In the latest eBay earnings call, eBay President and CEO Devin Wenig revealed that the new eBay product-based commerce experience isn’t working well for existing eBay users.
It’s not all bad news – compressing hundreds of listings into a single search result is apparently being well received by newcomers to eBay, but it’s not so well received by buyers who have been shopping on eBay for decades. This has limited eBay’s ability to scale the new experience and Devin went so far as to say “we don’t want to screw up the existing ecosystem”.
“Certain of our services have been well-received across the board and others have then take more time, and an example of something that takes more time, that is really going well with new customers but is taking more time, is a full product-based commerce experience where we fully compress the product side.
What we see is that, as you would expect, new customers who don’t – haven’t shopped with eBay before come to it and they respond very well to that. Existing customers, some of them shop on eBay. They’ve been shopping on eBay for 20 years, so it’s a new experience and there’s always some friction when you change an experience. I think some of it is time and habituation. Some of it is education, and as we said, our approach is going to change a little bit, which does slow things down a bit. And that is we’ll go fast with new customers and we’ll go slower with the existing base and over time, the mix will change.
So we’re still very confident in what we’re doing and we do believe that the existing base will evolve and it’ll come along but we are very conscious that we don’t want to screw up the existing ecosystem. We have a good, stable base of customers, a very successful business, and we don’t want to disrupt that. So we’ll be more aggressive with the new and we’ll go a bit slower with the existing buyers and eventually, we’ll get them both there.”
– Devin Wenig, President and CEO, eBay
This goes some way to explain why eBay deferred the second phase roll out of the product-based commerce experience until some point in 2019, well after the Black Friday and Christmas shopping period are out of the way. The reason sellers are grateful has nothing to do with the buyer experience, but the fact they don’t believe eBay is ready with the catalogue, that the process for editing and adding products to the catalogue is slick enough and that they have sufficient time as Q4 hots up to amend their existing listings and match new listing to the catalogue.
eBay are caught between a rock and a hard place. In order to expand and attract new buyers to the marketplace the PBSE experience appears to be a more compelling buying experience. Existing eBay buyers that have used the marketplace for anything up to two decades or more can’t be ignored or eBay will lose their current revenues and sellers will lose sales.
Slowing the transition to a product-based commerce experience will please sellers as it gives more time to adjust listings and keeps sales flowing from buyers who currently dislike the new experience. We’ll wait now to see how slow the roll out takes place – probably to be announced in the first eBay seller release of 2019, and if the new time scales ease sellers concerns and keep existing eBay buyers buying.