eBay Surveys Buyers On C2C Initiatives - Is "eBay It Forward" Making A Comeback?

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


A Value Added Resource reader recently reached out about an interesting turn a recent buyer survey took, with questions about their purchase experience morphing into broader questions about C2C sales on the platform.

The reader said they received an eBay survey inviting them to rate a recent transaction but the questions quickly segued to gauging reactions to an initiative they called, "Ebay it Forward" described as a consumer to consumer transaction for used goods.

If that phrase sounds familiar, it was a marketing concept eBay floated in 2020-early 2021 as then newly named CEO Jamie Iannone touted eBay's core strength and success in non-new in season consumer to consumer categories as part of his "tech-led reimagination" strategy.

eBay Inc. Names Jamie Iannone Chief Executive Officer
SAN JOSE, Calif. , April 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ - eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY ) today announced that the Company’s Board of Directors has appointed Jamie Iannone as Chief Executive Officer, effective April 27, 2020 . He has also been elected to the Company’s Board of Directors. Most recently Mr. Iannone was Chief Operating Officer of Walmart eCommerce. Mr. Iannone has over 20 years of experience leading digital pure-play and omnichannel platforms for some of the world’s premier consumer-facing companies. Before being promoted to COO of Walmart eCommerce, he served as CEO of SamsClub.com , the eCommerce unit for the $57 billion Sam’s Club . In this role, he was responsible for the unit’s digital transformation, including developing and executing initiatives in membership, marketing, technology, product and operations. Mr. Iannone previously worked at eBay as a Vice President and other leadership roles from 2001 to 2009. “The Board believes Jamie is the ideal CEO to lead eBay ’s next chapter
"I am honored to rejoin eBay as its next Chief Executive Officer," said Mr. Iannone. "In my previous experience with the Company, I developed a deep appreciation for what makes eBay so special.

eBay 's success has always been rooted in its robust C2C platform. I believe the Company has tremendous opportunities to capitalize on this foundation, innovate for the future and grow its ecosystem.

Jamie took those sentiments even further in an interview with CNBC in July 2020, saying getting back to individual consumer selling and becoming the "seller platform of choice" were among his top priorities for the company, along with focusing on key core vertical categories for growth.

I'm not satisfied with where we are and I see enormous upside potential in really getting back and focused on the customer experience.

I'm planning on leading what I'm calling the tech led reimagination of eBay and that's using our technology and next-gen compelling experiences in three different areas.

First building compelling experiences in key verticals that are really core to eBay and also getting back to our consumer selling that's individual selling which is really important to the platform.

Second is being the seller platform of choice,especially around non-new in season. We've got a 500 billion dollar opportunity in the core of what eBay is great at in non-new in season and being the seller platform of choice there is a huge opportunity.

And then third is building lifelong trusted buyer relationships.

The eBay It Forward campaign came out in March 2021, and while some spots did highlight luxury handbags and watches (which would later become staples in the high value buyer vertical focus strategy), there was one focused on vintage clothing and another featuring a wide range of items you can find on eBay such as kitchen appliances, outdoor equipment, home goods and more with a theme of "Sell What Didn't Work Out To Make Room For What Does."

Unfortunately, consumer selling and being the seller platform of choice quickly faded to the background a few months later when Stefanie Jay followed Iannone over from Walmart to take on the newly created role of eBay's Chief Business Strategy Officer.

During Jay's tenure, eBay pursued a very narrow focused vertical, "high value, enthusiast buyer" strategy - leaving many of the non-new in season, one of a kind, vintage, antiques and other collectibles C2C sellers that were the "foundational roots of eBay's success" feeling excluded and abandoned.

Sellers Grow Weary of eBay’s Vertical Strategy Focus
Sellers are losing patience with vertical focus, calling it exclusionary. Is CEO Jamie Iannone paying attention?

Fast forward 3 years and that narrow focus has not worked out nearly as well as Iannone and Jay had hoped, with "enthusiast buyer" figures staying flat quarter after quarter while eBay loses market share in other categories to smaller niche competitors like Depop or scrappy up and coming startups like Whatnot.

Amidst mass layoffs in January 2024 and cost cutting pressures new open job positions showed eBay may be seeking fresh ideas and new strategies, with a possible pivot back to a wider consumer-seller focus.

That shift was bolstered even more when it was revealed that Stefanie Jay has departed the company, leaving questions about eBay's strategy future up in the air.

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

eBay Q4 2023 Earnings: Leaning In On C2C Pivot, Ads Continue To Drive Revenue Growth
eBay’s Q4 2023 earnings report bolsters consumer-seller strategy shift as active buyers & GMV remain relatively flat.

Jay's departure has left an unfilled slot in the eBay Our Leaders page and while they have yet to announce a replacement, a recent shuffling at the US General Manager level has left Adam Ireland moving on to a new, yet to be disclosed, role within with the company.

eBay Shakes Up US Leadership With New General Manager
eBay has a new US General Manager as VP Adam Ireland moves to new role & VP Collectibles, Electronics & Home, Dawn Block steps up to lead US ops.

Given Adam's professional background both before eBay and during his now 12+ years at the company, it won't be surprising if he ends up in some sort of high level strategy position.

While many sellers would undoubtedly be delighted to see a serious return to eBay's C2C roots, one has to wonder if it might not already be too little, too late as competitors have had 3 years to nibble away at marketshare in categories that eBay used to easily dominate, like pre-loved fashion.

Etsy-owned circular fashion app Depop is already taking bold steps in shaking up their fee structure in the UK, removing selling fees and implementing an up to 5% Marketplace Fee paid by buyers instead and they may not be the last to get creative with fees in an attempt to win over C2C business.

Depop Drops Selling Fee In UK, Shifts Burden To Buyers Directly Via Marketplace Fee Instead
Etsy-owned Depop drops selling fees in UK, shifting partial cost burden to buyers through “up to” 5% Marketplace Fee instead.

eBay has been testing fee free selling for private consumer sellers in the UK as well, mirroring changes they made to the German marketplace last year, but it will be interesting to see if eBay can pivot fast enough to meet their projections of returning to GMV growth in Q3 0r Q4 of this year.

What do you think of eBay's apparent C2C strategy pivot? Can they pull of a comeback and keep consumer sellers loyal to the platform or is it too little, too late with other competitors gaining ground? 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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