An Exclusive Q&A With Andrea Stairs

Small Business Canada

CanadianSME had the opportunity to speak with Andrea Stairs, the Chief Marketing Officer of eBay North America and President of eBay Canada. She discusses top marketing strategies that eBay uses and how they remain competitive among other major retailers. She also lends her advice to small businesses, as well as the ways eBay is helping SMEs through their many initiatives.

As the Chief Marketing Officer for eBay’s North American business, Andrea leads all facets of buyer marketing for one of the largest e-commerce players in the region. Andrea also oversees eBay’s Canadian operations as President of eBay Canada Ltd. Prior to her current role, Andrea was GM of eBay Canada & Latin America and was responsible for strategy and operations across more than 40 countries.

Andrea has received a BA from McGill University, as well as LLB and MBA degrees from the University of Toronto.

Andrea sits on a number of boards including Export Development Canada, FinDev Canada, Canada’s National Ballet School, and the Toronto Region Board of Trade. She is also the recipient of the Women’s Executive Network’s Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award, in the Corporate Executive category.

A native of Montreal, Andrea lives in Toronto with her husband and young son and daughter.

1. As Chief Marketing Officer for eBay North America, what are some of the marketing strategies that eBay uses that contribute to its success?

This is a special year for eBay. We’re celebrating our 25th anniversary and 20 years since launching

Long before the Canadian site was live, we were engaging small businesses in Canada that were active on the marketplace and our marketing efforts continue to champion their success. Today, a majority of eBay sales across North America are driven by small businesses.

Our marketing strategy includes a mix of digital and traditional media channels to support our unique position as an enabler of economic opportunity. Recently, we’ve ramped up efforts to encourage buyers to support local and shop small business. For example, our “Together” campaign highlights amazing Canadian retailers selling in-demand items as well as unique finds on

2. With several online retailers such as Amazon, Alibaba, and Etsy, how would you describe eBay’s approach to remain competitive in the global marketplace? What’s eBay’s plan to remain on top?

Thankfully, our playbook has served us well for a quarter-century and is as relevant today as it was at launch. Of course, we’ve evolved our technology and adapted to consumer trends, but our focus on connecting people – buyers and sellers – remains.

At the risk of sounding cliché, eBay is a human company. We’re a global marketplace that doesn’t own any inventory on the platform. Instead of competing with small businesses for buyers, we partner with them – their success is our success.

In Canada, we’ve helped retailers access buyers all over the world, allowing them to stay local and sell globally. Ninety-nine percent of eBay enabled small businesses export compared to 5% of traditional small businesses, and they reach, on average, 18 foreign markets versus three. These results continue to motivate the eBay Canada team.

3. Many small business owners choose to sell their products through a variety of online retailers and use this as one of their marketing strategies. What are your thoughts on that?

Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy, but they are being forced to adapt at lightning speed. Certainly, as physical distancing measures seem destined to persist for months, e-commerce offers one of the biggest bright spots for small business owners. A multi-faceted omnichannel approach is a key to reaching customers, both new and existing. As a global marketplace, eBay is unique as, in addition to reaching consumers at home, businesses gain access to 183 million active buyers in 190 countries. In light of COVID-19, we’ve launched “Up & Running”, an accelerator program specifically designed to support retailers without an e-commerce presence transition to selling online. The initiative will also help existing online businesses create a channel to tap into the millions of eBay customers worldwide.

4. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on small businesses across Canada and the world. What is eBay doing to help SME owners during these challenging times?

Small businesses need our support today more than ever. eBay has introduced a variety of initiatives to help retailers manage through the pandemic, those that are active on the platform and those that need help bringing their businesses online.

For businesses on eBay, we have extended a mix of financial relief and special offers to assist with cash flow. We are also protecting their Seller Performance Standards, which means their performance ranking won’t be negatively impacted as a result of problems beyond their control like extended delivery timelines.

We are also helping brick-and-mortar retailers quickly develop an e-commerce presence through the Up & Running program. In addition to onboarding resources, eBay is waiving seller fees and offering free storefronts – part of a $100 million commitment across North America.

5. On a final note, what advice can you give to entrepreneurs that can help them during the COVID-19 outbreak?

This is an extraordinary time for Canadians, particularly small-and-medium-sized business owners. Protecting the health and safety of their employees and customers is critical, and thankfully a variety of organizations are offering resources to help businesses adjust through the different phases of re-opening.

Entrepreneurs will benefit from learning about government assistance programs and accessing funds available to them. Now is also a time for small business owners to make smart bets — particularly those who have put off investing in e-commerce. Making their debut online may improve their trajectory over the coming months and even years.

Finally, I recommend they lean into the community — connect with fellow business owners, share learnings, challenges, and celebrate wins. I’ve met so many of Canada’s small business leaders – they are nimble, supportive, and not afraid to make bold moves. I’d love to see them reach new heights when this is over.

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