EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 349 - December 15, 2013 - ISSN 1528-6703     1 of 6

From the Editor - December 15, 2013

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In breaking news, we've learned the man behind eBay's Cassini search engine Hugh Williams has left the company, and many questions remain about the status of eBay's next generation search technology. Cassini is important to sellers - 98% of everything eBay sells "is on the back of the search," according to the head of eBay Marketplaces Devin Wenig.

It's taken eBay four years to get to this point with its next-gen search engine. I delve into this in more depth in today's issue in, "eBay Loses Chief Architect of Cassini Search Engine."

Is eBay driving sellers to Amazon? It's already a fait accompli, and the latest challenges eBay has been imposing is shaking the remaining single-channel sellers loose.

One seller I spoke to last week who learned how to sell online using eBay many years ago is now doing 20 times the sales on Amazon as on eBay. In other words, his eBay sales account for less than 1 percent of his gross revenue. He was happy on eBay, but when he couldn't grow any more, he expanded to Amazon.

That's not to say you can simply move your current product line over to Amazon and expect automatic success - several sellers I spoke to recently searched for new product lines that were a better match for, and they continue to sell their original items on eBay. The seller I mentioned above uses Amazon's FBA fulfillment service so he can keep his operations small while growing sales exponentially.

While it may seem incredible, eBay is purposefully limiting growth sellers can attain. What's more disconcerting is that eBay has not disclosed these limits to sellers. On Tuesday, I related the case of "John Doe," a seller I've known for many years, who invested resources in the eBay side of his business in 2013 to boost sales, only to discover in November that the reason his growth was flat was the arbitrary limits eBay had imposed on his account.

Another seller responded with a story about "throttling" of eBay accounts.

You can read what others have to say about selling limits on this EcommerceBytes Blog post, eBay Sellers Fly Blind Due to Hidden Selling Limits.

Five years ago, eBay CEO John Donahoe decided to make his marketplace more like Amazon (we called it the Amazonification of eBay), and thanks in great part to the acquisition of GSI Commerce, eBay is working with hundreds of the biggest retailers and brands and is heavily promoting their inventory on eBay. Donahoe has succeeded in making eBay like Amazon - but the Amazon of 2008, not the Amazon of today, which has since embraced sellers of every size (though not every category). Ultimately the maxim be careful what you wish for is coming true for the eBay chief.

In today's issue, Julia interviews a seller with a knack for taking professional product photos to get some tips you can use in your own business. Greg Holden looks at WooCommerce, a tool that lets you turn your WordPress blog into an ecommerce platform. And we round out the issue with Collectors Corner and Letters to the Editor.

Thanks for reading.

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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