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How eBayK Reached a Record High 40 Million Live Ads in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Stefanie Pritzkow, Head of Customer support at eBayK, shares how they dealt with the negative impact of the Covid-19 crisis and grew their traffic.

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While many businesses struggled due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, a few have managed to grow. eBayK, Germany’s No. 1 classifieds site, is one of them. They’ve kindly offered to share how they’ve approached the crisis, the steps they’ve taken, and strategies they’ve applied to avoid the negative impact caused by social distancing rules, lock-down, and general unease among the world’s population caused by the uncertainty of the situation.

We hope that other marketplaces can benefit from learning about eBayk’s approach and that it can help those who struggle to turn the negative trend around.

Young women are working together with a computer laptop at the wooden working desk.

Besedo: Please introduce yourself and eBayK.

Stefanie Pritzkow: I’m Stefanie Pritzkow, Head of Customer Support at eBay Kleinanzeigen. eBay Kleinanzeigen is a free online classifieds market that brings the joy of sustainable trade to everyone. Already today, users buy and sell on Germany’s No. 1 for classifieds, mainly second-hand. In this way, they make an active contribution to more sustainability.

On average, more than 40 million ads are available in numerous categories – from children’s supplies to electronics and real estate. eBay Kleinanzeigen also offers small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to present their services online. Around 32 million users per month make eBay Kleinanzeigen one of Germany’s most widely used websites. The online classifieds market was launched by eBay in September 2009.

Besedo: When did you start preparing for the Corona crisis?

Stefanie Pritzkow: We have begun to take action with the announcement of national measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the middle of march.

Besedo: What were your main concerns regarding the impact due to the Corona crisis?

Stefanie Pritzkow: As in many other areas, the impact of the spread of the virus and the measures taken by the government on our business was difficult to assess. In particular, there was the question of how the fear of contagion would affect our local business, characterized by the personal contact of buyers and sellers. Furthermore, it was impossible to predict whether people would continue to buy and sell.

Interviewer: Which actions did you take to lighten the impact of the Corona crisis?

Stefanie Pritzkow: At eBay Kleinanzeigen, simplicity is one of our core principles. Short-term tactics do not fit in with this principle. Nevertheless, it was necessary to adapt to the new situation. Among other things, we made it easier to find items that could be shipped. And, of course, our iron principle, which obliges our sellers to offer to pick up items, was also tested. We have suspended this until further notice. We have also temporarily restricted trade in certain products, including respiratory masks and disinfectants. But the crisis also revealed positive aspects.

We were particularly pleased with the willingness to help many users. We wanted to support this commitment, which is so essential these days, so we created the “Neighbourhood Help” category. In this category, users can offer their services to neighbors needing help – for example, shopping, and assistance walks with the dog or tutoring for schoolchildren. Within a few days, more than 10,000 ads were available. And even months after the crisis began, many users continued to offer their help.

Besedo: What challenges did you face in handling the Corona crisis?

Stefanie Pritzkow: Uncertainty. And dependence. We did not know what measures would be taken next by the national and local governments. We’ve had to digitalize a part of our corporate culture – at eBay Kleinanzeigen, we work together in cross-functional teams. Personal exchange is, therefore, particularly important. Video conferences cannot replace spontaneous exchanges. At the same time, “New Work” is not a zeitgeist but part of everyday life. The processes could therefore be adapted to the new circumstances without too much challenge.

Furthermore, it has once again been shown that eBay Kleinanzeigen is relevant for many people. Around one in two onliners uses eBay Kleinanzeigen – each month. We want to build on this.

Besedo: How did traffic/user engagement look in March/April 2020? Why do you think it looked like that?

Stefanie Pritzkow: We initially saw a slight drop with the announcement of governmental measures. People initially had other worries and had to come to terms with the new situation. But we were back at the previous year’s level just a week later. Since then, use has increased significantly. Many people use “extra free time” to eliminate unused things. The number of new ads tripled on some days compared to the previous year. We have reached an important milestone, 40 million live ads, much earlier than initially expected. We have also set new records for weekly app downloads and monthly visits.

Besedo: Why do you think you were successful in deflecting the negative impact of the pandemic when other marketplaces are getting hit quite hard?

Stefanie Pritzkow: We have taken measures to adapt to users’ needs in the current situation, e.g., with new features which make it easier to find items to ship and the new category “Neighbourhood Help”. As the market leader for classifieds in Germany, eBay Kleinanzeigen was naturally the first place to go for many users. Our platform has a high reach, and people know it is very likely to find a match, even in uncertain times.

Besedo: What’s the number one step you’d recommend taking in a similar situation in the future or to those struggling right now?

Stefanie Pritzkow: In times of crisis, a brand must stay true to its core principles. For us, this means enabling our users to trade safely, conveniently, and sustainably by providing a stable and secure platform. People have other things to worry about. That is why we wanted to ensure they have the best experience on eBay Kleinanzeigen.

Besedo: Are there any actions you took due to the pandemic that you intend to carry forward even after the crisis?

Stefanie Pritzkow: We have seen that sustainable action also – or even especially – played an important role during the crisis. A recent study by Accenture has shown that 45% of consumers make more sustainable choices when shopping and are likely to continue to do so after the crisis. We want to let people know that by trading on eBay Kleinanzeigen, users actively contribute to more sustainability. We have recently launched a campaign that highlights this aspect especially. The new features already mentioned have met with a very positive response. These make trading on eBay Kleinanzeigen more efficient and more accessible – even after the crisis. In addition, we will evaluate whether we keep our new category, “Neighbourhood Help,” and how it can create value in regular times.

Besedo: If you saw an increase in traffic due to the pandemic, do you think that increase will last even after the crisis?

Stefanie Pritzkow We assume that the strong growth, as we have seen in the past few weeks, will decrease sooner or later but remain at a high level. As mentioned, we have reached a significant milestone, 40 million live ads, much earlier than initially expected. It was only in October 2019 that the number of ads available simultaneously rose to 35 million. The year before, in October 2018, we reached the number of 30 million live ads. Use has increased continuously over the last few years, and we expect this development to continue.

As Head of Customer Support at eBay Kleinanzeigen, Stefanie Pritzkow is responsible for all customer service activities and manages the continuous improvement process for end customers.

Before taking up this position, she was responsible for various projects in the area of customer service at eBay Kleinanzeigen. Before joining eBay Kleinanzeigen in September 2011, she worked for Deutsche Lufthansa AG. There she passed through several stations, first as a recruiter and finally as a customer team consultant for Lufthansa e-Commerce GmbH in Frankfurt am Main. She then moved on to the Online Sales department and was responsible for customer service at lufthansa.com.

Stefanie Pritzkow studied business administration at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, focusing on human resources, sales, and marketing. She lives in Berlin.

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