With its roots in home-grown ecommerce sales, eBay is expanding how it works with start-ups and other small and midsized sellers to grow online storefronts and reverse recent slides in the marketplace’s gross sales.

When eBay Inc. gathered feedback recently from thousands of its small and midsized sellers across the globe, it learned that more than two-thirds expect revenue gains over the next 12 months.

Sellers and buyers are getting really engaged in eBay Live.
Jamie Iaonne, president and CEO
eBay Inc.

It’s the kind of broad-based growth projections that launched the mid-1990s ecommerce pioneer with a bevy of entrepreneurial sellers.

Michelle Warvel - eBay VP, Product, Seller Experience

Michelle Warvel, vice president of product and seller experience, eBay Inc.

No wonder, then, eBay is out to prod ongoing growth with an array of new selling tools for today’s generation of sellers, including fast-growing small and midsized businesses that cater to what eBay calls “enthusiast buyers” of unique items ranging from sneakers and baseball trading cards to luxury handbags.

“We’re really focused on, How do we meet the needs of these enthusiast buyers?” says Michelle Warvel, vice president of product, seller experience. She notes that such buyers account for about 70% of eBay’s annual gross merchandise volume sold on its marketplace.


“We’re thinking about our sellers’ experiences: how do we build tools for our sellers so that when they list a sneaker, or they list a luxury handbag, we’re giving them the right guidance so that they are meeting their buyers where they are.”

The new eBay toolset covers:

  • AI-generated content in “magical listings,” which eBay says has resulted in longer, more detailed product descriptions designed to help sellers move more unusual items.
  • Automated online offers that sellers send to customers through eBay’s M2M messaging platform to alert shoppers to lower prices or other product offers designed to spark sales in otherwise inactive or “stale” product listings.
  • Managing “shoppable posts” on multiple social channels like Instagram and Facebook.”
  • eBay Live interactive livestream selling, which eBay says has gained traction with sellers and buyers since it launched in May.

EBay notes that its new slate of sellers’ tools each serves a distinct purpose but share a common strategy of engaging buyers who want more exciting interactions, such as conversing with a seller through an eBay Live live-streamed sales event.

Ebay ranks No. 6 in Digital Commerce 360’s new 2023 Global Online Marketplaces Report. The Global Online Marketplaces Database ranks the 100 largest such marketplaces by 2023 third-party GMV.

Thinking about ‘the future of ecommerce’

“EBay Live is a new platform that we just launched for our sellers, and that’s allowed them to reach a whole new audience … that Gen Z consumer who loves to watch live shopping and gets to chat directly with the seller,” Warvel says. “It’s just been a really interesting way to think about kind of the future of commerce.”


Jamie Iaonnone, president and CEO, eBay Inc.

Jamie Iannone, eBay’s president and CEO, said on a recent second-quarter earnings call that eBay is basing its ongoing growth strategy on “the three pillars of relevant experience, scalable solutions, and magical innovation.”

EBay’s plans follow recent mixed results in its marketplace activity.

For the second quarter ended June 30, the company reported a 5% year-over-year increase in revenue to $2.5 billion but a 12% drop in gross merchandise volume to $18.2 billion. For the full year 2022, revenue fell 6% to $9.8 billion, as GMV declined 15% to $73.9 billion.


Investment analysts raised the importance of reaching new customers on a Q2  earnings call when Michael Morton, an analyst with Moffett Nathanson, asked: “Are you having some effectiveness in converting the millennials and Gen Z, who have maybe grown up in a different era of interacting with marketplaces?

Iannone responded that, besides introducing new brands popular with younger adults, eBay was seeing a notable response to the recently launched eBay Live. He noted that eBay did “over 300” eBay Live commerce events within the first couple of months.

“Sellers and buyers are getting really engaged in that,” he said. “And so that opportunity for us is to drive that customer lifetime value for a buyer as well as attract those new buyers on the platform.”

EBay makes a schedule of upcoming eBay Live events available in the eBay Live Hub.


Using AI to engage customers

Warvel says that eBay is also reaching into its long ecommerce history to provide sellers with extensive customer demand data, now enhanced with AI, for more effective product listings.

“EBay knows what buyers want; we know what types of things that a sneakerhead, for example, wants to understand about the condition of the shoe before they purchase,” she says.

But eBay will continue to work with AI and sellers — Warvel notes that many sellers have AI experience — to improve how the most valuable product attributes appear in site search and product listings.

“Optimizing and being dynamic in the listing based on the item that they’re selling is something that we’re working on the magical listing flow,” she says.


In a recent survey of 4,334 eBay sellers in the United States, the UK, Germany, Canada, Japan and Australia, eBay found that 68% of respondents expect their eBay business to grow over the next five years and that 55% expect their overall business to grow over the next 12 months. EBay conducted the survey in association with global insights and advisory consultancy GlobeScan.

Paul Demery is a Digital Commerce 360 contributing editor covering B2B digital commerce technology and strategy. [email protected].

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