Social networks not serious competition for eBay according to expert

August 19, 2014 by Kath Paddison, University of Manchester

On the 15 year anniversary of eBay UK being launched (Wednesday 20 August), an economist from The University of Manchester says social networks are not serious competition for eBay as a selling platform.

The , which allows people to turn unwanted second-hand goods into ready cash by selling them online, has had to contend with new competition since its launch in the UK in 1999. One of the newest ways to sell online is through social networks like Facebook and Twitter which offer the opportunity to sell second-hand goods without eBay's fees.

But Dr Omer Edhan, an economist from The University of Manchester, says eBay is still holding its own. He said: "Buying on social media is a bit like popping to the corner shop for a pint of milk. eBay is the modern equivalent of a department store which offers a wide range of products and houses a collection of smaller retail units under its roof.

"Retail opportunities on social media are more like a convenience store because they provide a limited amount of merchandise to a more select customer. Because wasn't originally designed for ecommerce it means that customers have to know where to find what they are looking for.

"In terms of the economic models, while game theory (an area of mathematical economics that seeks to determine how rational individuals choose to co-operate) applies to both ways of buying online, the market conditions are very different."

Dr Edhan said: "The market conditions on eBay are 'thick' because there are lots of buyers and sellers coupled with how well the search function works. Thick markets conditions are created when the chances of a deal being closed are much higher.

"One of the strengthens of eBay's selling platform is that it is easy to determine the appropriate pricing that would give the individual seller the highest revenue per deal. The competitive setting of the platform and its security also adds to the thick market conditions because the buyer feels reassured that their transactions are safe and that they are going to get the item they paid for and that it is what they expected it to be."

"The market conditions on Facebook create 'thin' markets because the selling groups are more niche and will only work if there is a large enough set of people who care about that niche so that the site can attain critical mass.

"Social media platforms are not designed to encourage sellers to participate. This means that the seller would expect lower revenues. In addition, the trading environment doesn't make the buyer or seller as confident that the transaction will be done in a safe environment."

There are opportunities for both ways of selling online in the market, just as there are different types of retail outlets. But Dr Edhan says eBay's current success in the market is largely down to how its selling platform is designed.

"The main secret of eBay's success is the model of its online auction platform which is continually being replicated by its competitors. Thanks to the rise of digital, never before has it been so easy to find and buy the retail products consumers want to have. There is a science to making customer journeys that work as intended. It is therefore crucial that eBay continues to ensure it can extend the ecommerce platform even further in order to stay ahead of its rivals," said Dr Edhan.

Explore further: EBay expands same-day delivery to more cities

Related Stories

EBay expands same-day delivery to more cities

October 22, 2013

EBay is expanding its same-day delivery service to more locations and letting buyers and sellers create "collections" of products available on its site as it moves beyond its roots as an online auctioneer.

eBay launches Brazil fashion app

September 18, 2013

US online distributor eBay on Wednesday said it had launched a Portuguese-language version of its Moda fashion app in Brazil as the company aims to tap into Latin America´s largest economy.

Recommended for you

Galactic center visualization delivers star power

March 21, 2019

Want to take a trip to the center of the Milky Way? Check out a new immersive, ultra-high-definition visualization. This 360-movie offers an unparalleled opportunity to look around the center of the galaxy, from the vantage ...

Ultra-sharp images make old stars look absolutely marvelous

March 21, 2019

Using high-resolution adaptive optics imaging from the Gemini Observatory, astronomers have uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. The remarkably sharp image looks back into the early history of ...

Physicists reveal why matter dominates universe

March 21, 2019

Physicists in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University have confirmed that matter and antimatter decay differently for elementary particles containing charmed quarks.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2014
Empirical evidence would indicate otherwise. As part of two anti-ebay Facebook groups, I am in touch almost daily with 1,000 group members- a large portion of which- have left eBay and are using social media and FB "swap shop" groups to sell their items online now.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2014
My, how things have gone down hill at eBay in the past seven years; well done, Johnny Ho, Ho, Ho ...

The ugly reality of eBay Inc.:
eBay's crooked auctions marketplace ... [url][url][/url][/url]
eBay Motors (UK sampling): Auction Fraud Galore ...
Barclays Bank–eBay/Gumtree Motors Scams …
Retail Payments (and PayPal)—The Reality ...
eBay's clunky, unscrupulous "PreyPal" ...
The ongoing joke of eBay Inc. ...
Fun quotes from the eBay executive suite ...

The eBay executive suite, where the incompetent mingle with the disingenuous, the malevolent and the outright criminal, and the just plain stupid ... [url][url][/url][/url]

PS: The difference between eBay and the Mafia is that some eBay employees are unaware that they are working for a demonstrably criminal organisation ... [url][url][/url][/url]

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.