Saturday, June 30, 2007
"User-Generated Content (UGC) Is Not a Fad . . .
Some investors remain skeptical that UGC is more than a passing fad. However, in our recent online video survey, UGC is the No. 1 and No. 2 most popular content category among men aged 18-34 (M18-34) and among all respondents, respectively. Moreover, if we define UGC as page views only from sites such as Myspace.com, Facebook.com, Youtube.com, Wikipedia.org, Blogger.com, and Digg.com (which is quite conservative), we estimate that UGC now accounts for 13% of total U.S. Internet traffic, up from 0%-1% in 2004. Based on these statistics, we submit that UGC is here to stay."
Here is the entire report. It is a PDF file
Let me find the articles and information for you, maybe having access to some of these articles will actually help your business. So check it out and see "What I'm Reading ?".
Friday, June 29, 2007
2. Name it "Hillary Rodham Clinton"
3. Send it to the Recycle Bin.
4. Empty the Recycle Bin.
5. Your PC will ask you...................
"Do you really want to get rid of "Hillary Rodham Clinton ?"
6. Firmly Click "Yes."
7. Feel better.
PS: Next Week we will get rid of Nancy Pelosi
Ok, I'm not trying to be political here, I just thought this was funny. Substitute your least favorite politician for Hillary or even better your least favorite corporate executive. I would give credit to the author but I have no idea who they are.
I contacted you several months ago regarding the drop in my eBay sales. (recap: eBay changed the way listings were appearing in searches and my sales dropped by over 40%)
You kindly took a look at my eBay store and although there wasn't much to advise on you did support an increase in my product ranges. You also provided a small gem of information, that is now forever impregnated in my mind, that 'breadth is the key'
The thing that has kept me from packing all of this in was yourself and Ina Steiner, (amongst other very helpful sites) and I just wanted to say thank you from my family and myself. I can't express my thanks enough.
We have been through hell and back with this and for the first time in a long time, feel like we're heading in the blue sky direction.
To counter the drop in sales at that time we doubled our listings and dropped our prices, which just equated in more fees. We tried everything in the book 'so to speak' and was about to give it all up until we came across your site and Ina's. It gave us the confidence to draw on our reserves and continue with our goals.
We've since launched our own website www.skinnywolf.co.uk alongside our Ebay store www.skinnywolf.com We've employed a design agency to give our eBay store a makeover, expanded our product ranges and are using various design packages to build on our website.
This, coupled with the launch of our own site and email marketing has led to a slight increase in sales BUT only recently have we embarked on SEO... (new words and abbreviations to me)
First, I must tell you that my generation missed out on the 'computers at school thing' and although I've tapped and clicked a little this is a whole new language and world I'm learning so bear with me here.
I submitted my eBay and website products on Google MSN and Yahoo and within a week my traffic to eBay doubled, as did my sales.
I've now replaced all of my lost sales with a lot more and it's increasing daily!
I've just joined Squidoo and am currently working on my 'Lens' as well as Del.icio.us and Stumble and when I finally work out how to link them to other pages and sites I will. (I feel such a noob)
It's going to take a lot of time and energy, but I'm like a kid with a new toy right now and loving it!
Anyways, thank you again for all the work and efforts you're putting in to help sellers.
It really is appreciated.
Kind regards and good health
Thursday, June 28, 2007
When I was selling on eBay I rarely paid any attention to small sellers or read the discussion boards, I was too busy trying to run my business. Now that I have become a full-time blogger, I find that the discussion boards are a good way for me to get leads on stories (and they are occasionally very entertaining).
Many of the sellers I have met over the last few months are struggling to make ends meet while eBay figures out their strategy for Stores. I've heard their plight and am trying to do my part. While, I encourage most sellers to work toward multi-channel selling, with their own website as the hub, many sellers still feel more comfortable on eBay and they just want to be given an opportunity.
I originally created a Squidoo lens (Webpage) for eBay sellers and their Squidoo Lenses it quickly grew to be a very successful page with over 240 eBay/Squidoo lenses represented. I then expanded the lens to include links to eBay stores and encouraged sellers to add their store links with the Store referral code. I was surprised at how fast it grew, now the Lens has become less effective because of the sheer amount of information. So over the next several days I will be expanding my eBay/Squidoo lenses. The main lens will serve as an index by category and link to an independent lens on that particular category. The categories will be fairly broad at the beginning and if they grow I will add more depth to them.
Squidoo lenses get exceptional Google ranking, so this makes sense as a method for driving traffic to eBay Store sellers. I've struggled with why I should develop ways to bring traffic to eBay when eBay has worked so hard at hiding Stores but it comes down to this; sellers need more free exposure since eBay fees are as high as they can go (in my opinion) and this will give them an opportunity to increase exposure and get a savings through the Store referral credit. The traffic to stores is not huge but it is growing and everyone needs more traffic. BTW, this is not limited to small sellers but I don't imagine many big sellers will take me up on the free link.
Please check out the lens when you get a change and if you are a Store Seller on eBay or an eBay seller who has an independent website please list your store or website on the lens.
Update: I'm working on a story about the seller crack down by eBay Trust and Safety that Ina Steiner mentioned on her blog. I need accurate details from sellers who have been restricted or suspended so I can be as thorough as possible. If I get enough information over the next few days I will post the story on Monday. I can be emailed at rksmytheatyahoodotcom
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I'm just "Reading the Tea Leaves" here but it seems to me that MySpace is very much in-play. News Corp is close to getting Dow Jones & Company and has floated a swap of MySpace to Yahoo for 25% of the company which would make the deal worth around $10 Billion. That is a huge ROI in just 2 years. I think Murdoch has cooled on MySpace and is looking to cash out. I would be too, Social Networks are proving to be very fickle. First it was Friendster, than MySpace and now Facebook is the King of Social Networking.
So, who would the potential suitors be? I think Yahoo is definitely in the driver's seat but they have traditionally been procrastinators when it comes to the big deals. Microsoft, Google, IAC are others that might test the waters but I doubt any of them would pull the trigger. eBay might consider it as they look to introduce the next generation to eBay. I think eBay should be in Yahoo's ear right about now (they are oh-so friendly these days) If Yahoo were to do a deal for MySpace they could scrap the current Google deal and open the door to eBay for an ecommerce solution for MySpace users.
Will it happen? Who knows once these companies actually sit down to negotiate anything can happen but it does look like a strategic fit for Yahoo and their good buddy eBay.
Just my 5 Cents!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Apple Inc.'s iTunes online store was the third-largest overall music retailer in the U.S. in the first quarter, leapfrogging Amazon.com Inc. and Target Corp. in units sold, a market-research firm said. ITunes had a 9.8% market share , behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s 15.8% and Best Buy Co.'s 13.8%, according to NPD Group. Amazon.com had 6.7% and Target 6.6%, the firm said. NPD's survey doesn't include mobile-music sales, nor does it factor in revenue.So this comparison is based on unit sales not revenue. This is not an Apples to Apples comparison (pardon the pun) Of course iTunes would beat Amazon and Target. They are selling individual songs, each is classified as a unit. So if an iTunes customer spends $10 on iTunes songs he/she had purchased 10 units while Amazon and Target sell one CD for $10 of 10 songs and that is classified as one unit. Certainly iTunes is very successful but you can't compare Apples to Oranges. Compare them on revenue and see where they end up.
I just wanted to talk about something other than eBay.
Update: Please be aware that these charts are not managed and updated by the respective companies and therefore, most likely have some inaccuracies. So follow these links for your curiosity and entertainment value only.
Monday, June 25, 2007
While eBay was the largest AdWords advertiser they were still only 2% of Googles business and it is clear the pain was only momentary. Investors had bid down the price of Google stock to $505 per share on the 14th of June, 1 day after eBay pulled their ads and the stock closed today at 528.90 in after hours trading. It doesn't look like investors were worried about the little tiff between the two companies.
I certainly believe Google shouldn't have backed down by canceling the party. Once you open the door you have to walk through it. Even if they didn't lose $11.5 million that was still one very expensive non-party. Besides if you listen to eBay, they were going to pull all of their ads as a test anyway.
From what I am hearing Google used to provide eBay with 15% of its traffic so I'm guessing that's really why eBay didn't pull their ads off of the site permanently.
At the time, I felt not much would come from the lawsuit but I applauded BuySafe for vigorously defending their trademark. I learned while at eBay Live that the suit had recently been settled to the satisfaction of both parties. I spoke with BuySafe CEO, Jeff Grass, while at eBay Live and he told me he was satisfied with the outcome but could not comment further.
I am pleased to see that some kind of resolution was reached and that BuySafe was able to defend their trademark.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Ina Steiner recently launched the Auctionbytes Podcast as a neat little information tool for her subscribers. I've listened to several of the segments and believe they would be of interest to the readers of My Blog Utopia.
You can find the Auctionbytes Podcast home page here. Check it out when you get a chance.
While a number of things stood out for me I keyed into two paragraphs that spoke the loudest:
"A hugely successful business model, though, has a way of masking errors. And there have been a handful of tactical and strategic missteps during Whitman's tenure. In 2002 she pulled eBay out of Japan, the world's second largest economy and Internet user, when it became clear that Yahoo Japan—then controlled by Japan's Softbank—had gotten there first and grabbed an insurmountable lead. She figured that eBay naturally would be a hit in the offline world and so spent $235 million of eBay's stock in 1999 buying traditional auction house Butterfield & Butterfield in San Francisco. The synergies were elusive; eBay quietly sold Butterfield in 2002 for what it calls an "immaterial gain."
Her costliest mistake also offered the biggest lessons about how much the eBay community determines the company's success. In 2001, eBay unveiled a checkout procedure for completing transactions. The initiative, spearheaded by U.S. chief Jordan worked well, allowing buyers and sellers to settle bills quickly. But instead of hailing it, the eBay community went crazy. The problem: The checkout procedure seemed to favor payment via Billpoint, eBay's payment-processing service. Frequent sellers had grown attached to PayPal, then an independent company, and were steamed that eBay was subverting their choice. "About one-third of the sellers hated it," says Jordan. "They puked on it. For me it was a lesson in humility and an object lesson that this is a joint venture."
Remember, these words were written in 2003, yet similar mistakes keep being made. In 2005 eBay purchased Skype for $2.6 Billion (with earnouts that number could be $4.1 Billion) because the supposed synergies with its Marketplace business seemed like a no-brainer and to this point Skype is a bust in eBay's marketplace business and just last year eBay pulled out of China for much the same reasons they pulled out of Japan 4 years prior. Jeff Jordan's quote from 2003 is telling as well, he said "... For me it was a lesson in humility and an object lesson that this is a joint venture."
It appears eBay hasn't learned from the past, in 2001 it was the fight against PayPal, today it isn't the fight against Google Checkout, though there are parallels, no I think today's similar battle is with Stores/Shops where the outcry from sellers is epic. If the PayPal battle served as an object lesson that the relationship between users and management is a "joint-venture" something has been lost in translation.
Isn't the Internet wonderful? In the old days, that article would be stuck in some archive where a librarian would have to dig it out for you, while today it's still on the web for everyone to get a nostalgic treat. Please read the entire article as it is very interesting in light of the issues eBay faces today. Happy Reading
read the entire article here | digg story
I was visiting the eBay Stores Discussion Board today and came across an interesting thread titled, eBay Announces Store Board Closure~Blasts Criticisms, being the curious type I had to click through and see what was being said. After reading the OP (Original Post) I came to the realization that Stores Boardies have way too much time on their hands. They normally would be busy filling orders but with the slow sales on the marketplace they just have to find ways to keep themselves busy.
Here is the OP from oregonsbest!
TAF News Agency::6:51 A.M.
eBay Spokesperson Katie Couric today announced the closure of several of the company's chat and discussion forums due to "abuse, criticism, cynicism and an undermining of the spirit of the Core experience."
Newly-hired former news anchor Couric said that "Free speech does not apply in private industry. If management feels comments are detrimental to creating a fun and wholesome experience for the majority of users then it is fully with its rights to curtail negative forums. It is unfortunate that the behavior of a few isolated malcontents causes 99.999% of the other happy users to suffer."
Boards on the eBay ax list include:
Frilly Things Board,
Romance Novels Board,
NRA Discussion Forum,
Fence-Your-Stuff Forum, and
The Shipping As Profit Center Board
Why I Hate eBay Chat Room
At least they still have their sense of humor. Enjoy your weekend.
Of course this is mostly an inside joke, regarding board censorship, so I'm not sure it translates to the non-stores board audience, that's why I'm posting it on a Saturday when readership is normally low.
Friday, June 22, 2007
It is obvious to me that eBay believes they need a solid presence in China and based on the run-up in the stock today, investors must believe this as well. It certainly is logical that the #1 Auction company in the world needs to be very active in the world's largest marketplace but they've already attempted this once before. I'm not sure what they plan to do different this time that will win them that foothold they need to compete against TaoBao's Alibaba. I do admire them for trying, China is certainly worth fighting for.
Here is a more sophisticated look at the situation from The Motley Fool.
According to the report, eBay plans to reduce its exposure on Google and expand to other advertising vehicles: " Instead, eBay plans to rely to a greater degree of competing advertising systems from Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp.'s MSN, Time Warner Inc.'sAOL, and IAC/InterActiveCorp's Ask.com.
eBay said the ads should start reappearing on Google sometime today (6-22-07). The AP has a much more through article about this situation.
I guess you could give round #1 to eBay in this battle of Internet Titans but this drama is certainly not over. Word to the wise for anyone planning a party in Chicago at next years eBay Live! -- Don't
BTW - My Blog Utopia is growing. I've seen a huge increase in readership over the past month and I want to thank all of you for that. My RSS and email subscriber lists are growing, as are page views and unique visitors. If you haven't subscribed yet please check the right sidebar for our easy to use links. According to Technorati, My Blog Utopia is in the top 50K of blogs in the blogosphere out of several million so I consider that a great accomplishment.
I would like to encourage your comments also, even if you don't agree with my posts. I am often writing from a limited perspective and would love to hear different points of view.
Thanks for stopping by!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
One eBay seller, who lists roughly 5 times the sku's on eBay than he does on Amazon, told me this past week he has seen his daily Amazon sales surpass those from his main eBay id for the first time ever and it has done it several days. It appears, to me, that Amazon is directly benefiting from eBay's pull back in Google adWords.
Of course, one seller's numbers do not make a trend but it does identify a potential problem for eBay. While they may not see a material impact on their own GMV the adWord program may have served as a dampening effect on their competition. Remove that barrier and Amazon among other sites receives higher placement and therefore an increase in traffic, buyers see that Amazon has great selection and they buy there rather than eBay. Some eBay sellers have seen a reduction in sales since the Google pull out.
If I was eBay I certainly would check the numbers.
Update: I found this comment on the eBay Stores Board and it sums up my feelings very well and lends credence to the position I take in this post.
"eBay stores are not in competition with eBay auctions. They cater to a totally different kind of customer. They cater to buyers that want a product that is not in high demand, but they want it now. The management of eBay either fails to see this or does not want to admit it. And in doing so they are missing a huge opportunity."
I realize that in direct comparison, Stores/Shops are less profitable to the company than CORE but if you break Stores out and look at them like you would a StubHub or Shopping.com the revenue Stores/Shops generate is substantial and is still a growth business.
If eBay management can look at Stores/Shops as independent from CORE and consider it a stand alone business, I'm sure their perspective will change. Imagine growing the business to over 1 million Store/Shop owners worldwide and do the numbers. That is a business any company would want and there are obvious ways to achieve this without damaging CORE.
Stores were a focus of the company until putting them in search caused problems with CORE. It was evident that buyers did want the product that Store/Shop sellers were selling because many saw huge increases in sales while in SIS.
For many sellers, Stores/Shops are the window to a better life. A huge number of sellers are just looking to make some extra cash or a second income and eBay Stores/Shops were the ticket to their dreams. The fee increases are not the problem, the lack of exposure is. Sellers would not complain as much or as long if they received proper value for the fees they paid.
In my view eBay needs to spin off their Stores/Shops platform into an independent entity. They wanted to achieve this with Pro Stores but at least to my eyes that has failed. Converting Stores/Shops into an independent business that facilitates multi-channel selling would turn them into a Billion dollar business and separating them from CORE as a platform (Store/Shop sellers would still list in CORE) would keep the erosion from happening in CORE.
I realize that technically separating Stores/Shop from the marketplace platform would be a challenge and would take time but it is an option that needs serious consideration. As an independent business eBay Stores/Shops could reach their potential.
Just my 5 cents
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
As I walked the exhibit floor and spoke with old friends, newbie sellers, vendors and eBay employees the most frequently asked question I heard was: "What are you doing these days?" When I responded I'm a full-time blogger most gave me a quizical look and a follow-up question - "No really! What are you doing?" (and other variations of the same).
This post is really for those of you out there that read this blog and have the same question. In fact I have some very close friends who have suggested that I seek professional help and I occasionally hear from sellers who discount everything I say because I shut my business down. I honestly think what I'm doing can help, I'm certainly not doing it for the money.
At first this blogging thing was just a therapeutic way for me to exercise my eBay demons. I figured I would do it for a few months and get it out of my system and then move on but what happened surprised me. I found out I enjoyed it and it was helping some people. Because I write mostly about eBay I knew there would always be plenty of stuff to write about and I felt that all of the turmoil with stores over the past year needed to be discussed.
I'm still trying to figure this out; making a living off of blogging is not easy, it takes a lot of time and effort but I'm beginning to see some of the same dynamics that played a part in Glacier Bay's growth the difference this is the margins are fantastic even though the revenue is low. Besides what other job can you have where you sit around in your underwear all day "making stuff up" (that was for Matt Ledwith)
My readership continues to grow each month and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know it may be hard to see when I rant about the problems facing eBay today but I actually care deeply for eBay sellers, more than many of you will ever know. My experience selling on eBay was unlike anything I had ever experienced before and even though I chose to end it because I didn't see any light at the end of the tunnel, it still works for many sellers.
If eBay was more transparent with their plans I probably wouldn't have much to write about. My goal is to identify what I think will happen in the coming months so that sellers can be prepared. I may not always be correct but at least the topic will be discussed. eBay is still a fantastic venue for selling online but if you rely on any one venue as I did with Glacier Bay you are putting your business in jeopardy.
I would encourage all sellers to change the way they think. Stop thinking of yourself as an eBay seller, Amazon seller or Half.com seller and become independent of the marketplaces. Build your own place on the Internet and use each marketplace for what it is best for. Take control of your business rather than have the marketplace control it.
Thanks again for reading and please contact me directly if you have questions or concerns. My email is rksmytheatyahoodotcom (you should be able to figure that out)
Just my 5 Cents
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
"This quartet tapped the shoulders of two young men in front of me. They turned around, and on a black polo shirt I spied the Google logo. “Let’s go have a chat,” said one of the security men; he clearly was not asking. The Googlers smiled and complied, and they moved with their new handlers to the edge of the dance floor."
Update: Apparently the two eBay Live Gala attendees that got the boot weren't actually Google employees. It appears to be a PR stunt by a web vendor. Oh well it was an interesting story for a day or two.
read the story here | digg story
There have been rumors of a merger before but now both companies are at a crossroads in their respective businesses; Yahoo is losing ground to Google and IMO eBay needs a new corporate brand (I will explain this later) The two companies need each other -- even though eBay still believes they can go it alone. I believe that investors in both company's would get a huge boost of Windorphins if a merger were to take place (sorry for the use of the word windorphins but using it will rank me pretty high in search so I had to include it).
The Case For a Merger:
- The Timing is right: Both companies are struggling to get traction for their stock. While eBay continues to post fantastic quarterly numbers the stock is stuck in neutral and Yahoo's poor performance has kept its stock in the cellar.
- Meg Whitman, is on the move soon and this would be the perfect move for her to run the company she wants to build with eBay but can't. IMO, the eBay brand is getting in the way of her vision. BTW, I know I have been critical of eBay in the past but I do know that Meg Whitman is an excellent Chief Executive. This will also keep her out of government via a Mitt Romney Presidency.
- eBay and Google are having a major tiff and this would position eBay to stay off of Google for good causing a $100 million annual swing in ad spend from Google to Yahoo. That alone would improve Yahoo's position. Update: eBay is back on Google but has deuced its exposure benefiting Yahoo, MSN and others.
- The two companies share a similar corporate culture unlike a Microsoft/Yahoo combination.
- With Terry Semel stepping down it clears the way for Meg and her management team to run Yahoo, though I'm not sure which executives would survive the merger. Meg, would have been the logical choice to run the company anyway but with Semel out of the picture it becomes a no-brainer. I also believe this would be an excellent move for John Donahoe, President of eBay Marketplaces and eBay Chief Strategist (that's a title I gave him, it isn't official).
- eBay needs Yahoo (though I don't thing eBay managers believe that) I believe that eBay needs a new corporate identity (but what do I know, I'm a freakin' blogger). eBay is a fantastic brand for a Marketplace business but not for a corporation. eBay needs the Yahoo brand which is why I believe the combined companies should be called Yahoo not eeHoo or YaBay or some other iteration. This would allow the eBay brand to once again be an auction brand and allow for new marketplaces to be branded separately without having to dilute them with the eBay brand. eBay is part of popular culture but is the butt of as many jokes as it is positive mentions. I realize this idea is radical and the personalities involved would never go for it but doesn't it make since? Doesn't Yahoo's brand make a better corporate brand than eBay?
- The combined companies would have over $6 Billion in cash and very little debt so now is the time to strike while the balance sheets are hot.
- eBay would once again have access to Asia through a Yahoo merger which will add significant growth for their marketplace businesses.
- Yahoo Auctions are ending and a combination of the two companies would help the eBay brand reinvigorate Core by getting access to the yahoo traffic directly from a link on the homepage.
- Yahoo Small business could fold easily into the eBay Marketplace business with its number one webstore platform along with hosting and marketing services. The combined companies would be the place to go if you were a small business. eBay could spin off their trouble stores platform and replace ProStores with a much better solution in Yahoo Stores. A combined company would once again make eBay "King of eCommerce".
- eBay could benefit from the many Yahoo properties in expanding their marketplace reach.
- The Skype purchase would actually make sense if it was part of Yahoo.
- In a combined company PayPal would become the #1 payment solution on the Internet and Google's checkout would become a thing of the past. (Ok that was a slight stretch but PayPal would benefit greatly from the merger).
- This would be a great move for online sellers because eBay would now be a part of the whole rather than the whole thing and the marketplace the opportunities for sellers would be greater.
Just my 5 Cents!
Monday, June 18, 2007
There are rumors circulating in the blogosphere that Bill Cobb will be taking a 4 week sabbatical sometime this summer -- those rumors have not yet been substantiated. Also, Rob Chesnut has announced he will be taking a sabbatical this year as well. Generally there wouldn't be much news here as a Sabbaticals at eBay are really 4 week vacations which are earned after 5 years of service with the company but over the years many of those leaving on Sabbatical from eBay return only to give their final notice and move on to another job. I am not suggesting this is the case with Bill and Rob but you never know.
I guess the Bill Cobb sabbatical has been confirmed, at least second hand, as Chris Dawson of Tamebay.com spoke with Bill at eBay Live.
"Bill is about to take a break from eBay and spend some time with his family. He told me one of his favourite pastimes is golf so he’ll be out on the greens during his time off. It’s a nice little bonus to ensure the green fees don’t hurt his pocket, but currently we don’t know when he’ll be returning to eBay after his break."
I certainly hope Bill and Rob enjoy there time off.
Terry Semel, CEO of Yahoo has stepped down and is being replaced by co-founder, Jerry Yang. I don't know either man so I am basing this post on observation alone. I think it was definitely time for Semel to leave as Yahoo has been floundering of late and new blood will be good for the company but I think that Jerry Yang may be a short term solution. It is very rare that a company founder is able to turn things around. Steve Jobs did it, Bill Gates may actually have to step back into Microsoft one day and Michael Dell is trying to turn around the company he founded right now. I think, in most cases, turnarounds need someone who is outside of the company to make the hard decisions. Terry Semel was able to turn around Yahoo at one time and was praised for tripling Yahoo's stock price. Remember, Jerry Yang has been at Yahoo through both downturns. I hope I am wrong, I would like nothing better than to add Jerry Yang's name to the list of founders who saved their company.
I also found another interesting article on the origins of Windorphin.com written by the Motley Fool's Rick Munarriz entitled "eBay Stole My Windorphins"
Read Rob's post here | digg story
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Bill Cobb said "We Heard You" when announcing that a Stores Tab would be placed on the eBay header next to Motors and Express. At first I thought this was just a PR move, kind of throwing Store Sellers a bone to distract them while they pulled the rug out from under them but even as cynical as I can get, I think this move may be an actual realization that Store should be an integral part of eBay.com If this is the case I applaud eBay management. If not, I will continue to question eBay management.
Bill Cobb did admit that Store inventory drew attention and buyers away from Core so IMO the removal of Stores from Search was to keep Core from failing not because of the buyer experience. It will be a long time before sellers trust eBay management again.
I am cautiously optimistic that we have turned the corner on Stores and eBay will work very hard to make them a success -- did you see my fingers were crossed.
I guess you could say that eBay.com is eBay Classic and "The Playground" is the New eBay. I think this is the correct approach to launching Finding 2.0 though they could have just called it Finding 2.0 Beta and I would have been fine with that. They are spending too much time on making things "fun" rather than making things sell. So if you are interested in seeing how the new eBay Finding 2.0 works check out The Playground.
Other than The Playground there were no major announcements about Finding 2.0 at eBay Live but Bill Cobb did say they would be adding Visual Navigation (I think this used to be called browsing) and category specific changes in the coming months. So, I think I was correct when I posted that they were struggling to pull the trigger on Finding 2.0 site wide but wrong about a big announcement.
OT (Off Topic)
I think it is funny that eBay comes up with all this new terminology:
Search = Finding
Beta Testing = The Playground
and Browsing = Visual Navigation
They are trying way too hard to come up with catchy phrases and terms when the tried and true terms still work.
And don't get me started on the Windorphins thing. I'm still not even sure I can explain it. I'm sure Marketing is having fun with it but I don't see the point.
At eBay Live! eBay executives once again said "we heard you" but their track record is far from encouraging. I've attended 5 of the 6 eBay Lives and I've heard that phrase "we heard you" each and every time. eBay did address some of the major points of this statement but much work is still to be done.
eBay has a history of only changing when they are forced to, so PeSA needs to take a more proactive approach in dealing with eBay. What is so sad, IMO, is that if eBay would truly partner with their sellers they could avoid the trouble coming down the pike. Unions were never needed until employers took advantage of their employees, government regulation was never enacted until corporations refused to change on their own. I fear eBay is travelling down the same path as many compaines before it.
Now is the time to really reach out to their sellers and say "Let's Sit Down and Hash This Out". Sellers don't want to run the company but they do want to know for a fact that they are partners in the process.
read the PeSA Statement here digg story
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Google miscalculated how eBay would respond and I did too, honestly I never would have imagined that eBay would have pulled all of their ads and not put them back up. If eBay's traffic doesn't fall drastically this will be a major problem for Google as it will lessen the perceived need for paid ads through Google. Maybe this is why Google purportedly lowered eBay's natural search rankings in response. This battle will continue to play out until cooler heads prevail.
I think eBay over-reacted to a clever PR stunt by Google but I think Google also made a mistake by canceling the party -- maybe Google isn't ready to play with the big boys. They should have continued on with the party and not given into the eBay threat eBay would have still pulled the ads and they would have had a great opportunity to get more press for their stunt. Google blinked first.
eBay is fighting very hard to protect their position with PayPal but it is a losing game. If eBay doesn't do it voluntarily they will be forced to by the government. Google and eBay should come to the table now for the benefit of their users rather than wait until this ends up in the courts. Rajiv Duta, President of PayPal made a comment at the eBay Live Keynote that PayPal accounts currently hold over $2 Billion dollars ready to be spent. Honestly, with numbers like that how long do think it will be before the government gets involved I can hear the whispers of Antitrust coming from Washington right now and I'm sitting in an airport in Providence, Rhode Island right now. eBay for the sake of all involved needs to take care of this before the government decides to regulate it then we all lose.
Of course if Meg Whitman's buddy Mitt Romney is elected President that might help delay the action -- I'm just saying.
Here's a thought OT (off topic) With Meg reaching 10 years at the helm and eBay facing their most daunting issues ever, would Meg leave eBay late this year or early 2008 to join Mitt Romney's presidential campaign? If Mitt is the front runner, I think the possibility becomes remotely feasible. Just speculating here.
Just My 5 Cents
First off, an update on the Google/eBay brouhaha: As of this morning it appears that eBay still has not turned on their Google ads, which to me is a surprise since Google cancelled the party. IMO eBay over reacted to the party in the first place and this is evidence of that. In speaking to sellers here at Live! it is clear that the lack of Google ads is causing a drop in sales. One seller said that on the first day the ads were gone his sales dropped 80% and another seller I spoke with dropped 40%. Sellers can maybe handle a day or two of lower sales but they aren't sitting on $3 Billion in cash to ride out this childish response by eBay.
It appears now that Google has responded by dropping eBay's ranking in Natural Search in response to the pull out. Hopefully the two sides will get together because ultimately the sellers are going to pay the price for this feud.
It has been good for me to see a lot of friends and catch up, there certainly is a much more subdued feeling here this year as opposed to previous conferences.
I often come across as negative regarding eBay but I don't think of it that way. I am dissapointed that so many lives are being affected by decisions of eBay management and while Meg and Bill said over and over again in the keynote "we heard you" eBay as a company has different priorities than the community at large.
I attended the DVD round table and sat and listened to eBay media sellers discussing issues and was struck by the realization that these same questions have been asked for the last 5 years and still nothing has happened. Well meaning eBay employees hear from sellers, take that info back to San Jose and then it just seems to dissappear. "We here you" has very little meaning any longer. So many people are dependent on what happens with eBay, employees, investors, and sellers all have a vested interest in the future of eBay. "We here you" just doesn't cut it any more.
I'll be back on Monday with some detailed notes on the week so check back then.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Over the years the bad guys have stepped up their efforts to get your money, now with the PayPal Security Key you can stop them in their tracks. The Security Key is a simple but highly effective tool for fighting phishing and account takeovers.
Here's how it works:
The Security Key generates a six-digit code every 30 seconds, this is a code that only you know because the Key is in your posesstion. After you log in the code expries and no one else can use it. On the PayPal home page log-in like you always do entering your name and password, you will then be taken to a new screen where you will enter the current code that has been generated by the Security Key, click the Login button and you are all set. The security code you used to log-in will expire and the Security Key will generate a new number next time you want to log in.
Just attach the Security Key to your key chain or place it in your wallet or purse and you are set to go. You will need the key to log-in to your account in the future so make sure you have it available.
Your online accounts need to be protected from the bad guys. The PayPal Security Key adds an extra level of security to your online accounts. Also if any of your other online accounts are members of the VeriSign VIP network the Security Key will work for those accounts as well. In my opinion this is a tool every buyer and seller needs to protect their PayPal and eBay accounts.
Rajiv Duta, President of PayPal announced the official launch of the PayPal Security Key yesterday, after a successful Beta test with over 100,000 users. If you are still at eBay Live drop by the VeriSign booth to check it out first hand.
You wanted better security for your online accounts and now you have it.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
eBay lowered the Anchor store fee from $499.95 to $299.95 a $200 shot in the arm to existing Anchor stores but still not worth the upgrade from Featured.
Also, Featured Stores and Anchor Stores now have access to eBay Research for free. Basic Store owners still have to pay for it.
I'm hitting the sack and will continue covering Bill Cobb's announcements. Nothing earth shattering but certainly worth a discussion.
Meg introduced John Donahoe, President of eBay's Marketplace businesses. Now Rajiv Dutta, President of PayPal is now speaking. He's going to announce the Security Key.
Sorry, I keep resisting the opportunity to comment on Meg's presentation. She's talking about positive aspects of eBay Giving Works and the role eBay plays in Social Commerce all worthy pursuits.
Just some tidbits from the rumor bin. It looks like Scot Wingo got the scoop on a proposed Sabatical by Bill Cobb this year.
Since Google cancelled the party it appears eBay has blinked but until I can get the scoop I won't know for sure. Hopefully the two parties decided to work something out that would benefit each of them and more importantly sellers -- Google Checkout available on eBay and PayPal included in Google Checkout -- I can dream can't I?
Okay, Ina Steiner has some info. It may be that Google stopped the party because eBay pulled their Google AdWords ads. No doubt this story is not over.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Net Profit Margin for the past 12 months
- Google check's in at number 8 with a 29%.
- Microsoft is number 10 at 28%.
- eBay is at number 25 with a 20% net profit margin.
- Apple comes in at number 44 with 13% (I normally wouldn't include a mfg in this list but Apple is a retailer also)
- Yahoo is at number 49 with an 11% net profit margin.
- IAC/Interactive Corp is number 81 with a 3% net profit margin (Looks like an eBay sellers net profit margin on much less revenue)
- Amazon comes in at number 87 with a 2% profit margin -- Imagine where they would if they didn't have 3P (Third Party) sellers.
Just thought you might enjoy the info.
Monday, June 11, 2007
eBay announced today that they would be testing several new home page looks. According to the announcement "in the next few days, a very small percentage of members will start seeing one of several new versions we're testing. We expect our tests to run for the next couple of months, and hope to settle on a new design later this year."
Click on the image above to check it out. At first glance I really liked the new look then I noticed there were no links to eBay Stores. I cannot believe it was an over site. If they believed in Stores all they need to do is add a tan on the header and sellers would jump for joy. Based on this example it appears stores have no future on eBay but express sure gets nice placement.
And I so wanted to have a positive post about eBay. Well that just my 5 cents
"Join us for a celebration of freedom and your right to use Google Checkout. Hop on a classic Beantown trolley outside eBay Live! and follow the freedom trail to the Old South Meeting House, where revolutionaries launched the Boston Tea Party and where eBay sellers will have a party of their own."
If you are attending eBay Live and would like to go to the Google Checkout party you can RSVP here.
Here is Google's official blog post.
Update: Apparently the Google vs. eBay battle for checkout has ramped up a little bit with the announcement that Google would be holding a party for eBayer's in Boston this week (see above). Ina Steiner has an interesting post in Auctionbytes today. I'm sitting here in the airport in Phoenix trying to get to Boston (flight delay's may keep from attending the Meet & Greet but I'm still hopeful). I expect some more fireworks as the week progresses.
BTW, I need to give credit to chopsueysisters from the eBay Stores board for posting this first. Thanks CSS!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
“Did you know that on eBay Express an item of clothing is sold every 67 seconds, a piece of jewelry every 2.3 minutes, and a DVD every 4 minutes? The word is building that eBay Express is THE place for buyers who want that great eBay deal and who at times prefer fixed-price items. Furthermore, 9 out of 10 buyers have told us they love the shopping experience that eBay Express offers.”
While not an earth-shattering announcement it did provide a glimpse into the activity on the year old site.
Since my background is selling DVDs, I of course keyed into the number of DVDs sold; a DVD sells every 4 minutes on Express.
Let’s look at this metric further: If a DVD sells every 4 minutes then they sell 360 DVD’s every day on average. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, but after an aggressive television ad campaign at the launch of Express and a year of cross promotion with eBay.com to only be selling 360 DVD’s a day is dismal.
By way of Comparison:
By way of Comparison:
In February of 2004 my last great month of sales on eBay, I sold over 300 DVDs a day in my eBay store alone. When I add CORE sales my daily sales were 1,044 DVD’s sold through my GlacierBayDVD user ID – this was before we even started selling CD’s. eBay Express in June of 2007 is selling the same number of DVD’s as I sold from my eBay Store in February of 2004.
You can’t even blame a lack of inventory for the dreary sales because Express is filled with DVD listings from eBay Store’s, Fixed Price from CORE and Half.com listings. The current DVD sales from eBay Express are just like adding one top Power Seller to the DVD category on eBay.com.
No wonder they have not released any sales numbers yet. I had thought they would announce them at eBay Live but my guess now is probably not.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Certainly, I would not expect to hear anything from management so close to eBay live and I know they don't want to make any announcements prior to eBay Live, what would Meg and Bill have to share at the keynote. My job is to share information with my readers, the vast majority of whom are sellers, as soon as I have that information available. I try not to speculate but absent information directly from the source I have no choice.
I expect there to be an announcement regarding the testing of the eBay's "finding" experience at eBay Live this year. I am hearing through the grapevine that eBay is considering rolling out site wide changes to "finding" over a longer period of time maybe even a full year and allowing users to opt-in as they feel comfortable. While the actual outcome may be different then what I've laid out here, a one-year roll-out is certainly an option they are considering.
I don't think this will have any impact on the inclusion of Sponsored Links in Core searches. I believe those are here to stay.
eBay finds themselves between a rock and a hard place. They desperately need to update the buying experience for a new generation of buyers but they can't afford to alienate their core buyers and sellers. A roll-out with opt-in seems to me to be a reasonable approach. After all they don't want another Coke/New Coke problem on their hands. Perhaps there will always be an eBay Classic. - One caveat in regards to this announcement, since the test ends this week they may not have enough time to formulate an announcement for "Live" so this may happen post "Live".
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Follow this link to the video clip.
It will be fun to catch up with old friends and see if there are any fireworks being launched from the seller community. To this point, it looks like registrations are at around 8,000 so my guess with one week to go that we should expect to see about 8,500 attendees at this year's Live. That is down substantially from last years event in Vegas (15,000) which is to be expected but it is also down from the 2005 "Live" in San Jose (11,000).
I would love to meet up with other attendees, sellers and vendors while I am in Boston so please contact me by email rksmytheatyahoodotcom - hopefully you can decipher that email address, I'm trying to avoid getting a lot of spam, I would love to meet you. (My email can also be found on my About Me page)
I will be blogging from the convention and believe there will be plenty of news. I expect to hear numbers on eBay Express for the first time and I'm sure we will hear about many other initiatives. It will be interesting how management spins things this year. There is a great deal of seller unrest and the old Rah-Rah from eBay will fall on deaf ears this year.
Please contact me so we can meet up. I'm looking forward to seeing Boston.
Update: I've been hearing a lot of chatter coming from the financial message boards that investors are getting fed-up with eBay's stock as well. Look for some fireworks to come from the eBay Annual meeting being held next week during eBay Live.
Here is an example from Yahoo's Financial Message Boards:
"Stocks in general are rising because of a tight supply of stocks caused by share buy backs, private equity deals and plenty of easy money around. Ebay does not participate in the rising market because for years Ebay has watered down its stock through generous stock options and creating to many shares to begin with at inception. Now despite fantastic growth and earnings Ebay's stock price languishes.Two things can be done to correct this situation. First, Ebay can accelerate and expand its own share buy back program. Second, Ebay can stop watering down its stock by eliminating the use of stock options.You can help by VOTING AGAINST extending the stock option plan with your proxies. Employees should be compensated only in cash by the company and not by scamming the stockholders through stock options."
user name: uncletb
Certainly message boards are not an indicator of overall investor sentiment but they do bring up valid points that must be considered. If eBay Sellers are upset, eBay Investors are upset and soon eBay Buyers become upset with the new search -- I mean finding, eBay Live 2007 could become the perfect storm for eBay management.
Monday, June 04, 2007
I've know Lanny for several years and this honor couldn't happen to a better guy. I just wanted to congratulate him. Good going Lanny! Have fun in New York and say hi to Meg for me.
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