EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 390 - May 08, 2016 - ISSN 1528-6703     1 of 5

From the Editor - May 8, 2016

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Two years ago, small sellers were excited to learn that Alibaba was creating an alternative to eBay, a place where they could show off their wares and tell shoppers about themselves. The optimism about 11 Main was short-lived - Alibaba sold the site a year later, and this month, the new owner, OpenSky, officially closed and encouraged sellers to move to its own platform.

While small sellers may not have initially been as excited when we reported that Amazon was launching an Etsy rival called Amazon Handmade, those who have tried it have been impressed. In today's issue, Greg Holden speaks to some sellers who say the efforts to set up a shop are paying off with sales - a key metric for success.

It might come as a surprise, but two of the artisan sellers Greg spoke to use Fulfillment By Amazon, sending their goods to Amazon fulfillment centers for the marketplace to handle orders, shipments, and customer service.

The FBA program is so popular with merchants, in fact, that it has put a strain on Amazon warehouses. We've been reporting on how Amazon has been dealing with the problem, and the company addressed the issue during its first-quarter financial earnings conference call in late April.

Amazon also revealed it grew sales 28% in the three months of the year. Etsy grew sales 18% in the first quarter and grew its own revenue 40% - indicating sellers are paying proportionately more to Etsy for sales than they had in the past. And eBay reported 5% growth in the first quarter. And what was once its strength - online auctions - declined another 20%.

eBay CEO Devin Wenig revealed that the company is testing TV advertising and will launch new categories this year. Soon after the announcement, eBay launched a revamped wine category.

eBay sellers should keep in mind, they have until June 4th to make changes to their eBay Stores subscriptions after new fees went into effect for Stores on May 1st - despite what eBay customer service reps are telling some sellers.

We recently reported in Newsflash a case that raised a lot of eyebrows about a couple accused of shoplifting from Christian stores, selling the goods online, and failing to pay taxes on the income.

After reading the story, a reader asked us about eBay's stance on reporting revenue to the IRS, explaining that he uses eBay like a virtual yard sale. "If you buy a bunch of Vinyl records from "back in the day" at $8 each then sell them at a garage sale for $1 each, you legally have no taxable income as you are selling at a loss to purchase price," he said.

We asked Kenneth Corbin to look into sellers' tax liabilities, and he reports back on the topic in today's issue.

Michele Alice follows up on her last column about coloring books with a piece on crayons in today's Collectors Corner. And be sure to check out today's Letters to the Editor. Among the issues sellers are talking about: changes eBay made to search that require sellers to learn a new way to search by Item number.

Do you follow the EcommerceBytes Blog? In case you missed it, here are a couple of timely stories:

"Can Artificial Intelligence Help Save eBay?" - link - sellers aren't impressed with eBay's bid to add AI technology to its site.

"Amazon Stealth-Launches a Repricing Tool" - link - sellers worry about a new Automate Pricing tool they fear may accelerate "race to the bottom" pricing.

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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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