Exclusive Interview with Jamie Iannone, eBay CEO

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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.

9 Responses

  1. If he is so “to the community he loves” when will he start interacting with his customers – SELLERS – and start to really listen to them?!?!

    There is A LOT OF PROBLEMS – but maybe he could start with fixing broken search???

  2. I want to make ebay the platform of choice for sellers’ currently ebay ranks 3rd on my list with Shopify and Amazon ranked above ebay due to all the issues either on ebay site itself or the buyers ebay attracts.

    ebay always seem to be catching up to other who have been doing it for years. Videos is the latest example. I can add video into my listings on Shopify yet ebay are still thinking about it.

    The creating trust amount buyers seem to be they can make any claim and never do any wrong, whilst small businesses summer financially and the time taken to deal with the buyers false claims or trying to get money back via ebay. Latest example, buyer sends item back to the wrong address, showed ebay the proof with picture of the receipt from the buyer showing the wrong post code, ebay still give a full refund to the buyer as they said it was delivered. Then have to waste more time back on the phone to ebay to get the to reimburse me.

    Global Shipping is generally good and don’t come across many issues, would be good if you could create a shipment when you have multiple orders there, create a label for each order and then pack them all in one box to send off.

    Most interactions with ebay customers are with messages, can you do it cheaper, whats your best price? When you ask them where else they can get it that price, they often send you a like to another ebay item which is usually a private seller running a business. Yet avoids all the distance selling regulations and ebay retails standards.

  3. To make ebay the platform of choice for sellers ebay should realize who their customer is: the seller. The seller pays the bills, all the fees are on the seller invoices, not the buyer. The buyers are a means to an end which should always be to satisfy the customer, the seller.

    Ofcourse this means ebay needs to make the platform attractive for as many good buyers as possible, but it should not lose sight of who their customer is; the seller.

    It seems ebay kinda lost sight of this, seeing buyers as cusomers and sellers as partners. If you think it through this is at the cause of many problems. If Jamie doesn’t lose sight of this and gets the focus right ebay may still do well, they still have a head start allthough it’s shrinking.

    Let’s hope so, despite many frustrations throughout the years I do get the sense they are trying. I still have a weak spot for ebay and want them to succeed.

  4. This “reimagining” of the site category by category has wrecked the site, category by category. Collectables haven’t recovered from the disaster of last October’s changes. They replaced detailed categories with irrelevant and useless item specifics. Why didn’t they ask sellers or buyers in those categories to help them design specifics that would actually WORK. !!!!

    If you really love Ebay, Mr. Iannone, please leave.

  5. Has he any ideas that item specifics now make listings up to four times longer to create for unique items?
    Has he any ideas that buyers can’t find what the are looking for and often end up migrating to other sites to purchase?
    Has he any ideas as to the numerous site glitches that have plagued eBay for years?
    Has he any ideas that selling fees have soared beyond competitive levels?
    Have he any ideas as to how many businesses are masquerading as private sellers?

    The list goes on……. As does the silence from eBay

  6. eBay desire to become the most trusted and widely used e-commerce platform is laudable, but totally unachievable whilst the support and case management teams remain so heavily biased in favour of unscrupulous Buyers and Sellers who register false, or incomplete addresses with eBay in order to avoid identification and/or location. Followed eBay advice to pursue such an individual {eBay Seller si_835601} through the UK small claims court with a CCJ awarded on 8 Feb 2022. However, the courts cannot enforce judgement due to eBay having accepted a false address. The actions suggested by eBay resulted in the loss of protection provided by my credit card company against charges by eBay for refunds made to Buyer, despite that fact that goods sold were not returned nor were any communications {through eBay} ever acknowledged by Mr Gee Singh. eBay punishment for abuse is to restrict use of the eBay account, whereas it is possible to simply set-up another eBay account with yet another false name and address. The platform is open to fraud and abuse.


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