eBay Marketplace Shrinks

eBay reported $21.5 billion in GMV in Q1, down -4% year-over-year from $22.5 billion on an as-reported basis and -1% on a foreign exchange (FX) neutral basis. Further, for the last four quarters, sold-item growth was 0% – zero percent.

eBay FX-Neutral GMV Y/Y Growth

Despite shrinking GMV, the company reported growing revenues as it increased the transaction take rate from 7.9% to 8.7%. Promoted Listings service was a significant contributor to increasing revenue, bringing in $65 million in revenue, up nearly 110% year-over-year. eBay believes Promoted Listings and yet to be launched CPC advertising will become a billion-dollar business in the future.

eBay is extracting more revenue from the stalling marketplace - sellers are paying more in fees to get the same sales. All while the marketplace reached 180 million global active buyers, up from 171 million last year.

eBay wants new shoppers who don’t want eBay, but to provide the eBay they would want, eBay loses existing shoppers. Pick one. Instead of picking one, eBay is serving new users a structured data based shopping experience, and existing users are still getting the historical experience. Devin Wenig, CEO of eBay, said they “effectively bifurcated the experience.” It is working as a temporary fix, but the platform needs a cohesive vision.

Growing revenues are pleasing investors, but nothing else yet puts eBay in the conversation on the future of online retail. As Sarah Halzack and Shira Ovide at Bloomberg put it “How can a company be both the second-place player in its fast-growing industry – and largely excluded from the conversation about the future of said industry?” In 2019 eBay will process over $90 billion in GMV worldwide, but it won’t be in any headlines.

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Juozas "Joe" Kaziukėnas

Founder of Marketplace Pulse, Joe 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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