Why Is eBay Doing All Of This?

Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 2:44 am Pacific USA Time.

I wrote a post here about 2 weeks ago about why eBay would connect with buy.com, and somehow today woke up to a bunch of people commenting in it. The comments didn’t agree with each other, but that’s typical. :)

Someone commented, "Griff said the boycott didn’t work." Well, there’s didn’t work and didn’t work. He may have meant that the boycott really didn’t affect eBay’s bottom line or the shoppers’ experiences. But the idea of a boycott is usually to get a message across to the company or supplier. To me, the message got across, and that message was, "If we get crabby enough about what’s going on, we’ll leave." I believe that was the message the boycotters wanted to get across, and I think they got it across.

So with more changes just announced, why is eBay doing all of this?

I still think it’s quite simple, and when I tell people this, they tell me it makes sense. The typical "angry seller" may not like it, but I still think it’s what’s going on. Here it is:

You (sellers) didn’t change when eBay changed their fee structures, which many people agree was designed to make people list in different ways and with different strategies than before.

You didn’t change when people left you negative and neutral feedback about your service. You thought they were jerks out to hurt your precious percentage. No, some of that was real feedback from people who had real beefs with you, and you didn’t listen or change.

You didn’t change when eBay put rules out there like keyword spamming and not putting URLs or links in listings and Stores. You tried to get around it and still do those things because rules shouldn’t apply to you.

You didn’t change when eBay put together classes for you at eBay Live telling you better ways to do things. eBay Live isn’t JUST a community conference. The classes can be helpful, even to the larger PowerSeller.

You didn’t change when you decided that since you had your success doing things how you were doing them, nothing you were doing should change. You can call eBay execs egomaniacal if you want, but it’s egomaniacal to think that you’re doing everything right and don’t need to change because you have some success.

So eBay had to FORCE you to change. eBay had to create punishments and rewards (almost like for children) because you weren’t having any of it when eBay, your shoppers/buyers, and outside experts were suggesting that you change. Now you have no choice. Now, if you continue doing the same thing the same way, you can be put out of business.

eBay wants you to succeed. The idea that eBay wants to kill your business is something you tell yourself and the media to make yourself feel better and shift the blame. eBay would only want to kill the businesses of bad sellers who make good buyers leave eBay and tell friends eBay is bad. eBay wants the good businesses to thrive because it’s nice :) and because that’s how they make their money. They make money when good businesses sell things.

It’s like your doctor telling you for the 10th time to quit smoking and drinking because your diseases are now fatal, and you’re pissed off at the doctor (when you should be pissed off at yourself).

There is a large seller who got some free advice from me a few months ago. Her DSRs were failing, and to me, it was because she was not being clear about why her shipping charges were what they were. I don’t need anybody to lower shipping prices that are fair, but if shipping DSRs are low on fair shipping prices. then you need to do a better job communicating.

I gave her a long list of what to do with her listings to help communicate things that were getting lost on people and then disappointing them. Did she take my free advice? As far as I can tell, the only thing she did was add a video about her shipping. She didn’t re-order her info. She didn’t edit her listings, which are mostly 8 feet long, and are mostly an ocean of text that nobody wants to read.

So she didn’t change. She got the change or die message from her doctor, and she put a bandaid on a wart. She previously had a linked MP3 song about her shipping (which I didn’t listen to), and now she has a link to a video (rather than an embedded video). But she didn’t really change. She didn’t rewrite or edit things. She didn’t lay things out freshly. She just added more, and to me, sellers who keep adding more is how we ended up with 8 foot long listings that are oceans of text that we KNOW our shoppers aren’t reading.

So even without eBay’s changes, why do we still show our listings in ways that we know eBay shoppers aren’t reading or getting? On the flip side of that, we enjoy being the only company designing and rewriting listings to help people with this stuff. :) So we’re here for you! :)

To me, eBay is doing all of this this big and this fast because you didn’t take any of the subtle and not subtle hints that you’ve been getting the last 3-4 years. Now you’re getting the change or die message, and you seem to be surprised by it. Well, I’m sorry you didn’t use all the previous changes and info to improve.

Some of my clients did. Some of my clients are LOVING eBay right now because they are on top of everything. Their DSRs are high. They are high in Best Match. They are getting the big PowerSeller discounts. eBay isn’t screwing everybody or even most people. The sellers who resisted change and are still resisting change are mostly screwing themselves.

So what will those sellers do? Make a big fuss? Post comments in people’s blogs? Leave eBay forever? Sell somewhere else? How about Amazon, with all of its rules? How about other, newer marketplaces? Once they get big enough, they will change their rules too. What works in year 1 of a marketplace may not fly in year 2. Businesses and marketplaces evolve. Sellers need to evolve with them or in advance of them. Otherwise, you end up where you are now, and hey, we told you so.

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Categories: Just An Observation

Comments Closed

2 Responses to “Why Is eBay Doing All Of This?”

  1. 5Days says:

    Sorry to say, you and eBay are thick as thieves. You have had booths at LIVE and can’t afford to cut the ties so you just sucked up to them in this email blast. Not to mention you just won best stores category? You certainly aren’t going to go against eBay at the moment.

  2. Debbie says:

    You know, it’s really a shame that you and others can’t believe that I have this opinion all by myself. You just assume I’m bought and owned by eBay, and you’re wrong.
    I have booths at eBay Live. It’s a good place for sellers to find my company. Where is the problem there? I pay an insane amount of money to exhibit at eBay Live and often don’t make it back. It’s not like they give me that booth for free!
    One of our Stores won Best in Stores because it deserves it. It’s a great Store and great listing template, and should win. eBay didn’t give me that as some sort of present. In fact, in previous years, we never had a Store nominated. The public voted ours the best in that category because it was easily better than the others in the running. :)
    So considering eBay makes us pay dearly for our booth, and this is the first year we got nominated for Best In Stores, I think you need to revise your definition of “thick as thieves.” If we’re so in with eBay, why didn’t we win any of the other Best in Store categories? We certainly have Stores that fit those, but we didn’t even get a Store nominated in the other three categories.
    eBay hands us nothing, and whatever we get is certainly not for free. We have to work for everything we do, get, and have.
    And I do go against eBay where I think they have it wrong. Magically, people like you don’t respond to those blog posts or interviews that I give. You only respond to the ones where I place ANY blame for things on sellers or try to make sellers take any responsibility for their own choices and behaviour. Well guess what. Sellers should take responsibility for what they can control.