Live blogging – eBay @ Catalyst EU – May 17, 2011

May 17, 2011

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

I’m here in the UK at our sixth annual Catalyst event and Clare Gilmartin, eBay’s VP of Marketplaces for all of Europe.



Introduction – how the market has changed

Clare started off talking broadly about the macro trend of online and offline. She used a story of a friend looking for a handbag.  She found it in a store and then checked her mobile and found it cheaper online.

Multichannel is a must have strategy/given for all sellers.  It’s about maximising your exposure to the online and offline audience and increasing foot traffic through the store.


Vertical focus

Clare then started talking about eBay’s focus on verticalization. Each category has different needs when shopping online.  The online fashion buyer is usually looking for a curated experience, the parts shopper knows exactly what they want – they each have different needs and buyer experiences.

eBay started on fashion, in EU it’s the strongest growing category with over 4m unique visitors in the UK.  This makes eBay the largest marketplace for fashion by far.

How did we get here?  First we targeted and partnered with fashion brands to bring their clearance inventory onto eBay.   Does this mean eBay is focused on large brands exclusively?  No , eBay is looking for

Second, we launched a major offline marketing campaign – “The clothes you love, direct from the brands you love”.

Finally, they made some enhancements to shops and the shopping experience to tailor (good pun!) to the fashion buyer.  Imagesearch, more like this, etc. are examples.  eBay

Results: eBay is hugely satisfied with the results. Over 60% of items are fixed price (in fashion). And over 4m buyers monthly make it one of the strongest growing categories – particularly the B2C component.

Where does verticalization go next?  They want to apply the recipe to other verticals – CE, HG and parts are next and other EU markets (Germany) will see it soon.



Another big area of investment is mobile. Clare went over several of eBay’s offerings available via mobile. In the UK mobile has grown over 260%.  eBay is the largest mobile marketplace in the UK.  they expect mobile to be $4b in 2011.  One item purchased via mobile every 2 seconds.  eBay’s mobile apps have had 35m global downloads (all formats – iphone/android/etc.).

Clare showed a mockup of a potential future app – augmented reality to see what items are available for sale when you look at a street scene.

Performance to date and looking ahead

eBay in the UK is growing at 19% y/y (looks like a Q1 number) vs. 15% y/y growth of overall UK market.  Fashion is a key category driving that growth.

Also as of Q4 2010 ~20% of eBay’s business is CBT (cross-border-trade). They see it growing hugely into the future and want to partner with sellers to grow it.

Example: 17m UK visitors/each month compared to 50m visitors across Europe and 180m buyers online buyers across eBay (These are sourced Nielson net view).

What does all this mean for sellers?

Three questions:

  • Are you ready to compete in a verticalized and competitive marketplace?
  • Mobile blurs boundaries and is growing faster than expectations – do you have a mobile strategy?
  • Internationalization brings a huge opportunity – are you expanding into new regions?  Do you have the infrastructure?


Q: I sell apparel and things are constantly changing – is there a point in time where that will settle down? (Used the example of a non-plain shirt used to be striped). 

A:  (Clare) We are working hard to align classification systems across EU and make sure they are in seller releases. We don’t want to cause unnecessary friction for you.


Q: When will eBay be clearer on refunds/returns as compared to Amazon

A: (Clare) Buyers are getting more demanding.  We’ll all be driven by that – things like no quibble returns (I like the word quibble, need to use that more). We could be more clear to buyers sometimes and the market is going towards more generous return policies.

Follow-up Q: eBay forces this on us, you should let us set our strategy and not dictate it.

Follow-up A: We look very closely at this and it’s something we need to have.  (colleague) Buyer protection is doing well and very important to make it work.

Q:  Paypal question – We agree we should be international, we have a Swiss warehouse and had lots of success in France and Germany on eBay and Amazon.  Paypal forces us to convert our revenue from Euros to British pounds.  Paypal charges 3% – which costs us 30k euros/m.  They won’t change.

A: Paypal is regulated and can’t change many things.  The good news is Paypal helps you sell into these regions, simply, safely and quickly.

Q: I’m an Englishman in China and want to hear your view of trade originating from China.  Many EU orgs have tried to disadvantage the Chinese seller.

A: (Clare) – Two big areas of CBT – Asia->EU and intra-EU. The buyer wants high standards regardless.  The more we can solve the buyer’s appetite for selection at value with great service, then the more buyers we have. If it’s an Asian seller, great. Very simple view: Buyer wants the best selection at best price at best service.  Service means different things in different categories – fashion it’s returns, CE it’s shipping, etc.  We’re working with the EU on selective distribution which hurts e-commerce and by extension our sellers and eBay.  We believe there’s room for a global marketplace with a level playing field.

Q: We’ve been a eTRS seller for the last three months.  The dispatch time DSR often gets neutral/negative – we advertise 10 days, customer gets it in 3 days and we get low DSRs.  I’ve called eBay and it’s the customer perception and nothing can be done about it. I feel very unloved by that comment (laughs). CSA category.

A: (colleague) One thing we’ve discovered is that one of the single most things that correlates to being eTRS is very quick delivery. The water line for this has moved way up.  We used to have a few thousand eTRS and now half of the site is almost eTRS sellers and the population has grown enormously. We want to put the info in the hands of sellers.  So we have created info portals for sellers and special teams to help sellers rationalize their processes to meet what buyers expect. (Clare) We don’t set the standards, the market does.  What we’re interested in talking about are your suggestions on how we can help you keep pace with that.

Follow-up: We think eBay always side with the buyers, no matter what. eBay won’t change the things that have been put down against us, which reflects badly on us.

Q: (last Q) eBay doesn’t know how to sell, Amazon knows how to sell, you think like a buyer because you side with the buyer and not the seller.  Example: In the checkout migration, you are forcing for us to the eBay checkout, but there are a lot of things around promotions that you haven’t thought through – talk to and think like sellers, not buyers!

A: That’s good feedback, we spend a ton of time understanding your needs and will continue to do so.


Up next we have Facebook which we’ll cover at sister site .


SeekingAlpha Disclosure – I am long Google and Amazon. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.  eBay also is a sponsor of Catalyst EU.