Friday, February 08, 2008

Follow-Up: on My Apologies to Mastercard

I got a wonderful note from a reader yesterday, commenting on my Mastercard post, it caused me to reflect on my own experience. It took me back to when I began selling on eBay and I considered the experience "Priceless".

When you just get started out and you see a rosy future, the work just doesn't seem too much. The rush you get, the first time you sell one of your items, while sitting in front of the computer in your jammies, is "Priceless". Many small sellers on eBay are in that stage of their business adventure and to them the effort is all very much worth it.

For many of my readers eBay has changed their lives, allowing them to stay at home with the kids and give up the 9-5 "rat race", or maybe retire early and do something they've always dreamed of. Maybe the money is not the same as in their previous life, but the experiences and freedom are worth it.

These are the sellers who are holding onto their dreams; often called “cheerleaders”. They put up with the flaws and issues because eBay is their "first love". Unfortunately, for many sellers on eBay they have moved into the next stage of their business, where it is becoming more work than it is worth.

When I began selling online, there were few options. Amazon had their Z-Shops and eBay had auctions. I enjoyed those early days immensely but today there are even more options available to sellers and the devotion to any one marketplace is waning. Sellers are now calling themselves 3P Sellers or online sellers rather than eBay sellers, or Amazon sellers.

eBay is still "Priceless" to many, but its no longer the only girl at the dance.

Just my 5 cents! (Thanks P.G. for the trip down memory lane)


cliff said...

z-shops, now that made me giggle, I remember trying those out. I don't go way back with eBay, I started April 2000 I think, but I do recall opening up an eBay Store the day they came out.

I'll tell you what I always come back to when I think of how much I love selling on eBay and this also goes for selling online in general --

Back in the early 1990's I was a baseball card dealer. I had a pretty lousy job I left to do this full-time, I was pretty young and could get away with it.

Anyway, I did all of the Long Island card shows, big and small, and some of the bigger ones on the fringes of the Island too. At my peak I was doing 4 shows per week.

The run-of-the-mill shows charged about $50-$60 table fee (I'd usually get one table, sometimes two at the regular spots I tended to do well in), the bigger shows would charge up to $300-$400 for a 3-day weekend. So even if I did just 4 small shows per week, I'd be laying out $800 minimum per month in table fees.

Sales were good sometimes, sometimes very good, but sometimes you wouldn't cover table fee, especially if you picked the wrong show. When I stopped doing the shows around '93 there were more bad days than good ones. Your customers were more or less the same few hundred faces every workday. They were greeted with largely the same sellers and same stock every visit.

eBay and other online venues opened me up from the locals to national and then international sales. Table fees are gone replaced by other online fees, but in the end, they're almost always under that $800 per month for me and the sales are much, MUCH, stronger than they were in those card show days.

Plus it's pretty sweet not to have to pack up all of your stock, cart it from town to town, set it up, break it down, etc. etc.

So fees would have to become a lot more prohibitive for me to ever turn my back on this line. I hate little increases here and there just like everyone else, but my card-show past puts it in perspective for me and today still seems like a great bargain!

Dave said...

Your mention of freedom made me recall a converation I had with a business associate a couple of weeks ago. We all want more orders, and we all want to make more money and do better. But the ultimate reward for myself and my friend is the freedom to do what we want, and be the captain of our ship. Sure, the harsh winds will knock us off course once and awhile but we can modify our heading. It doesn't matter if it's a dingy or a yacht. To me, there is no price like freedom. I've been free since 89 and am totally ruined as an employee.

Best regards,


Randy Smythe said...

Dave, you are very accurate. Many people are willing to work harder and make less for "freedom"

What is interesting to me, is that I had that with eBay when i started. I grew real big, real fast but still had the freedom until I had to get a warehouse, and add employees, and pay a tech to build my systems. I was still free but it certainly wasn't the same as in the early days.

Now that I am again selling via Amazon and Amazon FBA. I have even more freedom then I did before, I have even fewer headaches as well.

Thanks for your comments.

MultiPlatinum said...

Randy do you really not see where this is going? Where do all roads lead? Where is ? And since you are dating Amazon anyway, you can drops-ship orders from Amazon to fill all gaps in your offering.

Randy Smythe said...


I'm not dating Amazon, we're just friends. :)

I like what I'm doing right now, no plans to recreate GBdvd. I blog about stuff and dabble on Amazon so I can keep up with everything. Amazon FBA intrigues me because I just ship them my product and download my money, not much of a hassle with that.