With annual sales of $9.5bn, eBay UK is part of the world’s largest online marketplace where ‘practically anyone can buy and sell practically anything’. Historically, the UK business had relied purely on the natural flow of demand to achieve its business growth targets. Faced with an increasingly competitive e-commerce environment and with challenging growth ambitions, the company started running seasonal promotional campaigns.These campaigns were viewed as ad hoc, disjointed and error ridden, and did not appear to make any significant difference to eBay UK’s incremental revenue.

“You’re getting us results!”
Managing Director, eBay UK

The Goal

Based on past campaign experience, eBay UK’s Managing Director had little confidence that the next campaign would deliver the desired results. She turned to Four Points to turnaround the performance of the upcoming Q4 campaign and ensure all expected revenue targets and deadlines were met.

The Achievements

  • Exceeded eBay UK’s Q4 revenue target as a direct result of the executed promotions and campaigns in that quarter; an achievement unmatched by any other eBay country.
  • Programme managed 40 promotional campaigns and 30 supporting projects.
  • Concurrently programme managed and supported the design and planning of the following year’s Q1 and Q2 campaign architecture and content. Supported the design of a scalable quarterly operating model which has become a pan-European standard.
  • Coached the team members to proactively plan, prepare and deliver future campaigns.

The Journey

Our initial remit was to conduct a rapid diagnostic assessment of how a seasonal campaign programme at eBay was initiated, planned and prepared for. Our assessment identified:

  • Poor programme governance;
  • Minimal communication between the various teams involved;
  • Lack of adherence to any one way of working causing unnecessary or duplicated work;
  • A non-accountable culture.

Based on our findings, the Managing Director realised that, for the upcoming Q4 campaign programme to be successful and deliver its £180m sales target, the team needed our performance turnaround guidance.

eBay had already planned what the 40 Q4 campaigns were going to be. What they didn’t have was a set of very clear, quantified sub-campaign plans with robust quality checks and timeframes. In order for the 40 sub-campaigns to be executed on time, we needed a process which:

  • Could be practically executed by eBay’s internal teams;
  • Involved all the right people, inventory and marketing assets;
  • Drew on our own expertise to fill any immediate skills gaps;
  • Included distinct campaign metrics;
  • Integrated the 30 supporting projects that had to be managed and completed in time for the Q4 programme to be successfully delivered.

A central component of these supporting projects was the toolkit that we designed and provided eBay, enabling them to:

  • Very quickly assess actual vs planned campaign progression;
  • Determine, at set stages, how well each campaign’s original requirements were being met, including price points, range of sourced inventory, brand criteria, and user experience;
  • Ensure all internal supporting functions were fulfilling their required obligations;
  • Keep all final deliverables on track and in line with the programme plan;
  • Establish a quarterly working operating model.

Workshops were held to brainstorm ideas. Project managers were coached on how to pull together and improve existing working practices. We also set up and facilitated a UK Leadership team of senior executives whose remit it was to review and sign off all strategies and plans, ensure all necessary decisions were made, and resolve any weekly issues. During the execution of the Q4 programme, we were also asked to programme manage the development of the upcoming Q1 and Q2 campaigns. This involved:

  • Using customer insights to define and document the campaign architecture;
  • Designing the structure for sub-campaign plans to be created and communicated, each with its own objectives, budget and timeframe;
  • Writing comprehensive business briefs for each sub-campaign;
  • Mentoring the Campaign Manager throughout the plan development process, addressing workload and resourcing issues as they arose.

Through our hands-on understanding of eBay’s current practices, we were able to unveil:

  • The fact that the existing process to deliver a campaign programme, its complexities and the resources and timings required, was unsustainable;
  • The issues and business risks this created;
  • The need for a new, more proactive and effective quarterly campaign process to be designed.

As a result, eBay UK’s Managing Director devised the concept of a new high level campaign process. From this concept and drawing on workshop findings, we designed the details of the process with associated timelines and inter-dependencies.

Next Steps

Armed with their new quarterly operating model, approved campaign process, and the necessary templates and tools, eBay UK are now set up to:

  • Achieve their annual target of $1bn+ additional sales, growing the business by 7%;
  • Appropriately adapt the organisation’s design and individual roles according to the new campaign process;
  • Improve individual processes and resolve issues in an agile environment, managed by a skilled Programme Management Office team.