Last week, eBay held its annual seller conference eBay Open over three days with virtual keynotes, Q&As, and sessions.
Unlike the first two days, eBay immediately started the day with sessions held by eBay experts and sellers. This included valuable information from Gen Z shopping behavior to taking advantage of international shipping opportunities.
The final keynote segment of eBay Open was also a bit different from the previous two days. After a brief introduction by eBay President and CEO Jamie Iannone, three sellers, Laurie Wong, Ken Gaitona, and Anna Packer, took over the segment, discussing their business on eBay for about 30 minutes.
It may have been one of the most inspirational segments because all three came from different backgrounds and offered interesting insights on how they got started and why they sell on eBay.
For example, Laurie Wong runs a food pantry and uses the proceeds to fund her operations. Ken Gaitona immigrated to the U.S. and decided to launch an eBay business to chase after the “American Dream.” And Anna Packer went from therapist to eBay entrepreneur because it offered her more personal flexibility.
The group of three had fascinating stories and clearly offered a stirring look at what is possible on eBay if you are willing to put in the time and effort to grow your business. Here are a few highlights from their talk:
Wong said that five foundational tasks, or the basics, are key to success.
- Quality Items
- Quality Photos
- Accurate and Complete Product Descriptions
- Good Customer Service
- Ship Promptly
Gaitona added that you make money when you buy, not when you sell. In other words, it’s crucial to find the right deals on the best products. Packer expanded that filling out the recommended item specifics is critical, and she is excited about how generative AI will help sellers build better listings.
All three agreed that photos play a huge role today. It’s important to showcase products from all angles, show flaws, price tags (if applicable), and material content, especially on pre-owned items. Products have a story, and it doesn’t take high-end cameras with today’s smartphones to tell that story.
While they mostly agreed on what it takes to be successful, Wong and Gaitona said they ship orders within 24 hours. By comparison, Packer sends out items within 2 to 3 days to fit her schedule.
The upside here is that while fast shipping is important, it seems it’s still possible to be successful on eBay as long as you meet your promised handling times.
Gaitona made another interesting point about his success. He said that most of his new items are listed within 24 hours. The sooner they are on eBay, the sooner there is an opportunity to sell them.
This was an excellent segment and one that eBay should consider incorporating more in future eBay Open seller conferences, maybe having one at the end of every day.
Adam Ireland, VP, U.S. General Manager, eBay, took over the keynote, thanking all contributors, production team members, participating sellers, and attendees.
The keynote concluded with all participating sellers who were part of a segment walking outside and being cheered by eBay employees (clapping tunnel).
Rebecca Michals, Director, Community & Engagement, eBay, and Lamont Jones, Manager, Consumer Engagement, eBay, finished the keynote segment with a live portion thanking everyone again, and suggesting sellers stay engaged with local events and through the company’s social channels.
My Take on eBay Open
This year, the corporate key phrases during eBay Open were “Enthusiast Buyers” and “Magic Experiences.” So, let’s take a look at how magical the seller conference was to help sellers promote their listings to enthusiast buyers.
While eBay included several “live” meet-ups, dubbed ‘eBay Open Studio’ in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Phoenix, on Tuesday, the whole event lacked a bit of excitement during the business end (Wed-Fri). It sounds trivial, but eBay should consider at least having a studio audience and enabling the audience to engage presenters with questions.
I really believe the keynotes need this audience participation, even if it’s just 50 to 100 sellers. It would make those segments more exciting and engaging. The current format was more of a fancy PowerPoint presentation that lacked life.
Michals and Jones tried to bring something “live” to the table between some segments, but it just fell flat because it was clearly disjointed from the keynote presentations.
I do like the virtual format because it allows more sellers to participate and learn, especially if they are new sellers. During most other sessions, there were live chats about the topic being covered, usually after the presentation ended.
While the presentations were more like PowerPoints, I generally thought they were well done. It’s important to note that eBay has said more than 60% of attendees at eBay Open are new sellers, so the programming is very much tailored to that audience.
In addition to the presentations, there were ‘Networking Sessions’ and an ‘Expo Hall.’
Frankly, the most annoying part during live chat sessions was some sellers asking other sellers to check out their eBay store. C’mon, cut the crap! Maybe eBay should disallow links in those chat windows.
Some sponsors used the Expo Hall to properly engage with sellers, while others only provided links to their services. The cost of sponsorship is not the fee a sponsor pays, but the amount of effort one puts into ‘activation.’
It’s not uncommon for activation to cost two to three times the fee of the sponsorship. eBay can’t force sponsors to be active, but it does take away from those who try.
I wouldn’t be surprised if some sellers who entered the virtual Expo Hall found no live content at times, got discouraged, and didn’t come back. Kudos to the sponsors who used the format to activate their sponsorships, and hopefully, they realized some ROI from their proactive efforts.
Bottom line, eBay Open 2023 was another successful seller conference. I believe those sellers who took the time to participate received value from the information offered. Even with the flaws I pointed out, eBay Open has something for every level of seller, despite the programming leaning more toward newer sellers.
If you missed the event, want to watch a keynote or session again, or view a session that conflicted with another session, eBay has now uploaded all eBay Open 2023 sessions on YouTube here.
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