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eBay Open 2018: CEO Devin Wenig Answers Questions During Keynote

Devin Wenig

Devin WenigeBay CEO Devin Wenig spoke on Tuesday at the eBay Open summit where he answered questions from eBay sellers that were presented by “celebrity” seller Corri McFadden. About 2,000 sellers are attending the event in Las Vegas this week, according to eBay head of North American Marketplaces Scott Cutler, and over 60% of them are first-time sellers.

Wenig said he was faced with two choices when he took over as CEO 3 years ago after the split with PayPal: nibble around the edges and make marginal improvements, or solve difficult issues and modernize the platform. “I’m super proud of where we are,” he said. “eBay’s never been bigger than it is today.” (He didn’t say by what metrics he’s making the comparison.)

“How many Internet companies that were born in 1997 are even alive,” he asked, then providing the answer: five. “eBay’s best days are in front of it,” he said, adding that he’s never been more optimistic about the company or the platform.

After discussing the state of retail and describing past industry disruptions, he outlined what he believes eBay has to do: “our job is to adapt, and give both sellers and buyers what they need, and invest into these big computing platform shifts that have disrupted others.”

Wenig was asked what eBay was doing to attract new buyers and retain them. “I start and stop with the product and customer service,” he said.

“The first thing you do is build a great product, the first thing you do is service customers really well.” He said eBay has 175 million buyers – “that’s not even getting started.” It’s a good number, he said, “but I want half a billion buyers.” To get there, eBay has to modernize the platform; get better at customer service; and get quality sellers and inventory on to the platform, he said.

Then it’s time to market – and eBay will invest more in marketing in the second half of the year than it ever has, he said. “We’re going to spend a lot of money to bring new buyers on to the platform,” particularly in underpenetrated markets such as millennials and women.

When asked about eBay’s decision to take over payments management on the platform (in the future, buyers will pay eBay instead of paying sellers directly), Wenig said what he wants is choice for buyers and simplicity and lower costs for sellers. eBay announced today that it will accept Apple Pay mobile payments through its beta testing that begins in September.

Wenig also fielded questions about returns, the online sales tax issue, and glitches. You can read what he had to say about online sales tax in this EcommerceBytes Newsflash article.

In answering a question about what eBay was doing about the numerous site glitches, Wenig called them unacceptable and said he was “pissed off” about them and had made changes to the team. “I hold my team accountable. It’s not important, it’s an internal matter, but we’ve made changes to people and teams, because shipping product that isn’t ready is not okay. It’s not okay with me, and it’s not okay with my team.”

eBay had webcast much of last year’s conference, but this year it has scaled back. You can follow the event on social media using #ebayopen2018 and view webcast sessions on this YouTube channel.

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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/.

13 thoughts on “eBay Open 2018: CEO Devin Wenig Answers Questions During Keynote”

  1. Quoting Wenig “because shipping product that isn’t ready is not okay. It’s not okay with me, and it’s not okay with my team.”
    What does “shipping product that isn’t ready…” have to do with eBay’s website not working properly?
    eBay.com glitches are many – missing photographs of items, views of listings missing for seller’s analytics, “best offer” mysteriously added to listings, not to mention throttling and lack of promotions to some sellers to drive them to pay extra for a store subscription?
    Promoted listings feature?? it’s not enough sellers pay 10% plus a possible insertion fee, eBay now wants an additional percentage to “promote” our listings? I could go on. Do your JOB eBay! It’s obvious you want to be amazon – it’s NEVER gonna happen! Greener grass syndrome has blurred ebay’s leadership, losing site of great branding – along the lines of Kleenex and Xerox. Wasted because they want to be amazon. Let me ask you this Wenig, when has anyone outside of eBay ever told you of the time they got a great deal on tubes socks, underwear or batteries? NEVER is a guess! But I could count dozens of times in person or in the media where a buyer raved about that vintage vinyl record, toy, a rare designer jacket even a potato chip with the image of Elvis on it that was purchased on eBay! You can’t buy that kind of advertising. Because of resources spent chasing amazon it now would be a financial disaster to go “back” to what made eBay great. As a reseller, I will put my faith in new platforms like Mercari, Poshmark and some not so new like Etsy and Facebook Marketplace to appreciate the vintage, used and rare niche that eBay has taken for granted. Enjoy mediocrity eBay it’s your resting place.

  2. AS usual Wenig holds his Team Accountable for all the issues, but no mention of him holding himself responsible for making poor decisions and trying to do everything on the cheap while trying to make it look like he is doing a great job. Wenig needs to fire himself and let Ebay find somebody who has retail experience and Ecommerce experience who is not 100% more interested in plundering the company for every penny he can.

    What a useless piece of manure that still cannot/willnot accept that the issues with the platform failing are all on him.

  3. @eBay seller – I took his “shipping product” statement to mean installing software. You know DW always has to use Weasel Speak whenever he talks,

  4. Wenig knows one language: hyperbole.
    It’s never something quantifiable like “we’ve hired 500 new CSRs”…it’s nebulous crapola like “we’re really pleased with our progress”.

  5. “I start and stop with the product and customer service,” he said.”
    Product being his delivery system, customer service being his people.

    ZERO mention of attracting and/or retaining sellers…”HIS” ONLY significant source of income.
    The man lives in a vacuum of his own making.

  6. Wall street market analysis are very slow to realize , eBay management lies! But each quarter they will wake up more and more! Turtles move slow, but they do move! expect eBay stock to move down for Q3 with a big drop! If your reading this and you own eBay stock protect yourself , buy a “PUT” on eBay now, you have a golden opportunity here! As for us lowly poor eBay sellers, we have two choices; 1. Organize into a independent “eBay Sellers Association” 2. Go back to Trade shows, sell there and remove the sold items on eBay as, “end my listing”

  7. Here is what I would like to see Ebay vintage for the one off and antique things, Ebay Marketplace for small to large sellers and Eby bigbox. Will it happen most likely not. What they can do is to give sellers options. Give us 7 and 14 day returns, and the option of charging restocking fees to offset our costs. Let sellers have stores that mean something and that we can brand. Make the useless emails a better marketing tool, and probably a thousand things that Amazon doesn’t do.

    1. That is exactly what Ebay is trying to get away from. They want people to only think the name Ebay when buying something, not this Seller from Ebay. They have decided that they want to be just like Amazon but not have to buy, stock or deliver the inventory. They want all the listings to look alike as well as all the stores to look alike so that Buyers only think Ebay, until there is a problem then they want them to forget the Ebay name and only think about the seller so as to not harm their brand name.

      Ebay is trying to take away all the individuality that used to be encouraged of its sellers who were running their own businesses. Now they think of us more as employees or slaves since they pay us nothing but order to do what they want the way they want. Then Ebay wonders why they can no longer grow like the other sites do.

      Wake Up Wenig – Even your own Executives don’t follow your recommendations. Kupbens still does not accept returns period, let alone Free Returns. That says a lot when your own person in charge of pushing for sellers to use your recommendations won’t even follow them. I think its called running your business into the ground which seems to be your goal, or the only way you know how to run a company.

      1. Wow – I guess there were enough comments about it that you must have forced Kupbens to change his returns policy because he went from No Returns to Free 30 Day Returns. I can’t wait to see how he reacts the first time he has to pay for everything on a return and if he tries to withhold the 50% that you say he can and gets hit with a chargeback from the buyers CC company.

        I may be wrong because i just do not remember his prices, but it looks like he also raised his prices to cover this cost, yet you encourage most sellers to constantly lower their prices when things have not sold in as long as his items have not. I wonder if he gets the same lower search placement as the rest of the sellers for not doing what Daddy Wenig wants him to do??

  8. OH BOY!!!…the fees are going DOWN!

    OK, Devin…you’re the man. You have ALL the answers.

    IF it’s going down, what is the MINIMUM?
    Simple question…simple answer.

    1. What will probably happen is the discount rate for processing will go down from 2.96% down to 2.95% and Ebay will call that a big savings. But they will then probably charge you a batch fee which Paypal does not have so overall the cost will increase but Ebay will neglect to mention that part of things.

      I am wondering if they will still offer micropayments accounts like Paypal does where instead of $.30 per transaction you only pay $.05 but then you pay 5% discount instead of 2.96%. If your average sale is under $12 you save money with the micropayments account. Maybe that is why Ebay is focusing on raising their Average Sales Price so they do not have to offer it.

  9. If eBay wants to be Amazon, create a new site. eBay should be about antiques & collectibles. That’s what the original vision was. The worst addition was the seller dashboard which proves it’s harder to keep eBay happy than your buyers. I’ve gotten positive feedback from buyers but transaction defects for tracking not uploaded on time, etc. why does it matter as long as the buyer is happy? Why does eBay have to micromanage every single aspect of a transaction and why should the seller be responsible when the post office screws up? Most importantly, why do sellers get notifications when an item sells, is paid for (ship now), when a case is opened, when a message is received….but not when a transaction defect shows up on your dashboard. This is something that can affect your top rated status or put you below standard, not to mention you only have 60-90 days to appeal it depending on the type of defect. Why should I be expected to check my dashboard every week? I have so many other websites and notifications that need to be maintained. Why won’t eBay at least let me know that there is a defect so I can try to get it appealed?

  10. The Grand Poobah Devin has had his 3 days in the sun.
    Stock shot up 91 cents combined Wed & Thur, than tanked 63 cents to under $34.
    So much for projections and promises.
    Maybe the smart money realized that to have 500M “customers”, ebay will need a lot more sellers selling other than Chinese junk.
    The current seller exodus pretty much undermines that happy thought.

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