Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blogger Fatigue!

Actually, I'm energized when discussing what is happening in the world of ecommerce, but tired of talking about eBay. I've written about eBay "Seller Fatigue" in the past and I think, right now, I’m experiencing "Blogger Fatigue", at least when it comes to eBay. There is never a shortage of stories about eBay, especially over the last three years, but I'm finding it harder and harder to care.

Don't get me wrong, I care about the sellers who are in the eBay trenches each and every day, but would rather write about how they get out of those trenches, than encourage them to adapt to the bombardment.

So, as I sit here in my underwear trying to decide on what to write about today, I just don't have any desire to write about eBay (I know this post has a lot of eBay in it, but work with me ok). Even on a day when their new fees go into effect.

Maybe this is just a phase I'm going through, that is specific to eBay, because I still enjoy writing about selling online through Amazon or your own website. eBay is just a downer right now. This really ticks me off because it never should have come to this. eBay management has turned the greatest story on the web into "As the World Turns".

Amazon may not be perfect and could sure improve communication with the seller community, but they treat selling online like a business, not a circus. I don't wish for the "Old eBay" to come back. I want a vibrant new eBay, so that online merchants have options.

Of course, I will still write about eBay -- I'm just letting off some steam -- but maybe my focus will change. If selling online is just a hobby then even now eBay may be right for you, but if you sell online to make all or a substantial part of your income, you need to take a hard look at your business.

I know change is difficult and scary but it is so much easier to make changes when it’s on your own terms. If you wait until you are forced to change, it may be too late. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about in that regard.

Sorry for the rant, now back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Just my 5 cents! (Oh, that's right Store listing fees just went down to 3 cents, maybe I should change my tagline to: Just my 12%)


Cliff Aliperti said...

Hi Randy,

Thanks, as always, for your post. This is a tough reply for me, as I don't want to come off as an eBay cheerleader, as I think could be painted by most of my posts over here. (I do gripe when I feel like griping though!).

I think this post is a little rough on eBay though, especially when I (personally) feel eBay is finally taking correct steps towards the vibrant new eBay you refer to--I don't think anyone can say that the "old" eBay is alive and well, it's most certainly been buried.

Leading up to the changes it seemed like everybody wanted eBay to lower upfront fees and take their cut on the back end. Okay, even I expected listing fees to go a little lower, but the fee changes presented a version of what everyone wanted. The fact that they moved so fast to lower Media fees shows that they are now willing to make corrections when necessary.

Did anybody really expect free listings with a higher FVF? From what I read it seems a lot of people did, but with eBay's traffic I think that's unrealistic.

Many sellers wanted free gallery, they got it (sellers, that is, who cared about gallery). When I relisted my latest batch of store listings, which in my own case may sit for some time before selling, I was greeted with half-price rates this morning for the first time.

The feedback changes appear to be the most wildly unpopular of the changes. But from another perspective they can be seen as the most progressive of eBay's recent changes, and one that points to the future rather than the past. Perhaps they've swung the pendulum too far in favor of the buyer with this change, but by the same token maybe previously the seller held too much power. Basically they've taken the ability of the seller to hold feedback hostage and moved it to the buyer. Perhaps it works, perhaps they need to shift it back the other way a little. Time will tell.

eBay vs. Amazon as presented here intimates that Amazon's nearly non-existent face (behind the scenes, that is) is better than eBay's often negatively perceived one. Randy, when I had questions about selling on Amazon recently, where did I go? I couldn't get my answers from Amazon when I had tried them out, so I went to you. Perhaps part of eBay's circus-type atmosphere comes from its performers. What I mean by this is the slightest change from eBay, or even a minor glitch, causes a huge mass of people to get in an uproar. Meanwhile, my own test run with Amazon, left me so baffled, confused and helpless, that I abandoned them within a few days and spent the following month wondering if they were going to charge me or not because I couldn't even tell for sure if I had really de-activated my store!

Now, I love Amazon as a buyer, and I don't want to beat them up here, I'm just doing this by sake of comparison. And I do hope to sell on Amazon in the future, because it is obviously a great place to sell! Obviously my eBay experiences as a seller run much deeper, and perhaps I didn't give Amazon enough of a chance that first time--but the point is, that when I tried them I hit a dead-end and couldn't move forward.

You've mentioned this before, but I think where eBay suffers in general comparison is due to their overwhelming past popularity as "the greatest story on the web."

While you see "eBay as a downer right now," I find myself more excited by what they're doing, since I suppose they debuted eBay Stores. Past changes have sent me looking for alternatives, this is the first time they've made changes that have caused me to bring stock back to eBay! I think they're on the right track, and I really hope a lot of the people that they've pissed off continue to sell on the site and give the changes a chance.

Of course, I present any positive opinions here based on my own situation. I completely understand that the changes may give other sellers apt reason to leave. I'm just trying to present another perspective from someone who views many of these changes positively.

Thanks again,

Randy Smythe said...

Cliff, as always I appreciate your posts and your view is valid. I lasted all of 1 hour before I ended up writing another post on eBay.

I want to believe, that they have turned the corner, but it may take a year before I really see signs of that.

eBay has so many conflicting constituents and they can't seem to decide which one to concetrate on.

That's why I am for splitting up the site; eBay Classic for auctions, eBay Stores (with shopping cart) The new eBay for Fixed price.

I honestly can't see them fixing it by putting everything together.

Thanks for your comments.

Cliff Aliperti said...

Hi Randy,

Thanks for your speedy reply. Yup, I kind of laughed when I saw your new's impossible to stay away!

You're right, they'll never make us all happy. On a side note I'm glad to see Express, which I thought was a really bad idea, seems headed for the door. But that's an example of what you're talking about with the conflicting interests.

I grasp what you're saying about splitting the site, but I'm going to have to disagree. I think if they split it like that, then a couple of the styles may get killed off in the end. Of course, you could argue that that would be good as the best style of sale would then rule the roost, but as both a buyer and seller I can see very good reasons for all three types of sale. Honestly, I hope that stays status quo.

Of course if it doesn't, I'm sure I'll adapt.

Thanks again, Randy, you always get my mind working!

Sue Bailey said...

I think you should hire Cliff as a guest blogger and take a couple of weeks off ;-)

Cliff Aliperti said...

Hi Sue,

I'm terrible at the long posts, I know! I get going and I just can't shut up :)


Randy Smythe said...

Sue, thanks for the chuckle. I might do that one day if Cliff, Tony P and Annonymous were willing.

Sue Bailey said...

Cliff, I've been known to write novel-length rants in Randy's comments myself :-D

Anonymous said...

I am terminally bored with "trying to figure eBay out" and how to "hammer my square pegs into their round holes."

Go with legitimate alternatives to eBay without tossing in hopeless dead-ends like that auction site you touted. Powersellers Unite is full of info on those baloney sites.

Me senses you are in a bit of a "Dip" here yourself. Keep plugging away...

Randy Smythe said...


That post was written before I had my coffee. As you can see from my most recent posts I haven't stopped blogging about eBay.

As for alternatives to eBay (at least for auctions) there aren't many viable options. Lots of sites just none that get any real traffic.

Amazon is the best option for Fixed Price items if you have the right product. Other than that sellers should concentrate on their own websites.

At one point, several years ago, I had hope that Overstock would be a viable competitor, unfortunately that never became a reality.

I've learned to have my coffee before I post from now on.