combined postage page it will not let me give combined postage, i have been complaining about it for over a week, i have lost customers because of this problem, and nobody at ebay seems to know what to do about it, i will probably have to close my ebay account which i have had since 2006

  2. Wenig speaks – the world yawns and instantly forgets

    Bezos speaks – the worlds takes note of future shape of global ecommerce

  3. A translation of Wenig’s speech:

    I want to be as successful as Bezos at Amazon, but I’m not.

    Which is why I’m job sharing on the board of GM, in preparation for the day Ebay wakes up and realises there’s nothing behind the smoke and mirrors.

    So I keep making big vague aspirational speeches, with no substance. Making hollow apologies (whilst not really meaning it) and promising action (unspecified).

    Hell, it works for Trump.

  4. Well they need to keep sellers then.
    He should actually try and sell on the site with all the bugs and no support!!!!!
    My shop closes at the end of the month after 14 years. To many big sticks beating down on us. Why not use carrots instead.?

  5. start and stop with the product and customer service. The first thing you do is build a great product, the first thing you do is service customers really well.
    – Devin Wenig

    YAWN normal corporate blabber…


    lets not shoot the guy down before he has even tried to achieve this goal.

    I think its a disgrace that folk are criticising his initiatives before they have even been applied.

    lets see what happens. If things go wrong, turnover falls, goals way off – THEN we can comment on what went wrong. Lets see if he is up to the task (and his salary lol).

  7. I’ve a lot of time for Devin – he’s clearly passionate about ebay and providing strong and dedicated leadership of the development of the product. He’s not always 100% right but who (apart from Tamebay readers, of course) is?

    The “start and stop” with the customer does sound a little like a Bezos impression and he’s probably talking about buyers instead of sellers (a false dichotomy in my view) so he’s yet to alight on the right mission.

    The danger there is that without the right mission, the organisation lends little to the simple top-down orders. The number one job at ebay is not about buyer/seller strategy nor product: it’s cultural and technical.


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