Delivering food, capturing attention: what restaurants can learn from the publishing industry

Before the internet, publishers were in a very privileged position. Controlling the printing press was a true competitive advantage. Similar to other mass-produced goods, the machinery necessary to replicate the news of the day at national scale came at a high cost and the right to participate in the news creation did so too. As a result, the publishers controlled their geographies, their audience, and the advertisers who wanted to reach their audience.

Then along came the internet. Fixed costs for content production dropped down to (almost) zero. What used to be restricted information became abundant and personalization rules in abundance. Google and Facebook are the clear winners of the information economy and advertising online was the prize. 

Mistaking a platform for a channel

Both won by imposing their own rules in the discovery and distribution of content, and eventually owning the audience. Initially, both were heralded as great marketing innovations.

Publishers were mesmerized at the potential of a new global, growing reach. Before programmatic advertising and the maturity of hyper-targeting this was great news. Google and Facebook were seen as channels serving them, not as platforms serving themselves.

The shift from paper to digital delivery of news left publishers with a fraction of the advertising revenue they used to gain and a steep decline of the print circulation revenue. A double whammy.

This has been a bleak and deteriorating reality ever since. The scariest part of which is that it’s been 26 years since major publications launched online and it’s only now that the first signs of economic sustainability appear.

Perhaps not obvious at first, but the restaurant industry is following the same footsteps, commoditizing itself one delivery at a time.

Food delivery as a utility. 

In the UK, Deliveroo, like many a great company, started with providing value to a niche. Casual dining was the target. Connecting those establishments which didn’t offer delivery to the upper-end consumer who valued quality and convenience above cost, the goal.

“We are a restaurant, not a takeaway place” was a common thought for a lot of restaurants initially.

Deliveroo’s offer (and their sales) was hard to ignore. Off the back of the normal operation, why not make extra money? Deliveroo would make money from the extra fees clients paid. The restaurant didn’t pay but a small fee (if anything). 

In the beginning, Deliveroo was the perfect utility. Since the cost was zero or very low, restaurants were incentivized to inform their local base that now they could reach them even more conveniently; they could deliver the same quality of food at home. 

This was fantastic and it didn’t affect the restaurant’s economics. Deliveroo was a (near) free marketing channel.

Abundance, commodity and owning discovery

While hindsight is 20/20, in the moment it is not easy to spot the inflection point where a short-term opportunity turns to a perilous force. And this is because there was no qualitative change in the nature of the service to inform of the upcoming disruption. It was the users’ attention that shifted as a result of repetitively using the service.

Initially, customers would use Deliveroo or the other delivery companies (mainly Uber Eats) to get their favorite meals delivered, from their favorite places delivered. As the value of the service was higher than the delivery fees associated, usage increased and eventually the nature of the question changed from “how can we get X delivered” to “What are we eating tonight?”.

What started as an “add-to-basket-and-go” experience, was now turning into a discovery session.

As customers got habituated to using one place to get food delivered and, more importantly, to get inspiration, the power dynamics gradually shifted. Customers had less of a reason to stay loyal to the local pizza shop nearby. Why would they? Another authentic Italian Pizza place with great reviews was now able to reach them, sometimes enticing them at an even lower price, courtesy of the delivery companies.

To the discerning eye, the power to sway customer preferences is a pivotal moment. The channel was on its way to become the platform.

At the same time, this was but an imperceptible change for restaurants themselves; each place kept seeing their delivery revenue steadily increase and so did the confidence they placed on this quickly growing stream of revenue, devoid of quantitative concerns stemming from a drop in customer lifetime revenue. After all, such are the concerns befitting a tech company, not a restaurant. To their detriment, this is a view a lot of restaurant owners share as they prefer focus on the creative part of the experience.

The delicate balance of indulging their customers in trying the various options available whilst continuously growing revenues for restaurants was sponsored by the humongous growth of the delivery economy with the Venture Capital industry picking up the bill. In other words, the volume of orders for each restaurant was a derivative of market growth, not the performance of an individual operation. 

The result might seem obvious now but not so much then, especially not from the perspective of the restaurateur who experienced a booming business. For every new order they accepted however, the relationship with existing clients was diminishing and new clients were not represented by a name; a fleeting order ID sufficed.

More choice for clients equaled a lower volume of repeat orders to individual restaurants. In return, as restaurants had a wider addressable reach of clients, an equilibrium was found.

Finally, customers were now loyal to food delivery companies which dictated the discovery, delivery, and payment for food. 

And for this endless growth to be sustained the rake doubled to about 30%, charges were placed on the restaurants rather than the end consumer (or both) and delivery fees became “variable” (increased). Delivery companies now control the value chain and it’s time to squeeze as much value of the proceeds as possible, leading restaurants to re-think their razor-thin margins and business relationship with delivery companies.

Sound familiar? 

COVID and the acceleration of disruption in the restaurant industry. 

This was a slow process but then COVID-19 happened. And any lingering doubts were removed. Restaurants had two options: sign up to the delivery platforms or shut down. Or both. But one thing was clear: this was not the promised land they signed up for.

At the current pace and given the dynamics of the industry here’s what to expect. 

Kitchen and restaurant unbundling. Low cost space “dark kitchens” become mainstream. Restaurants are struggling to compete in an industry where their sole contribution to the value chain is a commoditized product. All other value-adding services have been stripped away from them. Marketing, payments, delivery operations, and real estate (dark kitchens) belong to delivery platforms. 

And just like that, restaurants are in the shoes of the publishers. Losing their customers attention means gradually giving up on their sovereignty.

Dominant marketplaces inevitably give birth to individual creators

But we have seen this cycle before. When a network reaches maturity and moves to a value capture phase there’s inevitably an economic incentive for creators, solopreneurs and SMEs to compete against the network and capture value from customers on the fringes of the network, kicking in another cycle of creative change.

As Amazon grows to unprecedented level, Shopify is growing even faster.

Substack grows in tandem with Medium and traditional media as the appetite for content is at an all time high.

This should inform us as to what might happen in the restaurant industry too. Restaurants have traditionally been low-tech, focused on fly-by traffic and didn’t have incentive enough to act any different.

However, there have been significant changes in the past 5 years. It is now possible to outsource delivery, have a direct relationship with customers and finally, capture the whole transactional value. And of course, now it is a matter of survival. How can they compete? Customer loyalty.

Lessons from the publishing industry moving forward

I’d be surprised if the dominance of the platforms was to be challenged anytime soon. In a way, it’s too soon. It’s the boiling frog effect once again and things won’t change before they get any worse. Delivery platforms play a significant part in keeping the lights on and, as such, it’s difficult to envision radical change.

But were things to take on a drastic change of course there’s a few lessons from the publishing industry and there is a few reasons for drawing that parallel.

In the attempt to own their audiences, publications have turned to multiple media and in doing so generate revenue from multiple sources. Subscriptions are starting to work, podcasts attract a different set of advertisers, events capture the value of an audience and social media drives premium newsletter sign ups that allows publishers to connect with their audience. Additionally, these exact same tools are available to micro, small or large enterprises.

A similar path seems possible for the restaurant industry.

From loyal customer to member: a viable path ahead

Despite the recent slump in retention, restaurants are indeed a high loyalty sector which becomes obvious with a quick glance at Deloitte’s report on restaurant spend. 49% of visitors spend at least 25% of their total restaurant budget in one place. 

Deloitte, Second Helpings:Building consumer loyalty
in the fast service and casual
dining restaurant sector

A loyal customer would be someone eating there once per month which looking at the graph above should be represented by the segment of people who spend 25% of more of their total restaurant budget, assuming eating out once per week that would be once per month. If that was the case there’s 49% of people that each given restaurant could target to convert.

Of the roughly 100 customers an average restaurant (25 seater) serves per day, or 3,000 per month we can assume that at least 10% will become repeat customers. This means that a restaurant hosts roughly 300 loyal customers monthly.

The second important metric that Deloitte points out was that (in casual dining) 9% claimed they’d be amenable to a subscription offered by the restaurants they visit and they’re likely to dine again. 

Deloitte, Second Helpings

It’s reasonable for a restaurant to convert 10% of its 300 loyal customers each month and expect these customers to do so with an increased spend. This would equal 1% of the total footfall.

In other words, this restaurant, assuming no churn for simplicity, should aim at 360 members in a year. 
Taking an Italian restaurant as an example and £15 as the cost of a pizza, it’s safe to assume the average member spend could be £25, the price of two pizzas discounted by ~16%, as an example of a simple membership perk.

That would amount to gross sales of £108,000 in annual recurring revenue or roughly 60% of the total revenue the restaurant would need to be viable. 

The restaurant owns its audience. 

Starting as low tech as a QR code on the food box offering a perk and later through a combination of email,  SMS or even a Facebook Group the new wave of restaurant operators would have the ability and the mindset to harness a community.

In an era where people are spending more time than ever in their local area and their social fabric has been eroded, the community feel (even virtual to begin with) is more important than ever. 

Community, multiple touchpoints and revenue diversification. 

On the basis of creating a community, a restaurant would seek to use an array of channels to deliver and capture a higher part of the value of their members. Educate on all culinary topics, offer exclusive perks (e.g. private dining after hours is a great one), exclusive meals (specials of the day) and/or cooking classes “how to cook X on your own” are some very basic examples. Especially since once owning a community, monetization opportunities present themselves.

Restaurateurs as creators 

Operating a community, subscription management, and payments is a solved problem and very much in the scope of being a creator. Finally, delivery can be outsourced to a 3rd party, dedicated delivery service companies like Stuart.

And this is already a big part of the value chain. 

Expect steps in this space and along these lines to be few and far in between as well as clunky for a while until dedicated SaaS platforms (an opportunity there) to arise to streamline these operations for a fraction of the cost.  

I’d be keen to hear from operators. If you’re in the space thinking along these lines, feel free to reach out, I’d like to hear from you. 


Restaurants* there is an implicit assumption that for sheer takeaway places things might stay the same since their margins were already low; in this article I mainly refer to restaurants offering seating which also didn’t offer delivery traditionally aka the casual dining part of the market.

When Managed Marketplaces Don’t Work And Why SaaS Enabled Ones Do

Sometimes a marketplace is flawed and headed for a tough time before it even begins. But it’s not unlikely that this does not become evident until £20m has been invested. So, it begs the question: how can you know if that is the case and what can you do about it?

Network effects, liquidity, TAM, are some of the many things that a marketplace needs to get right. All very aptly described by Bill Gurley here. The list in the post is informative, concise and certainly correct. But if we were to put these in a timeline, gap related to the execution in the middle emerges. For instance, you can know if you have a big market from the get-go and by the time you experience network effects it all gets easier however, everything in the middle is murky, complicated and multivariate.

In a 2018 post, Eli Chait published a very insightful piece where he correlates the fragmentation of buyers to marketplace success.

Effectively, his research reduces the complexity of the first list to one metric that’s a bit meta; he’s positing that for a marketplace to be successful there is an inherent characteristic the market needs to possess and that is a very large amount of buyers (1 million buyers for one business) and for those buyers to also be fragmented.

This is a useful point because it identifies the principal component of success amongst many other variables and thus simplifies the problem. Can you get a million buyers? If not, then the cards are stacked against you.

Once more, if you have 400,000 buyers already this is a meaningful insight. You can approximate the value per added buyer in the network and roughly calculate if you can escape velocity through network effects.

But what if you’re just starting? What if you have 100, 1000 or even 10,000 buyers? Are the above enough to ensure that a marketplace is the right model for a given industry? How can you tell if your unit economics can mature to reflect a £1bn marketplace?

Perhaps there is a way to know what will NOT work. And there if there’s one thing to steer clear from is services with inherent repeatability of transactions between the same supplier and buyer. If that is the case, then scaling a marketplace to the 1 million buyers, 1 billion GMV will be tough.

And there is both an intuitive and analytical approach to explain why. But first, why is the lack of repeatability a benefit? Uber is a good example.

From the perspective of the supplier (driver), Ubers works like this. A driver can reach clients previously unreachable and get access to a set of value-adding services to make the job easier. In exchange Uber takes a fee per ride. Every time a new rider connects with a driver, Uber has taken care of: finding the client, navigation, safety measures and, seamless payment in the end. But since the whole CLV is (most likely) equal to the value of the ride, the next time the driver picks up a new rider, (s)he will reap the same exact benefits from Uber and Uber will receive the same fee.

In other words, supply and demand see each other as a commodity. Therefore a platform facilitates the transaction. Uber is there to ensure that a code of conduct is enforced (safety, trust, politeness etc) and enables transactions that would not be possible before (eBay, AirBnB are also good examples). This is an example of Bill Gurley’s point on “technology expanding the addressable market”.

From the supplier’s perspective, Uber’s value per ride is the same.

However, there are industries where the above hold true and still have fundamental issues in their economics, because of the loyalty repeat transactions create. Take therapy for example. The more therapists, the better the matching. A marketplace can expand the market via remote therapy, matching and also by creating the necessary privacy and trust for clients to make the first step. It’d be closer to how eBay grows the market (remove friction) than how AirBnB, Fiver or Uber do it (without them it’d be impossible).

But still, in the UK alone there are at least 2,500,000 people that will receive privately funded therapy per year. Trust is necessary initially. Structural and attitudinal barriers can both be addressed by marketplaces and therapists have a constant need for new clients as some come and some go. Yet, a therapy marketplace won’t work. Why? Because of the repeatability of transactions. A therapist is not able to see more than 25 clients (max) per week (50-75 uniques per year) and a client will only see one therapist.

That would not be a problem if the marketplace could capture a chunk of the value across the lifetime of therapy. However, the value-add of a marketplace declines after the first session because the client forges a trust relationship with their therapist. By definition, therapy is about the trusted relationship.

From the perspective of a therapist, a therapy marketplace exists for referrals.

In fact, from the perspective of the therapist, the marketplace doesn’t only stop adding value but can detract value. After the first session, a therapist will start adding notes for a client, have constant communication with them via their preferred medium (e.g. WhatsApp), receive the payment in a centralized way (e.g. PayPal) and agree on a fixed schedule which on a per-client basis at least, is simple.

Consequently, after the referral is done, the marketplace introduces a cognitive cost to use its add-on services (e.g. automated payment collection). If the therapist wants to use the marketplace they have to do extra admin on another space to keep their operations centralized.

Therefore, taking the client away from the platform is natural. Disintermediation is inevitable and thus, CLV real < CLV expected, which leads to unsustainable economics and does not allow the marketplace to scale.

Enter SaaS enabled marketplaces, or SEM

So, repeat transactions present a structural barrier for the marketplace to achieve strong unit economics and scale. Still, suppliers do need services to grow and manage a practice.

This is where a SaaS-enabled marketplace can provide a solution for a few reasons.

  • The positioning of the product is not necessarily around lead generation
  • Consequently, pricing is not pegged on “getting more clients”
  • Finally, the supplier might bring the clients onto the platform voluntarily which alleviates the platform from the burden of CAC but also positions it to capture value across the lifetime of the client.

From a cash flow perspective, this allows for a direct reinvestment of revenue per supplier to acquire new suppliers. Eventually, when there is a critical mass, then the platform can aggregate them and introduce a new service on lead generation but without the pressure of that being a promise. Shopify’s Shop app is a good example of that.

So, are repeat transactions intrinsic between supply and demand in a market? If so, it will erode the marketplace unit economics and pose challenges in scaling to network effects. Looking at the “come for the tool, stay for the network” approach is the more appropriate strategy for these kinds of markets and can still take to the same end point but in a more sustainable way.

eBay’s loss was not against Amazon; it was against itself and Shopify is the winner

Yesterday, I stumbled on an FT article detailing Shopify’s growth to more than 800,000 merchants and $40bn market cap. The article caught my eye and made me think, for a couple of reasons. To begin with, it refers to Shopify’s market capitalization in comparison to eBay, which prompts the interesting question:”what’s the relationship between the two?”. In addition, it hints at Amazon as the next target, as if the three were ever in the same race – not true -. Following that thread, the everlasting eBay – Amazon relationship deserves some clarifying comments. Also, it is worth seeing how Shopify carved its own path in the ecommerce space, a path that eBay with its $10.8bn in revenue and great positioning should have owned; but it didn’t.

Most people think that eBay’s a dud stock because it never managed to capitalize on the ecommerce revolution that Amazon brought about, but I would argue that is not the case and the two should not be compared. EBay is a dud stock because it didn’t capitalize on the discovery driven ecommerce, which itself started, when the trend expanded beyond its platform and onto social media. This is where Shopify thrived. But first, why do I say that eBay should not be compared with Amazon?

Simply because the two companies share vastly different business models. The way they create and deliver value is quite different. Which is also the case in the way they capture value, even though at first sight they might look similar (both sell products and take % from the sales).

However the difference in the experience the two companies aimed to provide was crisp, from the beginning (2006 amazon launches FBA, Prime) at least before Amazon doubled-down on 3rd Party Sellers. But first, looking at buyers here’s how the two positioned themselves:

Amazon: “The everything store”

eBay: “The bargain store”

Amazon : “Buy new stuff” 

eBay: “Buy at auctions” 

Amazon: “Buy commodities”

eBay: “Buy collectibles.”

Already this should be enough to showcase the stark difference in mindset, target audience of buyers and their purchasing habits.

To add to that, take a look at eBay’s mission statement: “At eBay, our mission is to provide a global online marketplace where practically anyone can trade practically anything, enabling economic opportunity around the world.”

I think the most important part in the above statement is the bit on economic opportunity. Originally, everything about eBay was around “opportunity”. The sellers that took eBay public at 1998 and brought more than $47mn in revenue and 724% increase that year came did all that via auctions. The company was already valued at >$1bn. There was still a lot of room for growth and it was already snowballing.

eBay was offering economic opportunity to buyers and sellers. It rode the wave of the transactional web (web 1.0) and absolutely dominated that space. By the time I started working at eBay, 15 years later (2014), eBay’s impact had grown so much that I personally knew of families who had bought their primary residence in London merely from trading on eBay.

And so eBay went on to make this opportunistic flea-market experience as seamless and emotionally safe as possible doing what any sane corporation would do; alleviate any issues from a business model and experience that worked really well. They started their feedback program, bought PayPal and launched eBay money back guarantee amongst other things.

For a business whose whole experience is discovery, surprise and the hunt itself, everything that comes with a traditional retail experience is secondary. Shipping, authenticity guarantees, lack of inventory standardization were all nuisances one had to live with. The user purpose was one: Discover and grab yourself a bargain.

Amazon was quite different. Amazon wanted to have and store “one of everything” making it the everything store. And Jeff Bezos was very outspoken about customer experience being the salient reason of the success to come. Amazon would not be the place to find something rare or vintage nor would it be the place to haggle. Amazon would be the place to buy everything that can be sold at a great price, in a few clicks, shipped at the greatest convenience. Till this day, when you go on Amazon, you know what you are about to buy or at least what need you’re trying to fulfil. Amazon was offering utility and delight built incrementally through consistency. Its business model initially was not very sustainable nor was it protected by network effects between buyers and sellers. Its strength was derived by careful alignment of internally owned, building blocks stacked one on top of another.

In hindsight, from 2005 onwards it was obvious that the two companies were nothing alike. Amazon launched Prime, FBA (fulfilment by Amazon) and invested in integrating services to perfect the art of the trade (literally) while eBay was focused on semi-congruent land grab strategy and acted more like a traditional business following a management consulting playbook. Acquisition of classifieds and marketplaces in other verticals (e.g. StubHub in ticketing) were a clear indication of what eBay was doing. It was hedging and whilst doing so, with a semi-conscious guilt, growing apart from helping its original sellers, the opportunists & the mom’n’pop shops. New fees, new regulations, more standardization around process and a push for onboarding bigger merchants sidelined the original batch of sellers. I didn’t see the NPS scores (which eBay invented) but I remember a general disappointment from sellers. And it was not just a feeling. It was in external forums, in eBay’s Seller hub (eBay content pages for sellers) and in water cooler chats between employees. And that was about to be reflected in the stock.

Around 2014, when I accepted my first job ever at eBay as a Product Management Intern under the European Product Development group eBay was still a single entity with PayPal. By the end of 2014, eBay had decided to split with PayPal and price per share had flatlined, trading at $21.01, or $0.02 cents less than 2013 despite eBay’s total assets still experiencing healthy growth. What was happening? The company was transitioning from its original model which while a perfect fit with customers, now exhausted, to a new one driven not by customer delight but by business case and speculation. eBay had grown to a big corporation and was acting like one.

Analysts had figured that out and as Amazon was completely dominating the eCommerce space, eBay was looking like a company that had no exciting plans to grow.

I remember during my first days being very surprised that the words “auction” within the London HQ being almost taboo. I was struck by that; not from a business sense but from a cultural sense. Rather than turning a page, the company was abruptly rejecting its own legacy all the while not being able to completely escape from its shadow (auction is running successfully till this day of course). This was the greatest issue that plagued eBay. A bumpy culture shift that never really stuck and the community driven entrepreneurial instincts that were abandoned.

Here is how eBay worked in 2014. John Donahoe, CEO at the time, came from a management consulting background. And that was apparent. All announcements and decisions across the chain were communicated based on market opportunity. Product management was essentially product development and user centricity was inexistent. The problem was that the transition from iconic, community based internet company to corporation-pleasing-shareholders was never deeply realized. There was an ebb and flow of power, priorities and the whole company was not clear as to what was its identity, its values and how the disparate entities should operate together as a business. Strategy was nowhere near “customer-driven” and that was the non-addressed elephant in the room*.

The business “owners”, wanted first to rip out of eBay any connotation to its flea-market identity. Then using existing assets target SMBs and, at the same time large retailers to sell via eBay. This would transform eBay from an aggregator of individual sellers relying on community and word-of-mouth to grow to a series of Shops operating within the platform using the existing technology and tools, relying on corporate relationships to grow. The thinking was simple: Who can we sell our existing audience and platform to next? But the reality was that there was no coherence, no proof this was the right thing to do, nor that the new customer base wanted to sell via eBay. While it is not unlike companies to shift in their proposition in pursuit of growth, eBay was simply eroding it.

In conversations around strategy and next steps with senior executives, I remember hearing of retailer with iconic names like “Selfridges”, “House of Fraser” as targets for the eBay Large Merchant programme. Such was the pressure from the business that the self-evident brand conflict was not bothering anyone. Employees were simply executing. A few colleagues of mine from the product teams were working on individual integrations with large merchants striving to prove the new viable growth strategy for eBay. None of it happened. Months of product development was canned. The very talented individuals started fleeing eBay’s European Product teams. EBay was both confused and out of character and I am afraid, still is.

Meanwhile, Shopify was serving the customer.

Meanwhile, in 2014 and with 80,000 Sellers in its books Shopify was building the right infrastructure and positioning itself perfectly to serve a new generation of ambitious sellers.

“There was no ‘powered by Shopify’ anywhere, we built a brand behind other people’s brands.”

Tobi Lütke

Already operating for 10 years and with a clear problem he faced himself, Tobi Lütke was growing Shopify according to what the market needed. Social media had already massively changed the way people bought from the internet by 2014 and ecommerce had developed a lot. Selling online could happen in different ways and non-traditional business models, including dropshipping, were gaining popularity online as the shopping became more and more linked to an “experience”.

Shopify covered all the requirements for this new breed of merchants. Businesses could focus on their brand, marketing presence and strategy while Shopify would allow them to build the e-shop of their dreams. Designed to their taste, and with pretty much everything taken care of. From some point onwards, this included shipping, making it a viable option to escape selling via Amazon.

Shopify was merely focused on pleasing its users with whom the founding team identified with. Its aim was to give small merchants the tools they needed to sell online without enforcing complicated policies, pricing or its own brand.

And that is exactly where eBay lost the battle. EBay had all the assets, capabilities and understanding of the market to pursue this strategy. The core platform could perform the marketing and transactional part of the job raking in revenues for sales. Meanwhile, instead of enforcing eBay Shops, it could outsource all of its tools to individual merchants. Having sellers run their (non-eBay) shops on the web, on their own would unlock new revenue streams, allow for higher profit margins (no owned customer support) and differentiate eBay’s positioning in the eCommerce value chain.

Not only did eBay have the technology but it also held the distribution. Had eBay proceeded to lend its core platform with lower fees to its 25 million sellers outside of eBay, it could have rode the wave of social shopping and the Pinterest – Instagram discovery led buying, making it highly relevant to a new generation of buyers as a platform. And by doing so, besides managing to reap the benefits of the social media wave which it never did, it would also have started to penetrate Amazon’s tight value chain (Shopify sellers can sell via Amazon).

The big brand and the rigidity that comes with owning the core marketplace meant EBay’s executive team was not even remotely ready to consider any new models that would jeopardize its existing position for a better outcome. No one wanted to rock the boat. The revenue numbers were/are still growing in the core business. Even when eBay bought Milo, a local shopping startup which was allowing retailers to catalogue their inventory, eBay’s idea was to onboard these sellers online. Selling outside of the eBay platform was never an option.

Shopify on the other hand, allowing full customization saw its sellers thriving and kept on assisting them with tools. As a result it grew from 40,000 stores in 2012 to more than 800,000 today.

It was corporate conservatism and the loss of vision that cost eBay its growth, not competence. EBay didn’t lose against Amazon. It lost against itself and Shopify is the winner.


*I guess that was acknowledged and it culminated in the hiring of a new CPO and VP of design, both from Apple.

** Any views expressed on this post are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.