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How eBay’s new CEO made it a pandemic winner


Shares of eBay (EBAY) has increased by more than 30% this year, while PayPal (PYPL) tripped over 20%.
Companies have had a very different 2021. PayPal, which now allows anyone to buy and sell bitcoin, has been subject to crypto market volatility and concerns about it. rumored plan recommend to buy Pinterest (PINS), even though PayPal later said not deal took place.

In contrast, Ebay has made a big comeback during the pandemic thanks to bets on some of the fast-growing parts of the digital commerce market – that is, sneakers, sports memorabilia and car parts. .

CNN Business spoke with eBay CEO Jamie Iannone, who rejoined eBay in April 2020, about the company’s transformation into an enthusiast-focused retailer.

“It’s been part of a process of re-imagining eBay over the years. The categories we’re focusing on are huge,” said Iannone, who was an executive at Barnes & Noble. Walmart (WMT) before returning to eBay, where he worked for most of the 2000s.

Focus more on repeat electricity buyers

Iannone helped push eBay into markets where buyers were willing to spend a lot of money several times a year. Wall Street likes that.

eBay shares are up more than 70% since Iannone returned to the company. That’s better returns for PayPal and the broader market in the same timeframe. The pivot to collections with young, passionate buyers has been a big win for the company.

EBay looks to make money from trading cards boom

Iannone said eBay recognizes there’s a big difference between casual shoppers and so-called power buyers, who shop for nearly $1,000 several times a year.

That audience is where eBay is now paying a lot of attention, Iannone said, because it makes more sense to serve loyal people instead of spending more money on marketing and advertising just to grow the overall user base.

“Some [power buyers] wake up, grab a coffee, and switch to eBay,” says Iannone. We were too focused on attracting buyers and getting them at all costs. Now we are relying on enthusiasts. “

As a result of this new focus, Iannone said eBay made more money selling transactional cards in the second quarter of this year than it did in that category in all of 2020.

The ‘accidental entrepreneurs’ who motivated eBay

Iannone said he enjoys meeting people who have set up shops on eBay and now make a living from it. That includes someone who was laid off by the Orlando Magic basketball team during the 2020 NBA season shutdown and now sells sneakers full-time on eBay. It’s a common story in times of pandemic, when many people leave the traditional workforce, he said.

“These are casual entrepreneurs,” says Iannone, adding that while most people on the platform say they started selling on eBay to increase their income, nearly 15% do so. because they lost their jobs.

The company is also leveraging the power of social media and the influencer community — including a sneakers marketing campaign on TikTok.

NYSE owners say they don't buy eBay

The company has stepped up efforts to validate items such as shoes, baseball cards, and musical instruments. For example, eBay just acquired the sneaker authentication service Sneaker Con. It also tracks the value of trading tokens in real time just like stocks. (And Iannone herself recently bought a “barely used” oboe for her daughter on eBay.)

“Ebay is a pioneer in the exchange of collectibles and re-commercials,” says Iannone. “We’re working on that. It’s all about regaining trust on the platform.”

Motor vehicle accessories are the next big area of ​​focus for eBay, he said, adding that when he needed a part for the windshield, he found a perfect fit on eBay with $9 which would probably cost $40 at the auto dealership.

Buy now and pay later – but not in bitcoin

The company is also apply more modern forms of payment to continue to attract young generation and generation Z customers.

EBay currently accepts Apple Pay and Google Pay and is testing the “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) trend in the form of a partnership in Australia with Afterpay (which square (SQ) is in buying process for nearly 30 billion dollars).

“This really helps attract newer customers to the platform. People like to use it for high-priced items,” Iannone said. “BNPL is bringing in a younger demographic.”

But one trend that eBay hasn’t embraced is bitcoin. Due to the volatility of cryptocurrencies, Iannone said the company will not accept any of them as a payment “for the foreseeable future”.

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