People used to care when eBay announced new changes and features. Well, this week the online auction megalith announced a laundry list of new bells and whistles that will rollout on June 15th.
Uh huh! I hear crickets too.
The economy is down. Unemployment is 8.6%.Those that are spending money are surely looking for a bargain. Those that don't have spending money would undoubtedly like to unload some of their pre-recession bling to put towards monthly bills. It sounds like a recipe for an eBay boom; and yet, eBay marketplace sales are down (-16% for the fourth quarter of 2008).
(Today should be interesting, by the way. EBay will be announcing it's first quarter earnings for 2009.)
So what's the problem? Let me count the ways!
1. EBay sellers have been fleeing like lemmings over the past year since eBay hiked up its seller fees. All of the new features announced this week are features and tools to facilate sales. But, the fees remain. I been cruising a number of blogs and web sites where sellers go to kavetch to take a temperature on reaction to the announcement. Universally, the response has been disgust that there is no change in the fee structure. The common complaint is that between PayPal and EBay wetting its beak, sellers are shelling out anywhere from 15 - 18% off the top from their profits (information superhighway robbery to hear some tell it).
2. Craigslist is free, local and a great way to get around PayPal and shipping fees by selling within driving distance of home or the business.
3. Amazon is taking a big bite out of EBay.
4. EBay took off when it was still next to impossible to launch an e-tail site without hiring a pro to build a shopping cart feature, etc. on the company site. Now just about every site building tool, social networking page and blogging platform has a shopping cart feature that makes it a breeze to set up shop online. Who needs EBay's turnkey solution anymore?
My parting thought: EBay, in my mind, is like the AOL of online selling. America Online was huge in the mid-90's when mainstream folks went online for the first time. America Online was the easy, safe way to get online for the first time. I always called it training wheels for the newbie. After awhile, the average bear just didn't need those training wheels anymore. AOL hasn't gone away, of course. Neither will eBay anytime soon. But like AOL, EBay once functioned as the training wheels for the first time online seller. I believe the need has all but passed for that.
p.s. Happy Earth Day! Turn off the lights more, recycle your ink cartridges, don't forget to turn off your PC at night.