ebay. One of the earliest sites which really gained scale. I remember back in 2002 coming across ebay and I was late to the party, by that time the site had been going for 7 years having launched in 1995 and IPO’d in 1998 under Meg Whitman as CEO (worth having a read of ebay’s wiki page for a brief history).
I loved it, I signed up and began buying and selling. Between 2004 and 2014 I fell out of love though and hardly ever visited the site. Yet, now I find myself going back. Why?
It seems I wasn’t the only one. Ebay’s share price hit a high in December 2004 of just over $58 before falling to around $10 in 2009. A 80% fall is quite something! yet today, the shares are around $53. So, investors like ebay again, why?
Looking at some of the corporate reports on the investor relations site some key metrics paint the picture. The number of buyers is rising, revenue is rising and profit is rising (see the income statement form Oct 14). So, performance is good, but the reports can’t give insight as to why?
Here are my top 5 reasons as to why I think ebay is doing well again:
1. Trust. Ebay is a brand, a global brand for that matter. It’s been around as long as the internet, it survived the bubbles and bursts. In my mind, it has validity, it is not a flash in the pan.
2. It’s easy. The team have made vast improvements regards selling or buying (I am currently selling various items). It’s very easy to list an item and just as easy to buy. It works just as well on any device. It’s intuitive and instructive.
3. It’s cheap. I know I can sell items for a tiny % fee. Thats good for me (this is one item I am selling at the moment, the guitar, not the fireplace. £0 yet it gets in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of potential buyers, such good value!).
4. Its helps. In todays economic environment I am sure I am not the only person off loading various items lying around the house. Why wouldn’t i? who doesn’t want a little extra income for what would otherwise be items that ended up in the rubbish bin or at the tip?
5. It has scale. ebay has a global audience. for its global market I can trade with almost any one in the world. There aren’t many other sites that allow me to do that. I know I could with amazon but i see Amazon as a retailer. I see ebay as a market place.
These are of course only my opinions and full of wild speculation, based entirely on my experience and thoughts.
I wish someone would write a column or book regards bay’s story, the rise, fall, rise, fall and rise again! I imagine it makes for a good story. There are loads of lessons in ebays story for me to take away (make my site easy, make it good value, scale if possible, gain interaction etc..) but point one above is tough. I’ve mentioned in previous posts my thoughts on brand building and trust.
The problem is, one can’t do it over night. You’ve got to walk the walk, not just talk the talk on ones advertising campaigns. One has to deliver real benefit, give the customer a reason for your entire being. If one can manage that, I believe you’ve given your business an armour plating and that makes it so much more valuable.
Maybe I’ll attempt to contact the founder for an interview for my new podcast!