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How eBay Is Trying to Fend off Amazon in Canada

In 2009, eBay Canada slashed its workforce by 80% – and by 2013, it was overtaken by Amazon Canada, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported last week in a profile of Andrea Stairs. The Managing Director of eBay Canada said she nearly quit at the time, and she discussed eBay’s current strategy to fend off rivals.

Stairs referred to the period in 2009 as her “darkest days” as Head of Marketing for eBay Canada, leaving her with only five staff members. eBay had spun the layoffs as a positive telling EcommerceBytes that as part of the layoff strategy, it was creating a combined global product and technology team that would allow it to “innovate more rapidly, deliver the tech stack and create a better end-to-end customer experience.”

But it was a rough period not only for Stairs, but for many at eBay. Following the appointment of John Donahoe as CEO and as the global financial crisis grew, eBay cut 10 percent of its global workforce in 2008, followed by layoffs in 2009, including 700 workers in Vancouver, Canada and 400 workers in Germany.

Stairs appeared upbeat in the feature piece. The Canadian newspaper said eBay had recently hired seasoned retail executives to steer it toward offering merchandise that its research indicated its shoppers would covet, “rather than just operating as a tech firm peddling sellers’ own product choices.”

And she shared eBay’s strategy. “Today Ms. Stairs’s wider task at eBay Canada is to persuade shoppers to think of it as a retail destination for new or used hard-to-get merchandise, in a wide array of price ranges, even as the market gets more crowded. It is taking a more active role in mining its data to pinpoint inventory its sellers should stock. At the same time, eBay faces a growing number of rivals. She says the strategy is working, although the company doesn’t break out its results here. “It’s a really healthy business in Canada,” she says.

You can read the full profile on the Globe and Mail website.

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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). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.