Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Silence is Deafening!

Usually, I hear a lot of chatter in the days leading up to eBay's earnings reports, but things have been decidedly different in the last few weeks. I haven't quite put my finger on why?

It is possible that eBay watchers have extremely low expectations for Q4 results and expect eBay's guidance for Q1 to be muted as well. There is almost a feeling of resignation that 2009 will be a wash and so everybody is looking at other options.

I know sellers that I've spoken with are working hard to lessen their dependence on eBay, though many of them still sell on the platform. They've jumped through so many hoops in the last year they are unwilling to continue jumping and just trying survive the ride. Many are thriving on their websites and other platforms and eBay is becoming a smaller portion of their overall business.

I'm not sure if this silence is a good thing for eBay. It is probably not a good sign for the company when people stop talking about them. The feeling of eBay is "so yesterday" starts to take hold. John Donahoe was even concerned about this back in April of 2008 when he was interviewed on the eBayInkBlog. Richard Brewer Hay asked:

Q. Any advice to the new guy?

Listen and have passion. Our goal is not to be a finely tuned, smooth, perfect machine. The minute our community stops talking is the minute I worry. Because their opinions, constructive criticism or praise, stem from passion. People are basically good – that is our belief. And we will not shut our ears to what people have to say – we will embrace it. [bold is mine]

I agree with Mr. Donahoe, the minute the community stops taking is time to worry. Have they stopped talking, probably not yet but we will know better when eBay makes their annual announcements later this month. 

When there is no longer much "noise" it could mean that people have stopped caring. When that happens the silence will be deafening.


Just my 15%

11 comments:

ms.pat said...

I still use Ebay but not like before. I'll put up a couple of small listings and try to get the buyers to visit my website or buy from me on Bonanzle. I believe a lot of sellers are doing the same. Heck...are the diamond sellers doing it? Truth is I believe few sellers really give a darn what ebay does these days. They're moving on.

Henrietta said...

Like Ms Pat I have moved on. 2008 was a tough year with a pleasant surprise in the last quarter. Nothing but good times ahead now that I am free!

An indicator of seller apathy in the face of unremitting smoke and spin can be found on eBayInkBlog which rarely gets comments any more. One suspects because the blogger is heavily constrained and censored in his subject matter, although he is far too professional to say so.

This fills me with sadness because RBH has done more for transparency single handed than has been seen on the whole platform in several years.

This lack of transparency is part and parcel of the walled compound policy eBay espouses for its sellers solely to enhance revenue from outside advertising.

Guaranteed to make the site even less relevant in today's social networking climate.

So sad, too bad.

ms.pat said...

Henrietta - I was only counting the days until ebayinkblog would simply turn into PR for ebay and nothing else. I'm amazed that the powers-that-be can't see how stupid it looks. Ask a pertinent question there and it is likely to never be answered. I have no idea why anyone even wants to waste time posting there. Whether RBH is genuine or not doesn't enter into Ebay's thinking.

Anonymous said...

According to Griff, Ebay is in year 2 or phase 2 of the disruption plan. The first phase was for buyers, the second phase is now dedicated to sellers.

The way this new phase works is, I guess, Griff has people post questions on the seller central discussion board and when he has time, he answers them. Of course, he's a company man who toes the line and says nothing substantial.

It's such BS. It's hard to believe there are still some sellers who have hope that Ebay will one day open up their arms and welcome them back.

nadine said...

Sellers are too busy implementing their diversification plans to care that much about eBay. After eBay announces its results, people will watch for announcements that might give a clue as to current direction. If it's just more the same, sellers will go back to working on their websites and Amazon, Bonanzle, Etsy, etc. stores.

I think eBay would have to announce a change of management to attract real interest again.

nadine said...

My only hope for eBay (which ironically has been doing quite well for me this month, but don't ask me why) is that it stabilizes into something usable. I haven't despaired of this because management isn't trying to wreck the site for all purposes; they are just morons.

They may backtrack from some of the stupider mistakes, at least those which don't cost them too much embarrassment. The only good thing about having turned Search into a black box is that they can fix it without having to admit they broke it. Whatever it does, they can still call it "Best Match."

Anonymous said...

@nadine-

Strangely, business has been really good for me too on Ebay. I have this real love/hate relationship toward them. If I stay out of the politics and just focus on MY business, I'm okay.

I agree. I think it will take a change in management for any sellers to ever trust Ebay again.

I'll never forget the remark someone made about Donahoe on this blog or may another: "It takes a special kind of stupid to destroy a prosperous empire in under a year." I paraphrased :)

ms.pat said...

"The first phase was for buyers, the second phase is now dedicated to sellers." LOL maybe out of desperation?

I don't think most sellers give a darn which phase ebay is in anymore...like I said they've resigned themselves to moving on and most of them are finding the effect is relief from the stress they've been under. I have a feeling ebay's arrogance is in for a shock! Maybe...just maybe they would have partially succeeded in their path toward being a cheap and cheesy Amazon clone, but the recession put a monkeywrench in the works.

David said...

Business is way up, in fact I used to post here daily bitching about everything, but now I'm so busy that I don't have much time to post here anymore.

I hired my first employee last December. I remember emailing Randy for help because I had never done that much volume in my life.

I am doing double the volume that I did last year which is saying something considering that this economy is in the worst shape it's been in since the great depression.

It all changed when they started "recent sales" as a factor in Best Match. I'm now at the very top of all the search results and am getting all the sales.

The first version of Best Match sucked, but they've finally figured it out.

I never thought I'd say this but it looks like they have finally taken the right turn. The problem is, this management team won't be able to leave it alone and they will probably come up with 60 more new policies that will kill off all the good that they have done during the 2nd half of last year.

Anonymous said...

I am up 66% in sales Jan 09 over Jan 08 on ebay. I am staying busy with the sales too. Things are great and the Fixed Price Good till Canceled listing idea for .35 was the best idea ever. I don't have to list my items every night and my ebay bill is half what it used to be. Everything is going so well. I hope ebay leaves things alone for a long time.

Gold Powerseller

Frank Ross said...

I think the magic has been eroding from eBay for many years now and it's not just seller discontent. It's 'buyer yawns' too. I think the turning point might have been when they took away the sellers' ability to leave feedback for the buyer. That changed a core component of eBay's USP and somehow did not have the desired effect of making it a better buyer experience. 'So yesterday' is beginning to set in and you can just feel it.