Falling Back in Love with eBay

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After more than a decade away, working primarily in the email marketing industry, John W. Hayes has returned to the world of online marketplaces as the head of marketing for Frooition. Jumping in at the deep end, he spent his first day in the office at the eBay Open UK event in Manchester last week. So what’s changed in the world of eBay since he last worked in the space? We caught up with him to discuss why he’s still excited by the entrepreneurial spirit and drive of eBay’s small business community and how he fell back in love with eBay:

Falling Back in Love with eBay

Falling Back in Love with eBay - Frooition at eBay Open UK 2021The eBay Open UK event was a real eye-opener for me. When I left the world of online marketplaces 10+ years ago, eBay was going through some severe growing pains. The company was repositioning itself from an online flea market to a professional sales venue where individual sellers, small business traders, large retailer brands could sell cheek by jowl. The company was also struggling to come to terms with the emergence of Amazon as an online marketplace. The word “Amazonification” was very much being touted as the future of eBay.

I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people felt disenfranchised by eBay during that time. The small business sellers who built the eBay platform felt marginalised by the big guys. Likewise, the big brand retailers struggled with the quirky nature of selling on the community. Meanwhile, eBay didn’t really know who it was and was facing a bit of a personality crisis.

A lot has happened since I last took a proper look at eBay, including an 18-month global pandemic that has forced many of us to reconsider how we work, shop and prioritise our values. During this time, I’m really pleased to see that eBay has taken the opportunity to find its place in the market and figure out the direction they want to be heading in.

One of the things that initially attracted me to working with eBay sellers was the entrepreneurial spirit and drive that many of the small business sellers had on the platform. They all had a story to tell. Some were drawn to the platform by the opportunity to take control of their own lives, finding a work/life balance that could fit around their families and other interests. Others used it to pour fuel on a passion, knowing they could use the platform to build a business reaching like-minded people around the world. For many, it was a lifeline, giving them the opportunity to earn money when nobody else would employ them. There was room for everyone on eBay, and this was further legitimised as a business opportunity by the arrival of big brands.

Falling back in love with eBay - eBay for business awardsI was so pleased to see eBay championing their community of small business sellers at the eBay Open UK event as part of its annual eBay for Business Awards. I was particularly touched by the stories of sellers like Brown and Ginger and Fashion Flair. They both grasped the opportunities to invest in their well-being and support their families while running an eBay business.

I was also delighted to see so much emphasis on the circular economy and the importance of second-hand and refurbished goods to the marketplace. As the world wakes up to the ongoing environmental crisis, global brands like eBay need to demonstrate their commitment to support businesses who want to break the chain of the linear economy and its mantra of make, use, dispose. This approach is particularly important to the “Gen Z” cohort of consumers who will breathe new life into the community, creating multiple opportunities for sellers.

In my opinion, eBay has definitely changed for the better, and the results speak for themselves. During her keynote presentation, Eve Williams, eBay UK’s CMO, told us that the UK marketplace now had more than 29 million monthly customers, that’s 5 million more than pre-pandemic levels. They had also seen a 237% rise in the number of new small businesses trading on eBay UK in the last year.

As we emerge from the pandemic and find our feet in the “new normal”, the future looks bright for eBay and its community of sellers. I really don’t think there is a better time to be re-joining the eBay ecosystem at Frooition and helping sellers of all shapes and sizes optimise their eBay listings and create their own identities with their own eCommerce sites.

Prior to joining Frooition, John W. Hayes worked in senior marketing roles for ChannelAdvisor and iContact. He is also the author of five books, including the best-selling content marketing guide: Becoming THE Expert: Enhancing Your Business Reputation through Thought Leadership Marketing.

10 Responses

  1. Ebay is eating itself with the damage it is doing with its constant “updates”. Every update breaks something, which is never fixed.

    Just have a look at the business sellers board on ebay uk!

  2. I don’t believe Ebay has “repositioned itself” , unless repositioning is defined by losing market share massively and just hiking fee’s at every available opportunity until you squeeze the juice dry!!! Continues to be outdated, out of touch and increasingly irrevelent.

  3. No mention of how eBay fees have risen x 5 since he was last on the platform, or the constant updates which total break the platform and appear on a regular basis.

    No mention of the new Shops design eBay have forced on us, which are totally screwed and where eBay have trashed everyone’s own designs and want all the shops to look like clones.

    No mention of eBay’s fixation on the App, and how the site on a desktop now looks awful because of it, even though ALL sellers on eBay run their businesses on a desktop.

    No mention of Managed Payments, where eBay forced everyone to change over, or you would not be allowed to use the platform anymore – Managed Payments so eBay can take a bigger slice of your sale in fees.

    No mention of how eBay are just like Facebook, in that they don’t give a damn for their sellers or the businesses they ruin, and like Facebook are only chasing profit.

    Mr Dawson has clearly never tried to sell properly on eBay and make a living from it, and this article is more of a sales pitch than an honest appraisal of what used to be a very good company, but has turned into a corporate monster just like Facebook – a nasty company chasing profit above all else.

  4. Very much a rose-tinted glasses type of view – in no way objective. His job obviously depends on having a good relationship with eBay.

    We all know there have been, and still are, huge problems with eBay. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous, an insult to our intelligence, and a waste of Tamebay’s website space.

  5. As someone who opened an account with eBay in 1999 I totally agree with these comments. The race for eBay to be another Amazon and now another Walmart has destroyed what made eBay the go-to place. No respect for all the small sellers who have paid for eBay to become this giant corporation Above all no listening to many pleas to stop all the unnecessary innovations that are forcing many, especially in the used and collectables market. to leave plus the constant confusing of buyers who cannot find what they want. I used to correspond with John back in the day as he was a helpful guide. It is now a total pain to list collectables and the % of sales against items listed is pathetic compared to what I did even 15 years ago. It is still a site to sell on but that is simply because there is no real alternative. When that launches then that will test eBay’s position!

  6. “Falling back in love with eBay” implies that by common sense we have fell out of love with it. But why? Genuine time served eBay sellers know why. We all know why…… except perhaps eBay itself. The platform is way too expensive to sell on now, my eBay fees used to be 5% and they are now running at 18% for our account. We only ever seem to be able to sell promoted listings and we don’t have the capacity to take part in the much heralded pay per click escapade. You can’t get blood out of a stone but eBay seem to think they can. It is a pale shadow of its former self, corporate greed and poor leadership ruining what was a unique cross border truly global selling platform. So sad.

  7. “Falling back in love with eBay”

    At 9.50 an hour this April , I’m falling in love with flipping burgers at Mcdonald’s.

  8. Wonder how much he got paid by eBay lol.

    Anyone whos actually selling on eBay knows its the hardest its ever been with eBay squeezing the life from you with fees and ad’s


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