Today, selling items online is one of the most natural ways to get rid of unwanted possessions, but before eBay, it was a relatively foreign concept. This site has revolutionized the way that people deal with their extra stuff, and opened the door for a whole new world of commerce to unfold.
Where the World Shops
Essentially an auction site, eBay allows buyers and sellers from all over the globe to utilize their platform. Their mission is to connect everyone in the world with the best possible value and selection. In addition to its flagship brand, eBay also owns Stubhub, which is a natural expansion of its digital commerce platform.
As the world becomes increasingly digital, the influence of companies like eBay becomes more and more apparent. With more than a billion live listings, it’s clear that eBay isn’t through making its mark just yet.
Ahead of its Time
Online shopping is ubiquitous in the modern world, but that wasn’t the case when eBay was founded in 1995. The site was originally called AuctionWeb, and Pierre Omidyar started it in an attempt to build an open and honest marketplace connecting buyers and sellers.
The key to eBay’s success may lie in the fact that it worked to implement specific, enforceable procedures that ensure the safety and transparency of all the transactions taking place on the site. The company also acquired a number of brands in its first 10 years of business, including Paypal and Skype, though it has since sold most of them.
As online shopping becomes more popular, eBay is only likely to continue on its 20+ years of success.
Fighting to Stay On Top
One of the drawbacks to eBay’s success is the fact that it indicated to other entrepreneurs that there was money to be made through online shopping. This gave rise to sites like Etsy in 2005 and Facebook marketplace.
However, eBay’s biggest competitor is arguably Amazon, and of these two companies Amazon was founded first. Although eBay enjoyed a great deal of early success, Amazon has certainly stepped into the limelight, and their brand value is now about ten times that of eBay.
Passing the Marketing Torch
Perhaps the most brilliant aspect of the eBay business model is the fact that their visibility comes from the efforts of their sellers. This means that instead of working especially hard to promote their platform, eBay encourages their sellers to promote their eBay stores, and in turn the site itself gains exposure.
This is not to say that eBay doesn’t dedicate a budget chunk toward advertising (they spent more than $1 billion in 2018 on these efforts), just that the bulk of referrals likely come from the efforts of individual sellers rather than the brand itself.
As eBay’s growth has slowed in recent years, concerns over buyers scamming sellers have surfaced. This came to a head in 2017, as stories of sellers issuing refunds only to receive defective returned products (if they were returned at all) and not receiving assistance from eBay became more and more common.
The company attempted to mitigate concerns by bolstering its seller protections, but growth has still become somewhat stagnant. eBay is still a global force to be sure, sitting at number 67 on the 2019 list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands from Forbes, but it remains to be seen how this site will fare in the coming years.
eBay set the stage for online commerce, and now time will tell whether or not it will remain relevant throughout the rest of the 21st century.