In Lisa Gansky’s book, Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing, she discusses how pivotal it was for business to grow on the internet. With the creation of e-commerce stores and personal profiles, we as customers were able to see the face behind the brand and everything else behind it. This openness between companies and consumers was game changing, and no one has done it better than eBay.
EBay was one of the first businesses to take the sharing model of business and make it a huge success. Big corporations based in China could sell on eBay, but so could the average stay-at-home mom in the United States. And since the stay-at-home-mom was also someone who would shop on eBay, she became a knowledgeable and experienced eBay participant. A main feature of the sharing model is that the exchange of money for product is done on a peer-to-peer basis, rather than a giant elusive corporation selling to everyone else. As mentioned, the consumer can also be the supplier.
This switch to peer-to-peer business changed how we advertise and how we brand our companies. The influx of the millennial generation to the consumer chain has changed it as well. Long gone are the days of anonymous, elusive giant corporations leading the sales. Today, customers value transparency and seeing a face of the company they can trust.
EBay succeeded in both capacities. First, their transparency was demonstrated by every seller that created a store and a profile. Each product for sale has a description, and if the buyer has a question about it they can message the store owner. Rather than getting a response from a customer service team, you get a response from an independent person who isn’t trying to save face for the sake of the company that pays them. EBay sellers don’t owe anything to umbrella companies; they are in charge of their own sales, and being honest has paid off. Since eBay allows customers to leave reviews of the stores they purchased from, store owners are encouraged to make sure the customer has a good experience for the sake of their personal reviews.
EBay in the recent decade has also seen an influx of sellers turning their online store into a fulltime career. They do this by having excellent sales, and often connecting with their customers in real-time. This is done on social media like Instagram and Twitter. Shop owners can show behind the scenes of running a business, show how your items are treated before purchased, and get a sense of the business owner’s trustworthiness. Being able to trust the company you are shopping from is a huge part of the sharing economy.
The success of eBay has been largely due to their engagement in the new sharing economy model of business and their openness to growing with the times. It has encouraged the average person to become a store owner and business owner, removing the monopoly from large corporations. The peer-to-peer way of interactions and transactions has proven successful for businesses that embrace the sharing economy, like eBay has.