Trust Leader: eBay

February 15, 2017

Accountability, Transparency and Delivering on Promises.

Bay is a customer-focused company that has earned trust online with sellers and buyers since its inception in 1995. The company is a trust leader. As described in its LinkedIn profile, eBay “is where the world goes to shop, sell, and give.” In 2016, Forbes listed eBay as one of the World’s Most Valuable Brands and in Fortune named eBay to the World's Most Admired Companies for 2017.

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to meet Brian Bieron, executive director of global public policy at eBay. We sat on a panel together at the SAUPO conference in Atlanta, Georgia. We discussed eBay’s brand and the impact of the sellers and buyers’ trust to its global export platform. He emphasized trust as a core value to eBay.

“With internet enabled commerce, trust is a central and obvious need.”

“Because everything is remote, the interactions are different. EBay is a platform model of global trade that allows sellers to establish some trust, and build relationships with people in other countries.” 

“Our founder, Pierre Omidyar, had the vision of eBay in the 90s as a remote, online small business entrepreneurial marketplace. Pierre said, ‘People are basically good.’ This is at the heart of the eBay model. People have to be able to trust the people they are doing business with. We work hard, enable and enforce standards that enforce trust.”

“Trust was always part of founding principles and values.”

EBay is based on a unique founding; at the time it was created it was an entirely new model for individuals and businesses. “From the earliest days, how could we trust that someone sends a cheque, the book, the jewelry or that the item will be shipped?” said Brian. Users have to trust each other.

EBay enables sellers to deliver on their promises. “They are not in the same city or same country, they have to trust that they are going to engage in a trustworthy transaction,” said Brian. “You can loose trust with a customer in one bad transaction. Shipping is so important; it is critical that the item gets there when the seller says it will. If it shows up late it undermines trust. If we are doing our job well we are transferring a trust value to our users. We have customer guarantees because we want buyers to be happy.”

I asked Brian how they protect the trust they have with their buyers and sellers. He said trusted sellers are key to the whole thing working well.

The trust and safety division are continually looking at buyer feedback to see if any buyers are complaining. The technology is set up through algorithms so the most visible items are those sold by people who sell good products and consistently deliver a good customer experience. “Buyers rate sellers. We are about buyers and sellers being happy.”

At eBay, they want the customer experience and rating to be as good as the one they receive from the best retailers. We also discussed critical trust risk points in an online business.

He said, the 3 biggest critical trust risk points for any online business are:

  • People listing things for sale that do not exist, or the description or photograph is not accurate. Regular businesses don’t have this challenge. “When face to face, a buyer knows that a Tiffany set of dessert plates is real or not. They can compare the quality and the thickness of a real plate next to the one being sold,” explained Brian.
  • Shipping and logistics.
  • Trustworthy sellers. EBay plays an intermediary role between good buyers and good sellers, fulfilling the terms of the buying agreement.

EBay builds trust with buyers and sellers by applying the principles of trust and insisting on accountability, transparency and delivering on its promises.