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.
Maybe the only answer now is for Ebay to become a private company and be delisted from the stock exchange.
That way, long term decisions for the business can be taken without the knee-jerk need to create dividends for shareholders when neither the performance of the site or the board merit it. The poor decisions and thinly disguised fees hikes under Ianonne have virtually halved the number of buyers and sellers on the site and it is now a diminished force in ecommerce.
Other sites are still growing and Ebay is going backwards – fast!!!
If Ebay really is listening to sellers, then hear this: your site is no longer fit for purpose and you have screwed it up. Either do a re-set to get buyers back, or enable someone who does understand Ebay to come in and run it.
I managed to make it to eBay open after lunch as the eBay API crashed on the morning of the event meaning all third party aps that connect to eBay were not working !.
Once I’d made it there I made my way to the Parts and Accessories (my category) area and collard Tony Tong and he remembered me from last year and told me something that I asked for last year is ‘coming soon’. I asked them to add ‘please enter your registration number’ at checkout for car parts so that sellers can check that the item a buyer has bought is correct for their car (don’t mention Parts Fitment, it’s utter garbage on eBay and doesn’t work). This is the problem with an entity the size of eBay, change takes years and is often very small.
I always make the point that if they make these changes then sellers will sell more and returns will be reduced.
I’ll see what he says at eBay open 2023 / 24 and 25 when I think that it still won’t have been implemented.
I also commented to Tony and Murray that there are professional sellers with 20+ years experience such as myself that would be willing to give them some feedback from the seller side so that things can improve, I really feel this would benefit everyone. eBay seller council was mentioned but I replied that I signed up for that a year ago and have had absolutely nothing from them since.
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