eBay CEO Jamie Iannone Rejects Predecessor’s Approach to Buyers

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eBay CEO Jamie Iannone explained the decline in buyers in the second quarter to the company’s new approach to buyers: turning them into lifelong enthusiasts. Iannone and eBay Chief Financial Officer Steve Priest explained that approach during eBay’s Q2 earnings call with Wall Street analysts on August 11th.

Iannone said global active buyers on eBay totaled 159 million, down 2% from last year, though up 3% compared to 2019. “Changes in our marketing mix and product investments have been focused on attracting and retaining these enthusiasts particularly Gen Z and millennials.”

Steve Priest said eBay saw a reduction in buyers of low-priced items and explained:

– High value buyers represent 20% of eBay buyers and account for about 75% of GMV (sales).

– Low value buyers represent 50% of eBay buyers and account for about 5% of GMV.

eBay defines high value buyers as those who sell; who purchase at least six days a year; or who spend over $800, Priest explained.

Iannone is rejecting the approach his predecessor took in 2019, “which was really just about the number of active buyers, even low value buyers or one-and-done buyers. I’ve got the whole organization pivoted to focusing on those high value buyers; buyers that are buying over $800, buying six times a year, or buyers who sell,” he said.

In speaking of his goal of turning more buyers into lifelong enthusiasts, Iannone said, “I’ve met a lot of these buyers. They wake up and they get a cup of coffee and they turn to eBay and open the eBay app, and our focus is really not on just the total number, but really focused on how are we driving these buyers to become enthusiasts. The metrics that we show on the board deck are trailing 12-month metric so obviously lapping the buyers that we acquired in Q2, but going forward, our focus will really be on these long-term enthusiasts.”

The new approach to buyers is in line with Iannone’s vertical strategy, or what the CEO referred to during the call as eBay’s “focused category strategy,” which he said was working, referring to strength eBay is seeing “in trading cards and collectibles, already having done $2 billion this year.”

Iannone said the shift to focus on higher ASP (Average Selling Price) is healthy for the ecosystem; “we think it’s going to continue to be driven that way because C2C, as we look at it, we hope to continue to outpace B2C and lean in on these categories of value like our luxury goods, collectibles, etc.”

What do you think of eBay’s new approach in terms of focusing on higher priced goods, consumer-to-consumer selling, and higher value buyers? And have you benefited from Jamie Iannone’s new approach?

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