Day 3 of eBay Open kicked off with a short segment from Andrea Stairs and Rebecca Michals.
The theme of seller engagement and community commitment was juxtaposed with sellers asking in the chat feed if this segment was pre-recorded or live.
From watching the chat feed over the first two days, it was clear many sellers believed eBay Open Online was a live event. eBay was obviously trying to mimic the "feel" of an in-person conference with scheduled overlapping "sessions" but it appears much of the content was pre-recorded and at least in some of the sessions in the first two days, the video presenters weren't even in the chat taking questions.
It's troubling to me that eBay wasn't more transparent about this. One response to a comment on the eBay for Business Facebook page is the only place I found any mention from an official eBay source that some content was pre-recorded. There was nowhere in the event FAQ or on the sessions themselves that made it explicitly clear which content was being presented live and which was pre-recorded.
I've never been able to attend one of the in person events, but I've heard one of the highlights of past events for many sellers was being able to get a little "face time" with some of the execs and higher up eBay people who run the show.
While I appreciate their recorded contributions, without some of them actually being there "live" to interact with sellers, it seems to have missed one of the most useful components of past in person events for both eBay and sellers.
For future online events like this, I'd suggest simply hosting the videos as on demand content and having different chat rooms with relevantly trained eBay staff on hand throughout the day as well as scheduled times to chat with the higher level executives for specific departments.
That would have allowed sellers to view the content, take notes, and come to a scheduled chat time with questions ready. It also could have helped to alleviate some of the technical issues, especially on the first day, if people could have just watched those videos at their leisure instead of thousands of users all trying to get into a particular session at the same time.
I raised these concerns both in the eBay community and on Twitter and on Day 3 was happy to see more transparency on this issue with many of the sessions having at least one of the video presenters present in the chat while the pre-recorded video content was playing.
Unfortunately, even when those presenters were present, sellers who asked them specific questions on the topic being covered were simply directed to the Q&A tab where general eBay staff worked to provide answers.
Again, I appreciate their involvement, but it seems like a huge missed opportunity not to structure this event in a way where sellers could meaningfully engage in real time with high level eBay executives in positions to action feedback given on the various topics being presented.
Increasing conversion with onsite marketing strategies
Like the first two days, much of the content in these sessions has been covered previously in past Seller Check Ins or announcement throughout the year.
Debarati delved into Coded Coupons which were announced in the Spring Seller Update in April and began to rollout to sellers in May.
Jacob covered Promoted Listings, focusing primarily on the Automated Promoted Listing feature.
Interestingly, even though Jacob acknowledged sellers may be wondering what's new and coming soon for Promoted Listings, he didn't mention either the Promoted Listings Advanced CPC option from Alex Kazim's session on Day 2 or the introduction of External Promoted Listings that was announced on July 29th.
I'm guessing the video may have been recorded before the announcement, but presumably the Head of SMB Partnerships should have been aware well in advance of this major enhancement on the horizon. Again, it seems like a big missed opportunity not to have included more fresh and exciting announcements like this in these sessions.
Audrey covered the Deals program and I was interested to see they are planning to overhaul the Deals experience for sellers. I've participated in eBay Deals in the past and absolutely agree the current process involves far too much manual effort, lack of reporting, and lack of support.
It sounds like they will be creating a Seller Portal for Deals to address these issues with launch slated for late Q3/early Q4 in time for the holidays.
There were some great seller led sessions throughout Day 3 as well as sessions on cross border trade, seller standards, off site marketing and a special recording of the eBay for Business podcast. Check them out in the full playlist from the eBay for Business YouTube channel!
Closing Remarks: Celebrating eBay Sellers
SVP & GM, North America Jordan Sweetnam closed things out. True to theme for the whole event, much of what Jordan covered will be very familiar to anyone who has been tuning in to Seller Check Ins and other events throughout the year.
Jordan thanked sellers and said:
It's been pretty clear since I've been back over the last two years and Jamie's heard the feedback loud and clear that some of the decisions that eBay has made maybe steered things a little too far into the let's become a platform of choice for buyers and then we'll sell some things and that's not how a two-sided marketplace works best.
eBay is at its best when we're selling the things that make eBay truly unique...but eBay buyers are going to have the best experience when you our sellers are having the best experience.
Is it fun to run a business on eBay? Is it easy to run a business on eBay? Do you have the tools you need? Can you make money selling transactions? Do you feel you're treated fairly?....
I am committed, Jamie's committed, the rest of our eBay leadership team and our thousands of employees are committed to bringing a balanced marketplace where you, our sellers, are having great experiences and that leads us to creating lifelong trusted relationships with buyers.
It's a lovely sentiment and I truly hope Jamie, Jordan and the rest of the eBay leadership team are taking it to heart. However, I can't help but note some of those key questions appear to have been skipped over in this three day conference.
The one session about seller standards and protections was just a starter level, basic explanation of eBay policies, metrics and current/existing seller protections.
Anyone who spends any time in the eBay community or talking to sellers will tell you that fraud, lack of protection, and policies that are heavily weighted on the side of the buyer are all top of mind and incredibly business impacting topics - yet they were mostly glossed over or entirely absent here.
Jamie's opening keynote and Jordan's closing remarks both touch on themes that are sure to resonate with sellers, like openness to seller feedback and a more balanced two-sided marketplace.
I wish those themes had been more of a driving force for this event rather than serving as mere bookends for the rest of the content. More live, direct engagement between eBay leadership and sellers would have been a good place to start.