What Does eBay Have That Amazon Never Will?

What Does eBay Have That Amazon Never Will?


“We Are eBay,” it was plastered on all the branding from your notepads and goodie bags to the hallway room signage. Was it there to remind me that they are eBay or was it there to remind themselves? I think it was both.

After two days of being immersed in the hoopla of the eBay 20th Anniversary party, I am sitting on the plane and dissecting everything that went on the last 72-hours. It was totally a whirlwind of excitement both mental and physical. It is hard not to get really into the hype when you are dead center; the dopamine is flowing. But then there comes the morning after, and I have this hangover.

No silly, not a liquor induced one, I have informational overload and a sensory hangover. What is the BEST remedy for one of those? Well for me, I like to simply organize my thoughts. Let’s start with the easy part, the announcements of the Fall changes.

Overall, the response of the community on site was VERY positive. The only issues I heard from the sellers that I spoke with was the timing of the implementation. While it was great to have the new compliance guidelines, the fact that they would not get instituted until 2016, long after the holiday 4th quarter was somewhat disappointing.

When asked by sellers about this, leadership at eBay made it clear that they wanted to try and squeeze it in, but since it had to roll out globally, they simply could not make that happen in time. A sampling of sellers in The Ecommerce Group on Facebook showed that a whopping 98% felt the eBay changes were positive. I must say in 15 years, this has been the most well-received group of changes I have seen coming from the Seller community.

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The leadership at eBay is telegraphing the desire to service both buyer and seller needs with a fresh angle.

After some tumultuous times in the company history, where sellers and leadership did not seem to be on the same page, this new leadership is telegraphing the desire to service both buyer and seller needs with a fresh angle. The keynote speeches by leadership were VERY seller focused. By that I mean attending these sessions in the past seemed more like the schoolmaster trying to forcefully educate its sellers on how to treat their customers.

That was not the feeling today, today’s vibe was more about giving the sellers the TOOLS to better service their own customers. Several times we heard the phrase “giving seller's control.” Control over returns, control over reporting, control over service times. After years of feeling under the rule of a heavy hand, I think many sellers came away feeling more empowered.

What was very interesting was the fact that MOST of the leadership does not even remember eBay Live days (early 2000’s), and also most of the community did not either. Gone was the face paint, pom-poms and multi-colored hair, replaced by young, enterprising entrepreneurs. As such, the focus was about business and not the personal fun of finding beanie babies.

I guess I am an old school eBay’er and those of us that remember those days could see a stark contrast between yesterday and today. Personally I found it REFRESHING because it is about the business of selling. If eBay focuses on bringing traffic, great experience and a good platform, the sellers are MORE than capable of handling the other parts.

So much has changed in the e-commerce landscape from the early 2000’s to 2015. While I still hear the hallowed shadow voices of people wishing they had eBay 2005, it’s clear that today's shopper is NOT going to sit around waiting five days for an Auctions to on a laser pointer.

Amazon just rolled out 1-hour shipping in Seattle which shows a move to fulfillment mastery. The only way Ebay will be successful is to be like the signs say… We Are eBay. eBay is not like anyone else; it is positioned to have something that Amazon does not… A COMMUNITY!

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eBay’s best asset is a community that is sick and tired of just being a sourcing finder for Amazon.

There is power and opportunity in eBay’s plethora of small business owners. What I came away with was not what I saw on the stage that was impressive to me. What was the most impressive part was the fact that Ebay has a selling community. If eBay wants to know where the opportunity for its success lies, its was in the seats of the auditorium. eBay's best asset is a community that is sick and tired of just being a sourcing finder for Amazon.

I spoke to dozens of sellers and made it a point just to walk around and shake hands and chat with people I knew and did not know. I was amazed at how many of the people that made the trek to San Jose told me they were here because they want to once again partner with eBay. Moreover, that desire was summed up in having MORE control of their brand experience.

Hey, eBay…the opportunity to do something uniquely relevant is here. There are millions of sellers willing to give eBay 2016 a shot, so in the words of RuPaul, my suggestion to you today is “Don’t F___ It Up!”

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