The Marketplace Boom   //   May 4, 2023

Ebay’s chief product officer on growing the legacy marketplace

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Ebay may be decades old, but the company is still trying to iterate as if it were a startup.

“We’re still a work in progress, there’s still a lot more that we need to change,” said Eddie Garcia, eBay’s chief product officer. He joined the Modern Retail Podcast this week and spoke about his priorities, and the way the marketplace landscape has evolved.

Garcia is an eBay boomerang. He first started working for the company in 2003 and then left in 2014 to work at other companies like Sam’s Club and Facebook. He returned a year ago to lead product, and says the focus has been on growing the platform while also maintaining a sense of community.

“There still is that fundamental essence of the community experience, and that small business, or that individual connecting with another,” Garcia said.

Making that work across categories is also difficult. Ebay is a marketplace many people know — but the company is trying to tailor specific areas for certain types of products. It’s a difficult tightrope, Garcia said, making a platform that’s both recognizable but able to offer certain features to certain types of sellers.

“It’s a balance,” he said. “You don’t want to dramatically change the experience because that can become disorienting to the shopper.”

There are a lot of updates on the roadmap, he said, but the focus is specifically on user experience.

“We got to do more,” said Garcia. “We’re really proud of our progress at taking friction out of the experience for sellers and buyers, helping make search better — creating a greater sense of trust on the platform.”

Here are a few highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.

How eBay has changed over the last decade
“The biggest change [over the last few years] is just the scale of the platform. We have 134 million active global buyers, we’re in 190 markets all around the world. Just because we have that scale, there still is that fundamental essence of the community experience — and that small business or that individual connecting with another to trade and to drive a greater sustainable commerce experience, or to get deeper in their enthusiast passions. So, in some ways, we’re the same. And in other ways, we’ve evolved and scaled, and the experience is certainly different.”

Ebay’s approach to user experience
“There’s a lot of work in AI to tailor what the buyer sees based on their preferences and what they care about. The UX is still pretty standard across the two. It’s a balance, right? Because you don’t want to dramatically change the experience, because that can become disorienting to the shopper. So we’re working on that. And we’re iterating on that. It’s figuring out where to tailor it and personalize, and where to have consistency so that the experience is predictable — and so it’s not disruptive to the mental model of that shopper.”

Where livestreaming works
“[Livestreaming] is not for every category. I think it makes a lot of sense where there’s just deeper understanding of the product. Or there’s a connection or a story that that seller wants to tell. And our sellers are just amazing. They are entrepreneurs, they are experts in all of these passions that we’ve been talking about. And so, to hear directly from them on a livestream, it’s just a richer experience, and everybody wins from that. In particular, we’re excited about collectibles, trading cards, fashion. And we’re going to keep trying it wherever we can form that better connection between a buyer and a seller.”