eBay is nothing without its sellers which is why the VP of eBay seller experience role has often been one of the most customer-facing in the company. The current VP of eBay Seller Experience is Xiaodi Zhang and this week we had the pleasure of sitting down with Xiaodi to discuss what eBay sellers could expect from the company through 2023.
Before we get into the interview, we thought it would be interesting to give you some background on Xiaodi. She is what some call in the industry a boomerang, as she first worked for eBay from 2004 to 2010 and has come back around again starting in September 2022 in her new role as VP of eBay seller experience.
During her time away she has served as the Chief Product Officer at start-up company 1st Dibs continuing her experience in the ecommerce marketplace space.
With that being said let’s get straight into the interview
Exclusive Interview with VP of Seller Experience at eBay Xiaodi Zhang
Q. Throughout the pandemic, a number of people turned to starting their own businesses in both the US and the UK, and eBay was the obvious starting point for many due to the low barriers involved with getting started. Now we are (hopefully) on the other side of the pandemic, how is eBay planning on continuing to help those businesses scale and grow throughout 2023?
A. That is absolutely something we think about a lot, and just recently we completed our first small business survey, and it was great to see over 90% of them still see eBay as an important channel for their business, and over 1/3 of them said that without eBay they wouldn’t be in business, and across eBay we take that responsibility very seriously.
We are definitely focused on helping them continue to scale as a business, and from our team’s perspective in seller experience, we really look at the end-to-end lifecycle of the seller and the challenges they may face and examine ways that we can remove friction from the process. Whether that be from listing and making that process as seamless as possible to making sure they have the opportunity to reach worldwide customers across 200 countries. If they are not able to ship worldwide then we want to be able to provide shipping labels through our new international shipping program to help facilitate cross-border trade.
Q. Before we started the interview you mentioned how great it was to see the speed of innovation being a main focus when you returned to eBay in September. I’m sure you won’t give us any secrets but could you maybe give us some clues as to what innovation sellers can expect to see from eBay in 2023?
A. One of the biggest investments eBay has made over the last few years has been in modernizing and transforming our platform, which has allowed us to make improvements faster, iterate faster, test faster which impacts all areas across the platform.
One exciting development is a listing tool we recently introduced which focuses on our sneakers category, which is one of our key focus categories. We took a deliberate focus to really look at the unique challenges of that particular category from a seller’s perspective and how to make it as simple as possible for our sellers.
We believe a lot of our innovation will come from focusing on removing the points of friction from the beginning, they can focus on managing sales and increasing sales, we don’t want the tools you use on eBay to take up so much of your time that you can’t focus on product sourcing or providing great customer service. So that is just one example of the many areas we are investing in.
Q. The likes of ChatGPT and other AI tools have been all over the news and social media recently, with eBay committing to innovation can sellers expect any front-end developments that utilize more AI technologies that could benefit the seller experience?
A. Absolutely! In such a short amount of time, so much innovation is happening across the tech ecosystem and it’s an exciting time for all of us. We have been looking at and using machine learning and AI for a long time, especially with all the data that we have. We have over 20 years’ worth of data including billions of listings and the opportunity for us is looking at how can we use this data to create transformative applications and tools for both our buyers and sellers.
In terms of specifics, we will definitely share more as they become available but certainly, we see the opportunities and potential, and right now we are iterating and testing and looking to create some really valuable improvements for our buyers and sellers. The key thing for us is continuing to focus on the problems of our customers, we want to make sure we are using the latest technology to fix problems for our customers.
Q. One of the greatest assets to me as an eBay seller was the eBay events, and getting the face time with eBay team members. Following on from the pandemic can sellers expect to see more physical events from eBay and have the opportunity to communicate with you in person?
A. Yes, absolutely, what we learned in the last couple of years was the power of combining both in-person and online events, it has allowed us to reach our community and members in such an exponential way. For example one of our selling product managers attended a virtual event with about a dozen of our sellers just last week to talk through the listing flow and on the spot answer specific questions and troubleshoot specific questions. Not only was that a great opportunity for our sellers to get questions answered, but it was great feedback for our organization. This wouldn’t have been possible before Covid.
eBay has really embraced technology to allow us to stay connected but also amplify our reach to our sellers. Community and seller connections are core parts of our DNA and our approach to eBay and our open-door policy.
We do plan to offer more in-person events and we also encourage the seller organized events too which we love to see at a grassroots level. We love to see how sellers help each other across the ecosystem.
Q. Xiaodi thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today, if there was one thing you could say to sellers reading this article about what they can expect from the seller experience team this year what would it be?
A. The one key message that I want to say get across is how dedicated we are to their success and how open we are and how focused we are on solving their focus. It is every single person in the company, we are our seller’s champions, stewards, advocates, and cheerleaders, and I knew it since my first time at eBay and it has been reinforced since I have been back.
I just want our sellers to know how much we are and how much we are focused on improving their experience, if they see issues we have an open door policy and we want to hear from our sellers.
Thank You Xiaodi
We want to take this opportunity to thank Xiaodi for taking time out of her day running seller experience to come and speak with us directly and give us some deeper insight into what is going on at the Seller Experience team and what sellers can be expecting throughout 2023.
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