Last Wednesday, eBay unveiled “The New eBay”, a completely redesigned website that is slowly being rolled out to all users, and released same day delivery service eBay Now in San Francisco. We got the chance to talk about product vision with President Devin Wenig and CTO Mark Carges.
With today’s earnings, eBay proved once again that marketplace is still driving the revenue for the company. That’s why eBay still seems very committed to its core marketplace experience, even though it creates new shopping experiences to stay relevant at the same time.
Understanding mobile and staying a leading e-commerce company
The main focus of the press conference was about the Pinterest-inspired redesign and eBay Now. Yet, most of the presentation was around the idea that eBay is deeply committed to mobile. When asked about this, Carges stated eBay’s three core values — personal, global and mobile. For example, 60 percent of the revenue comes from outside of the U.S. All the new updates and e-commerce offerings are created through that prism.
“People are getting more and more comfortable using mobile. It’s what they want to do,” Carges said. “We are trying to meet those needs,” he continued.
eBay Now is not a global offering, but the company is trying different things in different countries, such as click and collect in the U.K. — you buy something online and pick it up in store. Those new experiences seem to replace the good old marketplace buying mechanism that made eBay popular in the first place. My hypothesis was that when you are on a mobile device, you want an instant buying experience and don’t want to deal with auctions.
“Fixed price is 70 percent of our growth and continuing to grow,” Wenig confirmed. “The reason why that is, while auction is a great format, it’s not the best format for everything. It’s not ideal for the objects that might not come to the market everyday and for which you might not know the current supply and demand model,” Carges said.
When it comes to eBay Now, the service promises one-hour delivery in San Francisco. To achieve that, the company built its own carrier network. “We focused in San Francisco so we can really do the end-to-end experience,” Carges said. Carriers use a separate app so that eBay knows where each person is at any moment.
eBay Now was built on top of Milo’s real time inventory, a product acquired by eBay for $75 million in December 2010.
When asked about the rumors that Amazon could enter the same day delivery space, Carges told us “we can partner with every retailer in the city. We don’t compete with any of them, and they can’t.” eBay has created a win-win environment in San Francisco — no word on availability in other cities.
Long term vision
The main idea behind the new design is that searching will be less prominent and browsing will become useful thanks to the image feeds.
“Over time, we see it as a social experience,” Carges said. Yet, past attempts to bring together an e-commerce website with a social experience have failed, as Apple’s Ping has demonstrated. “eBay actually invented social commerce,” he said. But, over the years, the definition of social on the web has evolved. What Carges meant is that eBay will become a social service in the modern sense and already has the assets to achieve that.
The redesign is only the first step of a bigger change. “We will just keep iterating,” Carges said. Svpply played an important role in the redesign.
“We need to focus on the design,” Carges said. “So we acquired Svpply, a very small company based in New York — great designers, great mobile app builders, great curators of inventory,” he continued.
According to Carges, the long term plan for the product would be to bring the same experience on all the platforms. “When I ask you ‘which device did you make your purchase on?’, if the answer is ‘I don’t know,’ that would be success.”