SWOT Analysis of eBay: Strengths & Weaknesses 2021

FoundedSeptember 3, 1995
HeadquartersSan Jose, California
CEOJamie Iannone
Revenues$11.50 Billion (FY 2021)
Profit$8.44 Billion (FY 2021)
CompetitorsAmazon, Alibaba, Walmart, JD, Rakuten, Booking, OLX

Company Overview

Although the first commerce company was established in the 1960s, it wasn’t until the launching of iconic companies Amazon and eBay in 1995 that the e-commerce business started flourishing. Founded by Pierre Omidyar, eBay continues to connect millions of shoppers and sellers in different markets around the globe. For a year, ending June 30, 2021, eBay increased 39% in revenue from $10.27 Billion to $11.50 Billion, and 34% increase in gross profit from 7.80 Billion to $8.44 Billion (Macrotrends, 2021). eBay is 276th in Fortune Top 500 companies, and also part of Forbes’ World’s Most Valuable Brand and Global 2000 Companies.   

eBay Strengths 2021:

  • Active Buyers.

    eBay is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the world. In Q2 2021, it has recorded about 159 million active buyers. It has also been one of the most downloaded shopping apps with over 400 thousand downloads per month from Google Play Store and Apple App Store (Statista, 2021).
  • Pandemic consumer buying.

    The COVID-19 pandemic brought a big impact on consumers’ behavior. It was described in the early stages of the pandemic as “panic buying” and a coping mechanism from psychological distress (Bentall et. al., 2021). It was evident in the revenue growth of eBay. eBay started the year 2020 at a low revenue of around $2 Million but ended on a high at over $10 Million net revenue and 185 million active buyers (Chaffey, 2021).
  • Brand value.

    eBay was at the 65th spot on Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Valuable Brand and ranked 476th of the Global 2000 companies in 2021 (Forbes, 2021). Ebay’s net worth as of October 05, 2021 is $45.48 Billion (Macrotrends, 2021).
  • Economic opportunity.

    eBay strives to enable economic opportunity for all. They provide services to all types of business: B2B, B2C, and C2C. It empowers people to drive growth and impact.
  • Workforce reduction.

    Since 2017, eBay has been reducing its global workforce to invest in operations and growth. From 14,100 employees in 2017, eBay has 12,700 employees in 2020 (Macrotrends).
  • Revenue model.

    The majority of eBay’s revenue comes from the listing and commission on completed sales. eBay is known for auctions, but its sales now come from new items of which the majority are fixed price (Chaffey, 2021).


eBay Weaknesses 2021:

  • High fees.

    A lot of users have a love and hate relationship with eBay because of the high fees. The users pay a total fee percentage of 12-14% every month for store subscriptions, listing fees, final value fees, FedEx shipping fees, and promoted listings (Sethb, 2021). They end up making no profit because of this.
  • Online security and protection. 

    Many users worry about the relative safety of transacting on the eBay website. It has been a venue for tricks and scams. In the UK, it was reported that around 1 in 10,000 transactions are fraudulent. eBay has implemented a variety of protections for the buyers through its extensive Buyer Protection Program and Money Back Guarantee. However, seller protection is not as robust (Johnson, 2021). 
  • Intense competition.

    E-commerce is a growing market, which gives a lot of options for consumers. Top competitors like Amazon, Alibaba, and Walmart continue to expand across the globe. In Fortune 500 (2021), Walmart ranked first, while Amazon was second.

eBay Opportunities 2021:

  • Untapped countries.

    While eBay has 23 global sites and a wider presence across 190  markets, it has yet to expand to other countries in the world. They should purposely tap Asian and European markets. 
  • Mobile app growth.

    According to Statista, eBay’s app gets over 400 thousand downloads every month from Google Play and Apple (2021). Most transactions are coming from the mobile application and will continue to do so in the coming years.
  • Customer retention.

    The COVID-19 pandemic had most people stay at home. Studies say that, even after the pandemic is over and physical stores open, many consumers would still want to stay at home and transact online (Numerator Intelligence, 2021). 
  • Invest in marketing.

    eBay should re-strategize its marketing approach. Being an older company, they could brand themselves to a more modern approach to be utilized and appreciated by the current generation.
  • Social media marketing. 

    The majority of online consumers are the younger generation. They are also into social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media marketing is a good method to gain more users and increase revenue.

eBay Threats 2021:

  • A lawsuit against overpricing.

    In 2020, a lawsuit was filed against eBay as it allegedly allowed price gouging on high-demand products. It was said that a number of sellers charged unlawful prices for PPE equipment, which was a necessity during the pandemic. The lawsuit was dismissed after an undisclosed settlement agreement (National Review, 2020).
  • Increased competition.

    Not only does eBay have to watch out for big companies like Amazon and Alibaba, but also for local or smaller companies. As per Smart Insights, there are many indirect competitors coming from online and offline retailers, distributors, import and export companies, among others (Chaffey, 2021).
  • Illegal products.

    Since it is very easy to create fake accounts on eBay, some scammers use this opportunity to sell counterfeit and illegal products. Although there is a counterfeit item policy, there are sellers who get away with it.

eBay SWOT Analysis Conclusion:

Notwithstanding the rise and popularity of old and new platforms, and despite the difficult times of the pandemic, eBay continues to grow. It has strong sales growth, good brand value, and millions of active buyers. The net revenue and gross profit have significantly increased since 2019. eBay should work on expanding more on international markets and strategize its marketing approach. eBay should polish its platform and mobile to be more secure and efficient. These factors are essential for eBay to maintain its position in the market as the competition gets more intense.


  1. Macrotrends (2021a). EBay Gross Profit 2006-2021 | EBAY.
  2. Macrotrends (2021b). EBay Net Worth 2006-2021 | EBAY.
  3. Macrotrends (2021c). EBay: Number of Employees 2006-2021 | EBAY.
  4. Bhalla, P. (2021). The History of eCommerce and its Evolution – A Timeline
  5. Statista (2021). Number of eBay’s total active buyers from 1st quarter 2010 to 2nd quarter 2021. Statista.
  6. Bentall et. al. (2021). Pandemic buying: Testing a psychological model of over-purchasing and panic buying using data from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. [online]. Plos One.
  7. Chaffey, D. (2021). eBay marketing strategy case study. Smart Insights.
  8. Fortune, (2021). Fortune 500. [online] Fortune.
  9. Forbes, (2021). #65 eBay (EBAY). [online]. Forbes.
  10. Sethb, (2021). What Percentage Does eBay Take in Fees? (Ouch…) Reselling Revealed.
  11. Johnson, D. (2021). Is eBay safe? Yes, but its safety protections tend to favor buyers over sellers. Business Insider.
  12. Numerator Intelligence, (2021). Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Consumer Behavior in 2020.
    Numerator Intelligence.
  13. National Review, (2020). Price Gouging Weekly Round Up: December 14, 2020. National Review.

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