eBay Eyes Store Enhancements Amidst Increasing GMV & Active Buyer Growth Pressure

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


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eBay may be turning their attention back to enhancing the Stores experience after years of neglect with new job ad looking for a Senior Product Manager to "develop and drive the strategy for creating best in class tools for sellers to create, grow and support their eBay stores" and "drive growth in traffic, conversion, revenue and GMV."

The job description is telling both for the fact that it reveals eBay still has years worth of work yet to do on Stores and that it admits the company is under increasing pressure to grow traffic, conversions, revenue, and Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV).

Many sellers have lamented eBay's lackadaisical approach to the Stores feature over the years, saying the company has missed critical opportunities to empower sellers with tools to build and promote their brands within the marketplace.

Store subscriptions that range from ~$5 to $,3,000 per month carry most of their value in free listing allotments and slightly Final Value Fee rates in many categories, rather than exclusive tools and features to help increase sales.

Other perks include a quarterly coupon that can be used to purchase shipping supplies from eBay's designated supplier (which many sellers say no longer goes as far as it used to because product prices have increased while the coupon amount has stayed the same years) and access to higher tier support for Anchor and Enterprise stores - though many sellers say they are not always getting what they pay for on that last point.

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eBay previously undertook to "enhance" the Stores experience back in 2021, introducing a new design featuring an About tab and video capabilities, category menu, branded mini-header, search bar, marketing banners, store policies, and featured listings and categories.

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More options to customize the look and feel of Store pages were introduced throughout 2022, but eBay's efforts were missing an important component - traffic.

Beautiful looking Store pages don't do any good if no one sees them and almost none of the changes being made at that time did anything to help increase traffic or visibility.

The eBay Ads team proposed to help solve this problem by creating a new Cost Per Click ad product called Promoted Display that could promote stores, featured categories and featured items in high level listing page and search placements.

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However, then VP eBay Stores Tom Pinckney seemed to have another idea - why not provide incentive for sellers to share their store and listing links on social media to help drive traffic back to the site?

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As part of this strategy, Pinckney announced at eBay Open Online in 2021 that eBay would be adding a social media marketing incentive to discount the final value fee to 2.5% + $0.30 per transaction when buyers buy from social media posts.

Sellers were told at the time the feature was "coming soon" but after a short test in the Australian market in 2022, eBay has shelved it indefinitely and provided no further updates on when/if they plan to revisit it in the future.

Meanwhile, Promoted Display ads are expanding to include more sellers and additional placements, clearly showing eBay's priority is to increase ad revenue rather than provide useful tools and incentives to help sellers increase sales.

Pickney left the company in September 2022 and eBay's Store initiatives have been on life support ever since.

More recent efforts have focused mostly on encouraging and enabling new ways for sellers to provide discounts and markdowns in a never-ending race to the bottom on pricing or a new Quick View feature that allows buyers to add items directly cart from the Store page, bypassing the listing page and potentially missing crucial details in seller-provided descriptions.

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At the same time, features like Terapeak Product Research and Social Media tools that were previously only available to Store subscribers have been opened up to all sellers, further eroding the value of eBay Stores.

CEO Jamie Iannone is under increasing pressure to reverse stalled Active Buyer and GMV states, telling Wall Street that eBay is forecasting a return to GMV growth by Q3 or Q4 of 2024.

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In order to meet those projections, eBay appears to be pivoting away from the narrow vertical strategy of the last few years and back to a wider small business and consumer-seller focus, after Chief Business Strategy Officer Stefanie Jay stepped down in January.

Iannone also highlighted C2C success in Germany on the Q4 2023 earnings call and other recent investor conferences, while carefully trying to make it seem like this was all part of the vertical focus strategy all along rather than the sudden strategy pivot it appears to be.

The C2C strategy pivot has already started to take shape in the UK, with a new Seller Success team and initiatives to boost consumer and small business selling in what eBay is calling the "fix the fundamental aspect of UK Win back plan."

They also began testing fee free selling for private consumer sellers in the UK earlier this year, mirroring changes they made to the German marketplace last year, and announced in April that selling fees have been permanently dropped for private UK clothing sales.

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While C2C sellers are not likely to utilize eBay's Store offerings, offering enhanced features for Stores could be an important step in helping those who start out just selling personal items transition into becoming part or full time businesses on the platform - a cohort that Iannone calls "accidental entrepreneurs."

What features and functionality would you love to see eBay develop for Stores and how do you think they can help drive more traffic to Stores or provide more value for those monthly subscription fees? Let us know in the comments below!

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Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of online marketplace sales experience, providing commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Shopify & more at Value Added Resource!


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