From the Editor
By Ina Steiner
We've been following a trend that may increasingly affect eBay sellers: the interest that local and state government officials are taking in generating revenue in some "creative" ways.
Here in Boston, the city wants to charge a toll for people driving their cars in the city (http://www.thedailyitemoflynn.com/news/view.bg?articleid=8709). New York State charges income taxes to telecommuters from out of state (some of whom may already pay income taxes in their own states).
More and more states are beginning to look at ways to regulate, and therefore generate tax revenue from, online commerce. In today's issue, I discuss the trend of attempting to regulate eBay sellers and drop-off stores. One eBay drop-off storeowner was recently arrested in Florida for refusing to comply with a state statute regulating pawnshops and consignment stores (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m03/i30/s02). The judge later dismissed the case.
It can be very confusing to figure out what laws you need to follow. eBay appears to be getting more involved educating its users and lobbying against regulation, and we'll continue to monitor the situation beyond today's article.
I attended the PESA (Professional eBay Sellers Alliance) meeting in Atlanta two weeks ago. It offered eBay merchants a chance to discuss with vendors and each other the challenges they face in running their eBay businesses and listen to how other sellers operate. The conference was small enough (200+ attendees and sponsors) that there were lots of opportunities for one-on-one discussions.
While PESA is made up of some of eBay's top sellers, the meeting was not all about eBay. The focus was on the needs of the members, not the marketplace. Derek Brown, an analyst with Pacific Growth Equities, who has been following eBay for years, set the tone for the meeting with his keynote address. He spoke on the topic of multi-channel selling and told attendees to be "indifferent to the channel," and be everywhere consumers are on the Internet. Other sessions covered developing your own website, marketing your business, and promoting your website.
Overstock Auctions had a big presence at PESA with two rooms, one for its daily workshop and one where people could come and check their email on computer stations. Amazon's representative spoke about setting up shop on the Amazon marketplace. And eBay sent six people who answered questions during its daily workshop.
The biggest impression I came away with was how well these sellers were working together. eBay sellers are a diverse group, with a do-it-yourself, entrepreneurial mindset, and it's hard to get a gathering of sellers to agree on anything. In the 18 months since Joe Cortese first put up the eBay Elite Groups on eBay's groups message boards, these sellers have learned the tremendous benefits of sharing information and helping each other out. They also understand the public relations benefit - analysts and media members can go to a group of sellers to get a different perspective than eBay on industry events.
Smaller sellers may balk at one group having such influence. The only opportunity for all eBay sellers to meet with vendors and network with each other is the annual eBay Live conference. From the very first eBay Live conference, the reaction from attendees I've spoken to has always been the appreciation for that interaction - the classes are secondary. If you can't make it to eBay Live, we'll be covering the show with a Blog, photos and news stories on the AuctionBytes.com website.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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