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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1816 - June 20, 2008 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 5

eBay Live Keynote Address Centers on Buyer Experience

By Ina Steiner
EcommerceBytes.com
June 20, 2008




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eBay President and CEO John Donahoe and President of eBay Marketplace Operations Lorrie Norrington gave the keynote address at eBay's seventh user conference in Chicago on Friday morning.

Donahoe, who has in the past seemed reserved in public speaking, was relaxed and had the audience laughing as he used a photo montage of childhood pictures to tell a story of his youthful entrepreneurial adventures.

He told the crowd his admiration for them as buyers and sellers, and said eBay is doing things that are absolutely essential for eBay, "and you," to thrive and succeed.

Donahue, who has been at eBay for 3 years and took the reigns from Meg Whitman in March, grew up and Chicago, and introduced his Mom and Dad sitting in the audience. He said they instilled in him at a young age Midwestern values: Always look for the good in people and give them the benefit of doubt; respect people; always tell the truth; and stay disciplined.

"They taught me that I can make a difference in people's lives, and in many ways, these are eBay's values, this is why I joined eBay in the first place," Donahoe told the crowd. "The positive impact this community and you have throughout the world, you are the reason I get up each and every day inspired to go to work."

He said eBay's values have not changed, but the external environment has. Buyers have more choices than others, and sellers have more opportunity and choices than ever.

"The health of the marketplace will depend on changing environment and changing customer needs. We must boldly respond together."

"What does success look like? Buyers come back for more, and when buyers come back, sellers grow their businesses. When these two things happen, we'll have a healthy marketplace." These would lead to high trust and velocity of trade.

Donahoe said the way they think about making decisions at eBay is, "first, we will always work for the collective good. The second guiding principle is that we will act with integrity honesty and speed. There is a need to be as transparent as possible. There are times we don't get it right," he said, and used the example from last February about pricing changes and how eBay reworked pricing in the media category.

To compete today, we need to start rewarding behaviors that give buyers what they want. It doesn't matter if you are a million dollar operation, or are selling casually, that's the key to success on eBay.

Success at eBay means buyers come back for more. "When buyers have a great experience, sellers grow their business more and more. That's the definition of a healthy vibrant marketplace."

"Thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being part of our community. And thank you for listening. I can't say these two words enough. If there's any company that can be called "a people's business," it's eBay."

President of eBay Marketplace Operations Lorrie Norrington then took the stage. She relayed her experience as a buyer on eBay, and showed some slides of a seller from whom she often buys, "Good-dog-jack," a woman named Denise who paints dogs.

"Denise represents the character and essence of eBay. We will always cherish this part of our community," Norrington said.

She said eBay is creating opportunities for sellers, and shopping experiences for buyers.

Three things make eBay work: you, your stuff, and our community. This has been the secret sauce for 13 years, we intend to stick with it, and strengthen it. "Our shared challenge: a great buyer experience.

"I hope you never question my personal commitment to doing what's right for the health of the marketplace."

Norrington then went on to talk about recent progress and changes. "We've been calling both buyers and sellers customers - big change for us, but an important one. To ensure everyone has a great experience on eBay."

Norrington went over some of the changes that were announced on Thursday, including expanded seller protection for all sellers (previously only available to PowerSellers; All addresses are confirmed addresses, covering shipments to any of 190 countries PayPal covers; Expanded discounts for PowerSellers who achieve 4.9% DSRs (20% discount); UPS discounts (http://ebay.com/UPSPowerSellerSavings).

She talked about the marketing program eBay initiated in May in which eBay sends coupons to buyers - they buy more frequently on eBay - "we're targeting the ideal buyers, we'll do even more doing the holidays. And starting at end of June, we're providing more support - live customer phone support for top buyers."

The audience, polite until that point, let out boos when Norrington said the words, "retaliatory feedback" and referenced the no-neg policy.

She responded by saying, "That's what's so great about this community, you tell us how you feel. Bring it on! But let me tell you why we (made the feedback changes)."

"The number one reason was buyers," (hecklers in the back of the room) were leaving the marketplace. We want to up date you on how we're doing and the progress."

She mentioned repeat feedback, and received a round of applause. She said while many feared the changes, the combined neg and neutral rate remained unchanged. But the percentage of buyers leaving feedback has increased.

When Norrington said eBay was looking at a new feedback withdrawal mechanism to encourage buyers and sellers to resolve issues on their own, there was more clapping from the crowd. She said eBay would address this by the holidays.

She went on to talk about buyer protection, and recapped the news. Then she said, "We're really trying to make eBay better than ever. Buyers looking for stuff will find it, and sellers who provide a great buyer experience will grow."

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 ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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