eBay Developers Conference Final Keynote Forum: eBay & PayPal Feedback Forum and The Global Market Opportunity for eBay Developers
By Julia Wilkinson
The final two keynote forums at the eBay Developers Conference put eBay executives on the hot seat concerning issues about eBay and PayPal in general, and then about the role third party developers can play in eBay's international marketplace.
Greg Isaacs, Director, Developers program, eBay, moderated the feedback forum. Panelists were Aaron Daar, Manager, Developer Technical Support, eBay; Scott Leahy, Director, Product Development, eBay; Dave Nielsen, Manager, Developer Network, PayPal; Jason Steinhorn, Group Product Manager, eBay; Adam Trachtenberg, Manager of Technical Evangelism, eBay; and Michele Don Durbin, Senior Manager, International Platforms Solutions, eBay.
One of the first questions dealt with eBay's plans to utilize Really Simple Syndication (RSS), which allows the user to create and access content from across the Internet (headlines, blogs, etc.), and which is an internet technology gaining in popularity. eBay said they have been using RSS to syndicate information such as developer announcements, and in the 4th quarter, will release the first RSS listing feeds. Store buyers will be able to subscribe to an RSS feed from their favorite store, for example—and get listings and marketing messages. eBay will also add new feeds in future quarters. One developer who said his company submits thousands of store listings a day wanted to know if eBay had any plans for filtering. Jason Steinhorn of eBay said users will be able to filter by categories such as saved searches.
Another questioner wanted to know if eBay had any plans for a translation feature, saying it was difficult for sellers to sell in a multi-cultural, multi-language region, for example on a European site where browsers might be from Germany, Italy, Spain, etc. Steinhorn responded they hadn't thought through all the ramifications of such a service, for example, if eBay's translation was "less than spectacular." Don Durbin suggested a good approach might be to partner with someone within the country to do the translation, and indicated one seller had created a tool with tabs within a listing for different languages such as English, Italian, etc. She said she did not expect eBay would be offering translation services in the near future.
Robert Jordan, a star developer, suggested eBay send developers notification, both about changes to category trees and system announcements, to which Steinhorn responded he "would seriously consider" it.
The second afternoon keynote was moderated by Robert Chatwani, Senior Manager, Internet Marketing, eBay. Panelists were John Donahoe, President, eBay Business Unit, eBay; Jeff Jordan, President, PayPal; Bill Cobb, President, eBay North America, eBay; and Greg Isaacs, Director, Developers Program, eBay. Chatwani began by asking questions of the panelists and then opening the floor to questions. He emphasized eBay is currently available in 150 countries, which opens up tremendous opportunities for third party eBay developers.
Donahoe opened with a book recommendation, "The World is Flat," and said technology has knocked down barriers, leading many companies to think through the issues of globalization, such as what do "we" have that "they" want, and what parts of a business might be more effective if outsourced? "How can I take advantage of low-cost labor around the world?" said Donahoe. eBay wants to empower the eBay community to assist with the globalization process.
Jordan said eBay globalized faster than any brand he'd seen, and Cobb said eBay's numbers are astounding for a company in five years, close to 80 million users outside the U.S. Cobb said as you go outside to countries like China, you encounter a different type of user base. China in particular required a lot of "learning and studying." "eBay will be a much larger international than domestic company," said Cobb.
Cobb acknowledged that with eBay's entrance to India, "learning when you deal with a democracy with a billion and a half people, the business situation can be messy." He thought Baazee was the "right business," but acknowledged eBay was "learning a lot," and that there was a "high-profile incident" with the government late last year.
Isaacs said you need to understand the "idiosyncracies of a particular market," mentioning more people in China have wireless phones than landlines.
Chatwani asked about PayPal's expansion strategy. Jordan said that while 2004 was the year they went international, 2005 was the year of "going off eBay," saying that non-eBay commerce was 10 times that of eBay. "PayPal wants to be the standard off eBay as well as on eBay," said Jordan.
One particularly zealous questioner asked about the integration of other shippers besides USPS and UPS into eBay, (It's all about the community, right?" he asked.) Cobb took the question and answered "in principle" it was about the community and eBay would do what was best for the community Jordan explained the integration of USPS and UPS into eBay was based on a survey of the eBay community at the time, where 95% of the respondents cited those providers. Cobb responded he wouldn't assume there were no opportunities for other shippers to integrate into eBay.
Cobb mentioned that Jordan had launched the "Want It Now" feature, and that Want It Now will be in the API by October.
"Rob" of Marketworks wanted to know what they might do differently, if they had to do it again? Cobb and Jordan's answers seemed to highlight the international focus of much of the conference. The "biggest blight" on the record of international has been Japan, said Cobb. "We were late" in the Japanese market, said Jordan. The Japanese didn't respond to an English-written product with dollars," he said wryly, to laughter from the audience.
The sesson closed with some levity from the "Globalization Girls," who, to a loud beat and roving lighting, bestowed a variety of prizes upon the winning recipients, such as a t-shirt from 4D's Marketblast, and an iPod.
About the author:
Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at YardSalers.net where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.
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