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is an American multinational e-commerce company based in San Jose, California, that facilitates consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer sales through its website. eBay was founded by Pierre Omidyar in 1995, and became a notable success story of the dot-com bubble. eBay is a multibillion-dollar business with operations in about 32 countries, as of 2019. The company manages the eBay website, an online auction and shopping website in which people and businesses buy and sell a wide variety of goods and services worldwide. The website is free to use for buyers, but sellers are charged fees for listing items after a limited number of free listings, and an additional or separate fee when those items are sold.
In addition to eBay’s original auction-style sales, the website has evolved and expanded to include: instant “Buy It Now” shopping; shopping by Universal Product Code, ISBN, or other kind of SKU number (via Half.com, which was shut down in 2017); and other services. eBay previously offered online money transfers as part of its services (via PayPal, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of eBay from 2002 to 2015); online classified advertisements (via Kijiji, or eBay Classifieds Group); and online event ticket trading (via StubHub).
eBay has built an online person-to-person trading community on the Internet, using the World Wide Web. Buyers and sellers are brought together in a manner where sellers are permitted to list items for sale, buyers to bid on items of interest and all eBay users to browse through listed items in a fully automated way. The items are arranged by topics, where each type of auction has its own category.
eBay has both streamlined and globalized traditional person-to-person trading, which has traditionally been conducted through such forms as garage sales, collectibles shows, flea markets and more, with their web interface. This facilitates easy exploration for buyers and enables the sellers to immediately list an item for sale within minutes of registering.
Browsing and bidding on auctions is free of charge, but sellers are charged two kinds of charges:
- When an item is listed on eBay a nonrefundable Insertion Fee is charged, which ranges between 30 cents and $3.30, depending on the seller’s opening bid on the item.
- A fee is charged for additional listing options to promote the item, such as highlighted or bold listing.
- A Final Value (final sale price) fee is charged at the end of the seller’s auction. This fee generally ranges from 1.25% to 5% of the final sale price.
eBay notifies the buyer and seller via e-mail at the end of the auction if a bid exceeds the seller’s minimum price, and the seller and buyer finish the transaction independently of eBay. The binding contract of the auction is between the winning bidder and the seller only. At eBay, we create pathways to connect millions of sellers and buyers in more than 190 markets around the world. Our technology empowers our customers, providing everyone the opportunity to grow and thrive — no matter who they are or where they are in the world. And the ripple effect of our work creates waves of change for our customers, our company, our communities and our planet.
The History of eBay
eBay was founded in Pierre Omidyar’s San Jose living room back in September 1995. It was from the start meant to be a marketplace for the sale of goods and services for individuals.
In 1998, Pierre and his cofounder Jeff Skoll brought in Meg Whitman to sustain the success. Meg had studied at the Harvard Business School and had learned the importance of branding at companies such as Hasbro.
Meg culled her senior staff from companies such as Pepsico and Disney, created an experienced management team with an average of 20 years of business experience and built a strong vision for the company — that eBay is a company that’s in the business of connecting people, not selling them things.
They quickly shed the image of only auctioning collectibles and moved into an array of upscale markets where the average sale price (ASP) is higher. ASP is a key metric in determining eBay’s transaction fees, so increasing the ASP became an important item. By forging partnerships with namebrands such as GM, Disney and Sun, eBay has managed to do exactly that. Sun has sold
$10 million worth of equipment and it now lists between 20 and 150 items per day.
The leader in the toy category quickly became Beanie Babies manufactured by Ty, Inc., the most difficult toys to find in retail stores. As collectors internationally were trying to complete their collection of Beanie Babies, Ty set up the first business-to-consumer Web site, a secondary-market online trading post where people could trade their Beanie Babies. However, it was overwhelmed with unsortable listings, creating an urgent demand for a more efficient online trading system. Beanie Babies quickly became the dominant product on eBay, accounting for 10% of all listings in 1997, as collectors thronged eBay’s user-friendly interface to search for specific Beanie Babies.
Meg Whitman was hired by the board as eBay president and CEO in March 1998. At the time, the company had 30 employees,half a million users and revenues of $4.7 million in the United States.
On September 21, 1998, eBay went public. In the risk factors section of the annual report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in 1998, Omidyar notes eBay’s dependence on the continued strength of the Beanie Babies market. After eBay went public, both Omidyar and Skoll became instant billionaires: eBay’s target of $18 per share was all but ignored as the price went to $53.50 on the first day of trading.
As the company expanded product categories beyond collectibles into almost any saleable item, business grew quickly. In 2000, eBay had 12 million registered users and a cyberinventory of more than 4.5 million items on sale on any given day. In 2001, eBay had the largest userbase of any e-commerce site. In February 2002 the company purchased iBazar, a similar European auction web site founded in 1998, and then bought PayPal on October 3, 2002.
By early 2008 the company had expanded worldwide, counting hundreds of millions of registered users as well as 15,000 employees and revenues of almost $7.7 billion. After nearly ten years at eBay, Whitman decided to enter politics. On January 23, 2008, the company announced that Whitman would step down on March 31, 2008, and John Donahoe was selected to become president and CEO. Whitman remained on the board of directors and continued to advise Donahoe through 2008. In late 2009 eBay completed the sale of Skype for $2.75 billion, but still owned 30% equity in the company.
In 2012, eBay was charged by the United States Department of Justice with entering into non-solicitation agreements with other technology companies involving their highly skilled employees.
On September 30, 2014, eBay announced it would spin off PayPal into a separate publicly traded company, a demand made nine months prior by activist hedge fund magnate Carl Icahn. The spinoff completed on July 18, 2015. eBay’s then chief executive, John Donahoe, stepped down from that role. Flipkart and eBay entered into a strategic partnership in 2017 under which eBay Inc acquired a 5.44% stake in Flipkart in exchange for its eBay India business for $211 Mn and a $514 Mn cash investment. As part of the partnership, Flipkart decided to use the eBay platform for global outsourcing.
On January 31, 2018, eBay announced that they would replace PayPal as its primary payments provider with Netherlands-based start-up Adyen. The transition was set to be completed by 2021, but PayPal would remain an acceptable payment option on the site until further notice.
On September 21, 2018, it was reported that eBay would install a security fence around the perimeter of its San Jose headquarters in response to the YouTube headquarters shooting earlier that year.
On July 31, 2019, the company acquired a 5.59 percent stake in Paytm Mall.
On September 25, 2019, it was announced that Devin Wenig would be stepping down as eBay’s CEO, and that Scott Schenkel, senior vice president and chief financial officer since 2015, had been appointed as the interim CEO.
On April 13, 2020, it was announced that Jamie Iannone would become the CEO on April 27. On June 15, 2020, eBay stated that five employees were terminated in September after a law enforcement notification in August because of a possibly criminal case of harassment of journalists perpetrated by some of the terminated employees. Six former employees were charged with Aggressive Cyberstalking.
In July 2020, Adevinta announced to acquire eBay Classifieds Group.The deal closed on June 25. In May of 2022, eBay announced the launch of its first collection of NFTs, in partnership with the NFT platform OneOf. Following this, in June 2022, eBay announced the acquisition of the Manchester-based NFT Marketplace KnownOrigin for an undisclosed sum.
Profit and transactions
eBay generates revenue by a complex system of fees for services, listing product features, and a final value fee for sales proceeds by sellers. As of 2019 the US-based eBay.com charges $0.35 as an insertion fee for a basic listing without any adornments. The final value fee is 10-12% of the total amount of the sale, which is the price of the item plus shipping charges.Reduced final value fees are available to business registered customers. Other eBay websites follow a similar fee structure, but with different cost charges.
Under US law before 2018, a state could not require sellers located outside the state to collect a sales tax, which made making purchases on eBay more attractive to US buyers. Sellers that operate as a business do follow state tax regulations on eBay transactions. Since 2018, changes to tax law in the United States force eBay (and other large marketplaces) to collect sales tax on any eBay purchase shipped to certain states.
The company’s business strategy includes increasing international trade. eBay has already expanded to over two dozen countries, including China and India. Strategic international expansion has failed in Taiwan and Japan, where Yahoo! had a head start, and New Zealand, where Trade Me is the dominant online auction website. eBay also notably failed in China due to competition from local rival Taobao. eBay entered the Chinese market in 2002 and shut down its Chinese site in 2007. In India, eBay’s operations came to a halt after it sold off its India operations to country’s largest ecommerce company Flipkart, in the latter’s $1.4Bn fundraise, where eBay was a participant.
In its Q1 2008 results, total payment volume via PayPal increased 17%, but of the eBay auction site it was up 61%.
For most listing categories, eBay sellers are permitted to offer a variety of payment systems such as Escrow.com,PayPal, Paymate, Propay, and Skrill. Propay and Skrill were banned effective September 27, 2015, citing low usage.
Escrow.com is eBay’s approved escrow site. The transactions processed through Escrow.com largely are in relation to eBay Motors; however, they are not restricted to this type of listing.
eBay runs an affiliate program under the name eBay Partner Network. eBay affiliate marketers were originally paid a percentage of the eBay seller’s transaction fees, with commissions ranging from 50% to 75% of the fees paid for an item purchased. In October 2009, eBay changed to an affiliate payout system that it calls Quality Click Pricing, in which affiliates are paid an amount determined by an undisclosed algorithm. The total earnings amount is then divided by the number of clicks the affiliate sent to eBay and is reported as Earnings Per Click, or EPC. In October 2013, ePN launched a new pricing model. The new model is more transparent and is based on category-level base commission rates with bonuses available for referring new and reactivated buyers.
On April 18, 2012, eBay reported a 29% Q1 revenue increase to $3.3 billion compared to their Q1 in 2011. Net income was reported to be at $570 million for the quarter.
For the fiscal year 2017, eBay reported losses of US$1.016 billion, with annual revenue of US$9.567 billion, an increase of 6.6% over the previous fiscal cycle. eBay’s shares traded at over $35 per share, and its market capitalization was valued at over US$27.2 billion in October 2018.
FAQs from eBay
Can I buy used cars on eBay Motors?
Yes! eBay Motors is a marketplace that allows you to buy and sell used vehicles, tires, parts, and accessories. Download the eBay Motors app to have everything right at your fingertips.
How do I contact eBay Customer Service?
Use eBay’s Help page to contact customer service and get answers to frequently asked questions.
What is the eBay customer service number?
The eBay customer service number is no longer in service, but you can report any fraud on your account to this dedicated number: 1-866-961-9523.
How do I redeem an eBay gift card?
To redeem your eBay gift card, simply log into your account and enter the redemption code at checkout.
Where can I find eBay coupons?
You can bookmark this page to stay up to date with eBay coupons and offers, or head over to eBay’s homepage where they frequently list sitewide promo codes.
How do I sign up for the eBay Credit Card?
Log into your account and click ‘eBay Mastercard’ to sign up for the eBay Credit Card. This card earns you points every time you shop. In order to be approved, you’ll need a credit score of about 700 or above.
Where can I find eBay tracking information?
When you log into your account, you can find the status and any tracking information for your orders in your order history.
What is the eBay return policy?
That depends! If you’re buying from eBay’s Certified Refurbished shop, everything is covered with a 90-Day Warranty, 30-Day Return Policy, and 100% Money-Back Guarantee. If you’re buying from a seller, it’s completely up to their discretion.
Does eBay have a student discount?
There is no eBay student discount. However, eBay curates collections specifically for students—including textbooks and laptops—so be sure to check there to save on back-to-school shopping.
How to Use an eBay Coupon
CHECKING OUT AS A GUEST
- Click on the eBay promo code you want and hit “Copy”
- Click “Shop Now” or return to your shopping cart
- Click the “Go to checkout” button and select Continue as guest
- Type in your shipping information
- Enter your eBay promo code in the Add Coupons box at the bottom of the page
- Click Apply
- If you see “Promotional code applied”, your code works!
CHECKING OUT WITH YOUR ACCOUNT
- Click on the eBay promo code you want and hit “Copy”
- Click “Shop Now” or return to your shopping cart
- Click the Go to checkout button and select Continue to sign in
- Enter your eBay promo code in the Gift cards, coupons, eBay Bucks field on the Checkout page
- Click Apply
- If you see “Promotional code applied”, your code works!
Why We Love eBay
Before 1995, auctions were mostly reserved for art collectors and uncles looking for dirt-cheap prices on impounded cars. eBay set up shop somewhere in the middle, letting average folks toss literally anything into the open waters of the free market to see what they could reel in (like, literally, anything). Overnight, buying something in an auction became nearly as easy as grabbing a frozen pizza from the corner store.
Today, eBay is transforming the way folks think about buying high-end electronics with its innovative Certified Refurbished Shop. If the auction side of the site is the world’s largest garage sale, the Refurbished Shop is a relaxing, well-stocked department store. There you’ll find deep discounts and deals on everything from Dyson and Bose to KitchenAid Stand Mixers and Microsoft Surface Pro tablets.
eBay offers its customers the opportunity to bid on certain items for a chance to purchase them at a lower price. Not only that, but you also have the option to buy the item now if you don’t want to wait for the auction to end. As a bonus, you can set up automatic bidding on the item you wish to purchase. Just specify the maximum amount you’d like to pay and eBay will place bids in increments for you. That way, you won’t have to live on the website to outbid the competition. Because of the massive savings potential, we definitely recommend checking out more information and tips on bidding from eBay’s website before you get started.
eBay Daily Deals
If you’re a person who likes to search online every day for the best deals, then you’ll definitely want to check out eBay’s daily deals. Here, you will find massive savings—sometimes up to 80%—on items in categories such as electronics, jewelry, health and beauty, fashion, kitchen, home, tools, and more.
eBay Black Friday Promo Codes
When Black Friday lands on November 25, 2022, you won’t find many eBay Black Friday promo codes to use across the site. What will you find, however, are enticing deals on apparel, toys, electronics, kitchen appliances, vacuums, and more. Check out the eBay homepage on Black Friday to see all the latest offers.
More eBay Savings Tips
Email Signup: If you shop at eBay all the time, then don’t forget to sign up for their email list. Whenever they have coupons and discounts available, they’ll send out an email to let you know about it.
eBay Coupons: Don’t want to wait for an email about available coupon codes? Then head over to their coupon page to find codes and shop items for which the codes apply.
eBay Sales: eBay’s homepage will always greet you with tons of sales that are happening at the moment. Make sure to check out any holiday sales available as well as sales in the Brand Outlet.
eBay Best Price Guarantee: Did you purchase an item on eBay in the last 48 hours but found a better price? eBay will let you turn that loss into a shiny new promo code! Just let their customer service team know (you can do that here!). Once they verify that your item qualifies for the Best Price Guarantee, you’ll receive a coupon for the difference to use on future eBay.com purchases.
eBay Shipping Options, Delivery & Return Policy
- eBay free shipping: free shipping is available on thousands of items in the online marketplace. Some items even have a delivery time within 3 – 4 days with “Fast ‘N Free” shipping.
- eBay free local pickup: many sellers offer free local pickup on items, especially items that are large and difficult to ship. Click here to learn more.
- International shipping: depending on the seller’s location, they might ship orders using regular international shipping services or use eBay’s Global Shipping Program (GSP). Read more about international shipping.
- Where’s My Order?: eBay offers the option to track your order via your purchase history or order details if the seller uses a tracked shipping service. Find out more information about tracking your eBay orders here.
- Return Policy: eBay always encourages customers to contact the seller if an item didn’t arrive, the item received doesn’t match the listing, or the item is damaged or faulty. In the event that a solution cannot be agreed upon between seller and buyer, eBay has a Money Back Guarantee policy that kicks in for these types of situations.