What happened to eBay?

As I write this eBay's stock still remains at 2/3 its 2004 price, and eBay is still trying to figure out how to get back to the growth numbers it enjoyed in the late 90s and early 00s. I wrote about eBay's strategy on cleaning up its marketplace a year ago, but I didn't delve into eBay from a product management perspective.

Making the assumption that eBay is struggling, what do they need to do to right the ship? I really don't think this is that hard. First off, eBay has some strong assets:

  1. They have a large base of buyers and sellers

  2. They have the ability to scale their search, display, and transaction processing

And, since eBay's business model is predicated on a) listing fees and b) selling fees, if eBay has an issue, it's probably on the buyer experience side. If you have a happy buyer community, the listing fees and selling fees will follow.

I don't claim to have all the answers, but I know where eBay should start. It's Reagan's First Rule of Product Management: define their target customer! As a longtime customer of eBay, it is apparent that eBay is all over the map chasing new customer opportunities. They started off in collectibles, added cars, solicited commodity items and new products, etc. In doing so, they've lost their niche - their one area they can claim for their own.

eBay can certainly stretch their brand beyond their core (which I assume is the collectible and used item market); however, they can't do it at the expense of their core. eBay can certainly revisit the question of who their target customer segment is, and they may determine it is different than when they started. But they simply can't be all things to all people. Ask Sears. GM. Dell.

And, once you've defined that segment, no future product decisions should interfere with that segment!

As I've talked about in the past, I don't buy or sell on eBay much anymore. What used to be several transactions a month has become a transaction or two a year for the past three years. And gee that's the same time period that eBay has struggled with its stock.

Define your target market, eBay. You have the assets to win that space.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i have seen ebay change there out lay of pages so many times , i have had a hard time even figuring them out. i believe the 40 year old buyer and older believe the old saying , if it isn't broke don't fix it.

but ebay has been doing this over and over and well... the buyer is sick of it.

i never heard of any seller complaining about prices they are charged until, 2004, before that the antique and vintage buyers had a blast bidding and waging war w each other, to win there prize it was just plain fun.

now what used to be 20 or more pages on vintage , has turned to a very few pages. and if you are more specific, it can be less than one page to buy from.

only thing i care to buy new off ebay is some cheaper phones, or dvd's or vhs. you know electronic,

other wise it was always vintage. so sad. the sellers are all gone. ebay is becoming a dead horse.

and the grave diggers are there with there shovels walking up to bury it with over priced fees, and a slaughtered market.

sad. it used to be so much fun...

as of today, i probably won't waste my time any more