Some Observations about eBay Trends from an eBay Seller’s Perspective

Posted on September 30, 2008. Filed under: eBay, eBayInkBlog | Tags: , , |


Trend #1 – Occasional eBay sellers are reluctant to list their items on the “new” eBay

Something interesting has been occurring recently.  All of a sudden, eBay members have begun emailing me to ask if I would be interested in buying their items.  It is not unusual for us to be contacted about once a month through eBay asking if we would be interested in purchasing some items that are just like what we are selling.  We are not listed as Trading Assistants and we do not advertise that we sell on consignment so these emails really do come out of the blue.  What is astonishing is the volume of emails we have recently received, both from people who have never bought from us as well as people who buy from us one week and then email us the next week with an offer to sell to us something different.  Out of curiosity I began asking the people if they had tried selling the item themselves on eBay.  The overwhelming response was that they had been an occasional eBay seller in the past but this year the rules are too difficult to understand and they are afraid that they would never get their money from PayPal even if they did manage to sell their item on eBay.  Many of these occasional sellers stopped selling when the eBay insertion fees got too high and the selling prices got too low.  But now, even when these sellers are faced with tough economic times, so that they really need to sell some of their items, and the insertion fee for fixed price is only 35 cents, they still won’t list their items on eBay.  Many of them think a better plan is to find someone like us, who is still selling on eBay, and hope that we will buy their items outright so that they can avoid the uncertainty of having to navigate through the new eBay and PayPal rules.


Trend #2 – eBay Sellers most often ask for a shipping discount from other eBay sellers

It is really amazing how many eBay sellers (competitors) buy from us now to resell on eBay because we are liquidating some of our product lines right now as we transition more onto alternate channels with higher quality items.  In our eBay listings, we always state what the shipping cost is for one item as well as the shipping costs for additional items.  However, we receive quite a few emails from potential buyers asking us for a further discount in shipping.  As some of them say, “how about I pay the actual postage with no handling fees”?   They tell us they don’t need insurance so we can subtract that out and they actually tell us that they don’t need the items packaged well; they just need cheap shipping.  We conducted an informal survey and found that the vast majority of potential buyers who asked for a shipping discount more than what we currently state are themselves also eBay sellers, most of whom actually charge MORE for shipping the same item than we do.  


Trend #3 – eBay sellers are no longer making as much “Noise”

I have noticed that the eBay community boards and other public bulletin boards where eBay is discussed have received fewer comment posts and the posts do not seem to be nearly so “passionate”.  eBay sellers simply are not taking the time to try and express their frustration about eBay and/or to eBay.  They seem to have given up on eBay. 

For example, on the eBay blog ( eBayInkBlog )
(a) It has been 3 days and there are no comments on the post titled A Meeting of the Minds

(b) It took 6 days before anyone made a comment on the post titled eBay Launches Mobile App

(c) Just under a week ago, the article titled eBay to Launch Adcommerce Program for Sellers  was posted.  To date, there is just over one page of comments.  Four months ago I would have expected this provocative post to have received many more comments.

(d) On August 19th, the post titled Reduction in Fixed Price Fee and Much Much More received 12 pages of comments.

(e) On May 19th, the post titled Knowing Where You Stand received 25 pages of comments

(f) On May 16th, the post titled titled Feedback on Feedback to Feedback received 49 pages of comments

Sellers were passionately posting on eBayInk Blog four months ago but recent articles rarely get comments.  Most of the articles now are simply public relation pieces and those that could be considered provocative to the seller community receive only a few short comments.    

Trend #4 – Instead of spending time complaining about eBay, sellers are now getting busy making plans to leave.  eBay sellers are diversifying and multi-channel sellers are becoming the norm rather than the exception.  More sellers plan to diversify in the coming months.
According to a recent survey of more than 400 eBay sellers, many current eBay sellers have already diversified.  Of those surveyed, 52% stated that they do sell on other platforms similar to ebay.
(results shown HERE ) 
I recently asked sellers if they plan on selling exclusively on eBay in 2009 and beyond, and only 4% of those surveyed  (see Survey HERE)  stated that eBay will be their only venue in the coming year.  Many eBay sellers who are not already multi-channel will be migrating off the eBay site in the coming months.  It is just a matter of time as many sellers have to move incrementally.  eBay will not notice these sellers shutting off their sales all at once, like one instantly notices when a light switch is turned off, so it will be easier for eBay to overlook what is actually happening over time.  

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5 Responses to “Some Observations about eBay Trends from an eBay Seller’s Perspective”

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Yes, I feel bad for Richard because eBay treats him so poorly. Allowing him to believe that he had free reign over his blog and then leaving him holding a bag of questions. Just holding it.

New sellers being concerned about PayPal keeping their money is interesting. I can’t recall what the estimate eBay gave eBay provided of the percent of eBay sellers who at the time would be subject to the 21 day hold. However, I do recall an article I wrote pointing out that as the DSR crap and all the other BS went into motion many more sellers would find their funds placed on 21 day holds. It just so happens that I have a poll going and out of 178 people 27 people or 15% of the poll takes have been subject to the PayPal 21 day hold. I don’t recall their advertised percent being 15%???

I’m guilty of being a seller who asks for discounts- I don’t threaten, but I will ask for combined rates if not detailed. Sometimes if it is detailed I ask if I bought x amount if they could give me a better shipping price or ship priority instead of first class. Really if I am going to be charged 20 bucks for products that can be shipped priority for 7.90 I would at least like the seller to put 7.90 of the 20 toward priority, and I want it packaged well. I don’t think that is unreasonable.

I do not purchase & pay a shipping price then ding a seller I am either willing to pay the shipping fee or I’m not. If I choose to then so be it I decided I could work it out and if not I buy some where else.

I personally find myself irritated at the price some sellers charge for shipping, and it is actually because I know how much shipping costs. For example: If I buy 10 pieces of Makeup I know that the actual postage priority mail would be $4.75 and the seller has a first item price of 5 to 5.50 ok postage and material, but if each additional is a dollar in the end I would have paid 14+ for shipping. As a seller I know that the seller will pocket 9 dollars from the shipping fee they are charging. I don’t buy from sellers with these combined rates, because I feel the fees are excessive. If they want more money for the item than they should price the item accordingly.

Multiple purchase transaction in my category are more cost effective in packing materials (I’m sure other categories too) If someone buys 10 items from me I’m not going to charge them a dollar extra per item when they actually saved me a 1.25 for each item they bought. My packing supplies for each customer is roughly 1.25 so that transaction saved me $11.25 to charge an additional 9 dollars for the heck of it would just be rude and unconscionable to me. That simply is not who I am, so when I am confronted with shipping that is out of reasonable proportion eBay or anywhere else online it irks me. Again I do not threaten or command the shipping price or method- I will ask for a quantity discount or for a combined rate if it is not advertised.

The corollary to Trend 4 (sellers diversifying) will resemble a tire with a slow leak. Sellers won’t disappear in large numbers (you’re not leaving the site, for example), they just will list less as they spread their efforts. One’s time and money is finite, after all. Past years on eBay all showed a distinct ramp-up prior to the holidays. It will be difficult to see this year, since the mega-listings of the diamond sellers confuse the charts, but I would predict that the ramp up will be considerably muted, as most professional sellers list only part of their stock on eBay, or switch to a liquidation/customer acquisition strategy as you have.

Since I’ve been limited on how much and what I can sell of certain brands on Ebay, I’ve been spending an hour or two a day on Bonanzle. I sell used name brand clothes.

I haven’t had any sales but I don’t have that much up yet either. But the feeling of freedom and empowerment is so worth it. I’ll stay on Ebay as long as my profit is larger than my fees, but I like doing something proactive instead of steaming over Ebay’s ignorance. After I get settled on Bonanzle, I’ll be setting up my vintage clothing store on BluJay.

Maybe Ebay’s stupidity is a blessing for us all.

I think you have thought this out pretty well. I, too, am just opening on Bonanzle (just love the site and hope it flies!), and was trying to decide between Blujay or Etzy (which has just opened a collectibles section). I will probably do both of them too. Am sticking with Ebay until it demolishes itself, of course, but hope one of the above wins the new race to the top. Thanks for writing.

Ebay has definitely lost touch and made some bad choices because of a few bad sellers

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