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An Interview with Gireesh Joshi

Director of Customer Insights at eBay

Gireesh Joshi provides customer insights that help drive business and planning decisions within eBay’s North America Marketplaces business. Joshi manages the company’s portfolio of nearly 20 third-party research providers. He joined eBay in 2011 from Procter & Gamble, where he was an associate director for the consumer and market knowledge group, focusing on global emerging markets.

Can you describe your role?

Gireesh Joshi: We have a marketing organization, a product organization and a set of business units organized around the vertical product categories. I’m with the marketing organization, and I work with the business units as well.

My role is to provide customer insights that drive the business decisions and plans for our North America Marketplaces business. So that’s anything a buyer or seller would see on eBay.com and the related mobile apps.

The role I play is based on a combination of primary research, analytics and secondary data. It’s an advisory role to the executives who have profit and loss responsibility throughout the business units within eBay.

What are your biggest business priorities?

Joshi: We are very much a growth-oriented business, which includes growth in terms of the range of product verticals we operate in. We’re constantly expanding the inventory available through eBay and growing our customer base. We’ve had a few successive years of double-digit growth, both in terms of buyers as well as sellers using the eBay platform. We’ve had growth in the diversity of service offerings related to advertising and ecommerce platforms for the eBay commerce network and the enterprise business, and we’ve had geographical expansion.

What do you see as the biggest business challenges facing your industry?

Joshi: Technology changes very rapidly, and those changes can have a pretty fast and significant impact on consumer behavior. So the challenge is to make sure our decisions are based on really recent, and ideally, real-time information about what’s going on in the marketplace.

eMarketer’s media usage data, consumer behavior information and multiscreen usage forecasts are pretty important and impactful. The marketing forecasts—whether they’re for spending across media, search volume or email volume—are really useful as well.

How is eMarketer intelligence helping you identify new markets and see new opportunities for growth?

Joshi: eMarketer has a very unique place within our portfolio of information resources. First, it’s based on a very diverse set of primary information sources. And second, there is a degree of duration and comparison across markets and categories. For example, eMarketer’s comparative estimates help us get visibility into emerging opportunities and identify which ones are most interesting and relevant for us. Then we use that as a starting point for more focused investigations we might need to do.

The comparative estimates are really helpful from a benchmarking standpoint. One example that comes to mind is analysis of the use of social media shoppers’ ecommerce behavior, their connection with brands, and how that behavior and their expectations vary in certain markets. The data helps us look beyond a particular market and look more broadly for opportunities.

Sometimes you find answers where you wouldn’t necessarily expect them. You wouldn’t, for example, necessarily expect social commerce to be especially developed in Brazil. Being able to see that data can reveal opportunities that wouldn’t be visible if you were to only look at a single data source.

The other place it’s been helpful is in mobile trends. It’s been very useful to see what those trends look like, particularly in emerging markets—Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

What are eMarketer’s unique differentiators?

Joshi: The main difference is that you have multiple sources and transparency as to what the sources are. The fact that there is one resource with many sources is a particular strength for eMarketer. I like that you have multiple sources and transparency as to what those sources are. You have versatility—the user interfaces on the site as well as through the apps and email alerts are pretty useful and fairly straightforward to customize. eMarketer has credibility and is easy to use.

I also like the quality of client service and the responsiveness in situations where we’ve needed help to collect information relevant to a particular topic. Sometimes a self-service model doesn’t quite work. I’ve found the responsiveness of the client service team really good.

It’s really efficient and when I say efficient, I mean both in terms of cost and effort. Using eMarketer is a really efficient way to get access to a very diverse set of credible data that’s applicable from a business management and marketing perspective.

What is the significance of eMarketer’s multisource approach?

Joshi: First of all, it increases the odds that you will have information on any given topic because at least one source probably has relevant information. To be able to line up all the differences, in terms of comparative estimates, helps to clarify what sort of trends we can have greater confidence in, simply because multiple independent sources are surfacing similar observations. That’s a big reason why eMarketer’s credibility is pretty high. It’s that ability to compare across sources

Why does eBay offer access to eMarketer to everyone in the company?

Joshi: The philosophical reason within the company is to empower all individuals to get direct access to the information that’s relevant for their particular role. And there’s a practical reason, which is it’s just not feasible to try and funnel all information through a very small group of people in a very large company.

What’s most exciting to you in the business?

Joshi: It really comes back to the rapid rate of change, which means new opportunities are always opening up and available for companies that can be early movers. This is why it’s possible to sustain a high growth rate for an extended period of time.

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Gireesh Joshi

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“eMarketer’s comparative estimates help us get visibility into emerging opportunities and identify which ones are most interesting and relevant for us.”

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