As I listed a few items on eBay last month, I could hardly believe that it has been nearly 2 years since I walked away from my online retailing business that my husband and I did while I was in nursing school. The transition wasn’t easy–My husband gave up nearly $20,000 in income (for his first full year in business), and decided that he would prefer blogging and writing over retailing. Of course, his blogging income has been much lower than that starting out, but he hopes to soon boost it up by taking on some paid posts, freelance writing, and more.
Anyway, back to eBay. I just really don’t like eBay like I used to. I still sell items there on rare occasions (personal items mostly), but I try to avoid them when possible.
It all started when the removed the ability to sell digital products. That really hit hard because a small portion of my income came from a few eBooks I wrote. So that was strike one. That one made so many sellers angry that some actually protested.
Next, they alienated their sellers by removing the ability to leave negative feedback. Take it from someone who knows–some buyers absolutely deserve negative feedback. I had some buyers who were nightmares. The terrible experiences I had with them made me despise eBay, especially when I had no recourse and had to accept getting scammed. You would be shocked to read some of the absurd emails that popped into my inbox from people. eBay will do one thing for sure: They will let you know that there are some serious crazies in this world.
Finally, eBay’s ever rising fees, and daily rule changes was enough to make me want to throw in the towel. So I did just that. Everything was a hassle anyway: Creating eBay listings, managing your inventory, dealing with 1,000 dumb questions per day (most of which were already answered if they had just read the listing), shipping packages, bookkeeping was a nightmare, etc.
I was earning an okay amount of money for just starting out, but it wasn’t worth the effort and frustrations that came along with it.
Since leaving eBay as a full-time business, I am so much happier. I don’t have to deal with rude people, silly questions, and get scammed by dishonest buyers looking to get free stuff.
I just happened to look at some of my sales stats for the past few months with just my eBay sales alone. I noticed something a little frustrating. My sales are actually going down! What is crazy is, this is the time when they are supposed to be going up!
Here we are in late October, and then November, and then December. It is the holiday season! My products are year round products, and actually some increase during Christmas time. But the slow sales are a bit disappointing. They have decreased by almost $1,000! Not only that, but the my eBay and Paypal fees have only decreased by about $300.
The good news is that I do expect much lower eBay fees now. I have canceled my eBay store now that they have offered the 30 day good til canceled format for fixed prices. I am also getting as much traffic to my listings as I was with the store, so that saves a big $16 a month.
Not only that, but the one GOOD thing eBay did do, is that they lowered the listing fees for fixed price format down to only $0.35, REGARDLESS OF QUANTITY. That was pretty awesome. That means you can list your entire inventory, and it is only $0.35 per listing. Not bad at all. They did, however, raise the final value fees. But I anticipate that this will actually lower my monthly eBay fees, since the majority of my wasted fees were going to having relist unsuccessful auctions all the time.
Why eBay is Dying a Slow Death
I have blogged in the past about why I think eBay will die a slow death. I think this death process is already happening. People rarely use eBay anymore, and when they do, it is almost always an aggravation.
Even though I list about 5-10 items per year, it is still an annoyance dealing with people on eBay. The company is trying to compete with Amazon, which is kind of silly considering Amazon is completely different. What made eBay great was the novelty experience. You could find or buy just about anything. Buyers could find unique items that they couldn’t find anywhere else. Sellers could make a good living selling junk they didn’t need.
Now, eBay is targeting bigger business. What does this mean? Less unique, and more boring stuff we can find on any old website. To me, this strategy is silly. Rather than compete with Amazon, why not just be an auction site? Why try to be a Retail site? Doesn’t make sense.
If only a big company would come and challenge eBay. I would give anything if Google would do it. That would be amazing. I would actually consider doing some retail on the side again. But I will never do it full-time with eBay. Never!
eBay is Failing Miserably According to Business Week
BusinessWeek.com reported eBay has just announced pretty crappy sales.
I thought I would write this article to help all the idiots at eBay understand why. So here is a list that I am dedicating to anyone at eBay.com that may have a brain cell left, and also this is a tribute to all sellers (former and current) who remember the joy (and money) that used to come from selling on eBay.
How to Fix eBay and Make it Awesome Again:
I hope someone at eBay reads this (preferably on the board of directors). Want to fix eBay? Here is how:
- Keep insertion fees a flat rate. It makes it easier on everyone. They should be slightly lowered. Maybe $0.20 would be good. But if not at least keep them the way they are now and NEVER raise them again- at least not in the next 5 years.
- Lower final value fees by at least 20% – and way lower for items less than $10. I know they are hurting right now, but if a seller can’t make money listing an item, they won’t list it. Make it profitable for them first, then your profit will rise.
- Use More Ads to Compensate the lower fees that I mentioned above. This way, you still make money, but you don’t charge too much to the seller to list an item. Place ad units in the seller & buyer’s “My Summary” home page for all I care. Just don’t raise fees. You could put an ad section up, and allow sellers to advertise there. Make it contextual like Adwords. In fact, they might as well use adwords, unless they are going to make it cheaper for the advertisers. If not, just use that!
- Bring back stuff – Bring back digital delivery, feedback, old search engine, paper payments. Digital delivery was awesome- a person could go and list items in multiple countries, and the buyers could get it instantly. Feedback needs to be fixed back. Search engine needs to completely go back to the old way. Allow sellers to accept paper payments if they wish. Granted, you can add some restrictions for new/untrusted sellers. But bring that back too.
- Focus on YOUR business plan -eBay is not amazon. eBay is an online site specializing in used items, some new items, homemade items, rare items, etc. That is eBay’s specialty. You wouldn’t turn Walmart into Macy’s and expect it to stay in business would you? No, you would lose your customers. Walmart is low price- not fancy items. eBay is not amazon. eBay is cheap, rare, “flea market” unique merchandise at a low price. Focus on that. That is what makes eBay different. Don’t lose that, or you lose your entire business model.
- Keep working on making it secure and reducing hacking to people’s account. It is good that they have made a few changes to make it a little more secure. I at least don’t get spammed like I used to, which is great. Keep making it more secure to build trust again.
- Eliminate the failures – one being DSR. I ship all items free (for the last 2 months) and still don’t have 5 stars!! DSR was a pointless feature. If you keep it, fine. But don’t base anything on it for the sellers. Just have it there as a guide to buyers, and don’t factor it in and prevent sellers from listing and so forth. Eliminate other failures too, such as the failed search, etc.
- Continue to improve how eBay works – send buyer auto information when shipped via Paypal. I know paypal is supposed to do it, but half of my time is wasted getting those darn, “has my item shipped” emails. Help sellers automate feedback free. Help improve the listing and editing process for listings. Make it dynamic with better advertising (placing ads in an eBay home page). P.S. the new design sucks! I don’t like it at all. It needs to be fixed back to the same as well. It is way to slow and glitchy.
- Market more aggressively -when you do those changes above, send out a press release to let everyone know eBay is eBay again. If you made those changes alone, and announced eBay was back to normal, you would see a HUGE rush in listings, sales, and more. People will come back if you hurry and correct these mistakes and failures now. Admit defeat, listen to the sellers (your customer), and do those changes before it is too late. If you linger on this another year or two, sellers will get used to another site, and leave you in the dust. Or another big fish will move into the auction market (Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft maybe??).
Continue on the same path as you have been on the last year, and you will fail miserably. It will be a slow death, but a death nonetheless.
Make the changes above (and I am sure so many sellers agree with that), and eBay will be awesome again and sellers will flock to it. You will probably see a huge boost within just 1 quarter.
This is a bad economy- Last time I checked, the places with lower prices usually did okay or better. It was the “luxury” based businesses that hurt. eBay should be doing fine, or even better, in a bad economy since you can get items cheap. But that isn’t the case right now.
Don’t forget the saying of Sam Walton (walmart founder)–Only one person can fire every single person in the company, including the CEO/owner, board of directors, etc.—-and that is the customer, and they simply do it by not using your service. Make eBay “amazon” and keep screwing over your sellers, and you will literally be fired! Many sellers have already begun firing you! And many more will too if you don’t make the changes above.
Take 1 minute to actually listen to your customers! Your customers are the seller- NOT the buyer. The buyer’s are the seller’s customer. The seller’s are eBay’s customer. Get the drift! If you attract sellers, they will come with loads of merchandise and cheap deals. They will have unique items you can’t get on Amazon. They buyers will soon follow, and you will see your business getting better and better.
So instead of continuing your dumb business ideas, listen to them, bring it back like it was, ad more ads if you need to (and let eBay members advertise on your “my ebay” section instead of the search page).
People Can’t Read an eBay Auction Listing Anymore
Apparently people on eBay have forgotten how to read, or at least, they never bother themselves with doing it very much.
How do I know this?? Well for 2 reasons. I will discuss in detail below how I now know people can no longer read on eBay.
1-People Ask the Dumbest Questions
You wouldn’t believe some of the silly questions I get asked as a regular seller. I mean, I can have it posted 10 times in the auction that an item can only be shipped within the United States-no exceptions.
But guess what?? I’ll get 10 emails saying, “Do you ship to Canada & if so how much?” Come on people. I love you international people just as much as anyone else, but maybe if you took 2 seconds of your time to actually read something, you would get your answer from the 10 times I posted it i the listing…Sheesh!
Also, (since I am on the subject) I get so tired of the spam emails sent through eBay with the stupid scam artists trying to steal your money. They always go something like this…
“Dear Sir or Madam, we are a large wholesale company that has many electronics products. Our website is blahblahblah.com. Please come buy our products.”
Please don’t ever fall for that one because they are scam sites that don’t even really exist. They are just trying to get your information & I get so sick of getting them! I just report them to eBay ASAP every time I get one.
2-People Will Email You After the Sale
This one frustrates me even more than the emails do. If they ask you a really dumb email question, you can always ignore it or simply answer the question. Worst case scenario, you can block the person before they attempt to buy something from you.
But in the chance you get a real crazy person that doesn’t know how to read, and you have already delivered a product to them, it can be a real headache.
You can post in the auction that all sales are final, but guess what you will get sometimes?? The good old, “hey can I return this item.” NO. Simply because I don’t deal with returns. Some sellers allow returns, that’s great. But not me because I bust my tail to make sure the auction lists everything you need to know about it. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. Simple as that! And if you have a question…By all means ask it before you engage in a transaction with us honest eBay sellers.
I even remember an episode of Judge Judy, where this guy thought he was slick & listed a picture of a really expensive phone. In the listing he clearly said, “This is for a picture of the phone, not the actual phone.”
Now, obviously this guy was a scammer & was trying to deceive people. There is no doubt what he did was wrong. But still, what was the person who bought item thinking? If I am going to buy something expensive, I am going to comb over the listing with a microscope to make sure everything is known before I buy it. This was even a woman that looked like she was intelligent & at least middle class.
So please people, learn to read something. Yes, it may take a minute of your time. But all of us honest & hard working sellers would greatly appreciate it if you would actually take a second to read before you ask a question, & DEFINITELY read before you buy something!
Oh, and for those of you who might be curious. The scammer lost the case & the poor lady that was scammed was given her money back. Hopefully she will read an auction better now.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) Is Raising Rates Again
It looks like the Unites States Postal Service is once again raising its rates for first class mail & shipping services in 2008. The new rates will increase just one year after a previous increase in prices.
This change isn’t going to be too significant. Most prices announced will increase by a few cents. However, each price increase just makes it harder & harder for online stores, eBayers, & entrepreneurs to keep expenses low & compete with larger companies.
Post Office is Increasing Prices of First Class, & Other Services
It looks as if First Class stamps will raise 1 cent. Which will make the cost 42 cents to mail a letter instead of 41 cent old rate.
Forever stamps will still be sold until the new price. If you purchase a forever stamp for 41 cents, you can use them “forever,” regardless of the price change.
The post office has also announced increases in prices for Priority Mail, Express Mail, & other services. However, they have not yet announced the specific price changes. Below are other changes that were announced:
-Large envelope, 2 ounces: $1 (up 3 cents).
-Money Orders up to $500: $1.05 (unchanged).
-Certified mail: $2.70 (up 5 cents).
-First-class international letter to Canada or Mexico: 72 cents (up 3 cents).
-First-class international letter to other countries: 94 cents (up 4 cents).
If you ship items frequently, you can expect your shipping expenses to go up. I guess you can chalk this one up to the high gas prices & inflation. Sellers will need to start thinking outside the box to find ways to cut costs.