Todd Alexander is one of the foremost experts on eBay in this country. Not only has he worked at the company for eleven years, he has also previously published several books designed to help consumers get the most out of their eBay or online experience.
His newest book, The New eBay, is now the official guide to buying, selling and running a profitable business on the online marketplace. Todd recently spoke to us about all things eBay.
You left bricks and mortar retail for online commerce in the early days. Even then did you feel eCommerce was going to make a big impact on how we shop?
Twelve years ago eCommerce was still the great unknown. Everyone was talking about it, some companies were experimenting with it, but no-one was thriving in a way that was remarkable or an indication of how big things would become. In fact, when I told my family and friends that I was leaving the ‘safe world’ of retail for a relatively unknown US-based internet-only company, they all thought I was crazy. But I saw what was happening in markets such as the US, Japan and Korea and I knew it was where Australia would head. What’s really exciting is that twelve years later, we haven’t seen anything yet – the combination of online and local shopping via mobile devices is astronomically impacting how we shop, and will continue to do so.
This is the official eBay guide and it’s very step by step. How long did it take to bring all of this information together?
I’ve been working for eBay for nearly twelve years so you might say it’s taken that long for my eBay knowledge to get as comprehensive as it is today. I’ve written smaller, more specific pocket guides previously but this is the first time I’ve written a comprehensive user guide – for the very beginner and for the most experienced business alike. It’s important to me that my books are simple to follow so I took time to include as many step by step instructions as possible, together with full colour images taken from the site. eBay has a generous sabbatical program for its employees so I took the best part of two months at the end of last year to write the first draft.
You’ve written books about eBay before. What would you like to achieve by releasing this new book?
eBay continues to evolve. Today, the platform is connecting millions of buyers with millions of sellers globally. Last year eBay launched a new brand and user experience and I felt the time was right to introduce more people to what I still believe is the most phenomenal commercial platform ever invented. Some people still think of eBay as just an auction website, and some businesses have yet to consider its potential as a complementary channel – I see that as my mission as an author, bringing buyers and sellers together.What is the biggest mistake new eBay sellers make when starting out on eBay?eBay has an incredible volume of shoppers. Each month more than seven million Australians visit the site. Some businesses begin listing on eBay without having adequately planned for the exponential growth that can come by tapping into such a dynamic marketplace. My advice is to plan your eBay business as you would any other – set goals and objectives, carefully budget for profit, hone your customer service and logistics solutions… these are all topics I cover in The New eBay, along with a template for a business plan.
How is eBay mobile, (iPhone, iPad etc.) shaping the way people use eBay?
The beauty of the internet is that businesses can sell twenty four seven, three sixty five days a year. But with mobile, a revolution in shopping habits has occurred. More people are shopping more of the time – while they’re waiting, commuting, watching television and with mobile comes the requirement for eBay sellers to have better product images, more effective product descriptions and faster, better service levels. In 2012, eBay’s mobile business was over $13 billion dollars globally, and growing at over 120% on the previous years’ sales which prompted me to include user guides for eBay mobile apps in the book.
After 11 years with eBay, how do you still feel energised to work within the marketplace?
Today, eBay is all about connected commerce. The vision of the company is more inspiring than it has ever been. I’ve never been more excited about the future of eBay, especially as it evolves to help more people unlock more opportunity. I want more individuals and businesses to discover the power of eBay and gain access to the opportunities it provides. I can’t think of many other companies whose employees have a responsibility as rewarding as that.