From the Editor - August 9, 2015
By Ina Steiner
eBay is now a much smaller company after its breakup with PayPal in July and with the pending sale of its enterprise unit. There's a new CEO at the helm, and while Devin Wenig is not new to the company, having joined in 2011, it's apparently a new day at eBay.
A frequent critic of eBay who posts comments on eBay-related articles across the web told us that Wenig reached out to him after he commented on the CEO's LinkedIn post and invited him to share what was on his mind.
eBay also created a new account on the EcommerceBytes Blog in order to post a comment inviting our readers to email eBay directly with their concerns. To clarify, it's in the comments section, you'll find it on page 5 of that post. It's not the first time eBay has done this kind of outreach, but it's not sustainable - at a minimum, eBay needs to improve the frontlines of customer service, whose task it is to help sellers.
In a seeming effort to reconnect with small sellers, Wenig is also reviving an eBay Live-style conference to celebrate the company's 20th anniversary. The event is taking place in September at the Convention Center in eBay's home town of San Jose, California.
To get some insight into John Donahoe's replacement, take a look back at this EcommerceBytes interview with Devin Wenig in 2012 - it's a fascinating read, especially in light of all that has transpired in the 3 years since. It's easy to see in hindsight that he underestimated the importance of Google Search optimization as a traffic driver, and he's had a change of heart about an advertising program for sellers. Here's a look at eBay's current thinking - sellers should expect changes ahead.
One change has already rolled out - to feedback. Here's what changed in the eBay feedback flow and what sellers think of the change based on a survey of EcommerceBytes readers.
It's always enlightening to take a look at the quarterly reports of online marketplaces - here are links to some highlights of the second-quarter reports recently released by the companies:
eBay earnings: eBay GMV fell 2% in the second quarter to $20.1 billion, year-over-year (or grew 6% excluding the impact of foreign currency exchange).
Amazon earnings: Amazon net sales grew 20% in the second quarter to $23.18 billion, year-over-year (or 27% excluding the impact of foreign exchange).
Etsy earnings: Etsy GMS grew 25% in the second quarter to $546 million, year-over-year (or 26.5% excluding the impact of foreign exchange).
Of course, a growing threat to such traditional online marketplaces are Google and social networking sites. We took a look at "Google as marketplace" in this recent story about "Purchases on Google," which lets retail advertisers add a Buy button to their Google Shopping ads (merchants know them as Product Listing Ads).
Twitter and Facebook are also going further to bring buyers and sellers together with ads and Buy Buttons.
Amazon doesn't appear to be too concerned, and it flexed its muscles last month with Amazon Prime Day. As we commented in our recap of the Black Friday in July event, while some may have considered the deals unexciting, such as one for a set of Rubbermaid containers at 40% off, Amazon moved huge quantities of goods that day. It sold 28,000 of the Rubbermaid sets before 2 pm - how many retailers could do that on a summer weekday?
Third-party sellers were allowed to participate in Prime Day. Amazon reported that sellers who use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) enjoyed the biggest day ever on Prime Day with record-breaking unit sales growing nearly 300% worldwide.
No doubt retailers are still discussing the impact and how to react to next year's Prime Day, and it's bound to be a topic of discussion at this week's Etail East. The conference kicks off in Boston and is targeted at large retailers. "If you have a pain point, we've definitely got you covered," show organizers promise - "You'll learn about the future of retail from those who are shaping it." This year speakers include executives from Target, Overstock.com, Newegg, Sears, Gilt Groupe, and Wayfair among many others.
The topics covered at this year's conference span "the latest innovations, engagement, personalization, the customer journey, online marketing, analytics, mobile, social, email, search, usability and more." Attendees also benefit from meeting with companies that provide services to retailers - this year's exhibitors are listed on Etail East website.
There are a lot of ideas to pick up from attending ecommerce conferences, as Greg Holden demonstrates today. Thanks to sessions he attended at the annual Internet Retailer conference in June, he brings us a story on email marketing triggers, and another on the latest thinking on keywords in eBay and Amazon listing titles.
Also in today's issue, Michele Alice takes us on an adventure to explore luggage labels from the Golden Era of Travel, and we conclude with Letters to the Editor.
Enjoy the remaining weeks of summer, and thanks for reading.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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