Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On eBay: The Little Guy Can't Take it Anymore!

Norma Rae: Forget it! I'm stayin' right where I am. It's gonna take you and the police department and the fire department and the National Guard to get me outta here! 
It appears that some eBay sellers have finally had it; the changes, the fees, the declining sales, the back-room deals with Buy.com and other Internet 500 retailers. For many small sellers there are no viable alternatives to eBay. 

No, they aren't screaming for a union, like Norma Rae, but they want a return to the eBay they helped build and they want Buy.com and the big retailers off their site.

In the past, sellers have voiced their outrage at eBay management, trying to get the press to see their plight. They've tried boycotts, protests, talked of class action lawsuits and more, but nothing really came of it. Now it appears their tactics are changing, or more accurately their "focus" is changing.

Let me lay the groundwork:

Earlier this year, eBay negotiated a special deal with Internet 500 retailer Buy.com. Though details of their arrangement have never been made public, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Buy.com isn't paying listing fees. This deal was exactly what eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar was concerned about when he coined the phrase "level playing field" and that idea was reinforced during a video interview he had earlier this year.



This clip is 2:57, but pay close attention to what Omidyar says beginning around the 2:30 mark. I've quoted him below.
"... have people, by virtue of ...of ... their stature outside of the eBay community, some how, be treated better. You know like special deals, behind the scenes, because they're a big retailer and we want to get them to come onto eBay, that kind of stuff, that would have been ... that's a disaster. That's what I meant by level playing field.

So you can imagine the uproar this caused in the eBay community, and I'm sure that Buy.com was surprised by it as well. After all, they were just doing what any large business would do; negotiate the best deal possible. 

The unrest grew as rumors surfaced that more Internet 500 retailers would be coming onto the site in the fall. 

Enough is enough apparently, because sellers are now organizing against a new adversary. They are no longer protesting about eBay's behavior, instead they are concentrating their attention squarely on Buy.com and the other Internet 500 retailers who are waiting in the wings. 

I received a letter today, sent to me anonymously, directed at Buy.com, with assurances that similar letters would be sent to other Internet 500 retailers who might be considering taking eBay's offer. I normally would have dismissed this, but there is a groundswell building here that has some legs.

I've decided to reprint the entire letter in this post, and I've also posted it on the web using Google Docs. This letter was directed to Buy.com, but the sender stated they would send similar letters to other Internet 500 retailers.

Topic: Why we’re not buying at buy.com

Nobody likes a bully. They push and shove to get their way and don’t care about others. Pretty selfish behavior.

Usually they get away with it too. If they are bigger and stronger, who is to stop them?

Well we can’t speak for patrolling the school corridors, but when it comes to companies like buy.com bulling their way onto the eBay marketplace we believe it’s time to take stand. Together.

Everyone knows that eBay is the best place in the world to find a huge variety of merchandise. It is the self-titled “World’s Greatest Marketplace”. The diversity of eBay’s products is matched only by the diversity of people who buy and sell on the site. In fact, it is these people, millions of them around the country, who actually create the eBay marketplace. Without them, there would be no buying and selling on eBay.

Approximately 1.3 million people make a living selling on eBay. Most are hard working Americans like you and me who are trying to make ends meet in a very tough economy. Some are stay-at-home moms and individuals with disabilities who count on non-traditional jobs, like selling on eBay, to pay their bills.
We applaud all of their efforts, courage and hard work and want to support them.

So who is bullying our hard working neighbors on eBay? They are what eBay calls “Diamond Sellers” and they get special treatment and fee discounts on eBay that gives them an unfair advantage over the smaller sellers who are the heart of eBay.
These Diamond Sellers use their size to push other sellers aside by listing thousands of items and monopolizing the categories they list in so eventually they get most of the customers on eBay too. Not exactly the “level playing field” ideology that was a founding principle of eBay. So Diamond Seller growth is coming at the expense of small businesses who conduct hard, honest work every day…Not cool.

What type of company you ask, would do such a mean thing? I mean what type of a CEO wants to answer this question:
“Do you think it is ethical for your business to enrich its executives and shareholders at the expense of working mothers, disabled persons and small businesses around the country?” Uh, next question PLEASE.

So we would like to ask senior management at buy.com what they were thinking when (based on what we can see on eBay) they decided it would be okay to dump hundreds of thousands of items onto the eBay marketplace in return a sweetheart Diamond seller deal on listing fees?* 

* All sellers must pay a fee to list an item on eBay in order to avoid crowding the marketplace with stuff. eBay has historically spoken of how important this listing fee is to ensuring the diversity and quality of products on the marketplace but does not disclose the specific terms given to Diamond sellers. 

Do you think buy.com considered the 1.3 million hard working Americans around the country that rely on eBay to make a living? Did buy.com think that a stay at home mother raising children and using her eBay business to help pay the bills would get a job as an accountant instead? Do they think that an eBay that resembles the local mall and only sells homogenized goods from big name retailers is what this country needs more of? 

We hope not. We’re guessing they didn’t think about these things at all and maybe it’s not their fault. The eBay team and the buy.com team probably had some meetings. Maybe even a nice steak dinner and they looked at the numbers together and smiled and said, “Hey, we can definitely afford desert now!”

Fortunately it’s not too late for buy.com. They can do the honorable thing and excuse themselves from their eBay “test”. They probably didn’t know how many businesses they would wipe out with this deal. Hopefully they have a better understanding now.

After all, if we wanted to buy from them we could simply go to the buy.com website. Isn’t that the reason they added us to the buy.com mailing list (we don’t recall opting-in to that, hmmm) after we made a test purchase on eBay?!

But until buy.com removes their items from the eBay marketplace we won’t be buying from them. We won’t be buying from them on eBay and we won’t be buying from their website either. We won’t be buying from them now or when we start shopping for holiday presents this year. In fact, we’re not sure why anyone would want to support buy.com at a time when they are putting our friends and neighbors out of business. 

After all, nobody likes a bully.
And as for any other large retailers (you know the ones with the huge customer service departments that make you wait on hold for an hour when you call – if you can even find the phone number) who are considering selling their mass-market products on eBay, we strongly encourage them to reconsider.

So, are we calling for a buy.com boycott you ask? No, not yet.

Now for my 15% on all of this: 

I don't believe that Buy.com and these other retailers are bullies, but they do have bargaining power that allows them to negotiate deals that are not available to regular sellers. In fact, the Diamond Seller level hasn't been bestowed on any existing eBay sellers, as far as I know, even though several have met the requirements. One such company was recently told, "don't call us, we will call you" when they tried to open up Diamond talks.

Now, I don't know what impact this letter will have on Buy.com, but I do believe that other Internet 500 retailers, who receive similar letters, will think long and hard before they sign their Diamond deals. 

Honestly, do you think ZapposBest Buy or J&R Electronics would be willing to put their brand on the line in this kind of environment?  I guess, it might be worth it, if sales were astronomical, but even Buy.com's sales have declined since the launch of FP-30, which can't make them too happy. 

Why would any large retailer take the risk of bad PR and mediocre sales, just because eBay threw a great deal at them. Not to mention the extra work dealing with the high maintenance eBay customer. Just the fact that eBay has to bend-over for these retailers and give them sweet-heart deals, is evidence they don't have any real leverage. I asked for a deal every year I sold on eBay and they always told me, "we don't negotiate on price".

Will this protest fail, like so many have failed before? I'm not sure, because these big online retailers have something to lose here. They've worked long and hard to establish their brands, and they would have to be very confident of the rewards in order to risk those brands. 

Where does this leave eBay? Are their 4th quarter earnings estimates, dependent on these Diamond sellers? What happens to eBay, if this little letter campaign is successful? What happens if Buy.com leaves the site, because it just isn't worth it? Where does that leave the "new eBay"? After-all the "new eBay" is being built for these Internet 500 retailers.

Well, we are soon to find out!

Here is Henrietta's take over at the RedInkDiary.

Just my 15%

37 comments:

ms.pat said...

Wow! This is kind of like when Foxtel ads showed up on aussie listings and they contacted Foxtel in good numbers. I'm liking this idea a LOT! I know the quickest way to get attention is to go right to the source. If people don't like a certain TV show - they write to the sponsors - great idea! I believe ebayers would get action if they all wrote to buy.com. Buy.com and their like have and will continue to put the little guy out of business and its all in Donahoe's plan. I also think the reason why buy.com's sell thru rate is so low is because buyers have been individually boycotting them all along! I wouldn't buy from them and it seems others wouldn't either. I just hope whoever wrote that letter has some real teeth - a good following of Ebayers because I would love to see Ebay's arrogant management taken down. Its really not to Ebay's best interest to have so many people openly hating them. Of course, they're too full of themselves and arrogant to care - which is why management needs to be changed. Interesting, Randy, thanks for posting it.

Anonymous said...

Nice aticle Randy, it made interesting reading. Were do I sign up?

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Well written, truthful letter. I'll do my best to spread the idea.

Randy you are a true champion of the small seller trying to survive in an increasingly hostile, cold-hearted corp. called Ebay. Thanks for having the gut to print that letter.

Cliff said...

Randy,

The tactic is smart and makes total sense based upon what ms.pat mentioned regarding Foxtel/Australia.

That said, is it also being sent anonymously to Buy.com? And if so, will it then carry any weight at all or just be relegated to the crank pile?

I'm not trying to belittle this effort at all, just saying I hope the sender signs it, as I think that would make it a lot more "real" for Buy.com.

Thanks,Cliff

Anonymous said...

Why bother with this? Ebay has become a liquidation channel. Ebay buyers will not pay close to MSRP. Those ebay execs are having fantasies if they think these big corps will partner with ebay for anything else. EBAY=FLEA MARKET to everyone these days except those pinheads in that ivory tower in SJ.

Jim S. said...

Do you think Wal-Mart or Home Depot really cares about the "other guys" when they move into a new area? Some "other guys" adapt and prosper and others do not. Nothing in our lease (eBay agreement) prohibits what's going on.

I'm not condoning, only making an observation.

Randy Smythe said...

Jim,

I don't think they will care all that much but add that PR to the lower than expected sales and the higher than expected costs (Customer Service, Software to manage listings) to manage sales on eBay, a letter writing campaign may keep them on the sidelines.

Randy Smythe said...

Cliff,

I think this is just the first letter to Buy.com. As Pat suggested, there will be many such letters to Buy and then to each company identified as a Diamond outsider.

Anonymous said...

I've got no respect for Pierre Omidyar. He's been on the Board of Directors since eBay's inception (naturally, since he first started the site), and yet he has the incredible nerve to sit there and talk about level playing fields with a straight face? Is he living in an ivory tower or something? Or is he just in denial about what's actually going on with eBay? Is it ignorance or apathy? Doesn't know, doesn't care?

I doubt very much that Pierre Omidyar reads this blog (it's probably hard to see this blog from whatever universe Pierre is living in that makes him think eBay is still a reasonable place to do business), but if he does I'd just like to suggest that he either wake up or shut up.

Anonymous said...

This letter is in preparation for a call to action.

Sellers should spread links to this article. Include links in all your buyer emails so buyers understand.

Link to this article from your About Me page.

Anonymous is synonymous with 'everyone'.

Anonymous is taking back our country with our vote this Nov.

Anonymous wants their marketplace back now.

Anonymous is everyone.

Buy.com should withdraw honorably now that they understand the negative impact they are having on hard working people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_(group)
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/%22Anonymous%22_releases_statements_outlining_%22War_on_Scientology%22

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: http://www.whyweprotest.net/en/

Ask Anonymous for help
here: anonymous@whyweprotest.net

Dave White said...

Randy

Interesting concept behind this post. Buyers warning Big Box sellers that selling on eBay could be detrimental to their business.

IF this was a concerted effort such as that taken by the users in Australia, it might be effective. However, as long as Big Boxers such as Buy.com and the suggested others continue to be the overwhelming advantaged sellers they are, they will continue to sell wherever there are buyers to be had.

Will buyers also expect GM to stop putting their vehicles in eBayMotors?

eBay has become like others have said a liquidation portal and not the venue for unique individual items that it was built on.

Randy Smythe said...

Dave,

I don't know if this will work or not, but I felt it newsworthy. The idea of small guy vs big guy is as old as the hills.

The only way this works is if there is a concerted effort.

Like I said, many companies would take their chances if their were boundless riches to be had on eBay. Unfortunately that isn't the case.

NYM Arts said...

GOOD LORD, THE POVERTY Ebay has brought Against it's Own Devout Sellers.
Labor Camps were MADE for the Likes of John Donahoe and All who would Emulate him.
They should be Worked HARD until their Natural Deaths.
nymartsDOTcom

Drake said...

It isn't just the little guy who can't take it anymore on eBay. There used to be a lot of the top electronic retailers and manufacturers on the site. Now some of them have closed up shop. All of them are competing on the same level as the rest of the eBay sellers. Below is the list I created 3 years ago, all with eBay stores.

CompuUsa (closed)
Dell (closed)
HP (not selling for 12+ months)
Sears
Olympus
Harmon Kardon / JBL
Best Buy
Kodak
Circuit City (closed)
Creative Labs

Randy Smythe said...

Drake,

Actually it's every size seller who has to pay full rate-card.

When you pay the standard rate, nobody can make it work and that's because the value is not there any longer. Therefore the discounts to off eBay retailers.

Anonymous said...

GolinHarris.com is Buy.com's PR agency, listed at the bottom of their latest press release here: http://www.buy.com/corp/toc_feature.asp?loc=65934

Perhaps a flood of inquiries to GolinHarris would provoke a response from Buy.com.

Why is Buy.com targeting eBay sellers? Everything they offer was already for sale on the site.

Tony P. said...

I'm still for the mob, pitchforks and torches method.

It's a lot quicker.

nadine said...

In fact, the Diamond Seller level hasn't been bestowed on any existing eBay sellers, as far as I know, even though several have met the requirements. One such company was recently told, "don't call us, we will call you" when they tried to open up Diamond talks.

That's a concise description of a "customer disloyalty" program. Obviously all these large current sellers have to get off eBay altogether for six months, then restart negotiations.

Where does this leave eBay? Are their 4th quarter earnings estimates, dependent on these Diamond sellers?

My inquiring mind wants to know: how much is eBay demanding from the Diamond sellers as an up-front signup fee? This is eBay, you know there is immediate revenue involved somewhere. Were they counting on those fees for their Q4 revenue growth?

Meantime of course, the non-Diamond powersellers have to leave because the value just isn't on eBay anymore. Wouldn't it be a delicious irony if only the Antiques & Collectibles market was left functioning, albeit at a lower rate?

I never expected eBay to be charitable towards its sellers. It is a big business, after all. But I did expect them to know what business they were in and who their paying customers were. Sad that they can't manage this much elementary common sense. This is what you get with a management full of MBA's I suppose - people who have all been taught that their new knowledge trumps sense & experience.

Come to think of it, that's a good diagnosis for what ails Wall Street too.

David said...

Traditionally when I sold on eBay the busy season started in November and stayed strong until April with December being the strongest month.

There was always a 30% drop in business from May to to early August with things really starting to pick up in Octoboer

I am going to make a prediction.

With finding 2.0, and best match, I think that the vast majority of sellers are going to see this Christmas being *WORSE* than the slow season of May through August.

Anonymous said...

Only token purchases, made in order to enable a NEGSTORM, will run Buy and others off of ebay.

And if that practice becomes too prevalent, ebay will just rig THOSE numbers, too!

NEG victoriously!

Henrietta said...

I am hoping that the 'neg victoriously' comment is sarcasm because if not, it only reinforces the wing-nut and fruit-loop image that boycotters have amongst rational and thinking people.

I am a boycotter and I do not like being labeled an idiot. I choose to spend my money elsewhere and my new hobby is blogging the decline of eBay. Any bad PR for eBay's current management is good PR for boycotters as LONG AS IT IS FACT BASED.

eBay is on the wrong path. Left alone businesses like Buy.com will rethink their presence on the site.

They are businesses. Don't tell me they are enjoying the amount of effort it takes to placate the current buyer mentality that eBay has so carefully nurtured.

Special deal or not Buy.com is incurring costs to sell on eBay. Somebody gets paid to put up all those listings and a whole bunch of other somebodies get paid to wet nurse the buyers through the never ending process.

Add to that the negativity they earn from all the smaller sellers being pushed out of the category and all those sellers friends and relatives. I think the cost will prove too high.

If you want to send Buy.com a letter that could be a good thing but be polite and have the courage to sign your name to it. Anonymous letters get ground filed.

Anonymous said...

Buy also incurs about 500 combined negative and neutral feedback a month. How is that good for them or Ebay? You can make the argument that statistically that's not so bad, but my point is: it's just sitting there for all to see. At least, on their own site, no one rates them publicly.

ms.pat said...

If I were organizing a letter writing campaign to Buy.com I would simply get one of those petition sites - put the above letter on it and let the sellers sign it! Simple as that - then send the LINK to Buy.com. The sellers will do the rest ;-)

As I said before I believe sellers are boycotting Buy.com individually which is why their sell-thru rate is so low. This would be a grand way of organizing them and letting Buy.com see really are a force to contend with.

Randy Smythe said...

Hey All,

Let me echo what Henrietta said, "neg victoriously" is not the way to go.

Letters and cards need to be calm and reasoned.

Buy.com is not the devil here, they are the symbol of the problem. eBay is the problem and unfortunately is putting Buy.com in this position.

Anonymous said...

I am the referred to Non-Diamond Diamond Powerseller. Our company easily qualifies for all the stated requirements to be diamond level. (4.8 DSR's, $500,000+ monthly GMV for 90 days, etc...) They actually told me the Diamond P.S. program was by "invitation only, dont call us, we'll call you". I was not surprised, in fact I long suspected taht this would be the reality.

What is also so upsetting beyond the obvious things, is the sellers that are working so hard to become Diamond eligible dont know it is all in vane. Ebay of course, wont ever communicate this to it's sellers.

The letter campaign, petition campaign, and any other collective effort, could easily make a difference. Tell me where to sign up.

Anonymous said...

I buy about once a month from buy.com. But after this story, I'll just shop from Amazon. I just signed up for prime. I feel for the small shop owner with all that's going on.

Anonymous said...

Ebay will never offer Diamond discounts to any ebay seller that has already been paying the full rate card for years.

They aren't impressed by 3rd party sellers like us who rely on Ebay or Amazon for the lion's share of our revenue. They will only do Diamond deals with very large revenue businesses who don't RELY on any 3P selling. Thus, Buy.com.

We are the proles to ebay management, our gross sales mean nothing to them because they see us as easily replaceable.

Ebay was built by thousands of dedicated and loyal small sellers.
We loved selling and buying there and we were happy to give ebay their cut for providing good value in return. We understood that it was capitalism and we were allowed to participate.

Yet, ebay, today, has no reverse loyalty to us. Their only loyalty is to keeping themselves rich, rich, rich. By any other means than their longtime sellers (ad revenue, etc).

Look, I'm no fool. Pierre founded ebay with the intent of making a fortune for himself. He didn't do it to enrich the lives of ebay sellers, only his own. He is an entrepreneur, as we all are.

I just wish ebay would realize that there are thousands and thousands of sellers out there who would love to GIVE EBAY THEIR MONEY AGAIN if we could just get their attention. We have money to spend and we would love to sell on ebay again.

Ebay, stop gouging us on the fees, endlessly, and we will gladly return to selling. Cut the fuzzy "ebay math", stop calling fee increases, "decreases".

Let's build Rome again-ebay can be king of the hill again if you embrace your sellers again, not shove us away.

Sigh. I think my post may be in vain. Ebay sees it's future in corporate ad revenue. That's where all the growth showed up today in the earnings call.

Fellow sellers, stand up and yell to ebay, WE HAVE MONEY TO SPEND AND WE WANT TO SPEND IT ON EBAY.

Just provide some value again to sellers, and the stock price will rise!

Bob

bizbabe said...

Ya know, I don't like how my business has declined at eBay, but this letter just makes us small sellers look bad and makes eBay look like even more of a crappy flea market. Stamping your feet and calling a company a "big meanie" is unprofessional and unhelpful.

Sure, it stinks that they're big and have a pricing advantage, but suggesting that they should leave eBay for some kind of "greater good" is silly. They're in business to make money. Period. They don't care if your disabled grandma can't make her living on eBay anymore. It's cold to say that, but that's how the world of business works. No business would ever get anywhere by giving up the market to their competition, whatever kind of hard-luck story they may have.

Basically, if you can't make your business work on eBay, find another product or go elsewhere (or better yet, build your own web presence). Don't whine and cry about how it's not fair. You aren't entitled to have a successful business just because you want to; you have to work at it. Sure, that's harder to do in the new eBay environment, but in business, you either adapt or you fold up your tent and go home.

I sympathize with the frustration. Heck, I share it. But I'm changing my business accordingly instead of crying over a broken business model. Them's my $0.02 on the matter :-)

Randy Smythe said...

Bizbabe,

It is pretty much a strategy being used to try and exert some control. Smaller sellers don't have any other options so they are trying this. Who knows how much of an impact it might have.

Buy.com may add this issue to the other issues with selling on eBay and decide it just isn't worth it.

And if they do leave then other sellers Diamond sellers may stay away.

Based on the earning forecast for Q4 there is very little demand expected on the site now

nightman1 said...

I like the letter very much. To be effective the boycott it threatens must be done in a concerted fashion, which means some energetic person must take up the job of publicizing it.

As for the notion that humane concerns do not motivate people who run businesses, that is true as a matter of economics. It is not necessarily true as a matter of public relations. For lots of people to join this boycott there has to begin to be a change in the American business culture, which must move away from "laissez-faire", to "be fair".

Up until recently I despaired of that, because Americans seemed to have all bought into the dogma that "business can do no wrong"--which meant in practice that it could do anything, no matter how despicable. This was not always the case. Prior to the last 30 years, businesses were afraid to be visibly evil.

I suspect that the macro-business events of the three weeks just past, once digested by us all, may bring back the
days when there was actually such a thing as "business morality". In such a new national climate, an appeal like that in The Letter might work.

Randy Smythe said...

Nightman1, if the appeal is fair and sincere, it may make a difference. In the case of Buy.com, I've met the CEO and toured their facility and they are not the demon being portrayed, but they are the only Diamond visible so they are the target.

Yaroslav said...

All I have to say is that I am in disbelief after reading this letter and some of the comments.

I'll first start out with a quote from Charles Darwin: "It's not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change."

In a free market system such as ours, you either ADAPT or, I'm sorry to say, you DIE.

eBay is slowly but surely starting to recognize this truth. They are starting to make some changes around their core business. I AM NOT judging them on whether they are taking the right approach to adapting, but I do applaud them for trying various strategies. Their top-down driven changes may ultimately cause their demise, but this is not the point I am trying to make.

The point is that change to the eBay marketplace is coming, and in many cases is already here, whether eBay sellers like it or not. Similarly, change to the whole online retailing market is on its way, or, in many cases, is already here. Now, it is the sellers' job to ADAPT OR DIE.

Ethical? Absolutely! This is, fortunately I might add, how our economic system works. This ADAPT OR DIE approach drives companies to innovate, lower their cost structure, produce new ways of doing business, and look for ways to satisfy unfulfilled customer needs/wants.

This basic tenet applies to all industries. In a rapidly changing world where businesses environment is becoming more complex, more competitive, fast-paced and unpredictable, company leaders must keep change and adaptability as one of their first priorities.

As a case and point, let's discuss Walmart. Walmart’s recent unethical behavior aside, we can learn a valuable lesson looking at its humble beginnings. Many have wondered, how does a single, small dried-goods store grow into the goliath it is today? During its founding, all of the competitors in the industry (Sears, K-Mart, Wards, Grants, J.C. Penney) were materially larger. They had the resources, could negotiate deals, and were treated preferentially by suppliers and distributors (sounds like Buy.com to me). So, to place itself strategically against its competitors, Walmart did three things:

1)Decided to serve rural communities with populations ONLY between 5,000-25,000. This guaranteed that none of the larger industry competitors were there.
2)Designed and implemented a novel and exceptionally effective distribution and inventory system. This allowed them to reduce costs and carry less inventory.
3)Reduced costs. At the time of its founding, all of Walmart’s traveling executives slept in the cheapest hotels (two per room), ate the cheapest food, and travelled by the cheapest method possible. This was not because Walmart couldn’t afford to pay for amenities, but because the company’s leaders were next to paranoid about controlling costs.

In the end, these three simple measures allowed Walmart to gain momentum and grow into the retailing goliath it is today. They DID NOT complain that the “big guys” (e.g. Buy.com) were receiving preferential treatment nor were they blaming the “unjust” system (e.g. eBay). They recognized that in order to survive in the retailing environment, they had to ADAPT and CHANGE. They recognized that they must do things differently, or they will DIE. And boy, did that decision pay off for them.

As another example, simply look at the steps the owner of this blog has been taking. I might not have all of the details correct, but the general gist of the story seems to me something like this.

1) Started with eBay as the main selling channel
2) Cross sold on own website
3) Started to get really pissed off @ new eBay structure/fees
4) ADAPTS: Switches to Amazon as the primary selling channel
5) ADAPTS: Through various creative ways, increases revenues from own NEW website
6) ADAPTS: Embraces/Maybe joins? other auctions sites with different seller structure/fees
7) ADAPTS: Starts to blog full-time; some revenue is in part driven by this activity
8) In the end, does NOT DIE

Most might not agree with my reasoning, so I'll be happy to hear your logic out and, maybe, ADAPT my own views to those of yours...;)

Thanks for this thought-provoking post Randy.

Randy Smythe said...

Yaroslav,

For the record, my previous business didn't adapt and died. Many of the sellers on eBay today, haven't adapted and may be dying.

There is also a lessor known saying and that is "fight or you die" and that is where this letter seems to be coming from.

eBay, in my view, may have right idea about the need for change, but they are executing poorly and have made the wrong tactical decisions along the way.

The eBay that exits today it nearly impossible to adapt to and for many there are few alternatives available.

I think the writer of this letter is in the "fight or you die" category.

Sometimes you need to adapt and sometimes your need to fight.

But, this is just a letter for now as nothing has come of it. So it all may be a moot point anyway.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE see the petition to remove John Donahoe as ebay's CEO by doing an internet search of:

"Ebay Stockholders and Sellers Calling For Immediate Termination of John Donohoe CEO"

found at petitiononline.com

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