This post is the first of a four-part series in which eBay’s Chief Product Officer, Pete Thompson, will introduce our product tech vision and share some of the company’s future innovations for our community of sellers.
On eBay, people can reach across the world to connect with each other to buy and sell. Our marketplace has long offered tremendous scale, a global buyer base and a robust platform on which entrepreneurs can build a business. From individuals finding extra income through shared hobbies to entrepreneurs realizing their small business dreams to larger companies expanding their reach on our marketplace — whatever their size, level of expertise or needs, we have always been dedicated to building and innovating to help all of our sellers succeed. Yet now, more than ever before, their needs have evolved along with the rapidly changing ecommerce environment. We know we must also evolve as we continue to support our sellers — and we are doing exactly that.
In the past year, our sellers have faced numerous challenges that fundamentally altered the way they did business. As the pandemic restricted in-person commerce, the world turned to buying and selling online at unprecedented levels. Entrepreneurs, small businesses and large brands alike have now realized the necessity of meeting these new consumer shopping habits.
Our goal is to help our sellers thrive both now and well beyond the pandemic. There are currently over 20 million sellers with a huge breadth and depth of inventory, and 187 million buyers on our marketplace searching for everyday products, items to fuel their passions and for those one-of-a-kind finds. We are innovating our tools and technology to strengthen those connections, providing sellers with the capabilities to meet buyers at our global scale through listings and online stores that feel as unique as they are.
Evolving to Changing Needs
In our recent seller survey, we heard that a number of our sellers grew their businesses last year on our platform, in part because of our tools. Yet sellers also shared that there are areas where we could do better to address their needs. And we are listening.
The recent shift in ecommerce has accelerated our focus on creating a richer online selling experience that better mimics in-person shopping for buyers — with personal connections, dynamic ways to view items, an ability for sellers to convey a personal brand and a focus on shop owners’ expertise. Research from a number of areas shows that videos generate more views and sharing than text and images, and engagement is especially high among Gen Z users for video storytelling and detailed viewing potential. The recent launch of video capabilities on our mobile app is designed for this purpose.
Initially introduced for some of our larger brands this spring, we will be rolling out this feature this year to all sellers on all device platforms. Not only can sellers convey brand differentiation on our site through video, but video can provide the business efficiency of driving traffic. The creative potential of video also allows sellers to more fully showcase their items, providing a complete range of views in a dynamic interface. This both enhances a buyer’s sense of trust through a fuller understanding of a listed item and allows sellers to further reach buyers through sharing of visual information in a safe way for both. Additionally, leaning into eBay’s heritage, video enables sellers to showcase their passions — whether it’s sneakers, watches, collectibles or cars — so sellers can explore another avenue of personal self-expression and buyers can find sellers with similar interests.
Beyond this, we are focusing on how we can better partner with our sellers to offer more personalized attention and areas of additional individual engagement with buyers. While our marketplace helps foster connections between people, around the world, over a diverse and broad set of inventory, we also focus on individual needs and self-expression.
Expanding on this theme, beginning this month in the U.K. and Germany, we are launching a new capability for personalized goods, allowing buyers to enter specific customization requests with sellers who offer personalization. Whether it’s jewelry, fashion or items for the home, sellers will be able to offer personalization directly through our platform in a seamless, straightforward way. This is a natural extension for eBay’s culture, and one we plan to continue to innovate on in the future to provide delightful experiences for buyers and sellers.
Expanding Data Insights for Seller Success
Sellers are always looking for ways to grow. Our goal is to help every seller to do so with powerful tools and research that target each seller’s individual needs.
By harnessing the tremendous amount of data on our platform in service of our sellers, we are leveling the playing field so that all our sellers have equal opportunities to succeed. For example, our sellers have told us they need listing optimization and price guidance to realize higher sales and increase traffic to their virtual stores. Leveraging modern data science and artificial intelligence is one way we are addressing this through tools that allow sellers to utilize that data to grow and build their businesses.
Our technology makes it possible for a seller of any size, with any type of inventory, to access data-driven insights specific to their own use-case scenarios — whether they’re selling the latest trend of sneakers or passion-driven collectibles from a century ago. Using next-gen machine learning models, Terapeak is a set of powerful data-driven research tools exclusive to eBay that informs sellers on what to sell, when to sell it and at what price. The tool gathers insights by analyzing markets, categories, competition and top trends and products across our marketplace. Last month, we began offering Terapeak Product Research for free to all Seller Hub users across a number of our markets — U.S., U.K., Germany, Australia, France, Italy, Spain and Canada — removing any prior barriers to access.
Individual sellers now have access to some of the same tools as our largest brands — and the opportunity to take advantage of powerful data to improve sales velocity, reduce friction in the listing process and make more informed decisions for their businesses.
Connecting Buyers and Sellers Globally
We are building technology to improve the seller experience and stay attuned to our sellers’ needs— connecting buyers and sellers across the breadth of our inventory. Harnessing technology for businesses of all sizes, across the world, we are providing products and tools that make an impact where sellers tell us they need it the most and we are creating the means by which our sellers can succeed, whatever their entrepreneurial dreams.
Over the coming weeks, I will share our steps forward in this journey and detail more specifically how we are helping sellers throughout their end-to-end selling experience by making listing easier, driving growth, and increasing velocity and conversion with our newest tools and products.