E-bay Suits Gone Wild Part 2

The latest issue of Forbes Magazine has a great article titled “Too Smart For It’s Own Good” describing the insanity going on over at E-bay. As comic book collectors and sellers, E-bay has been a great addition to the hobby, so I think it’s appropriate to delve into this a little further.

There are two points made in the article I think are of particular interest.

“Ebay is run by smart people who don’t use Ebay and spend hours debating the data about how other people use Ebay” was a quote from a former strategist. So like many companies, the bureaucracy has gone crazy and the ideas, functions and atmosphere that made it great give way to suits trying to improve results quarter by quarter. I am a firm believer in capitalism and the profit motive, but when the dollar is the only goal, strategic and tactical mistakes are going to be made. The core value the business once provided is boiled down to a few sentences on a powerpoint slide, sterilized and lost forever. Sometimes what makes a business great is not so “academic” and incorporates a lot more than a few buzzwords.

The second item I found interesting is Ebay changing their focus in 2004 when Amazon made their estimates and Ebay did not. Of course the non-user suits tried to compare themselves to Amazon and made changes to cater to “convenience” buyers. Okay. Guess what Ebay, you’re not Amazon.

I figure millions of dollars continue to be spent on consultants analyzing numbers and telling Ebay what to do. You know, the “smart people who don’t use Ebay.”

Well, I use Ebay, and I’ll give you three clues absolutely free. This sums up why people use E-bay. Ignore them at your peril. We use Ebay to (in no particular order):

1. Get hard-to-find or esoteric products
2. Get a good deal, or
3. both 1 and 2

That’s it. Simple. Not glitzy, we don’t need any powerpoint presentations. Anything and everything you do should be focused on those three points, making it easier, more pleasant, whatever, for both buyers and sellers to accomplish those goals. You are not Amazon. We don’t want you to be.

I want to buy things from regular people around the country, not just those who have put together a huge “Ebay Empire” (although they are okay too, the mix is what makes it work). It’s okay to be an online flea market.

I don’t mind that there are 1000 iPods listed. That’s great, I will probably get a great deal and keep coming back.

In the past few months Ebay has gone out of their way to ruin this experience in several ways and it’s a shame. Like I said in a previous post, EBay should be thriving in this down economy, but unfortunately their changes are ruining the opportunity.

So EBay, there you have it. No charge. I even have a MBA if it makes you feel better (I’ve reformed).

But if anyone over at Ebay headquarters feels like it, you can buy me a coffee (don’t worry, not too expensive, I drink mine black).

8 Responses to “E-bay Suits Gone Wild Part 2”

  1. manodogs says:

    I am also a believer in the profit motivator, but I could not imagine working for a company or on a product I do not use. How does that even *work* – practically speaking?

    This is a criticism critics often face, but I have a leg-up there, since I have worked in basically every artistic industry out there! So I can honestly say I could not imagine working on a product which I did not actively use or of which I had no practical knowledge.

  2. Well, all this eBay stuff has shaken me a tad. I have not been well familar with using eBay, but as I made the decision to learn more about eBay a few months ago, they decide to start going south on me.

    Right now eBay and comic books are a great match. I have joined their affiliate program and have put code on my comic book site. It is doing fair. I had great plans to expand with further ideas and other niches on eBay. I even wanted to learn how to become a seller and get rid of some of my vending machines and other stuff in storage.

    But alas, eBay seems to be putting the screws to sellers. And it sounds like they will be eleminating the auction mode next year and going with fixed price all the way. What will this do to comic books? I guess we will have to wait and see.

    Sorry everyone, must be my fault (ha ha). I just start getting interested in eBay and they start pulling all this new song and dance. Oh well, so goes the constant changes on the Internet!


  3. admin says:

    I have heard E-bay may modify their auction format, but didn’t hear anything about them scrapping it altogether. All you can do it set up your system based on E-bay today and modify as necessary in the future. Dave, I would still try to sell some of our stuff if you want to now, just in case they do change the format later. I also recommend using the strategies found in the Silent Sales Machine.

    If the consultants that are plotting the course at E-bay only look at the $$$, they will lose what has made the site great, the real underlying reason for any sales at all, and there will be no more $$$. It would be sad to see this online icon go away, but since the business model works (auction site), someone will fill the void. Could be Google, who knows.

  4. Yeah Sean, I am a member of another Internet Marketing forum and so is Patrick. But eBay, through their affliate program, is one of the business models they suggest. So there is a lot of interest in what is happening with eBay.

    Apparently, and I may be wrong, but eBay wants to do away with the auction model at the first of next year. They are looking at more of a fixed price model, kind of like Amazon. And they are starting to cator to the buyers rather than the sellers.

    But many think the sellers are eBay’s customers and in turn, the buyers are the sellers’ customers. There is a lot of controversy over what eBay is doing.

    I plan on carrying forward with my plans and, as you say, modify accordingly later. I have purchased Jim Cockrum’s book, through your link, and do plan on using some of his other ideas as time goes by. I do hope eBay stays a major hang out for comic book buyers and sellers, but we will have to see what happens. Maybe we can intice Heritage to start an affiliate program on their auctions. They might be up for it in the future.

    I still plan on trying to sell a few things on eBay, but I need to learn the ropes. I am concentrating on mini sites using affiliate code, right now though. Oh well, I just hope comic book lovers still try to use eBay. Later.


  5. admin says:

    It will be a shame if E-bay goes to the fixed pricing model. One of the great parts of E-bay (at least for collectibles) is it was a great equalizer. By that I mean we saw the little guy able to sell their collectibles at realistic market prices. Everyone could be a part-time dealer and it really strengthened a lot of hobbies.

    The auction model still works for collectibles, and if E-bay walks away from it, someone will step into the void and fill it. E-bay is known for auctions, and if they try to be a quick stop for instant buys I think they will slowly die. They will need a lot of time and marketing money to move the consumer away from thinking of them as an “auction” site and some sort of Amazon clone instead. They will then be forced to rely on a much smaller pool of big sellers, who if sales decline, will run away in droves.

    We’ll see how it all works out. It sounds like I’ll have plenty to blog about for a long time. Thank you E-bay!

  6. Yeah Sean, I agree with you. But there are also those who think the auction model was a stupid idea (not me). Anyway,I can’t remember where I read that eBay was dropping the auction model at the first of next year. It was either at the forum I mentioned above or in Jim Cockrum’s newsletter. I did a little reseach, but didn’t find specifically what I wanted, but here is an article on eBay’s expanding into the fixed price model:


    Well, we will find out more when next year rolls around.

    On a side note; are you familar with the pedigreed Mile High Collection, which was originally owned by Edgar Church? This collection was purchased by Chuck Rozanski back in the ’70s and helped him get his start.

    Anyway, I am now in email contact with Edgar Church’s grand daughter, Barbara. She found my site and left me a message at the contact me page. I don’t know if it will lead to anything and I will let you know if it does. But, so far, she is interesting to talk to. Later.


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