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April 30, 2013

Live Blogging from 2013 Catalyst Americas: eBay Keynote, Devin Wenig and Scot Wingo

Welcome to the live blog for ChannelAdvisor.  We’ll be live blogging the general sessions at Catalyst to make sure attendees don’t miss anything.  Also, make sure you’re following hashtag #CatalystAmericas and @ChannelAdvisor on Twitter for all of the latest. 

Today we’ve watched retailers firsthand learning how to grow their businesses, network with industry peers and fueling each other’s excitement to capitalize on the opportunity in this quickly evolving world we call multichannel e-commerce. We closed the day Tuesday with a Keynote from Devin Wenig of eBay.

Speaker: Devin Wenig (@Norse5), President of Marketplace, eBay

Title: eBay Keynote, Tuesday 4:15PM

Devin Wenig and Scot Wingo begin with a fireside Q&A discussion/chat.

Devin: I’ve enjoyed the show so far. It’s great chance to interact and I’m loving the content!

Laurie, the eBay employee who was in my position prior, named her conference room Minnie Mouse; I have renamed it Overlord! I run marketplace which is eBay’s Stub Hub, Classifieds and several of the adjacent businesses and have been there two years.

Devin’s Story: Prior to eBay I ran Reuters. I had a long career there and left in 2011.  I was called by John Donahoe the day I left, and he persuaded me; we had a similar vision about the potential of eBay. It sounds corny but what mattered was the scale, the number of people we touch, and I think that pervades the culture at eBay in a very positive way. I went from NY to Cali in two weeks with my family.

I love the innovation of the valley. There couldn’t be a better place than the valley for a company like eBay; I feed off the entrepreneurial spirit and eBay has reinvigorated over the past few years by plugging into that.

Devin: I’m blown away by Amazon; the scale of their ambition is breathtaking. The world isn’t going to be EBay or Amazon it will have both. They’re great and we’re great; and we can both be great.

Scot: Many people have asked me about the fairness act. eBay has been active in lobbying against it.

Devin: It looks like something will pass but the question is what? We feel strongly against it. However you feel about the level of taxation the thought that small sellers will now collect tax in 50 jurisdictions + is mind boggling. For the engine of job growth is small business in this country, and we’re about to put a big headwind into their growth. It’s not smart. It’s not about fairness; it’s about politics. We’re doing everything we can to stand by sellers. eBay mainstreet is our GR portal and you can go there and solicit.

Scot: How has eBay dramatically turned its business around?

Devin: We’re proud of where we are but we’re not satisfied. We have loads of issues. I think there are a lot of basics that needed fixing – there are phases:

  • Phase I – it was making the experience better for existing buyers
  • Phase II – is about innovation/new customers. We’re 1 year into this phase. It’s about how do we become the most important marketplace in the world. It’s about connecting new buyers to the marketplace. We’re bringing in new demographics, ages, geographies.

The eBay you’ll see going forward?

More innovative, bigger bets, pushing the break through the seller/buyer experience.

Who are eBay’s new customers?

We’re at 116 Million users. We want to roughly double that this year, and we think we will. They are younger, emerging markets. They skew more female which is great for fashion categories.


eBay category expansion

Home & Garden/Vehicles/Electronics are huge. We’re going to continue to verticalize. Electronics and fashion are driving great growth on eBay. Home & Garden is by far #1 and our strongest growth category in international markets, and its coming on strong in the US. I’d expect 50% in fashion, 40% growth home and garden, 30% in electronics year over year.

Will eBay eliminate auctions?

Absolutely not; auctions are great for some categories. It’s a great price discovery and works really well in long-tail categories. We’re following our customers.

eBay on Mobile?

It’s huge. I can’t overstate the importance of mobile enough. It’s really important and people need to understand how it’s shifting the business. 4 years ago mobile commerce was maybe 0; this year we’ll do $20B on mobile.

Devin asks us to guess: How many automobiles do we sell each week on a phone? 10,000. A lot of it is about confidence. If people had the trust they would buy.

We assume that mobile will be ½ the business in 3-4 years.

It’s been online and mobile on the side. We’re starting to think mobile first, and then online on the side.

Screens will be everywhere. We’re already forking our product development where we’re building those experiences specific to each device.

A better picture usually sells more online; but on mobile a better picture usually delivers 5X. It’s a more visual more mobile world. Pictures matter. The tightness of a description matters. We’re optimizing eBay for the “snacking” mobile experience.

We’re trying to get to across the board simplicity and clarity; to compare what it costs on eBay with anywhere else and make your own decision.

Shipping and Fulfillment? How is eBay in the game?

What is eBay Now? Chicago, Dallas rolling out, NYC and San Fran already live. Time and cost matter to consumers; we know that others are taking an approach to building a physical approach. We don’t want to do that; we don’t want to build warehouses.

We think there’s a lot of inventory out there close to customers in retailers’ stores and warehouses. But eBay wants to organize it. This is the model we think can scale. We’re going down the path; we’re not in the shipping business, we’re intermediating assets that are out there to make a great shipping experience. The feedback we’ve gotten is great. We’re pleased. I wouldn’t be surprised to see us take this outside the United States – perhaps by the end of this year.

Today, we’re testing eBay Now as a separate service. At the end of the year it will just be eBay. Consumers choose: ship, pick it up, or eBay brings it to you. It’ll all be in the checkout flow by Oct/Nov 2013. It’s making local just eBay, not separate.

Cross Border Trade and International Sales?

We think in the next 3 years there will be 1.3 B smart phones and 1.1 B will come outside of mid-western markets. Put your sales up where the wind is blowing; international is

Our goal is very simple: to plug into eBay once and make selling internationally as easy as selling in US. The shipping experience will be no more complicated  - we want to make it the same for your Kentucky buyer and your buyers in 26+ countries. I think that’s one of the big selling props of eBay now. Because we can open up 100+ new markets to your inventory; that’s the beauty of digital marketplaces.

Sellers are using global shipping for US export to start; if they see traction they list in eBay domestic markets; some are now forward deploying inventory into those countries to create proximity with customers there.

What these markets need is supply. The markets that are the most powerful for eBay are where ther’s growing wealth and scarcity of supply. Think Russia. There’s a growing market and a hunger for western good. We’re the top retailer in Russia now.

Top Rated Seller Program Growth?

We’ve raised the bar, and we’ll keep raising it. What you get through the investment is that you take massive share. In Q1 2013 our Top Rated Sellers grew 30% plus; consumers look for it.

We encourage it because customers have a better experience. We don’t apologize because it delivers sales to the seller and benefit to the consumers.

Audience Questions for Devin

Q1: Many of us started on eBay. Many are no longer, because we can’t get the margins we want. You’ve lowered your fees, but the margins are still small. What are you doing to improve your margins on eBay?

A1: I think we’re delivering velocity in a number of categories as good as or better than Amazon, and I think our fees are competitive – not everywhere – but across the board than others, not just Amazon. We’re working with many who left eBay and have come back and are pleased. We’re earning back the trust of sellers with the ecosystem we’re building. I get why people gave up, but it’s a different business now. 

Q2: Russia seems to be a big topic. But it’s not part of GSP yet?

A2: We’re trialing it now and it should be by mid-year.

Q3: Your international strategy has been impressive. What’s your thought process on Brazil, China and India in that order?

A3: Brazil is cross border for us but we haven’t done anything domestically; it’s a matter of priority. We prioritized other markets, and we own a stake in a very successful market called Mercado Libre. As for China, we have a massive export business. But the domestic Chinese market, we’ve gone back in a selective way in fashion and we’re liking what we see. India is a very strong domestic market; we’re the #1 ecommerce domestic participant in India. It’s interesting, with huge customer acquisition but relatively small commerce today because ASPs are compressed. The market is growing and it’s a priority; India will be a massive e-commerce business in 5 years; it’s less about import and more about domestic for us.

Q4: You’ve gone with a lot of micro apps on your mobile app strategy? What’s th4e thought behind that?

A4: We don’t know how the mobile world will evolve so we’re trialing a number of apps, but we do see that the data says they’re not using mobile apps beyond 5th screen. The app world is closing the Internet world off. We may consolidate these apps.

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