Tuesday, September 16, 2008

eBay Threw a Party and Nobody Showed!

Today is the first day of eBay's new 30-day Fixed Price Listing and I know it is still early but I don't see a huge increase in listings. Medved shows CORE listings at around 15.5 million, which is up slightly but not as much as you might expect.

Maybe sellers are rolling things out slowly and we will see a gradual rise in listings as the week progresses. 

Scot Wingo sees actual data from his clients and says; "Off to a slow start:
Given all the hoopla in the press and supposedly nashing of teeth around this new format, it's off to a slow start.  We have about 150 customers that have listed an FP30.  Here's one of the first ones if you want to see what it looks like 'live' on eBay.
Part of what's going on with the seller base is, for lack of a better word, eBay fatigue.  Sellers feel their businesses have changes so much (DSRs, BestMatch, etc..)  for so little/no/decline in sales that eBay is increasingly becoming a lower priority for them and thus they will tend to be reactive vs. proactive as they would have been as recently as 6 months ago.  To be honest, most of our larger sellers are spending their time getting their websites and other channels ready for the holidays and eBay just isn't a priority.  Of course this doesn't bode well for eBay, but it's the reality of what is going on in the grassroots of ecommerce.
So unless eBay puts a promo on the FP30, I don't see this mass switch to FP30 over the store format or anything until maybe Q1 after the holiday dust settles."

Just my 15

34 comments:

Hector Duhart said...

Randy, we noted a severe decrease in traffic since yesterday afternoon, may be caused by the problems on wall street. Not only on eBay, also traffic generated from google too.

Anonymous said...

The only thing keeping me from closing my account [seller since 1998] is the feedback I use as a confidence builder elsewhere...

Anonymous said...

A large number of users use the Turbo Lister tool, which doesn't support the FP30 format yet. We were told it could be a couple of days, but I saw on a discussion board that it would be fixed sometime this afternoon. Perhaps they did it on purpose so the marketplace wouldn't get flooded. Who knows?

Randy Smythe said...

Hector,

I think the listings will begin to grow as sellers see what their competitors are doing. I'm sure that there will soon be a flood of listings in the media category.

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous,

That may have something to do with it. If we are still at 15.5 million listings by the end of the week though, something else is up.

Anonymous said...

Randy,
I use 2 different 3rd party listing vendors. Both stated before the FP30 release that their software would automatically update to allow 30 day FP listings at the same time eBay APIs had it in place. So far, neither program has it available, and one of these vendors posted that they are working with eBay to get an ETA on the API change. I'm guessing other 3rd party vendors are having the same issue with the APIs which is holding back a lot of FP30 listings.

Gary said...

I use a third party listing service - InkFrog - and they have been supporting the FP30 format since shortly after midnight. I'll be slowly testing FP30 with a few listings beginning sometime today. I'm in no big rush though.

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous,

Yeah, I think there must be some technical issues. I've been hearing from a lot of sellers that will just be testing small numbers for now.

Gary,
When you are committed to a 30-day test, it pays to be cautious.

Anonymous said...

Randy,

I spent over 50 hours revising my items to meet eBay's new requirements (no Money Orders, Handling Time, Shipping Cost, Return Policy, No eMail addresses). Now when I try to send items from stores to FP30 with Selling Manager Pro I have to do a "fake revise" of each item because of item specifics changes (yeh, sure) before I can send it to FP30. There doesn't appear to be a bulk "send to FP30" function. Also, I don't see where you can set your FP30 listing to be Good Til Cancelled. Is that going to be another step to add to my workload?

Was eBay ready for this?

KenM

Anonymous said...

It looks like the flood in media has begun. Derby City has posted over 9,000 listings so far this morning and are still posting at approximately 3,000 listings/hour.

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous,

Yeah, media would be the first category to go crazy. It will be interesting to watch. I checked a couple of titles and Derby City is the only one listing them in CORE so, I'm not sure what advantage that bought them.

It is possible that the big guys will keep the majority of their product in stores.

ms.pat said...

Okay - my post got lost. Can anyone explain why its okay to flood the site with items now when a couple of years ago when they put stores in search - Whitman quickly had them taken out because she said the site was getting flooded with "junk". Why is it okay now? Just curious.

Randy Smythe said...

Ken,

"was eBay ready for this?" I think that is a good question. We shall see as the week moves on.

Randy Smythe said...

Pat,

eBay is okay with it now because they think Finding 2.0 can handle it better.

beth in ny said...

I've moved about 10 listings from store to fixed price this am, and have noticed that ebay has 'auto-checked' an extra .35 cent listing designer option on all my items. I had to go in manually to remove the option. I'm taking this as a sneaky way to try to eek out a few extra cents from the unsuspecting seller.

Anonymous said...

Randy,
Derby City is also Crisp Movies and between them they have over 25,000 FB in the past 30 days. I would say they are one of the big guys.

Miss Understanding said...

I woudln't be surprised to see Ebay discontinue stores. I've noticed an increase in pro-stores advertisments on the site that began today. They might be beginning the wind-down for stores with this 30day fp listing. After they get a majority of items out into FP, they'll make the announcement for the demise of stores, with special offers to current subscribers to move to pro-stores.

Hector Duhart said...

I agree with Miss Understanding's theory, the 35 cent fixed is just the new store inventory format, it will get some boost for the holidays and then it will go to the bottom of the search by the next year.

Randy Smythe said...

Miss Understanding,

You are correct. This was a move to get stores in search and if it doesn't get enough product into search then they will shutdown SIF format after the first of the year.

Anonymous said...

Randy,

Regarding a potential flood of media in core with FP30:

It's all going to end in tears.

The net result for sellers, once a flood of inventory in core truly begins, is just more of the same.

The "same", being, net profit of pennies on the dollar and large sellers in the same boat they've been in for years now; just churning cash, using ebay sales velocity as a cash machine.....no actual net profit to be had.

All the market variables are still unhealthy; just way too much competition for any "winners" to emerge and the lowest price guy will almost always get the sale (business branding be damned)!

Stephen

Randy Smythe said...

Stephen, not a very bright picture is it.

Branding will help to some degree if Stores are still viable.

I think there is a good chance that a lot of the media product won't make its way into CORE. SIF is still less expensive.

Anonymous said...

Randy,

Here is a quote from eBay Strategies: "In fact, our sales team heard from one poor Turbolister seller that TL won't even support FP30 for at best a week or two. Ouch, talk about a disadvantage."

I guess that answers my previous question: "Was eBay ready for this?"

Is name calling allowed on this blog? I've got some that are getting harder to hold in :)

KenM

Randy Smythe said...

Ken,

Fire away with that name-calling. It is particularly unforgivable that eBay's own listing tool (TurboLister) wasn't prepared in time.

ms.pat said...

So Ebay ran pell mell into this unprepared...what else is new? I would have been shocked if all was prepared and ready! Next will come the wave of glitches...and the endless complaints because they'll be ignored. So...what else is new? :-)

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be funny if everyone in media boycotted it.. Just straight up boycotted the whole idea, kept all of their stuff in stores, just as an F-U to ebay.

It's wishful thinking, I know, but still..

Anonymous said...

anon, outside of the favored categories of cameras and electronics, my guess is that the movement will be trickle rather than a flood. Why move all your store listings when the take rates are higher, and with the new BM you don't even know if your listings will EVER make it to page one, for any search, even for an instant? So people will move a few listings as an experiement. Then ebay will tinker with the system again to try to fine tune the results. Wait and see. They just don't get it. Scott Wingo gets it, but I bet he can't tell them: To be honest, most of our larger sellers are spending their time getting their websites and other channels ready for the holidays and eBay just isn't a priority. Of course this doesn't bode well for eBay, but it's the reality of what is going on in the grassroots of ecommerce.

Anonymous said...

This scheme is just
'store to core for 30 cents more'

30 days on core is just eBay's kind gesture of giving us more time to make them money. That's eBay... always looking out for eBay.

If anyone hasn't seen this video series, I recommend it.
http://www.youtube.com/user/eBayPirate

Anonymous said...

24 hours ago there were 205,706 matches for new DVDs, right now the same search produces 317,495 matches. Derby City accounts for 62,260 of this increase.

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous,

I think many media sellers are just going to take the wait and see approach. If CORE doesn't get swamped with listings then the store format will still work.

Though it looks like the SIF sort is no longer by lowest price.

If your sales don't take a hit then you should be okay.

Tony P. said...

First, I rescind my offer of a bet on sellers adopting an endless amount of Featured listings. I had no idea that the search results would have all FP listings pushed to the back of the bus.

I figured ebay would have a mixture of FP's, albeit a small amount, scattered in amongst auctions. Hey, I love it, for auctions, if I had any running right now. Nope, no way in hell I'm going to put anything on in this scenario!


One problem with the current BM functionality is a glitch it has had since about early summer. I posted about this glitch in several search board threads - each one had a 'pink' presence - but my posts were ignored.

The BM algorithm misfires and displays an identical listing on subsequent pages. I stumbled across this head-scratcher while researching BM results. It was quite interesting to see a "visited link" appear after going to the next page of search results, to say the least.

However, that was then (June) and this is now. Now, the bug is so bad that *identical listings* are showing up on the same page. Not just one listing, duplicated, but two or more.

Ebay user stoneware3 (that's not me) posted this screenshot:

http://imgs.inkfrog.com/pix/grif44/sept17BestMatch1.jpg

here... http://forums.ebay.com/db1/thread.jspa?threadID=510010067&tstart=0&mod=1221681093639


For any serious coder out there... ebay is again manipulating the cookie/history functionality of browsers. Sometimes, you might click the Back button and find yourself going Forward one or two pages. Sometimes, you just sit and spin (stay on same page).

These things may be related; it's too damned difficult to know. In another life(time), I wrote machine language code for mainframes. I can currently write html, javascript, php, smarty and various DB coding.

Looking at what ebay packs into a SRP or even a single listing page, I can follow what they attempt to do, but it's structure is very perplexing. It's as if a dozen departments designed various aspects of the page and then just crammed everything together.

If you're sitting at a "gamer's state-of-the-art computer", viewing with (at least) a 20" wide flatscreen, hooked to the server located in the next room and using Firefox that's set to block those sponsored ads...

... you should have very few problems! Good Luck.

Tom said...

We moved a lot of items from our store into the new FP listing format.

Which leads me to ask the question: Do people still buy on eBay?


I believe we have made several errors yesterday and today; at a cost of 35 cents each.

ms.pat said...

I wonder how much better off everyone would be....buyers, sellers and ebay - if ebay dropped the best match baloney and stopped manipulating search? I'm thinking it would improve the present situation a whole LOT! They're doing this so as not to get off their lazy butts and root out bad sellers the way they should have been doing ALL along!....and as usual, throwing the babies out with the bathwater.

Anonymous said...

Tech BeatBig eBay Seller Vanishes
Posted by: Rob Hof on February 06
Just a few months ago, Glacier Bay DVD was crowing about becoming one of eBay’s very top sellers, with the highest positive customer feedback rating of any merchant on the marketplace. Today, despite having amassed some 268,199 feedback ratings from customers over more than six years on eBay, it’s gone. Or as they say in eBay parlance, NARU’d—“No longer A Registered User”—which can mean everything from merchants simply quitting to eBay kicking them off for not paying bills or getting too many complaints. (Update: eBay says it can’t comment on why Glacier Bay is now NARU, but a spokesperson says it was eBay that took the action.)

What happened? eBay’s online forums are buzzing with mostly uninformed speculation, but maybe only owner Randy Smythe knows for sure. And he’s not talking. The phone number on his domain registration for glacierbaydvd.com, which is now a blank page, is out of service, and he hasn’t returned an email request for an interview. The auction news site Auctionbytes, which just reported the disappearance, apparently wasn’t successful in reaching Smythe either.

But gleanings from the eBay community indicate that the merchant had been struggling for some time to contend with a glut of new entrants into media products. …

Although sudden disappearances of large sellers from eBay appear fairly rare, they're not unknown as eBay grows and attracts more and more sellers. (Another top seller, electronics merchant BuyEssex, was NARU'd sometime last year.) Indeed, some observers believe that while the exit of large sellers can't be construed as a good thing, turnover generally is inevitable and even healthy for the marketplace: It may be an indication that new sellers, bringing more efficient techniques, are continuing to try eBay. "For every seller who goes out of business, there's 10 to fill the void," says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, whose selling services Smythe used. "Where there's demand, supply will find it."

Wingo wouldn't comment on Glacier Bay DVD specifically because of that relationship. But he said a number of large DVD sellers on eBay are now offering auctions that start at rock-bottom prices, then charging higher shipping to make up for the loss on those auctions. That, he says, has made it tough for merchants trying to sell the DVDs themselves at a reasonable profit. Smythe told me the same thing about seven months ago, vowing to move more of his business from eBay to his own Web site as a result.

Wingo believes that shipping problem may ease when eBay Express, a new method of selling on eBay that's more like traditional retail, debuts this spring with pricing that includes shipping automatically. But Wingo, and other eBay sellers, think the make-it-up-on-shipping practice has conditioned bidders to expect lower prices.

In any case, that's not the only problem Glacier Bay may have run into. Jay Senese of Jayandmarie, a CD and DVD merchant who is also one of eBay's largest, thinks that Glacier Bay contracted with media distributors such as Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and Super D to drop-ship DVDs and therefore didn't have complete control of inventory availability. Indeed, a review of Glacier Bay's eBay feedback page indicates an escalating number of negative ratings blamed on nondelivery of merchandise. Senese, who says his business is still doing well, says he stocks his own merchandise so he can guarantee he has a product in stock.

Does the disappearance of such a large seller portend troubles for eBay? Not by itself. Actually, the large sellers I've talked to recently seem a little more sanguine about eBay lately than they had been earlier last year, when fee hikes ticked off many of them. One recent fee hike was tempered by some fee drops in other areas. Sellers report communication lines seem to be more open these days. And some large sellers seem excited about eBay Express's potential.

Still, with a lot of balls in the air, such as the recent acquisition of Skype, eBay will have its hands full. With competition intensifying from the likes of Google, eBay can't afford to lose too many of its marquee merchants.

Full disclosure: The reason I noticed Glacier Bay DVD had disappeared is that I bought a CD from the company in early January. Despite a claim that it had shipped, I still have not received it. Nor have I received a response from the company asking what happened. Before realizing the merchant had stopped doing business on eBay, I also filed claims with both PayPal and buySAFE, mostly as an experiment to see what would happen. Those claims are pending.

Randy Smythe said...

Jeez Annonymous, do you think people don't know my story by now?

You are like a one trick pony. Is there anything else you would like to share with the class?