Good bye 2007, hello 2008 – what will happen in the World of eBay?

December 31, 2007

Marketplaces ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

New_year_baby Phew, 2007 was quite a year in the world of online selling.  We’re looking at the holiday data and there’s some really interesting trends to point out as we roll into 2008

  • Amazon, Amazon, AMAZON – The Big A had a tremendous Q4 with third-party sellers.  At ChannelAdvisor we did more GMV in November than all of 2006+2007 combined.  The December results step up from there. We already have some advanced Amazon support, but the performance of this channel has been a huge wake-up call that we need to spend much more time focusing on Amazon.  The good news is we realised this earlier in 07 so look for some really cool Amazon functionality from us in 08 that is going to blow the doors off anything else out there.
  • eBay Motors Parts – In Q4, eBay was up 15% y/y for our existing customers (the equivalent of ‘same store sales’).  Many on Wall St. said this appeared out of sync with their data so when we dug in, we realised that eBay Motors Parts sellers were up 40% y/y and non auto-parts sellers were up 8% y/y.  We have a pretty big population of auto-parts sellers so that bumped us from the 8% to 15% range which is probably higher than average on eBay as our mix of auto-parts sellers is much higher than overall eBay.  This is great news for eBay auto-parts sellers and bad news for non-parts sellers.    For auto-parts sellers you are growing 2x the 20% y/y growth of general ecommerce.  For non auto-parts sellers,  if you are in the 8% bucket, you are growing at less than half the rate of ecommerce.  In other words, you are losing market share at a pretty rapid pace (as is eBay) and need to think about what that means for your business and goals.
  • Overstock shopping – We had a really strong Q4 for our sellers that are active on Overstock Shopping (also known as Overstock’s third-party seller business).  This is not overstock auctions, but the ability for third party sellers to plug their products into the main part of overstock. Overstock has some great ways to drive really deep quantities of product so if you are in this kind of situation, this is a channel to consider in 08.
  • Multi-channel – it’s not a trend it’s a reality.  3yrs ago we used to be pushing a multi-channel boulder up a mountain, and now that boulder has crested the mountain and is rolling down the other side and gaining momentum.  The bulk of our previously ‘eBay only’ sellers now are dipping their toes not only into other marketplaces like Amazon and Overstock, but also opening their own websites and experimenting with comparison shopping engines and paid-search (Google/Yahoo!).  In fact we’re at a point now where we’re telling eBay sellers that are in the sub $20k/m range that it maybe too early to start doing paid-search, etc.

All of these Q407 datapoints should result in an interesting year for eBay as they try to get the core marketplace GMV growing again. As copiously documented here, eBay has been telegraphing some changes to the fee structure, advantaging and disadvantaging sellers based on DSRs and of course we’ll see Finding 2.0 coming rolling at some point.

In 07, on Jan 3, eBay announced a 3-8% fee increase, I seriously doubt they’ll be able to raise any fees for the foreseeable future based on the anemic  growth that past fee increases and increased competition caused in 07.  There are two dates to put in your calendar:

  1. Jan 23 – eBay announces Q4 results.  Wall St. is really divided on how Q4 turned out and eBay’s performance will set the tone for things to come in 08. Also, we’ll could have some announcements around this time, if not earlier.
  2. Jan 28 – eBay kicks off their ecommerce forum in DC – this is a gathering of several hundred of eBay’s largest sellers  where eBay’s TSAMs and upper management mingle and share what’s coming in the new year.