What "It" Is eBay Wants
Acrobats and an Elvis impersonator warmed up the eBay crowd at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Thursday for the Baby Boomer-era rock concert by Huey Lewis & the News. The gala dinner concert was a fitting end to the fifth-annual "eBay Live" convention aimed mostly at people who sell on the sprawling online marketplace.
At its convention, eBay chief executive Meg Whitman announced the site had registered its 200 millionth user. And though growth is slowing, trade on eBay is vast and getting bigger every day--more than $44 billion worth of goods changed hands on the site last year. That would make it the world's 11th-largest retailer if eBay actually owned the inventory instead of merely charging sales fees, said Whitman.
While eBay is best known for its auction format, more than a third of its sales volume now occurs in fixed-price format. And that is likely to expand even more, thanks to the new "eBay Express" site focused on new merchandise sold at fixed prices, which eBay officially launched this week after two months of testing. EBay said it would launch a major national ad campaign touting eBay Express this fall, along with the "it" theme (people can find whatever "it" is they want on eBay) introduced in commercials last year.
Whatever "it" is eBay really wants, however, remains a tad fuzzy even after the extravaganza held here. EBay execs made a point of saying auctions remain the core DNA of the company, but eBay clearly is morphing into a new kind of e-commerce company as it strikes out in many new directions at once.
Next year, "eBay Live" will be in Boston, the company announced last night. By then, there is simply no telling what eBay might look like.
(Leslie Walker welcomes your email feedback at leslie @ lesliewalker.com )
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