eBay.com Morphs into eBay Express without the “Power of All of Us”

Posted on June 17, 2008. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , |

All the buzz lately about eBay checkout and eBay shopping carts has me wondering what is really going on.  On June 15th Randy Smythe made the following prediction:  “The rumor of the day, is that eBay will prohibit 3rd Party checkout.”
I can see where eliminating 3rd party checkout is definitely a possibility and it certainly seems to be something eBay is inclined to do based on their recent actions.  For example, I reported earlier this month about how eBay’s coupons, such as $10 off a $50 purchase, seem to be creating problems for buyers and sellers.  Buyers purchase an item on eBay thinking they can use the coupon but the “fine print” of the coupon excludes the use of 3rd party checkout (the Important Terms & Conditions of the coupon state: “Purchases on http://www.express.ebay.com and eBay Live Auctions and purchases made through any customized checkout system are excluded.”).  Getting rid of 3rd party eBay checkout would allow eBay to continue to offer more coupons and rewards programs where everyone who paid by paypal could participate because the only checkout service available would be the eBay checkout system.  And, of course, this would pave the way for the possibility of eBay charging Final Value Fees on the shipping costs as well as the sales price.  But, in order to really be able to charge final value fees on shipping (the way Amazon does and what some folks are predicting eBay wants to do), eBay is going to need a shopping carts system. 
Many folks don’t realize that eBay already DOES have a shopping cart system in place.  Just wander on over to eBay Express for a moment (www.eBayExpress.com).

Note that on eBay Express, your “real” name, not your eBay ID, appears on the home page if you are logged in.  This, of course, provides a more “retail” shopping experience.  But, unlike the eBay.com website where I continually have to provide my eBay ID and password all day long, I never have to log in to eBay Express.  Once you log in the first time it is like you can NEVER sign out.  You can return months later and you will still be logged in.
The eBay Express “experiment” failed but yet eBay seems bent on transforming the eBay.com website into a shopping site that matches eBay Express.  While it is no longer a requirement to be a Powerseller to sell on eBay Express, a seller must maintain a feedback score of 100 or more and a Positive Feedback rating of 98% or better.  And, of course, the seller must accept PayPal as payment.  Sounding familiar?  eBay is pushing to force all eBay.com sellers to accept Paypal and anyone with a feedback percentage of less than 98% is no longer welcome on eBay.com.  So with eBay attempting to morph eBay.com into a new retail shopping experience, there is one important key ingredient missing — seller participation.  In order for a shopping cart system to work, buyers must be able to add multiple items to their shopping cart so that the combined shipping cost is properly displayed at the time of checkout.  This requires sellers to properly use the eBay system, specifically the combined shipping aspect, to ensure the eBay shopping cart system functions properly.  Currently, that is not happening.   See Ina Steiner’s AuctionBytes article titled “eBay Express Turns Checkout into Train Wreck”    ( http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y07/m10/i15/s01 )
The vast majority of eBay.com sellers state their combined shipping policy within their auction descriptions but their shipping details within the listing itself does not support what they have written in their description.  This requires the buyer to purchase the items and then wait for an invoice from the seller before paying.  For example, one seller I know states in their listings the shipping cost for each individual item and then states that when multiple items are purchased, they will discount each subsequent shipping cost by 50%.  A shopping cart system requires payment at the time the items are purchased and so there would be no way for a buyer to purchase that particular seller’s items without paying the full shipping for each item since each listing is not set up with a shipping discount profile that would allow 50% off shipping costs for every additional item.
When the eBay.com coding was first written, there was no thought as to how to create a good system from the beginning.  And adding on necessary features, such as combined shipping profiles, after the fact means that long-time users would have to keep up with the new technology AND go back and revise each and every listing that was created previously.  Because eBay does an extremely poor job of informing current uses and educating new users on how to “properly” use the eBay system and any new improvements, the system will never be able to go in the direction that eBay would like for it to go.  eBay can create the most wonderful technology in the world but if their customers (sellers) do not use the technology then the system will fail.  eBay continues to forget that they NEED sellers to exist on eBay and to cooperate with eBay.  Unfortunately, the success of eBay sellers has never been a real consideration for eBay because, based on all their actions, eBay does not think that their long-term survival is tied to the success of their customers (sellers). 
In contrast, Amazon’s primary customers are their buyers because Amazon sells product on their own website and allows third party vendors to share in the process.  eBay, on the other hand, sells nothing tangible so if their own system is broken, continues to experience continual glitches, supports buyers who purchase but do not pay, and fails to deliver a good buying experience then there is no direct consequence for eBay.  As long as eBay sellers continue to pay the exorbitant fees to sell on eBay and as long as PayPal continues to dominate, eBay will continue to exist.  In order to actually thrive, though, eBay is going to have to change their mindset and they are going to have to invest some real resources into fixing the problems.  Giving away Disney vacations and Mustang cars, along with coupons and rewards programs, may work in the short term for eBay.  It’s easy to discount the price, in the form of coupons, and it is easy to make people happy by giving them free items and such but it won’t fix eBay’s very real problems.  eBay needs to retain good sellers and they need these sellers to fully utilize the eBay system technology.  Until eBay recognizes that their success is tied directly to the success of their customers (sellers) and until eBay’s direct actions reflect that realization, they will never have “The Power of All of Us.” 

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2 Responses to “eBay.com Morphs into eBay Express without the “Power of All of Us””

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I whole-heartedly agree with your entire article. One thing puzzles me though. You said:

“While it is no longer a requirement to be a Powerseller to sell on eBay Express, ”

I’ve never been a powerseller but when I had my ebay store my fixed price items all appeared on Ebay Express. I could see exactly what was sold thru Ebay Express in MyEbay.

As for Ebay’s main business – I imagine they’ll have to go all the way down that muddy creek and management will have to be ousted before they can possibly turn their business around. If not, they won’t survive. It will be a lesson hard learned.


There was a time when only Powerseller’s items appeared on eBay Express. Some of the requirements have changed over time.

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