Regular ChannelX correspondent managing director of Stuff U Sell was at eBay UK’s biggest event of the year on Thursday this week, and today gives his assessment and feedback on the event.
Feedback was the theme of the day – both eBay listening to sellers and sellers listening to other sellers. While the eBay business roadshow has been working its way around the country, eBay Open 20220in Birmingham was the chance for sellers across the UK to gather and meet with one another – and get time face-to-face with the team at eBay and some of their commercial partners. In the room were a real critical mass of sellers representing over $139m sales on 6 million listings (of which 2m had not had a sale in 6 months) – a tremendous opportunity to network with other UK sellers – and perhaps discuss strategies for that slow-moving stock. eBay were keen to point out that the event was not about spreading eBay’s corporate messages but really listening and hearing feedback from sellers and – critically – enabling sellers to meet each other and build their support networks – a critical survival tool for the eBay seller!
Murray Lambell kicked off the day talking about the challenges facing UK sellers at the moment with the cost of living increases and return to bricks & mortar shopping stressing online sales. He pointed out highlights in fashion and particularly pre-loved fashion as people increasingly move discretionary spending to going out. He was proud to point out the partnership with Oxfam’s Second-Hand September.
Murray was keen to point out areas where feedback from sellers had been taken on board, and hinted at more events next year to allow further feedback to come to eBay. Some of the areas that he wanted to highlight where eBay had changed in response to seller comments. In particular he talked about the changes to protect sellers from fraudulent buyers – with partial refund tools rolled out to all sellers, the ability to report buyers and get seller standard account protections and return postage refunds where buyers are engaged in poor behaviour.
He also highlighted the advances made with the Authenticity programme, eBay Fulfilment and eBay Capital which had already provided loans of over 70m to 4,500 sellers who have then gone on to sell 26% more on average. Each of these programs has been developed to address specific issues in growth identified by conversations with sellers – whether that was about dispelling the buyer fear of fakes, the need to focus on merchandising and sourcing rather than fulfilment (and a long-awaited response to the vastly successful FBA service) or the poor provision of lending to small businesses – particularly the type that thrive on eBay – from traditional bank lenders.
The seller group was left in no doubt after the keynote that eBay is full of new ideas and keen to listen for more. However in discussions over coffee with sellers during the breaks, the unanswered questions were about whether – in practice – these ideas would be executed effectively and whether they would live up to their grand promise. Sellers told me that boosting slow sales and managing the increases in fees were their biggest concerns, together with having enough time to really run their businesses. Perhaps this suggests that eBay needs also to focus on executing the basics exceptionally as much as building the next new thing. Feedback is about being bold enough to change course based on what you hear. Hopefully the many members of the eBay team present on the day heard this message too and will be emboldened.