Monday, April 09, 2007

EBay Stores R.I.P.

Late last week eBay launched their new eBay.com header. Immediately Store sellers began voicing their opinions on the Stores Discussion boards. The most frequently asked question was. Why isn’t there a Stores Tab?

I think the fact they put Express on the header and left Stores out just didn’t sit well with most Store Sellers.

Is this new header a signal that Stores are dead? I can’t get a good fix on that. eBay has communicated such conflicting messages, about Stores, over the last several years.

Here are the messages, see if you can see the Ping Pong effect that I do:
  • Last year they launched SIS (Stores in Search) Many store sellers saw a huge increase in sales but eBay management quickly made an about-face and removed Store items from search. According to eBay, SIS impacted the buying experience negatively – My opinion is it negatively affected core listings and that’s why they removed it.

  • During SIS they once again promoted Stores -- not to buyers but to sellers.

  • eBay Express was launched stating that it would include store inventory that qualified.

  • We all remember what happened last summer when eBay announced SIF fee increases of 150% - 500% and stated that Store items would be disadvantaged in search and also in Express -- Core items with BIN and Fixed Price listings would get preference in Express.

  • In March of this year they began Promoting Stores again (to sellers not buyers) – Are they committed to Stores again or are too many sellers closing their stores that they need to promote them? EBay never provides this information so all I can do is speculate. How about promoting Stores to buyers?

  • In the 1st Quarter of 2007 the Stores Team launched new Promo Boxes and Markdown Manager, not really a sign that they have thrown in the towel on Stores is it?

  • On April 1st -- Half.com listings were added to Express further disadvantaging store inventory. Half.com sellers do not pay listing fees.

  • In the last several weeks Scot Wingo of ChanneAdvisor predicted a new Store Fee increase because of the messaging he was hearing from eBay about “unproductive listings” and the trends he was seeing in SIF growth. eBay quickly stepped in to say there was no planned increase in store fees. Many Stores Sellers just laughed at eBay’s response. It is inevitable that there will be a fee increase - We're talking about eBay here.

  • Now they launch a new header that appears on Basic Stores (Featured and Anchor Stores can remove the header) as well as every other page on the site. It includes a link to Express but not to Stores.

What, is the plan here? I’ve looked at this over and over and I can’t figure out what eBay is doing. Why is it so difficult for them to clearly articulate their plan for Stores? If Stores are to be a vital part of the eBay marketplace then promote them to buyers don’t just encourage more sellers to open stores. This isn’t rocket science here. Store items are the IT that eBay touts in their slogan. “Whatever IT is you can find IT on eBay” but they don’t promote those listings because they are "unproductive" they don’t move fast enough, instead eBay disadvantage those listings and wonder why they don’t sell. Store items are clearly the “unproductive listings” eBay is talking about. Hello McFly! If you just promoted them naybe they wouldn’t be unproductive. Buying keywords on Google for the Long Tail terms shouldn't be expensive there can't be much competition for those keywords besides what is the 10% FVF paying for if not marketing.

Note to eBay Management:
Until, you come out publicly with your plans for Stores, Store Seller discontent will continue to get worse and you will burn through any good will you have left. Why would you piss off 500,000 customers (Store Sellers)?

My suggestion for eBay management, stop looking at Stores as the albatross around your neck and start looking at them as the solution to your problems. You don't even need to make a public proclamation that you are still committed to Stores just include a flippin' tab for Stores on the new header. That small effort would show sellers you want Stores to be a part of your marketplace.

2 comments:

Frank Ross said...

Maybe with that enormous Q1 earning report, they can pass up fee increases this year? Ah well, a seller can dream, can't he? In the meantime, it looks like more writing on the wall to me. Maybe eBay throwing in the towell on the fixed price model?

Randy Smythe said...

Frank, I don't think they are throwing in the towel on Fixed Price. I listened to the conference call and Meg said Express is growing as they had hoped.

Express is all Fixed Price. I just don't see where stores fit in to all of this unless as soon as Express hits some critical mass they move SIF to Express only.