Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Half.com Moves to eBay - My 15% Update!

I've been talking about this move for years now, I'm glad I can finally say, "I told you so!" BTW, this change was tested back in the days of eBay Express.

The details are a little bit murky and the deal isn't actually happening until May, but lets take a look at how this change might actually work:
  • Half.com listings in Books, DVD, CD and Video Games will be available on eBay.com only if the Half.com merchant opts into the program. 
  • Items with a price under $1 on Half.com will not show on eBay.
  • There will be no listing charge to be included on eBay, but the items will not be available in search, they will only be available via the product pages. The product pages do not get as much exposure as items in search, so the additional exposure for Half.com listings may be minimal.
  • The product pages look a lot like Half.com; where the top 4 offers per product condition (New, Like New, Very Good, etc) are shown on the first page. Half.com results will be mixed in with the eBay listed items but still only 4 will show (per condition) on the first page. We all know that if you aren't on the first page, the chances of a sales are greatly reduced.
  • Orders will be processed just like they are currently on Half.com, except payments will be made to your PayPal account and available immediately. It will be interesting to see how eBay manages the sales process when a merchant has a Half.com listing and an eBay listing in the same order.
That's the basics on how it actually works, but much more important is how sellers react to the change. 

Since there is no cost to list, I can't imagine that current eBay sellers will not begin listing also on Half.com, but since there will be limited visibility of Half.com items on eBay, most will continue to list on eBay, hoping to get additional exposure/sales from their Half.com listings.  

On Half.com items are sorted by lowest price and sellers are only rated on 3 DSR's (No shipping cost DSR) but DSR's have no impact on sort order. Half does not have Best Match.
We don't quite know how items will be sorted on eBay after this change, but lowest price seems to make the most sense -- who knows what eBay will decide on.

I'm not sure how much of an impact this will have on eBay sellers, it really depends on how many buyers actually click onto the product pages. If that number is large, the impact may be substantial, if very few look at those pages then it will be minimal.

I know a lot of sellers are worried about the increased listings drowning out their paid eBay listings, but I don't think it will effect DVD's, CD's and Video Games as much as it will Books; especially text books, unless the product pages become the standard way buyers find product.

For the most part Half.com is [mostly] just a text book marketplace and two times a year (Jan and Aug/Sept.) it gets lots of traffic. In between all of that it isn't all that vibrant of a site. 

The real interesting aspect of this for me will be how Textbooks begin to sell on eBay.  With Textbooks students usually search by ISBN number. If this search method is used on eBay it will show the product pages and that kind of traffic could be substantial.  

If this test is deemed a success by eBay, look for this approach to be duplicated in other categories with Shopping.com listings.

Update:
I spoke with eBay about this coming change and most of what I have written above is accurate but the section on DSR's needs a little more explanation: Half.com only rates sellers on three DSR's.  -- the one they do not rate sellers on is Shipping Cost. Having one less DSR will not advantage or disadvantage a Half.com seller when their items are listed on eBay.

I was told that this change is a test of a new buying experience on eBay and it made sense to use media as the guinea pig (my choice of words). 

Certainly there will be sellers who try and game the system but how much of an impact this will have on current eBay sellers depends greatly on how many buyers click over to the product page. Knowing eBay buyers, they hate change just as much as sellers.


Just my 15%

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another bungled Ebay acquisition. Half.com should have remained a solid fixed price marketplace. But Ebay has suffocated it.

Joyful Alternative said...

The half.com catalogue is very limited, with no pre-ISBN and lots of ISBNs not available either.

Moonlight said...

It's almost laughable (but so sad) that eBay keeps revisiting the Express model they shortsightedly doomed to failure the first time.

Once again I read Alan Lewis' October 18th blog post and just shake my head.

http://alanlewis.typepad.com/weblog/2008/10/the-ebay-articl.html

Anonymous said...

Another chipped gear added to the Rube Goldberg eBay machine. Sorry, I have to go---my crack team of rocket scientists has arrived to help me navigate the maze.

Anonymous said...

from a cnet article dated March 22, 2002

"eBay's Half.com integration hits snags"

"Last month, eBay, which bought the fixed-price trading site in June 2000, backed off earlier plans to eliminate the Half.com site and rename it eBay Express Buys. "

If at first you don't succeeed, fail, fail again. LOL.

nadine said...

"If at first you don't succeeed, fail, fail again."

But never forget to "analyze" your data first!

I think we've just discovered eBay's true company motto.

Tony P. said...

JD is all about anal lies!"


You mean like that, Nadine?

Randy Smythe said...

Very clever Tony :)

Nadine, I like my new motto here eBay? Move along now, nuthin' to see here.

Anonymous said...

It's been a year now. Time to move on from the hate-ebay-hate-ebay-hate-ebay and get a life.

I, for one, would like to begin seeing articles featuring the other growing sites regularly.

I am going back less and less to the hate-ebay places, because I am getting tired of waiting for everyone to grow up.

I have moved on. I am building a presence on two other sites successfully. I don't do ebay anymore. I shut it all down months and months ago. I don't care.

Why do you? On and on and on.

Randy Smythe has moved on, also. Get it?

Get a life, people. eBay does NOT care about you anymore.

Hate is wasted energy. Use the energy positively, and successfully, elsewhere.

nadine said...

Hi Anon,

My primary emotion regarding eBay is neither love nor hate, just exasperation (sorta like I feel about our Congresscritters, but that's another story).

However, since I am for the moment (knock wood) still making money on eBay, I figure it's worth my while to keep reading the tea leaves as best I can, to try to gain some advance warning of their next moves.

Because they are sure as heck not going to warn me in advance, are they?

Tony P. said...

This isn't about an unbridled, never-ending hate-fest : it's a bunch of peeps sitting around the local Cheers hangout discussing their businesses. And - YES - we have moved on. To Other Sites and our Own Sites.

But some of us just can't help ourselves. We get a few brewskies in us and the next thing ya know.. we're bashing the hell outta the place that deserves it the most!

To tell the truth, I haven't always been this way. Take the time, back in '06, when ebay screwed the Store people - I just figured ebay to be a bunch of shortsighted dumbasses. Quite irritated, on my part; not hatred.

For the next two years after that, ebay spread their diseased approach to ALL of their users. At least they're equal-opportunity crap-givers. DSRs, no-neg feedback, ongoing glitches, new this, new that, etc.

By then I was a little pissed at them. Then, last summer, something happened. A really nice ebay Store owner ran into a PITA buyer. The buyer claimed the item as SNAD. It was a Precious Moments figurine.

The buyer threatened a Neg on feedback, but basically wouldn't communicate otherwise. The figurine was a large one and it sold for approx. $200; its smaller version went for about $30. The chance for a switcheroo was high.

The seller was an expert on Precious Moment items. She'd written a couple of books about them and was a former President of the US club. There was basically zero-chance she'd made an error.

But none of that really mattered, as she had been pushed to her wit's end by the mounting pressures of threatened-low DSRs and feedback extortion. She was very worried about the switcheroo aspect.

We tried to ease her mind on the Stores board and tell her it would work out. For two days we posted in that thread, telling her it would be okay and just wait and see what came back.

That second night, in her sleep, she died from a heart ailment. She had a pre-existing heart condition, so that made it easy for some folks to just nod their heads and accept her death.

Some of us feel differently. Some of us blame ebay and every one of the people responsible. We know that they killed our friend. So, yeah - I do hate them. Other than that, I have moved on.


For Sheryl : "Snowmen fall to earth unassembled". I miss you.


From this story's extreme point, all the way to some seller that has been (only) mildly inconvenienced, and all points inbetween.. illustrates the degree of harm that ebay has perpetrated upon its users. Telling these people to "get over it and move on" is akin to telling people that have had their life's saving wiped out by our economic crisis, to get over the Wall Street shenanigans. Last I looked, peeps are still pissed about that and no one dares tell 'em to get over it.

Randy Smythe said...

To all of of my readers who still visit the blog.

This is a place to vent, suggest, complain, debate, ruminate and even to tell folks to move on.

eBay was much more than just a site like Amazon, Buy and Overstock are. eBay was a dream builder and because of that it is taking a lot longer for people to get over all the changes.

I still scratch my head at the choices management make and I still observe the whole scene like its a train wreck; somehow I just can't look away.

Everyone should feel free to say what they want here and I read every comment.

At some point when I figure out a better blogging schedule, I will be back blogging regularly and if eBay does something stupid, I will call them on it.

Thanks for the conversation, it is very much welcome here.

Anonymous said...

Randy-
I'm really glad you still have your blog though you're sick and tired of Ebay. I have to agree. My initial outrage and passion has very much dampened. Like Nadine said, I'm still making a profit, but I'm also looking at alternatives (my own site) and trying other venues.

I've noticed that sellers have become more and more apathetic to Ebay as time moves on and that's good. The less attention and noise we give them, the faster they'll fall and the faster other venues can rise.

2010 or Bust said...

If you want to see the JDs vision of the future of eBay, check out

http://stores.ebay.com/Best-Buy-Outlet-Store

Sad

Tony P. said...

Randy, in no way did I mean to infer that ANYONE should refrain from FREE SPEACH.

(within your guidelines of course, it is your blog!)

I simply meant that telling someone "something" may not be all that helpful - that's not my way of saying to STFU. ;-)

I generally just come out and offer a big mug of STFU - but again - this is your site and I would NEVER do such a thing on here.

I wouldn't even do that to Anon, if it were on my own blog. I'm not that kind of person. A spirited debater, perhaps, but not a despot.

I guess that I should have said that I'm capable of moving on AND holding a grudge for a long time. A long, LONG time. Multi-function Tool <-- That's me!

:-)

Tony P. said...

OMG - I misspelled SPEECH.

I'm such a loser. :^(

Randy Smythe said...

Tony,

All's good. I like your spirit.

Moonlight said...

Ever notice it's always an "Anonymous" poster who gripes about other posters and says move on? I wonder why that is....

nadine said...

Did you see this article from the March 18 WSJ? Amazon is rolling its payment service out to 3rd parties, competing with Paypal:

* MARCH 18, 2009, 2:17 P.M. ET

Amazon Set To Clash With EBay In Online Payments
By Scott Morrison
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones)--Amazon Inc. (AMZN), having won the battle with eBay Inc. (EBAY) over online retail sales, is now taking aim at the increasingly important and rapidly growing area of Internet payment services.

Last week, eBay Chief Executive John Donahoe said he believed there will be only one winner in online payments - and he asserted that his company's PayPal unit would be that winner.

But Amazon is taking the fight to eBay with its own Internet checkout services that will compete with PayPal. Over the past few months, the Seattle company has been rolling out technology that lets other retailers use its proprietary system, known as Checkout by Amazon.

The effort, designed to draw more retailers into Amazon's network, is part of the company's strategic push to expand into adjacent markets, generate new and growing sources of revenue, and solidify its dominance in the e-commerce sector.

"This isn't just about a few pennies of margin," said Rick Wilson, executive vice president of Miva Merchant, one of the leading e-commerce software makers. "Control of how money flows on the Internet is going to be strategically important."

Amazon won't characterize the battle for dominance of online payments in such stark terms, preferring to look at the market as a "compelling long-term opportunity."

While eBay has said there likely will be only one winner in online payments, most Internet observers expect competing services because merchants believe they can boost sales by offering customers multiple payment options. Analysts also note that Google Inc.'s (GOOG) remains a dark horse in online payments despite stumbling out of the starting blocks.

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090318-711746.html?mod=wsjcrmain&mg=com-wsj

Randy Smythe said...

Nadine,

Amazon is going to have to get more aggressive with this offering than they have been.

Checkout by Amazon has been around for almost a year and doesn't have much traction yet.

nadine said...

Did you notice the intro, "Amazon Inc. (AMZN), having won the battle with eBay Inc. (EBAY) over online retail sales, is now taking aim ..."?

How do the rates compare to Paypal? It would seem natural for Amazon to market the payment service to 3rd party sellers who sell both on Amazon and their own websites.

Bob said...

Is ebay holding another "secret" invite only meeting with sellers somewhere this week or soon....?

Randy Smythe said...

Bob, did a little birdie tell you something?

Yep another Top Seller summit is being held in Florida tomorrow. I may even blog about it.