eBay Loses Pandemic’s E-Commerce Surge

eBay has lost all sales growth from the pandemic’s e-commerce surge and will finish 2022 with GMV at 2019 levels.

According to eBay’s guidance, eBay’s global gross merchandise volume (GMV) in 2022 will reach $72.7 - $74.7 billion. That’s nearly identical to the $72.1 billion GMV in 2019. Its GMV will shrink by roughly $14 billion from $87.6 billion in 2020 and $87.3 billion in 2021.

eBay had little growth over the five-plus years leading up to 2020. When Covid came, eBay benefited from other retailers being out of stock. That brought many buyers back to eBay - thus resulting in a $14 billion spending increase in 2020 that it sustained in 2022 - but it ultimately was a temporary surge.

eBay is giving up the pandemic’s gains in international markets faster than in the U.S. - for example, in the second quarter of 2022, U.S. GMV was still up 15% from Q2 of 2019, but international GMV was down 3%. Sales in the U.S. will finish the year above 2019 levels but could weaken further in 2023.

E-commerce in the U.S. was up a staggering 80% over the same 2019 Q2 - 2022 Q2 period that eBay grew 15% in the U.S. While e-commerce penetration figures haven’t increased drastically during the pandemic, e-commerce spending has increased enormously. Because eBay didn’t keep up, its market share is down to 3.5% from 10% less than a decade ago.

eBay GMV

eBay has hundreds of competitors that took categories on eBay and built a business around improved experience. It is losing sales to marketplaces like StockX, Etsy, Vinted, Farfetch, Facebook Marketplace, and others. But it still has five categories generating over $10 billion in sales: Motors, Parts & Accessories, Electronics, Collectibles, Home and Garden, and Fashion.

Nevertheless, eBay has refocused on select categories it calls “focus categories,” and high-spending users nicknamed “enthusiast buyers.” Focus categories include jewelry, sneakers, handbags, and collectibles like trading cards. Enthusiast buyers - roughly 12% of active buyers - shop on eBay multiple times a year and spend more than the average user.

Thus while eBay is much bigger than the few categories and a selection of users, it has focused on niches and buyers it can serve well. That likely means GMV and active buyers will continue to drop before eBay finds a bottom and settles into its new role.

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Juozas Kaziukėnas

Founder of Marketplace Pulse, Juozas wears multiple hats in the management of Marketplace Pulse, including writing most of the articles. Based in New York City. Advisor to other startups and entrepreneurs. Occasional speaker at conferences.

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