What customers expect of eBay tomorrow

eBay Might Be 15 Years Old BUT… What About Tomorrow?


eBay’s birthday has attracted quite a bit of positive PR over the past few weeks & UnderstandingE was quoted in the Independent newspaper on “eBay’s Enduring Appeal” here.

eBay might be 15 years old this year, however what about tomorrow?

Good question!

I was asked 5 questions by David Crookes which weren’t completely published, they all look towards eBay’s longevity and what customers are going to be expecting of you “tomorrow”.

This article covers them in full.

Why is eBay so popular?

ebay_logo_largeTo answer this question we need to take a wider look at what’s been going on in the world over the past few years.

Let’s think about this for a few moments…

When money is tight where do customers go?

They now go online and eBay is one of the major sites that they go to, to make their purchases.

While a recession is a serious matter, for the world of eCommerce the one thing certain to bolster its growth is an extremely price-aware, internet connected consumer.

And that’s exactly what we have today.

It’s not all about price though, the consumer wants choice, convenience, safety and fast delivery.

eBay as a whole delivers this to them.

Consumers are now more connected than they have ever been. As you’re reading this look around you, I bet that out of the next 5 people you see, 3 of them are using their phone. If they’re not consuming content on their phone they’re buying.

You can now buy on eBay in a few swipes on the phone. eBay isn’t an overnight success, it’s been building up to what we see and have today for years and years.

That’s an understatement!

eBay has shifted to a “Buy it Now” enviroment with 60% or more of all purchases being instant. Auctions while still available on eBay and quite good fun I hasten to add! are now on the side lines.

And there is a very good reason for that too.

It’s me & you.

The thing is when me and you buy something, we basically want it now.

Anything past next day is now deemed to be “late”.

If I order on Sunday I want it on Monday. If you order on a Tuesday, you want it Wednesday and so on…

With a typical eBay auction you have to wait several days for it to finish. Buy it Now means that you can have it as soon as possible and at the moment that means next day.

While I’m unlikely to be a user of a “Click & Collect” service because I work from home & rarely travel, after the successful pilot eBay ran with Argos for Click & Collect from a small number of stores & eBay businesses, this has been expanded out to almost all business sellers and most Argos stores.

What this means for buyers like us, is that we can shop on our phones on the tube on the way home and collect in our lunch break the next day from the nearest Argos store.

With rapid growth of eCommerce the rest of the world is still playing catch up.

Royal Mail just announced that they’re going to be offering Click & Collect from their Post Offices and Collect+ has being doing really well for years.

SHUTL LOGOBuyers want their gratification to be instant, the eCommerce industry norm for delivery is now “next day” or to collect from somewhere local at a time that suits the customer.

Looking towards tomorrow’s buyers, they’re going to want their order delivered the same day and next day will soon be classed as “late”.

Right now I can go to one of many websites and order hot food and have it delivery to my door for an extra pound or so. If I can have hot food delivered within 30 minutes, logistics aside, why can’t I have the item I just ordered on eBay delivered in 30 minutes?

eBay knows this the next step for eCommerce.

If you’re in the M25 circle they bought Shutl a short while ago for same day deliveries that costs pretty much the same as next day deliveries. Hopefully this will be expanded out to other cities too over time, along with competition to drive the prices down for consumers.

So why has eBay moved away from just bidding?

What buyers really want is choice, convenience, a feeling of safety and now (which at the moment means tomorrow), Buy It Now is one part that enables this and it’s no huge surprise that items available for sale on eBay are being bought as immediate purchases.

Is eBay as lucrative for sellers as it used to be and can people still strike it rich?

marketplaces-shoesLike the traditional English Sunday market, eBay is also a marketplace. A place where buyers and sellers meet. eBay is however online, global and has squillions of potential customers looking to do one thing, buy.

And that’s the key point, unlike Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other “social” site, when someone visits eBay they are there for one reason, to buy.

While there the other important thing to remember is that eBay customers have the ability to make a purchase instantly as an insanely high proportion of eBay buyers have linked PayPal accounts making the buying process one or two clicks.

So can people still “strike it rich?”

This isn’t a gold rush, almost two hundred thousand businesses are registered on eBay UK alone.

If you’re looking to start selling online with minimal overheads and if you’re willing to put the effort in, you too can make business leveraging eBay long term.

If you’re looking to try out a business idea that involves a physical product, eBay is a no-brainer to start on.

The barrier entry is tiny ( we’re talking pence to list an item on eBay ) and the audience is global. Give it a go and see what happens is my advice here.

And if you’re not sure what you could sell or where to start, look any further than your roof space.

How much money do you think you have being left dormant in your roof space right now?

If you sold the entire contents of the roof space, you would not only have a huge wedge of cash in your back pocket, you’ll have also learned all the key business processes that you need know about.

That’s preparing items for sell, taking photographs, writing descriptions, titles adding in item specifics, preparing orders for despatch and customer service to name a few. Once you’ve done that it’s a rinse & repeat process for any product, from a car to a memory card.

There is a global audience awaiting to buy from you.

My question to you is… where are you?

It seems to have become part of the internet landscape and something that is kind of just there. Although it is the most popular, is there anything eBay should do to give itself a lift?

It would be all too easy to go on a bender on how certain changes would help businesses who make their livelihoods using eBay easier or more profitable, however looking at the bigger picture.

Customers come first, customers always come first. Ensure that they’re at the forefront and one thing for eBay and us to remember, convenience always wins.

Why has no other company managed to topple eBay in the auction space, do you think?

keep-rightFor almost any mainstream product, auctions are stone-cold dead.

Don’t get me wrong I love eBay auctions, where else could you find 2 broken Qualcast 35s lawn mowers for a complete bargain in the same city and then fix them up to make one that works?

However as we learned a few moments ago, we’re all extremely demanding customers.

We want a massive choice of products, we want to feel safe, we want to shop in our jim-jams, on the tube, on the bus, in the car and while on holiday.

AND we expect our orders to be here with us tomorrow ( for the time being anyway while the rest of the offline world catches up ) or somewhere to local to us to go and collect the order in person.

And the thing is auctions don’t suit this type of customer for anything mainstream. From TV’s to toasters, a pair of high heel boots to a pair of gardening gloves these are all mainstream products.

There is one big-fat however.

Auctions are extremely attractive for the buyer who is looking for something unique, very hard to obtain or where there is a massive price difference between new and second hand.

For example, just before Christmas my sister called me in hysteria, “Matt there is a Disney Tangled doll on eBay, can you buy it for me immediately?” She had been hunting all the retail stores for it, everywhere had sold out, there was one on eBay second hand and it made my nieces Christmas.

So will another company topple eBay for auctions?

eBay Vs AmazonThis is extremely unlikely to happen.

Other companies tried in the early days, Yahoo had auctions the same as Amazon, however when you think of an online auction, we both think of eBay. That’s something that cannot be undone.

Perhaps a more apt question is how much of a dent will Amazon make in eBay and online retail as a whole?

Amazon is eBay’s arch nemesis, just like Xavier and Magneto from X-Men.

Both have visions, they’re just different approaches.

While eBay is investing in attracting more sellers to the marketplace, delivering choice and speed to customers through acquisitions like Shutl or programs like Click & Collect with Argos, so too is Amazon.

But there is one key difference between these two Internet heavyweights.

eBay is a marketplace that facilitates the transaction between a buyer and seller. Amazon sells products themselves, however approximately +40% of all sales made on Amazon are completed through 3rd party sellers, which is “eBay’s turf”.

They’ll each jostle for the attention of the consumer.

eBay has just seen record numbers for mobile visits and Amazon is set to open more fulfilment centres and has combined Amazon Prime to include streaming video content.

The reality is, it’s not likely that one is going to knock-out the other.

The ever increasing of demand of the consumer and the fight between these two for position means one thing, we all end up with a competitive deal on our next purchase.

And maybe, just maybe, that might be delivered to us in the next half hour.

Your Thoughts?

Let us know in the comments box below,

Matt Ogborne
Co-Founder of UnderstandingE

Image Sources: here, here & here.


6 replies
  1. Andrew Owen-Price
    Andrew Owen-Price says:

    Just a few comments …

    1. I see a lot of focus coming from companies like ebay on faster and faster delivery times … I think that comes from a ‘group-think’ of company execs who live in urban areas (e.g. inside the M25) where it is commercially possible to operate a same day delivery service; and they think that should be the norm for everywhere – well, … let me know if same deliveries start happening for people living in Cornwall or Cumbria. The costs of operating same day delivery across the entire UK would be enormous and, given that the Royal Mail is reducing postal collections to save costs, I don’t see that organisation stepping up to the ‘same day delivery’ plate anytime soon.

    2. The strategies that focus on faster and faster reaction times from sellers appear to me to be driven to satisfy the younger part of the population who demand instant gratification. We generally sell to an older part of the UK demographic and they do not prioritise fast delivery – above all else they value the quality of product and the ability to talk to a ‘nice person’ to sort out problems without fuss … and, guess what, … the proportion of older people in the UK population is growing … so before you buy a fast motorbike to do those same day deliveries, make sure your customers can talk to you and treat them with respect.

    3. Finally, Amazon has a couple of killer advantages over Ebay; Amazon Prime and the Kindle. A million new customers signed up for Amazon Prime last December and that gives all of those customers a bias towards using Amazon because they need never pay delivery charges and, if there is a problem, they have Amazon’s exceptional customer service guarantees to kick a seller into fixing it. The Kindle puts the Amazon shop window into the hands of its owners; imagine, you’re reading a book on your kindle and wonder about buying a present, just press on the Shop Amazon icon and its one click buying all the way.

    I think Ebay and Amazon will continue to co-exist for many years to come. Having sold on the internet since 2006 our gut feeling is that they tend to attract different types of people and for as long as that continues, … just like the newspapers, there will always be people that buy The Sun and a different set of people who buy The Daily Mail.

    Lets all make money while we can but remember that, as the wold famous management thinker Charles Handy once said, … all markets are temporary and nothing last forever.

    • Dave Furness
      Dave Furness says:

      Hey Andrew,

      1. I actually think Amazon is the one that started this quick delivery craze. They started making next day delivery free for Prime customers and even just offering next day as a standard delivery option.

      Because of this customers started having warped views of delivery and Fast and Free has started becoming the norm for a lot of buyers. Hell I ordered something from a website here in the UK and from Australia from eBay…the item from Australia arrived first! They were both free shipping.

      I totally see your point about same day deliveries and Cumbria an Cornwall, but I don’t think it will be beyond the realms of possibility that in a couple of years there will be specialised local courier networks that can make this happen.

      2. Totally agree with you on this one Andrew. Everything boils down to convenience. Fast delivery is just one cog in the wheel of achieving this and every buyer is different some will prioritise fast delivery other want a friendly voice on the end of a phone, others just want what they bought. The sellers job is ideally to appeal to all aspects of buyers.

      3. Amazon and eBay are similar and yet different. For the first time in recent years eBay has been attracting more monthly visitors than Amazon…albeit still the numbers are within less than a million of each other. Amazon has that feeling of convenience especially with Prime customers however the perception of grabbing a bargain still lies in the eyes of eBay. With eBay sellers being politely forced to offer faster and cheaper deliveries too, the allure of Amazon doesn’t seem to be enough to sway the eBay die-hards.

      They will absolutely continue to co-exist as they offer different propositions to their customers as well as their sellers. Nothing lasts forever which begs the question what comes next? The answer sadly is if we knew that then we’d all be able to make an awful lot of money.

  2. SEOMacaw
    SEOMacaw says:

    I love the idea of 30 minute delivery times, however to do that the delivery process has to be automated and independent, the only site making strides towards creating an army of delivery drones is Amazon, I think if 30 minute delivery comes in the near future it’ll be Amazons doing.


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