EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 138 - March 06, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     1 of 8

From the Editor

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A recent AuctionBytes Newsflash article caused quite a stir last week. Kathy Greer, Senior Editor of Unravel the Gavel, wrote about the actions some states are taking to regulate eBay sellers and eBay drop-off stores (

The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper in Ohio picked up on the story and interviewed Kathy in an article published on Friday ( It seems legislators in Ohio may not have thought out all of the ramifications of the law, scheduled to go into effect on May 2, and may make some changes to the law.

To me, it seems two issues are uppermost on the minds of regulators and legislators: regulating businesses that sell on a consignment basis - whether online or offline - and raising revenue for their states' coffers. But they don't want to be caught in the political crossfire when constituents who are casual or small-volume sellers get upset about regulations.

If someone is purchasing inventory to resell on an auction site, do they fall into the definition of "auctioneer"? They are selling their own inventory, so should they be required to get an auctioneer's license?

What about low-volume consignment businesses? Should they have the same educational requirements and pay the same fees as a full-time consignment business? What about those who sell on eBay in a fixed-price format?

Even eBay is steering clear of the "online auction" label when referring to itself. In a marketing handbook for developers, eBay states, "eBay does not allow the use of the word "auction" or "auctions" to describe its site. The proper words that can be used are "marketplace" or "item listings." (Available in PDF file: And see how it handles its description on this page:

Clearly, legislators and regulatory agencies who are considering creating new laws or enforcing existing laws need to educate themselves more about the business of selling online.

Kathy Greer has been working on a follow-up article that appears in today's issue ( It includes a statement from eBay and has more about the situation in Illinois, which may surprise eBay sellers residing in that state.

If you have opinions on whether eBay sellers should be required to get an auctioneers' license, be sure and post a note in our Forum: We'll continue to report on developments.

If you were planning on attending the fourth eBay Live conference in San Jose in June, you can sign up now. There is a discounted registration fee of $40 if you sign up by March 14 ( eBay Live provides a chance to talk to third-party vendors in the exhibit hall, take classes, share your feedback with eBay employees, and most importantly, network with other users. (And this year, eBay is giving tours of its Headquarters.) We will be covering the event again this year in AuctionBytes with articles and photos live from San Jose.

We've got a great issue today. Be sure and read the article by Skip McGrath, who proves that the principle of "Supply and Demand" can be a day at the beach.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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