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Deconstructing the Message from eBay’s Next CEO

Head of eBay Marketplaces Devin Wenig will soon be eBay CEO after the breakup of the company next year. Sellers are wondering if things will change under his leadership once John Donahoe leaves.

Who has been setting the overall direction of the Marketplaces business, they wonder? Has it been Donahoe? Or has Wenig been calling the shots since he joined the company in 2011?

Which one signed off on the new seller defect policy that began impacting sellers in August, for example? And will Wenig take a step back to the “level playing field” of eBay’s past, or will he continue eBay’s practice of giving special treatment to big brands and chainstores?

Donahoe has been writing essays and posting them on LinkedIn, from such popular posts about taking thinking days to an introspective post about his marriage. Like his boss, Wenig has penned an essay on LinkedIn. We took a look to see if it would shed any light about what changes might lie ahead that could impact eBay sellers.

Wenig titled his post, “Retail’s Big Play: The Connected Consumer.” He explains, “Connected consumers are seamless shoppers, moving easily across screens and from online to offline experiences. For example, millions of people shop our core eBay site every day, finding what they want from a seller down the street, or a merchant halfway around the world. And, increasingly, these shoppers may choose to pick up their items in a local store (where they may shop some more) rather than have them shipped to their doors for free.”

In his essay, Wenig highlighted mobile; in-store pickup; eBay Enterprise’s technology solutions for big brands; and cross-border trade. These are not the priorities of the traditional micro seller on eBay.

Wenig writes:

Commerce isn’t easy. Neither is change. But there’s never been a more exciting time for our industry. There is huge potential ahead in the $10 trillion commerce market.

Connected consumers must be every retailer’s north star. We have to inspire and delight these consumers by giving them experiences that fit seamlessly into their busy lives.

Over the next several years, we will see global consumers transform shopping experiences, and retailers will have to move faster than ever to avoid being left behind.

The real clue to whether Wenig will serve up more of the same or has a different approach in mind for eBay Marketplaces is the term “connected consumer” from his post’s headline. This report from Deloitte titled “The omnichannel opportunity: Unlocking the power of the connected consumer” explains how eBay is targeting large retailers, explaining how online and mobile can extend their stores’ reach.

There’s nothing in his post to suggest that Wenig will change the direction of eBay’s focus after he becomes CEO next year. And if eBay is setting itself up to be acquired after the split as is expected, it could be a technology firm that clicks the buy button – a company that wants access to eBay Enterprise clients and services.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.