eBay revenue fell 2% year-over-year – which was an increase of 5% on an FX-neutral basis (currency exchange). In a post-earnings conference call, CEO Devin Wenig used terms like “solid performance” and “a step in the right direction.”
Transaction revenue (that’s revenue excluding Marketing Services and Other Revenue) grew 4% year-over-year on an FX-neutral basis, and decelerated 1 point from the previous quarter. The deceleration was driven by investments in increased seller promotions such as eBay Top Rated Seller and Daily Deals programs, the company explained.
SEO problems continued to plague eBay in July, August, and September. Chief Financial Officer Scott Schenkel told analysts, “The SEO headwinds continue to impact our ability to acquire new buyers.” And while eBay reported modest acceleration in trailing 3-month Active Buyer growth, it noted that it had seen strong user acquisition in India.
The dollar amount of goods sold by eBay’s US sellers in the third quarter was only 3% higher than the third quarter of 2014. And US GMV accelerated only 1 point in Q3 compared to the prior quarter. That was driven, however, by its ticket marketplace StubHub.
Talking very quickly in his presentation, Wenig outlined again for analysts his 3-pronged strategy and, referring to his last presentation in July, said “we are doing what we said we would do.”
The CEO presented information about its efforts to move toward structured data, which it said would help it leverage data to improve the user experience, SEO, merchandising, and the seller listing flow.
Wenig pointed to social media sites as a key to providing a “diversified source of traffic,” a necessity given its well documented SEO problems with Google. eBay regularly uses 10 social channels, he said, though he didn’t list them.
Some highlights of the call of interest to sellers:
eBay is seeing significant growth with its intermediated selling service for consumer sellers called eBay Valet. Nearly 1/3 of eBay Valet consignments come from repeat customers. And the majority of them progress to buying and selling on their own on eBay.
Despite disruption by launching a new mobile experience, the percentage of GMV that closed on mobile still increased to 42% in the quarter, up 1% from last quarter.
In discussing its eBay Plus subscription program in Germany, which is similar to Amazon Prime, Wenig said eBay would promote within the subscription the ability for consumers to sell without fees.
eBay said FX-neutral global fixed-price GMV grew 12%, while auctions declined 21%. Wenig said eBay is providing sellers with incentives to sell in the Fixed Price format, finding that in many categories, conversion is better with fixed-price listings – such as consumer electronics.
Wenig also attributed the decline in auction GMV to the fact that eBay had been focused on “big retail.” Now eBay is looking at the opportunity in C2C (consumer to consumer). “I think there’s an opportunity over time to reinvigorate that business.”
He also said the ability to acquire unique inventory through unique sellers – both consumers and small- and medium sized business – was square in the center of where eBay is focused. “And you’ll see us do even more in the balance of this year and certainly in 2016.”
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