Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Death by a Thousand Cuts Redux!

I've written about this before; originally in Oct of 2006 and then again earlier this year. So this post will serve as a recap/update to those posts.

The hits keep coming! eBay is being attacked at every conceivable angle:
  • The main front in the battle is Amazon and General Bezos will do what it takes to increase his foothold. (I'll use the military metaphors, sparingly)
  • Buy.com, Overstock and NewEgg.com have opened their doors to 3P sellers; giving them additional exit/expansion options.
  • Other alternative marketplaces are growing; etsy.com, ecrater.com, iOffer.com, and eBid.net
  • New marketplaces are launching (dawdle.com, wigix.com, etc.) and though they may not be getting much traction individually, the cumulative effect is impacting eBay.
  • Former eBay Sellers are starting their own auction sites like Bidtopia.com from Bargainland, eMoviePoster, and Portero.com for luxury goods. (Here is an interesting article about Portero.com in light of the recent judgement against eBay, by LVMH)
  • Auction sites like Bidz.com take eBay's jewelry customers away and might open the doors to other ecommerce sites to create their own auctions to liquidate stock (imagine BestBuy developing an auction site for their own inventory).
  • Lawsuits keep piling up and eBay is actually losing them now. With every loss, more lawsuits are filed.

The list could go on and on. Nobody is attacking eBay's strength (Auctions and Community) but eBay is fighting all of these other battles and getting weaker from within.

Is eBay doomed? Nope, not yet, but they are certainly teetering on the edge. They need reinforcements, but management doesn't recognize this need -- Imagine 1.3 million sellers fighting with you rather than against you.

A personal note: I don't write these posts out of spite or to see eBay fail, but because I believe in the ideal of eBay and want that ideal to continue. I realize that changes need to be made to shore up the business and stop the bleeding, but also believe "the best defense is a good offense" and feel eBay mangers need to realize what eBay really is: the greatest personal empowerment story ever. I believe that is worth fighting for.

Just my 12%


Henrietta said...

But management still don't get it. From those in PR who surely know better, referring to sellers as 'noise' months ago to the legal department's Scott Shipman who posted a not-so-subtle shape up or ship out message yesterday, they just don't get it.

We DO NOT work for eBay. Any business that insults the paying customers as a matter of SOP is NOT encouraging them to remain in the community.

Tony P. said...

This is too damm funny! From the lawsuit issue:

"If counterfeits appear on our sites we take them down swiftly," the online auctioneer said, "but today's ruling is not about our fight against counterfeit; today's ruling is about an attempt by LVMH to protect uncompetitive commercial practices at the expense of consumer choice and the livelihood of law-abiding sellers that eBay empowers everyday."

Now, take this part:

"... an attempt by LVMH to protect uncompetitive commercial practices at the expense of consumer choice and the livelihood of law-abiding sellers... "

Substitute the word 'ebay', for the word 'LVMH' and you have a good summary about ebay's Paypal-only tactic in AU.

I need a laughing hysterically smilie!

ms.pat said...

This would all be very funny if it weren't so sad. Sad to think that thousands of good sellers - many of whom depended so heavily on Ebay for their income or supplements to their income. Now, its Ebay who is on the mat and sadly - they have very few people on their side. Instead, the karma is against them and people actually want them to suffer as badly as they've made the sellers suffer. I, myself, have no pity for them. They've managed to destroy the business I had on Ebay and so its natural for me to wish them the same. Sorry, but I'm sitting here smirking at their newest trouble - the 60 plus million is not near enough - they need to pay for every single time they said "we're only a venue" while raking in fees and FVF's from fraudulent items that were reported over and over to them!

As for their "shape up or ship out" edict, every time they say it they shake more apples out of the tree - soon there will be no apples left! ;-)


Anonymous said...

The sad part is the ebay "community" did do the work and report the items to ebay despite the fact that it is clearly ebay's responsiblity to police their own website. The ebay T & S board was very active back in the day. I would guess nearly everyone reading this blog has reported an item and ebay refused to pull it.

This situation is only because of ebay's cheapness, greed and hubris.

Andy Geldman said...

I think the gulf between sellers and eBay executives is down to one thing: their strategy is to improve eBay for buyers, not sellers.

To be fair (and maybe controversial in this arena!) I think that's the right strategy. After all, the money flowing into to eBay mostly comes from buyers (via sellers but from buyers nonetheless). So the first aim should be to keep buyers happy, and to achieve that they have to find ways to influence seller behaviour, hence the upheaval around feedback, search, payments and so on.

I haven't seen stats but the alternative marketplaces don't make one jot of difference if the buyers aren't going there. Number of listings and sellers are irrelevant.

Randy Smythe said...

Andy, its the cumulative effect off all of these additional marketplaces. Each may reach a different buyer set and siphon buyers from eBay.

I agree the buyer experience is key but eBay's execution is terrible.

eBay, is eBay for a reason. You cannot transform eBay into something else (more retail like) without getting new buyers.

All eBay is doing is changing the buyer experience and trying to re-ignite activity among existing users or users who have left.

The cumulative effect of all these changes also has a dampening effect. One change may improve something for a subset of buyers but piss off the same number of buyers in another subset.

Execution is the problem.

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