Devin Wenig landed the top job at eBay when John Donahoe bowed out and jumped ship with PayPal after overseeing the split. Since then eBay hasn’t seen the ultimate results of the promised multi-year turnaround, some projects have stalled and had to have a rethink and others are still in their infancy and yet to be rolled out world wide, but Devin’s ultimate desire is to end up with an eBay Managed Marketplace.
In an exclusive interview with Wortfilter at eBay Open, Devin set up the three pillars of the eBay Managed Marketplace of the future – Product Catalogue, Payments and Fulfilment.
The 3 Pillars of the eBay Managed Marketplace of tomorrow
The product catalogue started to be rolled out with eBay’s insistence on the use of GTINs (EANs/UPCs), but this hasn’t played out as hoped. The goal was to roll similar listing up into a single listing where the buyer could select from different versions of the same product as well as different item conditions (New, Used, Refurbished etc).
The eBay product catalogue mandate was rolled back, but not binned entirely. eBay are now aiming to use Item Specifics and artificial intelligence to match similar products to present them to buyers in an easier to browse format.
eBay started out providing sellers very few tools. Many will remember the days when eBay listings didn’t even have pictures unless you embedded images into your listings – and when gallery images were introduced you had to pay for them. Today eBay have free images and places for shipping information, business policies, returns policy, item condition and attributes (Item Specifics) and a host of other non product description information. The next step is to address more of the functions sellers have had to undertake themselves, stream line them and in doing so improve the buyer experience.
Way back in their history, eBay made two fundamental errors with payments and aren’t about to make the same mistake again. Mistake number one was to pass on buying PayPal the first time around and end up paying an absolute fortune for it a few years later. eBay failed to see that eBay buyers and sellers needed a global payment solution and were using PayPal rather than Billpoint (eBay’s inhouse payment solution).
eBay’s second error was not to fully integrate PayPal into the marketplace platform and make it a single sign on. PayPal should never have remained a standalone solution and, if it had been integrated, eBay would have had significantly more protection against activist investors as an inextricably linked payment solution wouldn’t have been such an easy spin-off target. (For instance we’re not seeing calls for Amazon Payments to be spun off to create shareholder value).
Now, eBay are building an integrated single sign in payments solution. It’s live in the US and due to be launched in Germany later this year.
eBay have announced Fulfillment for eBay is coming in the US in a programme called eBay Managed Delivery. Fulfillment for eBay has already been running in countries such as Germany and Australia and it’s long been a surprise on Tamebay that eBay haven’t up until now managed to negotiate shipping rates for sellers cheaper than they could negotiate themselves.
Now, eBay want to add eBay Managed Delivery to the mix and fulfil orders on behalf of their sellers. Yes, the smacks of what Amazon do, but it’s also critical that eBay start getting products to buyers faster and the only way they can do this for small businesses is by providing the service themselves.
Currently neither eBay Payments and fulfilment services haven’t made it to the UK – we’re expecting payments to come to the UK in the second half of 2020 and have every expectation that at some point Fulfillment for eBay will be announced.
Do you like the prospect of a Managed Marketplace?
There is no doubt that eBay have made sellers’ lives easier over the years with the introduction of new features such as images, a space for business and returns policies, space for shipping options and a myriad of other features.
Catalogue and Item Specifics have been an ongoing pain point for many years – there are too many updates, new item specifics, new mandatory Item Specifics and, having done all the hard work implementing Item Specifics category changes that mean they need to be all redone. Not to mention eBay changing the default values rendering old Item Specifics useless. eBay don’t have the tools to manage Item Specifics – that’s why they’ve made Optiseller free for their merchants in recent times. Lesson number one – if you don’t have a tool to say here’s a product tell me the GTIN don’t make them mandatory and if you don’t have a tool to manage Item Specifics don’t make them mandatory either.
Payments have to happen whether merchants like them or not, but eBay are looking at this as a $1 billion profit centre. Sellers, especially those who frequently see multiple item orders of relatively low value items, are going to hate the $0.25 per listing (not per payment) fee. Sell ten items on one order and eBay will charge £2.50 instead of $0.25 – that’s crippling.
Finally Fufillment for eBay… this will only work for merchants with deep inventory of repeatable stock. If you sell one off items it’s simply not going to be suitable.
What merchants really want is a marketplace where it’s easy to list and that means keeping Item Specifics to a minimum. Then they want a marketplace where their stock is discoverable and sometimes (perhaps often) this means not finding 1,000 generic iPhones rolled up into a single listing but finding the one iPhone which is on the Sprint network because they’re about to spend three months in the US! (Currently you can’t list an iPhone tied to Sprint on eBay UK).
eBay’s one aim should be a marketplace where everything is listed, all of a merchants inventory and not just the part that is easy to list. Buyers should be able to find the random one off oddity and that is what has always been the appeal of eBay. Sure, make it easy to buy the humdrum consumer electronics that do attract many buyers, but make it easy to find the really weird and strange stuff that can only ever be found on eBay. And to do that make it easy to list.