eBay Open 2023

Tambo had a great day at the eBay Open 2023 in Manchester, hosted at the stunning Old Trafford Cricket Ground. The agenda was full of headline speeches from the eBay leadership team, targeted workshop sessions and presentations from guest speakers such as Google and KnownOrigin.

Opening Keynote

The event was kicked off by eBay’s General Manager, Eve Williams.

Eve touched on the past year for eBay and the state of the UK market. eBay had over 3 million unique buyers over 12 months, totalling over £150m in sales. A tough macroeconomic environment impacted both consumers and businesses and alongside this, numerous union actions disrupted the supply chain. eBay has always kept close to its community and listened to its sellers during these periods, providing support through seller protections to ensure businesses could ‘weather the storm’. Some main callouts for improvements that had been implemented were UPI pre-pay, ATL marketing and the authenticity guarantee.

UPI pre-pay now ensures that when buyers make an offer on an eBay listing, they have to pre-pay the amount they are offering. This payment will then be processed when the seller accepts the offer. Previously, eBay had a high rate of unpaid items, where buyers would offer on a listing, sellers would accept and then the buyers would never complete the transaction. Similar to the ‘Is this still available’ message that Facebook marketplace has become synonymous with!

eBay has increased their above-the-line marketing throughout the year to help drive more shoppers to the site. Their campaigns drove awareness of small businesses selling on eBay, showcasing the products and the people behind the listings. There were no metrics to back up the claims however, a number of placements were displayed. These covered placements throughout the underground, many TV advert reels and billboards across a number of UK cities.

A common theme this year for eBay was trust. Ensuring purchases will be legitimate for shoppers when exploring the site. eBay has taken big strides to build trust and ensure genuine items are being sold by businesses. They implemented 2 key features, eBay Authenticity Guarantee and eBay Assured Fit. The authenticity guarantee targets high-value products such as watches and handbags. After a buyer purchases an item (that is enrolled in the scheme), the seller sends it to eBay. Authenticators check it against the listing description, perform a multi-point inspection, and then ship it with a unique authentication card or tag. eBay’s assured fit works in a similar way by protecting buyers when purchasing auto parts. When a buyer searches for a part or accessory using their vehicle details, eBay will check the vehicle details against the item compatibility information. If the part arrives and it doesn't fit, eBay will then cover the return cost (of course T&C’s apply which can be found on the eBay support pages).

In July, eBay also acquired Certilogo, a provider of AI-powered apparel and fashion goods digital IDs and authentication. This is expected to be a further step into the fashion industry for eBay, ensuring that legitimate garments are passing through the marketplace.

Boost Sales

A key part of the event is attending any presentations to understand how the basics of eBay have evolved. A 30-minute session from eBay’s Head of Training covered this perfectly. Many underlying mechanics remained the same (reach out to Tambo if you need any assistance with eBay listings/optimisation) but there were some interesting data points presented.

There are a number of areas in which you can improve your listings. This year, eBay set a weighting against each one, to help deploy your resources efficiently. Titles and Images, Stagnant listings and Item Specifics accounted for 75% of the overall pie, with Terapeak and premium service making up the remainder.

When it comes to titles, the first 4 words are the most important. The brand should always be at the start followed by descriptors & keywords. It is also vital to use as many characters as possible and refrain from using emojis & acronyms like ‘BNIB’. Images should be high-quality (a given really!) but there is now the option to add 24 different photos. The first should always be of the product on a clear white background, followed by a lifestyle image of the product being used or worn. eBay increased the number of images to ensure there are enough tiles for sellers to showcase their products in the best way possible, including all angles, blemishes and uses.

Stagnant listings surprisingly made up a large portion of the overall pie when it comes to listing optimisation. eBay’s algorithm favours listings which are regularly updated and refreshed. Any listings over 90 days with zero sales get flagged as stagnant and require some TLC. This is also highlighted by eBay’s listing quality report. The action is simple - Delist > Optimise > Relist. According to eBay’s data, sellers can see up to a 14% increase in sales targeting stagnant listings.

Consumer Behaviours

One of the most insightful talks of the day was from Google, discussing Consumer behaviours shaping retail in 2023. Google resonated with Eve Williams’ opening keynote, in that the UK has seen a tough 12 months. Their data showed 32% of consumers are ‘being wary’, conscious of the Cost of Living crisis but only making a few adjustments to spending. 31% are ‘struggling’ and dramatically reducing spend. 23% are ‘making real changes’ by delaying purchases and reducing discretionary spending and finally, 14% of consumers are having a ‘limited impact’ on their spending habits.

Google has seen inflation driving increased spending on groceries, with households intending to spend more over the next 6 months (from Sep23). Along with this, beauty was the most resilient category. This is a data metric that Tambo has seen discussed in other talks we have attended. Homewares and Electronics are having the toughest time, with the largest expectation for consumers to spend less.

The journey of consumer searches was also interesting. Google Trends was able to split search journeys into 5 categories. Explore, Compare, Price, Offline and Online. Across all searches, exploration modifiers have the highest search interest. This was also twinned with data showing that search intent is getting longer, more nuanced and more personal. In 2016 searches were mostly basic keyword searches (e.g. Moisturiser). More recently, searches are getting more specific, being closer to ‘Best tinted moisturiser for older skin’. This gives an insight into how titles may be built in the future to best secure higher rankings.

Another key insight was how different aspects drove final consumer choice. Price and discount contributed 30% of the decision but an interesting callout was how social proof (reviews, influencers/community discussions) had dramatically increased to 15% (of the total decision process). Also, consumers have more time to browse online and discover, which is driving consumers' intent to move from brand to brand.

Regulatory Changes

With eBay being one of the largest online marketplaces, it is vital for them to support their sellers when it comes to regulatory compliance. The workshop covered a number of new government initiatives that eBay have worked on through their government relations team.

Touching on a couple of highlights, eBay is launching new public business info pages. This again sits in line with eBay’s desire to build trust on the platform. Sellers will have to give their business info and have an option to give their contact information if they want to make buyers feel safe in their purchase.

Item regulation is also being refreshed for items categorised as Hazardous materials or that need to show an efficiency rating for example. The main aim was to streamline the process for business sellers as eBay are aware of the difficulty this can cause (a certain New Item Setup template came to mind here). A new module will appear when listing these types of products and will be done through a pictogram selection. It will also work across borders, to help the seller ensure they are correctly listing products even in international markets.

Web 3.0

One of the final speeches was from the director of operations at one of eBay’s latest acquisitions, KnownOrigin.

It was an interesting talk, especially when you try to envisage what eBay’s 5/10-year plan is. Discussions went on around Web3 and how this buzzword is mainly used to encapsulate a new era for the internet. Tech businesses have been making fortunes off consumer data for a number of years and as people become more savvy about their online privacy, Web3 will bring a new age where individuals will have more control and ownership over their digital presence.

Again, eBay are looking at building trust and this is a great move for them. eBay want to ensure transactions are secure, legitimate and transparent which is something that can be done using the blockchain. To avoid being overly in-depth and technical, one takeaway was this analogy about the current state of this new era. Currently, Web3, the blockchain and crypto is like using your credit card online for the first time. It was intimidating and only became a daily normality as larger businesses started to adopt the process. As they did, it built trust, as consumers were reassured in the safety of using the new technology. They found security knowing that businesses, like eBay, are there to support them if required. As businesses start to adopt Web3.0 a similar uptake will take place but this will be over a number of years.

Closing thoughts

The event was closed by a short overview of the day and a thank you from Eve Williams. Post-close speech, there was the opportunity to network with eBay staff and eBay Sellers which is definitely one of the most valuable parts of the day.

From our blog on last year's eBay Open 2022, Tambo highlighted that it would be interesting to see how eBay differentiates itself and entices new customers. We can see this year, eBay has taken big strides in enticing new customers from their above-the-line marketing campaigns and bolstering their ability to ensure buyer confidence through authenticity programmes. eBay will continue to drive their 2nd hand, refurbished and hard-to-find USP and use these programs to enhance this.

The eBay Open is always a pleasure to attend and Tambo would strongly recommend it to any sellers interested in improving their eBay business. Please reach out if you would like to discuss your eBay business and how Tambo can assist!

Craven MacIntosh, Marketplace Manager

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