Sitting down with Jamie Iannone, it’s obvious that he absolutely loves eBay. That shouldn’t be surprising for a CEO, but he doesn’t just think eBay is a great company with great people, he really does love the community.
Jamie has a long history with eBay having worked for the marketplace up to 2009 and he told of the moment he received the call from the headhunter saying eBay was looking for a new CEO, followed a little while later by the realisation that he really was going to be the new leader of the marketplace he so loved. It’s not just the brand and the company, it’s the seller community and the sellers he speaks to who in turn tell him how eBay has changed their lives.
To give some background, way back in 2001, Jamie was the person who oversaw the introduction of eBay Shops (or eBay Stores for our US readers). I can remember the pre-Shops days of eBay and the massive boost to trade that the feature offers. The ability to build your own brand on eBay, drive repeat business with buyers and showcase your work and products were in a large part due to him. That’s why it’s no surprise that Shops are still seeing some of the fastest innovation at eBay today with better search, the ability to tell a story with About Us pages and video and then a whole load of features like Coded Coupons to drive traffic to your shop.
But it doesn’t end with eBay Shops and Jamie spoke of the mission and purpose to make eBay the seller platform of choice. Jamie is focused on the ways that eBay uses tech to enable sellers to succeed. eBay already has over 150 million buyers and 19 million sellers, but he wants to build greater trust among buyers and improve the eBay experience – so his team is tasked with reimagining the site category by category, tailoring new solutions for each product category.
Although of course you’ll find new and in-season goods on eBay, Jamie is certain that eBay needs to lean into its roots in pre-loved and last season items. The focus has been on targeted markets to bring new high spending buyers to eBay in categories such as trainers (sneakers), watches, handbags and trading cards along with the massive growing market for refurbished goods.
Authentication, which started in watches and then sneakers, helps give buyers a new level of trust and peace of mind when purchasing high end or collectible items. This is eBay standing behind the purchase, guaranteeing that the buyer will receive what they’ve been promised and that the item is authentic. The payoff is that a buyer might spend a few thousand dollars on sneakers or watches but they go on to spend even more in other categories. The success of Authentication means eBay is working on rolling it out to more categories, supported by eBay’s new tech platform.
Having established buyer trust, Jamie is re-imagining eBay’s tech features too, such as 3D True View, and he says we can expect more innovation in this area to come. Jamie and I reminisced about the old days at eBay as a couple of decades ago we were both using dial up modems to access eBay. Today the way eBay uses tech gives so many more possibilities and Jamie is going to exploit this to the full to help buyers and sellers capitalise on what the marketplace can offer.
This technical agility also enabled eBay to build the NHS PPE portal in the UK, which Jamie is very proud of. Built in just a few weeks at the start of the pandemic, it enabled the government to rapidly distribute PPE to healthcare workers with eBay tech handling all of the order placements in a similar way to how buyers place orders on eBay.
Cross border trade is another area Jamie is enthusiastic about. He told of speaking to a seller who had to close their bricks and mortar store when a big label shop opened up right next door. Turning to eBay, the seller was amazed at how many countries their buyers were shopping from, so far flung that in some cases they resorted to Google as they hadn’t even heard of the countries before! Today, they’re not only trading with the whole world on eBay but have been able to return to bricks and mortar and are opening up a shop again.
eBay has always been an enabler of global selling, but it’s greatly improved this capability – today, a single tick of a check box opens up the Global Shipping Programme and makes selling overseas almost as easy as selling to a domestic customer. Jamie pointed out that just 1% of average SMEs export but that jumps to over 90% on eBay – proving how marketplaces are an enabler of international commerce.
You’d probably not forgive me if I hadn’t asked Jamie about eBay fees. He points out that over time insertion fees have gone down and the overall value of eBay driving traffic and advertising on your behalf makes fees competitive. Plus today, one fee covers everything including payments. And eBay are using those fees to solve frustrations that sellers have… for instance, eBay know you are frustrated by unpaid items and they have virtually eliminated them on fixed price listings and are looking to do similar for all formats to make an unpaid item a thing of the past.
eBay have also been listening to sellers asking for better ways to see previous interactions with buyers, and Jamie tells me they will have more to come on that soon.
Before Jamie left, I asked about the future and whether the TikTok generation would be buying on eBay, or perhaps buying from eBay without visiting the marketplace itself through distributed commerce. Jamie says that there has always been openness on the tech side and indeed eBay themselves build features such as off site Promoted Listings. Along with the developer programme it’s already possible to build features to enable eBay transactions wherever buyers may be. However today the priority is how to drive the highest possible customer satisfaction on site and that’s where the immediate work lies.
Vertical by vertical, Jamie’s team are looking at categories and how to delight customers. It started with Sneakers and Watches and then Handbags, with the latest category being Motors Parts & Accessories. While he’s aware of the competition out there, Jamie is more concerned on the current trajectory of eBay and maintaining the momentum, which is growing ever faster.
If I could summarise the interview with Jamie in one sentence it would be that he’s returned back to the community he loves. He’s not just a CEO, he’s back home at eBay with talented people working for the company, innovating with tech and more than anything Jamie appears happiest when he’s talking to sellers and hearing how eBay has changed their lives. eBay is in a safe pair of hands and we look forward to catching up with Jamie when he’s next in the UK.