Saturday, February 14, 2009

Why eBay Will Have A Problem Being Amazon

If you don't change the perception of eBay in the world, consumers will still believe THIS is what eBay is all about.

eBay is part of popular culture and is known just as much for these types of "items for sale" as the hard to find product or great deals. If eBay is to grow they need to change the brand and that is not an easy thing to do.

Just my 15%


Anonymous said...

Do you think it's possible that Ebay will let the biggest sellers stop paying listing fees and let them negotiate the fvf's? I wondering if that secret meeting might have been about something like that. Also, do you think Ebay will raise everyone else's fees anytime soon? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Jay knows how true his words are, "its stupid, but its eBay".

This type of PR will not help eBay's battles for shoppers.

ms.pat said... it or not this IS what made ebay interesting and fun. If I seriously want to shop then I'll go to Amazon or one of the online stores like Walmart or Sears. Ebay....nope - for them to change the business model they'd have to close down completely and reopen looking exactly like amazon from customer service to carrying their own products to sell...otherwise they're spinning their wheels. They're walking around like Frankenstein with numerous body parts sewed on! Don't forget, Amazon was not an overnight success - they went thru years and years of change and losses before they started to make decent profits. Ebay has no time and is way too big to be able to do that.

As for that secret meeting...well, that's the new ebay for you LOL

Randy Smythe said...


Currently, eBay has said they will negotiate with Diamond sellers only. The sellers who attended the event in Long Beach were not all Diamond Sellers.

I think that listing fees will be going away for everybody eventually. I don't see any fee increases this year at all.

Oren said...


Your post is exactly the kind of thinking that the hated MBA ppl use in eBay.

eBay cannot and shouldn't compete with amazon.

eBay is the place to are going to find the hard to get items. the unique.

Let me give you an example.

I'm commodity computer related item seller.

I started to sell on amazon this january (after all your blogging)

Most of my inventory i CANT sell on amazon. I don't have UPC.

Take for example a wireless card for laptop. I got 50 units that are production over run. (or tested pulls)

I listed them on eBay friday. and already sold 3.

I can go on and on but the point is that I (and many many others) will keep going to eBay to buy and sell b/c the platform is flexible.

Where did I go when I needed a new remote for my car? only eBay.

So yes you get stupid things. but the smart way is to build on that.

Think campign that tell ppl: where can you find your childhood memory. .99 for a card you collected.

or ad that show someone trying to fix something (in recession ppl try to fix rather then buying new) and can't find the part in the local kragen auto part/radioshack.

Then he go online and the only place he find that item is on eBay. and cheaper then radioshack website.

ebuyerfb said...

This is exactly why I couldn't understand eBay allowing that tissue back in December. It is like they put all this money and effort into changing their brand and then they are ready to undo it at the drop of a hat.

Marsupial said...

eBay cannot change its perception with 'the public' anymore than Taco Bell could rebrand itself as a 4 star restaurant (the movie Demolition Man notwithstanding). Yes, they have a huge name and a huge following, but it's a name based on being the world's largest garage sale. I always thought that eBay should have started a new site, with a new name, and then poured a ton of money into pushing it. Let eBay be eBay and create something new.

permacrisis said...

The discussion going on in this box illustrates my theory: that there are warring factions inside of ebay. While we here talk like there are two sides, there are probably really ten.

Craigslist has a lot of limitations but see how those limitations have prevented it form inheriting ebay's full blown problems.

If ebay had established caps on certain aspects, like maximum price, maximum number of items listed, user verification, USA only, and maximum number of accounts, it would have evolved into a very different animal.

It would have kept chugging right along in its original intended role of 'trading post' but others would have passed right on by.

In this alternate outcome, ebay would have been far less attractive to greedy opportunists, for example criminals... and corporations.

Right now, today, this very minute, in this very recession, such an ebay would not only be calling the shots- it would be running the table.

Randy Smythe said...


eBay can't grow by relying on the unique, hard to find and last years items, which is what brought them to the place they are today.

My point with the video clip is they can't have a brand that says unique, odd, hard to find etc. and then present to them new in-season product.

They think they can have it all in one place and they can't. That is the ultimate mistake -- they are two different businesses.

Randy Smythe said...


That was actually a more accurate take than mine. eBay should have two sites.

Express was the right idea with the wrong execution.


What eBay has created now is class warfare. Big sellers vs. small sellers.

permacrisis said...


If you can prove that claim, I will mentally mow your lawn.

Randy Smythe said...


Both front and back?

ms.pat said...

"What eBay has created now is class warfare. Big sellers vs. small sellers."

Randy its more than that. They've also pitted buyer against seller...causing a bad environment for both.

I doubt Ebay is going to make it without the odd and unique items. Unless they start treating their small sellers in a fairer manner they can find that aspect of their business on a lot of smaller sites. I still feel after this quarter they're going to throw small sellers a few bones to try to keep them. Nobody simply throws money away and mistreating small sellers is doing just that.

A Foreigner said...

I can't view the Hulu video because I'm in Canada. Is it posted a site that recognizes the outside world, e.g. on Youtube?

Randy Smythe said...

Wow, I wasn't aware Canadians couldn't view Hulu. It isn't available on YouTube.

I'll have to remember that for future videos.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Pat, you are exactly right. What they have done is poisoned the well, taking the thing that they did better than Amazon (selling unique items) and alienating the sellers who listed them. Those casual and niche sellers are also online consumers and specifically with eBay, the best customers -- fair in feedback, timely in their payments.

I have said all along what they have done is accelerated the process, forcing sellers and buyers off-site looking for alternatives.

And I can give you about 8 Million reasons a year the CEO really doesn't care.

Miss Understanding said...

It still strikes me as such a shame that the board of directors over at ebay don't realize what a gem they had. They were different, unique. People didn't go there to buy what they could find anywhere else. I still keep hoping that they're going to wake up and start promoting their wonderful 'gem' again. Sadly, as each day goes by that gem gets buried deeper and deeper into the sand. Hopefully another site will take their place. I still miss shopping for great vintage one of akind items over there.

billparker said...

I'm not so sure they need to change, just decentralize around that brand. eBay has a whole sweet of products and site internationally including craigs list and others that people don't think about. That kind of traffic steering and international $ is powerful in this down market.