Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Ugliest Thing On eBay Contest

We've all seen some pretty bizarre things on eBay over the years but now there is a contest. Now if you find the Ugliest Thing on eBay you can win a prize. Go here for the details.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Squidoo Announces SquidBids for eBay Sellers

Squidoo announced today that they have launched a new promotional tool for eBay sellers called SquidBids. eBay sellers can use their eBay userID or eBay Store name to create a profile on their ebay business. It is a cool little tool and something even the big players on eBay should consider for their business.

I would love to see a SquidBid page for GrapevineHill, InflatableMadness, GothamCityOnline among others. Sellers need to reach out and find customers where they hangout and Squidoo gets tons of traffic. Here is an example of a SquidBid page from eBay Seller FreakNoodles.

Seth Godin does a much better job of explaining SquidBids then I would so here is a link to his blog post.

Combining SquidBids with the Red Door Store campaign that some store sellers have started might give eBay sellers some promotional juice.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where do you eBay?

I came across this mapping tool on Squidoo and thought it would be a fantastic tool for the blog to show where everyone eBays from. So why not add your links and location to the map.

If you are a buyer or a seller on eBay, please add your location, website, and eBay store to the map (remember to include your refid=store code). Please feel free to add this map to your lenses, blogs, myspace page, Facebook page, eBay Blog or About Me page.

Special thanks to JasonE for turning me onto this cool map feature. Click on a red dot to see who it is.

Here are some examples where to place the map:
  • Your blog
  • Your eBay Blog. (I did this for a friend)
  • Your eBay Me Page (I did this for a friend)
  • Your Social Network Pages
You might even create your own map to show where your customers come from and add it to your website, eBay Store or where ever seems right.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

eBay Launches Month Long Listing Promo

Warning - Read the Promo Details. This promo requires Gallery.

eBay is making a huge change in the way they handle promos for sellers, at least for this promo. I'm hoping this is a signal that there is a change in the wind at eBay and though it may just me the first move it’s not a bad first step. I honestly never thought I would see the day.

For years, eBay has trumpeted the use of gallery as a means of increasing conversion and providing a better buyer experience, and many sellers have agreed, well today eBay appears to be putting their money where their mouth is. Here is what Phillip Justus had to say:

"I have great news for you! Based on the success of our last Listing with Gallery promotion on 8/15, we are running a similar promotion for the entire month of September. Like the last promotion, if you buy Gallery and start your Auction-style or Fixed Price listings at $9.99 or less, we're going to give you the insertion fee for FREE. In addition, for items with a starting price of $10 or more, you'll save 25% off the listing fee (up to $1.20 per listing!).

But wait – there's more! This promotion runs from August 29 to September 30. That means significant savings for our sellers who will be able to take advantage of this promotion for an entire MONTH! (Read here for more promotion details.)"

If you've never used Gallery before this would definitely be the time to test it. Just be aware that your total cost will increase in two price ranges:
  • $10 - $24.99 - You will pay .20 cents more to add gallery
  • $25 - $49.99 - You will pay .05 cents more to add gallery
If you currently use Gallery you will be saving the following amounts:
  • $.01 - $.99 - You save $.20 cents per listing
  • $1 - $9.99 - You save $.40 cents per listing
  • $10 - $24.99 - You save $.15 cents per listing
  • $25 - $49.99 - You save $.30 cents per listing
  • $50 - $199.99 - You save $.60 cents per listing
  • $200 - $499.99 - You save $.90 cents per listing
  • $500 - Up - You save $1.20 per listing
So if you are currently using gallery you will save in every price range. Think this through, don't go crazy using your savings to add a ton more listings but where it makes sense add listings that give you the best savings.

Remember eBay will launch Best Match in September and I'm sure use of Gallery is part of the criteria so if you were considering not taking part in this promo, you might reconsider to give your listings the best shot at being seen.

I've often commented on eBay using sticks to mold seller behavior but this time they are using a carrot. If this is successful they will use carrots more often.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Need You!

eBay recently sent out their Quarterly Power Seller newsletter (PowerUp) and it supposedly included an article entitled: “Sourcing for Profitability” where it makes a disturbing suggestion

"When sourcing at retail, check the return policy before you buy. If items are returnable, you can always return the inventory if you find it doesn’t sell at a good profit.

I have contacted eBay PR for a confirmation if this in an accurate quote but as of yet have heard nothing, so I am seeking your help. If you are a Power Seller with access to this newsletter would you please email it to me so that I can understand the context the above quote comes from?

I'll leave my opinions on this subject for a later post, after I've had a chance to review the article. I would imagine major retailers are revising their return policies as we speak, if this is accurate. (Sorry, old habits are hard to break)

Please forward it to me at rksmythe at yahoo you can fill in the rest. Thanks in advance.

In the meantime here are a couple of posts on the subject. Tambay.com and Auctionbytes.

Amazon Firing On All Cylinders

Amazon.com appears to have become the darling of Internet Stocks at the moment, with a lofty share price and a stellar Q2 behind them. Anecdotal evidence, coming from 3P sellers who sell on both eBay and Amazon say their Amazon orders are increasing while their eBay orders are flat to down. Many sellers, are now just using eBay for cashflow until they can ween themselves off of the site. I don't anticipate they will completely withdraw from eBay but they certainly want to change their mix of sales. Because it can take up to 18 months to generate measurable sales from a sellers own website, Amazon is currently the best place to move their business. Sure it has some of the same marketplace dynamics as eBay but Amazon is a retailer that understand ecommerce. eBay is an auction site that grew so fast, so easily that they let things get out of hand and no one wants to be part of the renovation.

In media categories, many sellers are seeing Amazon sales equal to or greater than their eBay sales and with the all important 4th Quarter just around the corner, many sellers are hedging their bets. Many are expanding to Amazon now to get all of the kinks out before the all-important holiday shopping season.

Amazon's model is brilliant, if you ask me, because they have added breadth to their product offerings without having to carry any inventory; they get the best of both worlds. They can be very aggressive with their owned inventory, stocking limited breadth but tremendous depth leaving the breadth to their high margin 3P business. Because Amazon controls the marketplace (they don't call themselves a venue or a community) they have more control over merchandising as well as seller quality. When a category has too much product for the projected demand they close the category to new 3P business. This is a fluid operation that allows them to open again when the demand picks up.

Amazon's 3P business, IMO saved the company. Imagine where they would be without the margins from 3P sales that are now north of 35% of sales and growing. They have the media market sewed up. Half.com has become primarily a Textbook Sales venue that has two key selling seasons in August and January. If Half.com was a real challenge to Amazon they would be expanding to other countries.

A recent search of Amazon, pulled up Collectibles, Apparel, Sporting Goods Equipment, Cosmetics, etc. In the early days of Amazon they tried to carry this inventory and sell everything including the kitchen sink (and we all know how that turned out). Now, with 3P sellers they can make a handsome margin on product sales where they have no inventory exposure. They've found the "Holy Grail" for an online retailer. eBay can't compete because they don't actually sell anything. eBay has always had sales velocity because of auctions but that is slowing and apparently Amazon is catching up.

eBay is the "King of Auctions" and should have become the King of Ecommerce but that mantel has been passed to Amazon. eBay's bet on improving CORE may have actually marginalized them even more. eBay's like a 55 year-old former starlet who undergoes plastic surgery to recapture some of her youth.

Amazon has been around for as long as eBay but they seem to be hitting their stride now while eBay seems to have pulled a "hammy".

One caution for 3P Sellers who are looking at Amazon as the "Holy Grail", they are still a marketplace and you are advised not to "put all of your eggs in one basket". Begin the transition to your own website because it may take up to 18 months to drive significant sales through it.

You can find more information on Amazon 3P offerings at their website or visit the AmazonServices website.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Comments From The EBay Stores Board

I was reading one of the eBay Stores Board threads today and came across this post. I think many sellers can identify with this poster. I'll give you the link to the whole thread but most of the comments are just personal attacks. It can be entertaining though.

"ebay has changed. whether or not the changes are permanent we won't know for a year or more down the road.

my items no longer make as much as I need so I have taken on a part time job. I have accepted the limits of what I sell and replaced the missing income.

I do believe I could find another product line or lines and increase my income but at the moment I am burned out and not willing to do the research or invest the money necessary. I will be willing to put in that effort down the road. right now, I enjoy just going to work and bringing home that money. I put in the hours, I get the money.

I think there is a future for ebay and ebay sellers but at this point I'm not sure I'm interested in remaining one of them. I think my time would be better spent *elsewhere*. investing my time and money in an online business in some other place than ebay. whether it's amazon, my own website, or a group effort, I just have reached the point I'm not sure ebay is worth the effort. but I do believe SOME place online is." from tresrhnter

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

Seth Godin has written a great book dealing with this same idea called "The Dip". I personally lived that book with my business, Glacier Bay DVD. I decided, rather than reorganize one more time with very little upside for the business model, that it just wasn't worth trying to make it work. I voluntarily shutdown a business that at one time was #1 in Feedback on eBay and generated over $4.6 million a year in revenue.

Many sellers need to look deeply at their business and see whether it is worth the effort. The seller above (tresrhnter ) decided to find a part-time job. I took one shot at reorganizing my business in 2005. I even brought it back to profitability but the amount of money left over for me was not worth the effort I would have to put in or risk I would have to assume to continue working the business.

Please take the time to ask the hard questions and lay out the positives and negatives of continuing to sell online - even if you are currently doing very well. I hope for most of you the answer at the end of the day would be yes, continue. Being an online seller was one of the best experiences of my life and I might even do it again if all the stars aligned but I am very glad I made the decision to quit.
I am much happier now.