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. and Auctionbytes.

Amazon Firing On All Cylinders 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. has become primarily a Textbook Sales venue that has two key selling seasons in August and January. If 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.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

eCrater Becomes an Option For eBay Store Sellers!

Many of you may not have heard of eCrater before. It is a small marketplace site that is geared to fixed price items and appears to be growing. Up until recently, I wasn't able to recommend the site because it didn't provide inventory control but that has now changed. As of July eCrater has inventory control.

Here's what eCrater says about itself:
"What is is both a free web store builder and a free online marketplace. Sellers can easily create their own free online store in minutes. Buyers can easily browse and compare between thousands of products.

Sellers receive free website hosting, a free subdomain and a powerful admin tool to manage their free online stores. All products are posted to the world's most famous product search engine [Googlebase] as well."

eCrater is in many respects what eBay Stores should be. An independent stores platform and marketplace. This is an excellent tool for eBay Store Sellers to ween themselves off of eBay Stores. It is free, easy to use, part of a marketplace and allows sellers to accept Google Checkout and post listings automatically to Googlebase.

With the reduced exposure for eBay Store listings and the excessive fee structure at eBay, eCrater seems a reasonable alternative to eBay Stores. It can also serve as the transition between eBay and your own website. If you are spending a great deal of your time trying to bring traffic to your eBay store why not consider an eCrater store instead.

Sellers, can continue to use eBay for what sells there but move the vast majority of the slower moving product over to eCrater. This will help make your eBay business more profitable and allow you to learn how to drive traffic to your own site. With the holiday season approaching why not use eBay as a customer acquisition tool for your new eCrater store.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Create Your Own Product Widget!

I've added a Blidget (Blog Widget) to the right sidebar, as an example of what you can do to promote your online product. I chose a friends eBay Store as an example. All you need is an RSS feed of your product and you can create your own Blidget. If you are an eBay Store Seller don't wait for eBay to finish their Widget, now you can put your product on your Facebook or MySpace page or add it to your blog. The cool part is, that visitors, friends and customers can grab the Blidget and add it to their own Google homepage, MySpace page etc. to expand your audience.

This is not solely for eBay sellers. Anyone with an RSS feed of their product can create a Blidget. So if your ecrater store, Yahoo Store or other online store has an RSS feed you can join the Widget revolution.

Just go to WidgetBox to create your Blidget.