Having celebrated its 20th birthday in September, eBay enters its third decade in business—without PayPal by its side. This year, the online marketplace spun off the powerful digital payments system that it bought back in 2002, enabling both to pursue different paths.
eBay is looking ahead with a clear strategy, something that’s vital given growing competition from rivals like Amazon, Alibaba, Craigslist, and Etsy, while it moves past challenges like the 2014 cyber attack, and a shift in Google’s algorithm that made eBay listings fall significantly in search results. For CEO Devin Wening, the strategy is simple: while retailers focus on—and love to talk about—consumers, eBay is placing its primary focus firmly on sellers.
With a growing number of platforms from which to choose, seller satisfaction is critical to eBay’s future success. The company is investing in new systems and sharing detailed data analytics to help eBay sellers maximize their reach and be more effective at moving product. It has also introduced more merchant-friendly standards that rate sellers on two criteria: on-time shipping and a product’s defect rate. Buyer feedback and consumer votes no longer affect how a seller is ranked. It’s part of a deliberate strategy to position eBay as the technology company that empowers people to sell on the Web. It also recently added venerable international auction house Phillips as a partner for live auctions, following a similar partnership with Sotheby’s that was announced earlier in the year.
eBay recently launched an unexpected new campaign that creates clever interplay between music, design, and products. The simple and catchy spots feature songs from the likes of Ke$ha and Billy Joel, as products that match the lyrics pop up in rapid succession. Through the campaign, eBay is creatively curating “collections” to show just how varied, vast, and surprising the offerings on the website can be.
The path is clear for this online marketplace pioneer, as it empowers merchants who, in turn, understand their consumers and the marketplace—and will help define the future of e-commerce.