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What’s Behind eBay’s Strategy of Targeting Enthusiast Buyers?

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What's Behind eBay's Strategy Targeting Enthusiast Buyers?

eBay executives have talked a lot about its strategy of targeting “high-value” and “enthusiast” buyers, but what does that mean exactly?

eBay’s Chief Business and Strategy Officer Stefanie Jay explained what the latter term meant and provided some examples during a presentation at the eBay Open event held in September and said sellers could benefit from understanding these types of buyers.

Of eBay’s 138 million buyers worldwide (at the time of the presentation), enthusiast buyers were eBay’s “best and most valuable group,” she said. They are collectors, hobbyists, category fanatics who are looking for things like trading cards, sneakers, handbags, car parts – “unique things that bring them a lot of joy.”

  • They spend 9 times more than the average non-enthusiast buyers.
  • They shop 30 different days each year on average.
  • They spend $3,000 per year.
  • The increase their “spend and purchase days” by 50% after the first year on eBay.
  • The average enthusiast buyer has been on eBay for about 12 years.

There are 4 main categories of enthusiast buyers:

  • Sourcing pros: they leverage eBay for their commercial activity.
  • Category-centric buyers: they are hobbyists or collectors
  • Value seekers: they are looking for great deals and discounted prices, mostly in electronics and fashion
  • Horizontal buyers: they shop across all categories but aren’t as price sensitive as value seekers.

Jay said understanding category-centric buyers and value-seekers could help sellers to grow their business. She described one category-centric buyer named Nick, who spent $2,300 on eBay, 65% of which was related to sports memorabilia.

eBay talks a lot about focus categories, Jay said, but that’s because enthusiast buyers also make purchases outside of their main category.

Referring back to Nick, who spent $800 outside sports memorabilia categories, she said the breadth and depth of eBay’s inventory “makes sure that the Nicks of the world keep coming back.”

“This is foundational to building loyalty and repeat buying,” she said.

Jay then introduced “value-seeker” Phil. Value-seekers know how to navigate eBay’s platform to find value across every category. Some of Phil’s purchases were used goods, had free shipping, or were made through a seller offer (you can learn more about offers to buyers on eBay Seller Center).

Value seekers come back to eBay for the breadth and scale of inventory at competitive prices.

Jay said eBay is helping sellers turn customers into repeat buyers with tools that enable more visibility and velocity. One example she cited was “Save this seller,” which is prompted when a buyer makes a purchase. “After they check out, they can opt to save you as a seller.”

While it may seem simple, Jay said the “Save this seller” prompt has quadrupled the number of saved sellers to date – and it has led to greater purchase frequency. Other tools include the ability for sellers to make offers and use coupons.

It’s interesting to hear how eBay describes its strategy, but it hasn’t stemmed the decline in the total number of buyers. Earlier this month, eBay reported it had 135 million active buyers at the end of the third quarter (compared to 152 million at the end of Q3 2021).

In 2021, eBay CEO Jamie Iannone and Chief Financial Officer Steve Priest discussed their new approach to buyers and explained the distinction between “high-value” buyers and “low-value” buyers ( see “eBay CEO Jamie Iannone Rejects Predecessor’s Approach to Buyers“).

Theoretically eBay’s focus on value-seekers should be fruitful as more people are trying to save money due to economic challenges. But eBay rivals aren’t immune from economic uncertainty either.

Stefanie Jay joined eBay last year from Walmart, where current eBay CEO Jamie Iannone had been before rejoining eBay in 2020. Will they be able to draw from their experience at the major discount retailer to attract more value seekers? Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments below and what tools you use to attract buyers and then turn them into repeat customers.

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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/.

4 thoughts on “What’s Behind eBay’s Strategy of Targeting Enthusiast Buyers?”

  1. LOL – in ENGLISH – it means that eBay doesnt want the small buyer (or seller).

    eBay thinks its king of the hill and that it invented the high end buyer.

    Catering to that class of buyer (because it can due to its breadth of categories) is more profitable. While Amazon has to deal with people buying air fresheners or tuna, eBay feels it doesnt have to “anymore”.

    Its a continuation of the “we are not a flea market” idea, started back a few years ago.

    Good luck to eBay on all this as they dont have the goods (since they dont own them – they have no way to insure stock), they dont have the sellers (eBay hates them and they hate eBay), the government is fresh out of free Covid cash, diesel is $6 a gallon and there will be a rail strike soon.

    Jaime and Jay (sounds like an ice cream company) better pray this works out ….!

  2. to bad the walmart dopes can not understand that if the actually shown buyers what they are looking for in search instead what fleecebay thinks they want, they may have more buyers

  3. From what I have seen, “enthusiast” buyers in the Stamps category hate “Best Match” search and universally complain about the difficulty of viewing listings of wanted stamps because eBay search returns too many false positives on catalog number searches. Unfortunately, eBay has no “catalog/catalog number” item specific and lacks useful Item Condition values. Most sellers do not appear to know how to expose the condition description at the beginning of the listing. Many “enthusiast” buyers in the Stamps category know which sellers to avoid. Careful examination of “enthusiast” buyer purchases could expose unpopular larger sellers. “Enthusiast” buyers in the Stamps category are more likely to buy from a fairly short list of dealers if looking for more expensive stamps. Required Item Specifics in the eBay stamps category have been counterproductive. Search filters provided by eBay do not support “enthusiast buyer” search patterns and use abbreviations and terminology inconsistent with sellers established before eBay came along.

    “Enthusiast” buyers in collectible railroad color slides and photograph seem more likely to return to the same seller. In part this is due the uniqueness and scarcity of high-quality older color slides. Unfortunately, eBay sites in Europe are difficult to locate because of differences in category structure and potentially high mailing costs.

  4. Why X Walmart employees NOW work @ Wal~bay

    Does eBay drug test?
    No, eBay does not drug test before employment, nor does the company drug test employees with any regularity once employed.

    Does eBay hire felons?
    Yes, eBay does hire felons. The company usually allows a person to explain any felony convictions during the hiring process….

    Dose eBay have An IQ requirement?
    Yes, eBay has An IQ requirement. 25 %Percentile or less The company usually allows a person to explain, but rarely understands them.(they become C.S REPS or programers)

    Dose eBay have An executive requirement?
    Yes, eBay has An executive requirement you must be Ready Willing and Able to Cheat, Lie, Steal & BREAK THE LAW “TO ANY AND ALL EXTENT”

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