eBay sign at its corporate offices

Last week, eBay launched its authentication service for luxury handbags of $500 or more to complement its existing authentication service for sneakers and luxury watches.

Today, in a blog post on eBay, Jordan Sweetnam, Senior Vice President and General Manager for eBay North America, summed up how eBay is gaining momentum in authenticated goods and what it means for its business, buyers, and sellers.

“In less than a year, hundreds of thousands of sought-out sneakers have been authenticated, and buyer satisfaction in this space — as well as in luxury watches — has soared. Customers are telling us that they love the new experience and we’re seeing the satisfaction feedback and sales growth to back that up.”

Specifically, on handbags, he added:

“The move further solidifies our marketplace as a top destination for buying and selling high-passion, high-value and hard-to-find items. Already we’ve seen a significant increase in sales compared to last year, and on average a handbag is bought on eBay every 12 seconds.

What a Minute? A Handbag Every 12 Seconds?

Wow, that’s impressive! But that number is a bit deceiving in the context of his blog post discussing the virtues of eBay’s authentication service.

A handbag every 12 seconds means there are over 2.6 million handbags sold on the platform yearly. If every handbag sold is a luxury bag at the minimum qualifying price level of $500 for its authentication service, that would mean a GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) of at least $1.3 billion.

Considering eBay’s full-year GMV for 2020 was $100 billion, that would suggest eBay luxury handbag sales represent at least 1.3% of all GMV on the platform. Yeah, well, that is unlikely!

The casual reader will miss the nuance that Sweetnam doesn’t refer to luxury handbag sales in this part of his post, but handbag sales in general. Clearly, the math effectively confirms it can’t be luxury handbag sales. Yet, surrounded by the praises and opportunities of eBay’s authentication service, there is this a handbag every 12 seconds statistic.

12 handbags per second, even being non-luxury handbags, is still an excellent reason why eBay needed to expanded its authentication service to luxury handbags. It clearly shows there is a market for handbags on the platform. But why not just say that?

It just doesn’t make any sense to use a sales stat in a misleading way to make a case for adding luxury handbags to its authentication service. While eBay’s messaging is better today than it has been in years, sometimes the company seems to fall into old traps.

That only erodes trust, and it’s especially a bit ironic in this case as the purpose of Sweetnam’s blog post was to promote a service to build trust!

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