Opting Out of the eBay Experiment is Possible when a Seller Takes Back Control

Posted on September 20, 2008. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , |

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The undeniable fact is that eBay has been and continues to be profitable.  Financially, they been successful for many years.  There is a big question about eBay’s long-term financial health in the future but there is no question that eBay has been financially successful in the past, either through luck or skill or both.  But eBay’s financial success has come at the expense of many of their sellers.  Sellers on eBay typically receive lower average selling prices (ASPs) and pay higher percentage in fees to eBay and Paypal as compared to other venues.

 

Despite lower ASPs and lower margins in the last several years, eBay sellers have remained.  eBay sellers have been squeezed financially but, prior to this year, many sellers did not seriously seek out alternative venues because people don’t like change.  Unfortunately the decision to finally make a change came too late for many eBay sellers because they were pressed so tightly on their margins that they lost their opportunity to invest time and money in establishing their business elsewhere.  Many of these sellers, who couldn’t afford to provide good customer service on eBay, found themselves suspended from selling on eBay.

 

We, as sellers, simply must take full responsibility for our own actions.  If we cannot be successful selling on “the new eBay” then we simply cannot sit around hoping eBay will change; we ourselves must change and that change may or may not include continuing to sell on eBay.  Every eBay seller has to make a decision that is good for them without consideration of whether that decision is good or bad for eBay.  There is no loyalty from eBay and no partnership with eBay.  eBay’s reckless actions, which are hurting many good sellers, are not personal attacks on us but rather they are the actions of a company in the midst of a crisis.   eBay is making business decisions without any consideration for the effect upon others and that is what many businesses, especially big businesses, do.  We have to remember that we do not control eBay but we do control what actions we take.  eBay cannot force us to sell on their site.  We have free will.

 

For me personally, I take full responsibility for my eBay dependence.  I can’t say “the devil made me do it” because it was my choice to build a business on eBay just as it is my choice to tear down that business and build it elsewhere.  I saw the signs for quite a few years  – lower selling prices over time, increase in nonpaying bidders, numpty buyers who demanded something for nothing, eBay raising their rates at an alarming pace – and yet I chose to stay.  eBay was declining for quite some time and my business was declining right alongside with them.  And when eBay recognized the impending doom and reacted with tumultuous changes, I blamed eBay for the bumpy ride they were taking me on.

 

As a society, we tend to look for someone else to blame for our misfortune or for our circumstances.  And I admit that for quite awhile I blamed eBay for the mess I had gotten myself into by becoming dependent on the quick cash from eBay.  But when I stopped blaming eBay for all my troubles and took responsibility for the decisions I made then I was able to take responsibility and look to the future.  I had given eBay the control over me and my business and I have now taken that back.  It is my business, my life, and my choice.

 

I have been selling on eBay longer than most eBay managers and executives have been working at eBay and I am just as formally educated, if not more so, than most of them so I often feel qualified to make judgements about their decisions.  Not to mention that their decisions do affect me as an eBay seller and thus I have opinions about how they are affecting me personally.  But no matter how many mistakes we “outsiders” see eBay making, it is ultimately their mistakes to make and to live with.  I don’t own eBay stock so I have no financial interest in their bottom line.  I do, however, have an interest in my own bottom line.  And so, when I see eBay making mistakes and “gathering and analyzing data” after a change is implemented in order to “adjust” their previous “test” quarter, I just have to remember that my focus need not be on eBay’s irrational actions and the effects they will have on eBay.  My sights need to be set squarely on me.  Only me. 

 

I often receive such heart-wrenching emails from sellers so I am completely aware of the widespread destruction that “Hurricane eBay” is causing across our nation, destroying small businesses by the thousands.   Whereas eBay started out as a “platform of the people by the people”, the site is morphing into an unrecognizable venue where the very seller that was once the cornerstone of the eBay marketplace is no longer welcome. eBay actually helped to create small home-based businesses across the country that they are now helping to destroy.   It is a sign of the times. eBay talks about social responsibility but it is only talk.  eBay was once a beloved company with a great intangible asset surplus of goodwill.  Today, there is a stigma attached to being an eBay seller and most eBay sellers are ashamed to admit that they are still offering their wares on the eBay platform.  But we, as sellers, must remember that the poor reputation of the eBay marketplace belongs only to eBay and not to us.  eBay will always be defined as eBay but we, as sellers, can redefine our business because eBay is only a venue for us.

 

At the end of June of this year, right before the 4th of July holiday I wrote a blog article titled 2008 is the Year to Finally Become eBay Independent and what I wrote then is still relevant today, almost 3 months later.  I have only been blogging for about 4 months, in an effort to overcome some of my frustrations about selling on eBay, and I think I have come a long way in 4 months and have made significant strides in my efforts to establish my business away from eBay.  For me personally, I find that the more I move away from eBay and build up my business elsewhere, the less anger and frustration I feel about being trapped on eBay because I see an end to my over-dependence on a venue where the stewards are so anti-seller and where the main motivational tool is fear.      

 

It is my unsolicited opinion that eBay is in self-destruct mode.  Knowing this, I am not going to sit idly by like a passenger with no control on a plane going down in flames.  eBay executives have golden parachutes to save them if the plane gets too low to the ground before the pilot can pull it back up.  But eBay is not providing parachutes for the rest of the folks – none for the stewards and stewardesses and definitely none for the passengers.  And all the noise in the world will not convince eBay that it is in their best interest to work with the passengers, some of whom are experts, to figure out a solution to save everyone including the passengers who paid good money for their fares.  Instead, eBay executives have made up their own minds on how things should be done based on limited data and no experience and they have plotted a dangerous course while simply hoping for the best.  And if things don’t work out as planned, eBay is ready to sign up more passengers for another “test run” after the data from the previous flight is recorded and analyzed and a new plane is constructed. 

 

Well, I am not an expendable guinea pig and I didn’t sign up my business to be a test subject on eBay.  I choose to opt out of this perpetual “test phase” that eBay is going through.  Two separate fee increases this year, glitches that are never-ending, and a broken Best Match search system are just three of the biggest problems eBay sellers are faced with on the new eBay experimental platform.  But while eBay is morphing the eBay platform into something unrecognizable, I am busy transforming my business into something stronger and better and more stable than ever before.  The bottom line is that I am no longer willing to let eBay make the decisions for my business and tell me what is best for me, like forcing me to offer free shipping, while I watch them run their own business into the ground.  

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10 Responses to “Opting Out of the eBay Experiment is Possible when a Seller Takes Back Control”

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Brews,
I don’t think I’ve read anything yet that so eloquently comes close to what I think & feel. While I worked on Friday I listened to the Townhall meeting where of course the questions were screened and Griff like a circus master glibly answered or routed the questions to his panel of not so confident “experts”.

I’m not going to bash on Ebay anymore. It’s 4 in the morning, once again can’t sleep, and I know I have to take a new direction. It’s a shame, a travesty what Ebay has done, but each and everyone of us is important and has a purpose in this life.

I read the discussion boards and it’s the same old moaners, people who aren’t even listing but just can’t move on. I don’t only want to move on but ny financials say I must.

You’re writing and your blog is superb. You hit just the right human note. I know you have to detach from Ebay but I hope you still write and let us share in your journey.
Thanks, Lisa

You’ve nailed it here, quite eloquently, as the previous commenter has stated. I’m one of those small sellers who has been struggling to try to grow my business while continually chasing after eBay’s moving target of a business plan. For the first time, I am seriously working to diversify to other venues. There is no one entity that can take eBay’s place, and I will probably continue to do business there, but it won’t be my bread & butter.

It always strikes me as rather hypocritical that eBay makes a great show of their support for WorldofGood.com and MicroPlace.com. If they’re so interested in helping small business people, why not start with the little guys already trying to sell on their platform?

I’m probably fortunate in that I’ve never planned to totally be dependent on eBay. I’m having to accelerate my diversification plans and change them somewhat, based on all of eBay’s changes, but I don’t take them personally. It’s eBay’s venue and they can do whatever they like. As you said, we are all free to use them as one of our business tools or not.

As far as being a passenger on “eBay Air”, well, I’ll still fly those less-than-friendly skies, but I’ll be bringing my own parachute.

Hey Brews!

Your piece is great!

See what you can do about getting it republished as a guest editorial over at Auction Bytes! I would like your essay to get maximum exposure!

Cheers,
Stephen

I’ve always wondered why ebay sellers are the most complaining people I have ever heard. Every time I read a complaint I think to myself,
“Well darn it then don’t list Go somewhere else but stop constantly complaining and then still list”

Finally you see that you make the choice and the outcome is in your hands

Wonderful and very truthful piece, Brews. The truth hurts and I know there are a lot of ebay sellers sitting around and believing this will all magically turn around and Ebay will “come to its senses.” Its not going to happen and sellers need to digest that and then they need to start moving on. It was hard for me after 10 years but I’m diversifying and picking up some sales on other sites and even some commissions thru networking on other sites. I still keep a few pieces on Ebay – not to completely let go of what once was a very profitable venue for me…but I no longer depend on them. The sooner sellers move on and take control of their own businesses the better off they will become. Unfortunately for ebay I believe sellers leaving will cause ebay to collapse – but that’s their problem and not ours. Good piece…I commend you for it.

simply great post buddy!

I went through this misery last year when i lost a large sum of money because of ebay banning me, I had to go out forcefully and create my business wisely and stop blaming ebay at the same time.

since then thank heavens my business is booming (no ebay sales in 1 year)

best of luck to all who read this great post!

Indeed, you have to get a point where you just don’t care anymore.

I sold from 1996 until June 2007. Saw the writing on the wall in 2004-2005 and started to leave. (It wasn’t easy and took two years.)

In hindsight it was so difficult to leave because I remembered the opportunities and success eBay offered in the beginning through about 2001-2002. I made a decent living and in most respects enjoyed my “job”.

With every change I tried to adapt but eBay kept making it harder and harder to keep up, the fees kept going up and sell through, along with prices realized, kept going down.

I wanted it to work, as it had for me, so badly that I was unwilling to face the reality that I had to move on. I didn’t want to move on. I wanted eBay to be the venue it had been.

Finally I faced facts. I don’t fight battles I can’t win. I moved on. Sadly I was right in my perceptions that eBay was going in the direction it has, and, fortunately I started to get out from under when I did in 2004.

Now, I just don’t care what eBay does or doesn’t do. The eBay that offered me opportunities no longer exists.

I wish you luck and success.

You are so right. We are all individually responsible for ourselves and our businesses. However, we live in a society that has bred a group of people tht have no desire to take responsibility for themselves and want to blame someone else whenever life ‘goes wrong’.

I have been slowing pulling out of ebay but with a huge inventory it is a hard one woman job. I’m glad I am making trickles of income from other sources such as Amazon and ecrater and know that those trickles will increase as the inventory numbers shift from ebay to ecrater.

Looking forward to freedom from ebay and I sure hope I have managed to move everything out before they crash for good!

I read something on one of the ebay boards today that shocked me, and it takes a lot to shock this old timer. It also summed up a lot of things I’ve seen written on blogs and message boards about ebay for some time, that word was “Frightened”. Experienced sellers are actually frightened for the future of their business, their livelyhoods and doing any tiny thing that could put their account at risk for whatever bizzare reason ebay find.

Must admit, it made me really sit and think about how many others feel the same way but won’t admit it, I imagine more than we’ll ever know.

I’m not frightened, I’m actually angry at myself for sticking with eBay so long. Looking at cold hard figures, I know that if i’m honest with myself it’s stalled my own business growth over the last few years.

It’s hard sometimes to believe that something that served you so well for so long can turn into this monster, but sadly it has.

Hi, Brews, great read here, and agree totally.

You fly the skies, I sail the oceans. I wrote a very similar piece, but with more of a B&M slant here at
http://greeninkdiary.blogspot.com/2009/08/are-you-captain-or-biz-owner-perfect.html
called “Are you a Captain, or Biz owner? the Perfect Storm” . Whether one is going down with the plane, or the ship, still going down I guess.

In my analogy, sounds like you’ve decided to be an “owner” insead.

Since you’ve previously stated you prefer selling on Amazon now , perhaps it would be great to hear of your experiences there as compared to your solo efforts on your own website and your plans on full independence down the road.
I’m curious.


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