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January 19, 2006

eBay Express - a game changer?

Yesterday eBay disclosed some details on eBay Express (we like to call it E-squared or E^2).  E^2 will be a specialty site (a subset for those math-oriented readers) of eBay listings that not only show up on ‘core’ eBay, but also in a new shopping experience – E^2.

We’ve been in the loop on this for a while and I have to say we’re pretty enthusiastic about this new initiative. We’re so excited we’re going to invest heavily in this initiative and today ChannelAdvisor announced that we will support eBay Express when it launches (Spring according to Bill Cobb's  comments).

Internally we’ve been talking about e^2 as the “Amazonification of eBay”.   Here’s some color on that and I’d enjoy a discussion here of your thoughts.

Some of the challenges we hear from buyers that want to purchase on eBay are:

  • Auctions are time consuming

  • eBay’s zillions of listings are hard to navigate

  • Given the breadth of listings, it’s hard for eBay to cross-promote and do some basic merchandising things like personal recommendations, etc.

  • If I want to buy from 2 sellers, that’s two transactions

  • It’s hard to tell which sellers are high/medium/low quality

  • Why do I have to register with ebay AND paypal

  • Etc.

For sellers the eBay environment has these challenges:

  • Dead-beats/non-paid-items, etc. (this is caused by the separation of the closing/paying loop)

  • Decreasing ASPs (especially in the auction side)

  • Perpetual desire for more buyers!

  • Limited merchandising options

eBay Express could fix all of this.  Let's dig in.

Imagine a subset of eBay listings where everything is immediate pay (No deadbeats), eBay can promote things to search/comparison shopping separately, ebay can do lots of merchandising, and most importantly the buyers can buy in the same way they would from a normal ecommerce company like Amazon/Bestbuy/sears/walmart/etc.

Here’s the under the hood view.

Listings on e^2 work just like normal eBay (with some stuff behind the hood where the seller can decide if the listing should show up in E^2 or not).  There are some requirements (98% positive, > 100 feedback), but the listing part is pretty easy to get your head around.

The checkout is more complicated – if you use a third party checkout, that will not be an option. eBay will have a new checkout system (enhanced from current somewhat limited eBay checkout system) that will require some work to support and work with if you have a somewhat involved back-end process as most large eBay business do.

The site will be at http://express.ebay.com and we’ll keep a close watch on that for everyone.  FYI Bill Cobb has a townhall on Jan 26 and there maybe more details at that time.

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