- Amazon took over the "unique visitor" title in Nov and Dec of 2008 and will continue to battle with eBay through the 1st quarter of 2009, eventually taking the lead for good. In 2007 eBay took back the lead right after the holidays, this time they may lose it forever.
- John Donahoe will get two more quarters to turn eBay around before drastic action is taken, which could mean selling all or part of the business and/or replacing him as CEO.
There are two major caveats to this prediction.
*"Its NOT the economy stupid" scenario - If Amazon beats 4th quarter estimates and provides better than expected 2009 guidance and eBay misses 4th quarter estimates and guides lower for the rest of 2009 then Mr Donahoe may be out the door before the 1st quarter earnings announcement.
*"Its the economy stupid" scenario - If Amazon has a tough 4th quarter and so does eBay (I can't see anyway they will be worse than eBay) than the BOD and investors will give Donahoe a full year to make the turn-around complete, but he only gets 1 more year.
- Buy.com will consider leaving eBay in early 2009, but will decide to stick it out at least through Q1. I'm not sure how profitable their eBay business has been and it is certainly much more work and aggravation than their website and Amazon business are. If eBay is profitable for them, then they will stay.
- More Diamond sellers will launch on eBay with limited success. Unless eBay is willing to spend money to improve traffic and change the brand image of eBay, they can only hope to get incremental sales that require sizable investments in customer service. Plain and simply, it just won't be worth it.
- eBay sellers will have access to large amounts of surplus and liquidation product, but few will have the resources to act on this availability. Those with the cash/credit will be able to source product at unbelievable prices and improve their margins. Online sellers with margin will continue to succeed in a discount environment throughout 2009 both on eBay and on Amazon.
- eBay will continue eBay Stores subscriptions in the US, but will eliminate the SIF (Store Inventory Format) eBay Stores will just become a place to gather a sellers FP and auction listings. When they do make this change they will lower insertion fees for Fixed Price items from the current 35 cents and possibly increase FVF in some categories.
- eBay's Media category will look strangely like Half.com with items displayed 5 at a time and listed by quality. "Low Price", "Free Shipping" and "Recent Sales" will get you in the top 5 as long as your DSR's are better than your competition.
- Half.com will be shut-down at some point at the end of the first quarter. (Of course I've been saying that for a couple of years, so one of these days I will be right).
- Amazon will improve communication and tools for their 3P sellers, but will still not be open to core eBay product categories like vintage items, collectibles and antiques.
- Bonanzle.com (my favorite eBay alternative site) will reach 1 million listings by the end of the year and will open up International sites in the UK and in Australia by the end of the year. (No pressure, Bill)
"There is still a market for online auctions so management can continue to bleed that business for cash while investing in growing the fixed price business to better compete with Amazon. I would also continue to invest in payments to build out the Merchant Services business. Now that Bill Me Later is in the portfolio, eBay can have a run of the payments business on the web given largely failed efforts by others such as Google. I would also continue to invest and make acquisitions along the classifieds businesses and focus on better monetizing traffic through advertising." (bold is mine)