EBay and the Early e-Business Categories

eBay and the Early e-Business Categories

The early e-business categories represented a novel approach to conducting business no matter the method, whether business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B), or consumer-to-consumer (C2C) as eBay was. As a C2C e-business, eBay created a platform whereby consumers could cut out the middle man and engaged directly with sellers (which were typically other consumers, as eBay represented itself as a giant yard sale, where everyone was invited to post their goods, but gradually began to include small businesses which viewed the portal as a place where they could market directly to buyers as well) (Steiner, 2014). The ability of eBay to utilize so many models of e-business in its one single set-up showed that e-business could cater to any type of category by reducing the need for the middle man. Amazon would take it a step further and serve as the middle man, connecting buyers to sellers that would otherwise never have an opportunity to meet. For eBay, the different e-business categories’ usefulness as a tool for guiding an e-business’s growth plans indicated that the sky was the limit so long as the business served the purpose of connected buyers with sellers. This was the lesson Amazon learned early on, thanks to the example given by eBay, which illustrated how effective a simple platform could be in facilitating the exchange of goods for buyers and sellers looking to make a fast, easy and affordable connection.

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Because eBay’s platform was essentially a novel concept that had not really been conducted as a large-scale e-business service, the company’s brand became synonymous with what sellers and buyers wanted in a B2C or C2C experience (minimal cost, minimal intrusion). Thus eBay was able to achieve recognition, consumer loyalty and rapid growth as a result of its ability to launch itself as the ultimate C2C destination for e-business transactions. Its entire business model was based on being a C2C platform for users. As a tool for guiding an e-business’s growth plans, this model appeared to work relatively well for eBay, but this was partly driven by the uniqueness and novelty of eBay’s concept. Overtime, other e-businesses began to offer the same categorical methods of transacting sales, whether C2C or B2C or B2B (Amazon was one, but others like Etsy put a creative spin on it and offered these services in an alternate manner), but in terms of guiding growth, more was needed than a simple model of transaction. C2C over the Web was a novel idea when eBay started it; today it is something anyone can do — sites like Craigslist make it possible. eBay’s growth, therefore, was predicated on the fact that it was on the frontier of the e-business world, forging the path. When others caught up and started making new paths, eBay’s business model hit a way (Thompson, 2015).

In conclusion, eBay set the bar, but others quickly caught up and/or surpassed it. In terms of guiding growth, eBay’s example only offered an example of the new direction in which e-commerce was heading: buyers and sellers wanted connectivity based on product and price; for a short time eBay was the go-to source for this, as a result of its C2C platform. However, as a guideline for growth, the example of eBay is less helpful than is a unique concept that connects buyers and sellers within an overall niche market that appeals to a unique set of buyers and sellers (as Etsy does today, or even Craigslist). In other words, there is more to developing a guideline for growth than a simple e-business category, for once competitors develop a platform utilizing the same method of transaction, there has to be something to still set your e-business apart — otherwise all growth will stop.


Steiner, I. (2014). Should eBay launch premium B2C marketplace for branded goods?

EcommerceBytes. Retrieved from http://www.ecommercebytes.com/C/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2014/6/1402950764.html

Thompson, C. (2015). Craigslist or eBay? The ultimate guide to selling your stuff online. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2015/0410/Craigslist-or-eBay-The-ultimate-guide-to-selling-your-stuff-online

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