• Justin Richardson

The Evolution of eBay

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

My second blog post will discuss how eBay has had to evolve its online brand proposition and communicate it to achieve continued growth throughout their business life-cycle.

As I’m sure we all remember, eBay (formerly known as AuctionWeb) used to deal exclusively in online auctions. The current state of eBay is incredibly different.

Buy It Now

One of the largest and most important features added by eBay early on was the “Buy It Now” button. This allowed sellers to guarantee themselves a specific profit as well as guarantee buyers a product. This addition also appeals to the recent need for ‘instant gratification.’ Furthermore, the “Buy It Now” button allowed eBay to appeal to a wider audience than just enthusiasts who sat on their computer all day bidding for items. The button allowed eBay to function like a conventional online store and ensure customer and merchant satisfaction.

The Move Away from Junk

With over 80% of eBay’s sales being new items, the brand has been moving away from the ‘garage sale’ image it previously held. This branding shift is obvious just from a look at the eBay main page which now looks more like a JB Hi-Fi or Harvey Norman site with discount codes, promotions and featured items from big retailers. eBay has mainly communicated this branding change via TV ads in several countries including the US, UK and Australia. Utilising TV ads allows eBay to reach a far larger audience when compared to digital marketing methods. This change in brand image shows eBay’s attempt to evolve into a destination for regular online shoppers as well as collectors and bargain hunters.


Throughout the years, eBay have vertically and horizontally integrated their business in order to expand their value proposition. There are numerous examples of this including the acquisition of PayPal in 2002 and Gumtree in 2005. eBay also purchased StubHub in 2007 to enter the ticket resale market.

Integrating such varied businesses into their own has allowed eBay to highly diversify their value proposition and reduce financial risk caused by underperforming arms of the firm.

Final Thoughts

eBay holds a dominant position within the e-commerce marketplace with only Amazon maintaining a larger market share in the West. Much of this success has been a result of their constant evolution of their value proposition to buyers and sellers.

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