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Sat June 21 2008 10:09:59

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

By: Ina Steiner

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There's a disconnect between what I'm hearing from eBay executives, and what I'm hearing from sellers and vendors, here at the eBay Live show. Booing during a keynote has happened before - when Bill Cobb mentioned the rollback of Stores in Search back in 2006. This year the booing was about the feedback changes eBay rolled out on May 12, 2008.

But I've never before seen sellers upset to the point they regularly erupted in loud disagreement to eBay presenters, as they did in the Feedback session yesterday. (Author and freelance writer Greg Holden, who is our AuctionBytes blogger this week, live-blogged the event.) There's also a YouTube video showing a man going ballistic at one of the sessions. 

The feedback changes rolled out one month ago, and a number of sellers have been talking about an increase in UPIs (non-paying buyers), and an attitude from buyers that they now have all the time in the world to pay for items. eBay's Stephanie Tilenius told me the UPI rate has not increased. That's surprising to hear, though it's still a bit early. 




Just like many sellers, vendors fear retribution from eBay, and of course, they don't want to scare off customers by being too negative. I've come to learn that larger vendors are realists, so they will either adapt or adjust their business models (BuySafe is rather a good example of this). It's not so clear whether small vendors will weather the changes.

Meanwhile, if I hadn't spoken with sellers and vendors, I'd have a very positive impression of eBay. The managers I've spoken with at DevCon and eBay Live seem focused and determined, and believe in the projects they are working on. I was very impressed with Jamie Iannone's belief in his vision of search (though I'm not sure eBay as a catalog is better than eBay the way it is now, though it may only be rolled out in certain categories where it makes sense). It's certainly a very different way of shopping - I believe the new concept may be similar to the Wigix site I wrote about.

As far as execs, I have a feeling they either don't get it, or get it and won't admit it. And what I mean by don't get it is that they don't recognize sellers' are upset to the point of leaving. The official spin on unrest is "change is hard," which is a big part of it, but the (sometimes nasty) desperation I'm seeing is from sellers who feel they don't have control of their businesses, don't know what eBay might throw at them next, and some of whom are pulling out their hair stuck between poor customer service from eBay and abusive buyers, others who fear encountering bad buyers and how it will affect their businesses.

During the keynote session, Lorrie Norrington spoke about cherishing small sellers like Denise from good-dog-jack, and relayed her experience of buying a pair of shoes on eBay and then selling them to a buyer in France. It would appear they still want those eBay-like experiences, but on an Amazon-like platform.

Where eBay Is Headed
It's no surprise to industry observers that eBay is moving toward a more Amazon-like system - and all the signs are here at the show. eBay is becoming a site in which listings are more generic and the site is more of a catalog than an eclectic bazaar, and in which the buyer has the most consistent experience with search and with Checkout, and of course, a system where eBay processes most of the transactions via PayPal.

Skype, one of the companies composing "the Power of Three" from a few years back, was not mentioned much, if at all. While it was listed as an exhibitor in a list I had printed out on June 2 from the eBay website (booth 950), it is not in the guide being handed out to attendees. I have yet to check the exhibit hall, but someone told me eBay cancelled Skype at the last minute.

The Town Hall meeting is set for 11 am, and I'm expecting a lively debate.




Comments (66) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: dimes

Sat Jun 21 10:20:04 2008

Why would anyone go to eBay for an amazon-like experience when we can just go to amazon?

We went to eBay for an eBay-like experience, which unfortunately no longer exists.  

RIP, eBay.

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: Randy Smythe

Sat Jun 21 10:59:49 2008

Great Post Ina,

That is exactly what is happening. The world of ecommerce needs both an eBay experience and an Amazon experience and eBay mangement's choice to slap eBay on top of Amazon just won't work.

And in this fast moving world we live in, they won't be able to reverse course in time to save it.

Here is the timeline.
Most changes are in place by Q4, during Q4 they realize things aren't working out as planned. In January, the Q4 earnings are not up to snuff and news comes out that they are going back to the original eBay experience.

Too little to late. Then Microsoft or Google gobbles them up.

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: RBH

Sat Jun 21 11:00:48 2008

Thanks Ina! The link to Norrington's auction is particularly interesting. Not only does she not disclose that she is an eBay employee - it appears as though she changed her ID on June 10th, just prior to eBay Live. Guess she didn't want anyone snooping on her auction!!

Looks like she sold those shoes for half the price she bought them for, too! Whatta business sense!

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: Michael

Sat Jun 21 11:03:45 2008

Bay's becoming a bunch of Nazi's. Like paypal a necessary evil, that unfortunately has to be dealt with.  I've never seen a business model that shoots at it's customers. Their policies are from negotiations among themselves, and they don't care what the customer thinks.

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: AC_in_Mich

Sat Jun 21 11:30:19 2008

Yep. Lorrie not only sells the shoes for 1/2 of what she buys them for, doesn't disclose she works for ebay, she has to lie on the listing and say she got them "as a gift" !!!  Doesn't she think people can look at her feedback as a buyer to see she bought them herself?

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: bite me

Sat Jun 21 11:32:06 2008

Its true that ebay is becoming more like amazon. With that in mind 95 percent of current ebay sellers wouldn't be able to sell their trinkets on the platform ebay wants. All you pros better get real day jobs or start your own websites

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: disgruntled ebayer

Sat Jun 21 11:52:48 2008

what did u expect? ebay is anti seller, anti commerce ~ except for themselves. KEEP BOOING and HISSING.

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: meme

Sat Jun 21 11:54:07 2008

GREAT job Ina--thanks.  The above picture speaks a million words--may I ask?--was that taken at a funeral or at a jail?

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: Mechelle

Sat Jun 21 11:58:28 2008

wrote this on the eBayink but it didn't make it so I'll slap it up here as well.

Due to my writing on the blog I was writing it at eBay- just so you know I'm not screaming at you guys.

This is in response to everything, but was spurred on by the new item page


I am very concerned about eBay managements' adjustments- I am beginning to feel as though I am purchasing services from people who have lost touch with reality and now envision themselves as Stalin and us the peasants of Socialist Russia.  

How do you people live in this country and have not the slightest understanding of the concept of capitalism? It is competition that drives the market- duh.  You talk about wanting to compete in the market- do you even know who your competitors are?  I don't think you do - I don't think you have a clue about anything.  The only entity beating eBay out of the market is eBay management. There is nothing strategic in your approach you appear as though you wake up with a new idea daily and begin rolling it out without ever running any valuable preliminary test studies or pilots.  Where do you get your ideas?  Why are they so half a**ed?  

Last year shortly after I opened my store I started learning all the RULES concerning what you could and couldn't do in your store- there was then more what couldn't be done than what could, and I told my husband this place boarders on communism in practice.  Well, you have jumped right into the bloody pool with this generic item page you intend on using much to your own detriment, but you are to base to perceive this reality.

This collectivism BS you are taking with stores and our products is outrageous.  You provide no incentive for anyone to want to do something for YOU!  Yet every action you take forces us to do for you and only you.  Your stupid 5% or 15% "reward" token is not a motivator and clearly wasn't meant to be otherwise it would have been a benefit for all sellers.  You have forced people to conform to your demands through totalitarianism. You have abused your customers by taking advantage of their reliance on eBay's marketplace, and you slaughter those who either can't conform quickly enough or those whose selling behavior is not conducive to your self interested plan.

You are so stupid!  so very very stupid!  What do you imagine will take place once eBay becomes the Clock Work Orange?  Do you honestly believe that sellers will continue to be motivated by your emotional violence or your pathetic rewards once the competition is driven from the marketplace?  If we all have 4.8 + DSRs, if we all have 99.9+ FBRs, if everyone with the same product has it listed for the same price with free shipping and all of your dictates within the listing, and the same visual for each listing regardless of who is selling it there will be no more incentive to remain on eBay!!!!  It is impossible to compete with a clone- there will not be any advantage for any seller- it'll be a crap shoot.  As time goes the defeated getting no where not making any money reality will set in and you will be left with nothing but a bunch of stupid applications, free shipping graphics, an ineffective annoying search algorithm, and an empty ugly generic listing template all created for your totalitarian power.

I am appalled by your approach and if you don't recognize the reality of what you are doing than I am appalled by your lack of education and inability to conceive the basest of concepts relative to marketplace systems.

And I am flabbergasted that the CEO studied economics and views his vision as leading to success- what did you do sleep through your studies?

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: eBay: Fraud Central

Sat Jun 21 12:00:25 2008

No... these eBay execs DON'T get it.

"eBay's Stephanie Tilenius told me the UPI rate has not increased."

WHAT? Mine increased exponentially, as did every seller's I know. Three or four EVERY WEEK, whereas in the previous five years I'd get maybe one or two A YEAR.

Sellers are AFRAID to file for the fee refunds because of retaliatory one-sided negative feedback, so all those unpaid items escape the eBay radar. Doesn't mean it isn't happening just because eBay SAYS it isn't.

Stephanie is as clueless as the rest of 'em. People ARE leaving in droves. Why would I want to keep sinking listing fees into a black hole with no return and NO CUSTOMER service on eBay's part to help combat the problem?

They can stick their heads in the sand and pretend the bad stuff isn't happening, but REAL people know that it is.

Until eBay gets a grip on the RAMPANT fraud such as shilling and counterfeiting they have on their site, they are missing the boat completely. They REFUSE to address the fraud. All these "bandaid" approaches they try only seem to make the problem worse.

The hidden bidder ID's have INCREASED shill bidding. eBay does NOTHING when you complain to them. You can have hard proof of it and they still ignore it. FOR YEARS they have ignored my complaints.

There is a vast amount of uncertainty involved in selling on eBay these days. What hare-brained thing will they think of next to screw sellers? There is no way to make a business plan or even plan ahead for the next MONTH, much less for a year or more.

I feel SO relieved to have parted ways with this vile corporation. The arrogance and total disconnect with reality is amazing.

Nobody in their right mind would choose eBay over Amazon for online retail shopping. NOBODY!

Adios eBay, we hardly knew ye.

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: DisgruntledPowerSeller

Sat Jun 21 12:54:36 2008

Now we got our Ina back!


"eBay's Stephanie Tilenius told me the UPI rate has not increased."

It's pretty obvious, all you have to do is go to the ebay feedback discusion board and you will see seller after seller after seller, talking about UID's. Sellers are being ripped off left and right and buyers and bidding and not paying because they found the same item for cheaper, a day later.

AND sellers are leaving in droves, just come and look:

http://forums.ebay.com/db2/forum.jspa?forumID=113

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: Patricia

Sat Jun 21 12:55:41 2008

I doubt Ebay will ever again be the same - but I also doubt they will continue on to their "Amazon-like" retail experience all the way to the end.  Long before then they are going to have to deal with sellers leaving and not many new sellers interested in jumping thru Ebay's hoops.  A decrease in revenue is going to bring them to their senses!  We all know they don't get it and I believe in the backs of their minds they know what they're doing is going to fail.  Unfortunately, the one to turn the ship - Donahoe - believes whole-heartedly in what he's doing.  It will be interesting to see if someone, anyone can stop him before its too late.  I fear we'll never have our Ebay back - the good days are over and Donahoe killed the golden goose...nobody else!  Ebay has been mis-managed from the start and still made money in spite of managements sometimes weird decisions - well...now the hatchet man is in charge and nobody is yelling loud enough or long enough to stop him!

www.ACEOart.net

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: Mechelle

Sat Jun 21 12:56:43 2008

Did you see how much Norrington charged for shipping those shoes- on May 7th 2008??  Why didn't she ship free like she expects us to?

Did you read her feedback comments?  That is "delighting the buyer"?  Well, I think my feedback is more expressive of feeling delighted

She needs to step it up if she feels she should be telling other sellers how to get the job done.

Norrington this is what the feedback of a seller who delights their customers looks like

Best on Ebay hands down. Perfect packaging, super fast shipping, great price!!!!

wow! did i buy from a boutique on rodeo dr or ebay? very classy packaging. Thx

Excellent seller. Phenomenal transaction! Loved the packaging!

What a lovely surprise! Thanks for a perfect transaction. You're the best!

ADD TO YOUR FAVORITE SELLER LIST NOW!!! Beautifly wrapped & nice items! AAA++++

Absolutely amazing! Incredible packaging and presentation, item perfect too!

Like shopping at Nordstrom only it comes right to my door--the best of service

+++Wow - this is a great seller - makes you feel like a princess+++

Best place online to buy make-up!
A+++++++++ Seller! Thanks!!!

Welcome to my favorites list! (this seller is seriously an amazing seler a pro!)

Best & most professional ebay seller! Everything is 1st Class!! Prods & Service!

this seller actualy made me say "wow" out loud when I recieved the order!

You are amazing, loved everything!!! best ebayer ever!!!

Absolutely GORGEOUS!!!!! - THANK YOU!!!!! the best seller A++++++

Might just be the BEST SELLER EVER!! You made my Monday CHRISTMAS!! THE BEST!!

The most gorgeous packaging ever! Amazing communication! Absolutely the best! A+

Fabulous product, fabulous seller, great prices, couldnt do better at sephora!

This seller has it SERIOUSLY TOGETHER:) A WOW BUSINESS THANK YOU!!

Worth every penny!! Luv how I was treated. Great communication, fun & friendly!!

The very best ebay seller! Perfect transaction from beginning to end! Thanks !!!

Adorable Packaging- REALLY you go the Extra Mile! .•:*¨¨*:•. I'm So HAPPY!!


Just a few quick snags from  my list, but I think the picture is clear

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: angryjim

Sat Jun 21 13:29:06 2008

Ina, as you astutely wrote ''As far as execs, I have a feeling they either don't get it, or get it and won't admit it.''

If they don't get it then they are all totally obtuse and unsuited for their jobs.  Your basic managerial deadwood that is far too common today. Many veteran eBay sellers could do a far much better job.

If they do get it but refuse to acknowledge it, this means that eBay is now a hopelessly corrupt business entity.  It means it has taken on far too many Orwellian-like tendencies and has become a Stalinistic corporate regime in which the truth is what eBay says it is.

Those that blame John Donahue solely for this mess are misinformed, although I certainly believe Meg's fair haired boy is certainly in way over his head. Changes like these were probably planned out 2-3 years in advance, which means Meg Whitman is also directly responsible (and she is a campaign advisor to a decent man like John McCain - disgusting!)

In either case we have a once viable online market place that is degenerating into a racket.  When the end comes for eBay it will probably arrive very quickly - and the buffoons who created this mess will stand around looking for someone else to blame.  Bring on the FTC and the SEC, now!

The ''new'' eBay reminds me of the reckless teenaged driver who is a safety hazard on the road. The real tragedy is not the damage they can inflict upon themselves. It is all of the innocent they needlessly put in harm's way.

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: bite me

Sat Jun 21 14:01:47 2008

What's all this ftc second bs? ebay is trying to do what all public businesses do, increase share holdet value. The only problem is that the current auction business model doesn't work and its too hard for buyers to sift through the fixed price auctions. On amazon the product is on 1 page with all the different prices. Much more efficient. The only problem is that ebay hasn't copied this and will fail in trying. People don't waste their time saving a few pennies with auctions anymore. Ebay and its sellers will all fail

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: sun

Sat Jun 21 14:43:14 2008

Randy makes a good point about eBay following Amazon. I wondered why eBay wants to be Amazon. The two are fundamentally different companies. Amazon owns inventory and so they have to be nice to their customers. eBay is just a broker so they have to be nice to buyers & sellers. But eBay is forgetting their business model and alienating their revenue which is their buyers and sellers. Don't try to force Amazon into eBay. Its not a good fit.

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: angryjim

Sat Jun 21 14:57:34 2008

@ bite me: apparently you do not comprehend that your term ''fixed price auctions'' is an oxymoron.  Also, how will eBay shareholders investments be enhanced when the market finally realises that eBay is attempting to prop up its share price with padded listings from sources like buy.com?
Don't you think it will become obvious that this deceptive pratice is being used to divert attention from eBay's various self inflicted problems?
In the future think before you post.

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: RichardC

Sat Jun 21 16:03:46 2008

eBay is the VHS of the Online Marketplace. Plain and simple. For a while ebay was king of the hill, only to be overshadowed by Amazon. Now eBay is a shell of its former self, and for stockholders, thank goodness they own Paypal- or we would all be looking to sell.

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: billieboy

Sat Jun 21 16:19:11 2008

Looks like Lorrie got a neg back in 2006 for being an NPB...
A high ranking eBay exec is a non paying bidder....lovely..
perhaps this explains the new feedback policy..

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: JJH

Sat Jun 21 16:52:14 2008

@Mechelle:

Welcome to the ''Inkblog Censored Club''! I can see why RBH took your message down. A little too angry (truthful?), like mine were getting. The truth hurts.

Well, RBH can kiss my A$$ and his blog can go where the sun don't shine. It's a joke.

Kudos to you Mechelle for speaking your mind, and posting it here where RBH can't touch it.

@Ina:

''As far as execs, I have a feeling they either don't get it, or get it and won't admit it.''

Nice to have you back!

As for the video of the seller who lost it during the feedback meeting, GOOD FOR HIM for speaking out. Too bad ''nobody's listening''. Comments like ''Well, everyone's entitled to their opinion'' means just that. ''Go away son, you bother me''. Too bad he walked away from the camera and the audio became unintelligible. Anyone got a transcript of what he said?

(Hi Patricia!)

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