eBay Q4 2013 Results (from a seller’s perspective)

January 23, 2014

ChannelAdvisor Scot Wingo By Scot Wingo

Yesterday, January 22, 2014, eBay announced their 2013 Q4 results.   In this post, we’ll look at the results from a seller’s perspective.  This blog focuses on the performance and any nuances around the eBay marketplace; we do not dig into PayPal, eBay Enterprise or other elements of the overall eBay business.

ComScore just released their holiday growth report for e-commerce (desktop only) showing 14% y/y growth in October and 10% growth for Nov/Dec, for desktop which we’ll call Q4 10%-12% until they release the combined Q4 number. Note: comScore’s data does not include tablet/smartphone.

Overview of eBay’s Q4 marketplace results

Q4 Highlights:

  • Active users (on the marketplace) for the Q came in at 128.1m, representing 14  % y/y growth – keeping the pace from Q2 and Q3 (also 14%). eBay added 15.8m active buyers y/y and 4.5m sequentially.
  • On the call Donahoe said that 40% of their new users were coming from mobile. (He also said 14m mobile customers were added, which would be more than 40%, so I believe that number was for eBay and Amazon).
  • US GMV came in at up 14% y/y ($8.5b in GMV) – ahead of comScore’s Q4 growth rate.
  • Fixed price grew 19% y/y (well ahead of overall e-commerce) – FP hit a new high-water mark of 73% of transaction
  • >55% of transactions featured free shipping
  • International was 61% vs. 39% for US (A new high for international gmv)
  • International grew 10% y/y ($13.1b)
  • Top-Rated Sellers (TRS) same-store-sales (SSS) were up 18% (greater than e-commerce) and TRS sales now represent 47% of sales (new high mark)
  • eBay launched 89 retailers/brands on the platform in 2013
  • Cassini is now live globally

Q4 Lowlights:

  • International GMV grew a sluggish 10% y/y.
  • Auctions declined 5% y/y and hit a low-water mark of 22% of GMV
  • eBay announced that activist Carl Icahn has been buying up eBay stock and is advocating for the company to split PayPal and the marketplace.  eBay strongly disagreed with this suggestion on the call.

Updated Q4 dashboard:

Here are the key metrics from the quarter: (click to enlarge)


eBay’s quarter was mixed and came in at the low end of their expectations from a revenue perspective.  We were pleased to see the US GMV come in at 14% y/y growth as we did see weakness toward the end of December.


eBay Category Details

Unlike Amazon who is very closed with their category data, eBay releases detailed category metrics every quarter that we analyze for you.  Here is a chart that lists each category from largest to smallest indexed by their Q4 2013 GMV.


Home and garden is the first category to ever get to over $3b in a Q and CSA isn’t too far away coming in at $2.7b for the Q and leapfrogging P+A for the first time.

The next chart looks at each category by their y/y growth rate (more relevant in our world than sequential Q->Q growth).  The green indicates the category grew faster than e-commerce, the yellow is in-line and the red is substantially lower than e-commerce.



Outperforming categories

  • It’s no surprise that video games were the fastest growing category – thanks to the PS4 and XBoxOne.
  • P+A had a great Q growing at a strong 22%
  • B+I grew an impressive 16% – we are seeing a lot of interest in eBay from industrial supply type companies and that’s reflected in this

In-line categories

  • Given the usual gifting popularity of CE and toys it was a little surprising to see these categories come in at 9% and 7% respectively.

Underperfoming categories

  • BMV and vehicles are all categories that have historically been structurally challenged, so no surprises there.


eBay’s Category mix

Frequently sellers ask about the mix of categories on eBay.  This pie chart takes the non-vehicle categories and shows their relative share of eBay’s Q4 GMV in a pie chart:




On the call, eBay management talked about the competitive nature of the quarter and that offline retailers were moving to digital slower than they expected.  Reading through the lines, it feels like they were talking about Amazon.  Amazon announces their results on January 30th and we’ll be covering that at sister site AmazonStrategies .

Scot Wingo wrote this blog post. I am CEO of ChannelAdvisor.