Exclusive Q&A: eBay Stores create deeper customer connections

The eBay online marketplace enables sellers of all sizes to create expanded digital storefronts.

Chain Store Age recently interviewed Tom Pinckney, VP stores, eBay about how the e-commerce giant is assisting sellers in providing buyers with a more engaging shopping experience via the eBay Stores offering. Pinckney oversees the eBay Stores initiative.

How would you describe eBay Stores?
We have nearly 1 million stores. It’s been a core part of eBay for quite a while. Our current CEO, Jamie Iannone, was the product manager of eBay Stores in 2001. eBay is a pioneer in offering products directly for sale online. Our buyers want to more deeply engage; not just visit a listing and results page, but see who the seller is and what their other inventory is. 

Maybe the seller has a brick-and-mortar store and an interesting story about where their inventory came from. eBay Stores is a way to explain the deeper context of a product and provide insight into a listing.

What are some of the benefits eBay Stores provides buyers and sellers?
eBay Stores gives the buyer something to go back to. If they have a great experience buying from the store, they’ll visit again and learn more. The sellers can engage their customers now and in the future. Also, buyers can bookmark their favorite eBay Stores on eBay and see new inventory and make repeat purchases.

For sellers, it is more efficient to have repeat purchases than to acquire new customers. Unlike some other platforms, we’re not fundamentally at odds with sellers or downplaying their brand compared to our brand. We also always think about what can we do to help smaller sellers start thinking about marketing, branding, and other business needs.

eBay Stores provides help through all the stages a new seller goes through and can help them make the transition from ‘side hustle’ to this being their business. For fulfillment, we enable sellers to connect with shoppers and provide end-to-end tracking. eBay Stores can also act as an intermediary between sellers and fulfillment providers. We are making efforts to provide fulfillment services in other geographies to see different ways we can provide value to buyers and sellers.

Buyers that visit a store as part of their eBay purchase journey convert 10%-15% more than buyers who don’t visit a store. Those buyers who visited a store during their initial shopping journey then have a repeat purchase rate that is 20-65% higher than buyers who do not visit stores.

What types of sellers utilize eBay Stores?
A variety of brands of all different sizes are selling products via eBay Stores. We have some ‘super sellers’ that sell multiple brands; effectively they are running multiple stores for multiple brands. We are going back to the trend where sellers want more than an anonymous listing in buyer search results. They want to provide a deeper understanding of who the person or business is behind the product. 
 
In a product area like fashion, customers want to understand what they are buying. It’s part of the circular economy and sellers want to provide the environmental impact of that. For auto parts and accessories, sellers want to ensure buyers of the authenticity of their products.

How do you plan to continue evolving the eBay Stores offering?
As we evolve the eBay Stores product, we are optimizing it for both mobile web and app. eBay had $17.2 billion in gross merchandise bought on mobile devices in the first quarter of 2021. We are developing new branding tools to give sellers more control over markets and let them send automated marketing emails they can direct on their own to gain insights into customers. 

eBay Stores is also creating marketing tools sellers can integrate into the social networks where buyers increasingly are. This will help sellers get better clients into their store. If eBay provides less value by surfacing a customer via a third-party social network rather than our own platform, we will charge the seller a lower fee. 

In addition, we are working on giving sellers video capabilities to make it easy for them to educate buyers. Videos can tell a brand story or origin story, give a product demo, or show an unboxing. We are iterating and making sure we learn as we go. Large sellers already have video capability.

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