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Why Are Some eBay Sellers Struggling?

Why Are Some eBay Sellers Struggling?

If you have questions about any aspect of selling on eBay, you can always find people willing to take the time to respond with helpful advice. But many a discussion board thread also devolves into sniping, with those describing problems being accused of being complainers and whiners, and with those scoffing eBay critics accused of being eBay cheerleaders.

One such thread began on July 1st with a 20-year veteran of eBay seller reporting that his sales were not performing at a level it had 3-4 months ago. Titled, “WOW eBay is BROKEN no sales for the month of June for me,” the seller kicked off the thread writing, “You can say what you want but all I know as a 20 year inmate here is that eBay isn’t performing at all like it was 3-4 months ago.”

Some fellow sellers jumped in and offered advice right away about what the seller might be able to do to improve sales. But some others said the decline the seller is facing has nothing to do with problems with eBay and everything to do with the seller’s inventory or selling strategy.

Despite the disagreements, threads like these are often helpful in understanding the challenges sellers face and often include concrete descriptions of problems. For example, sellers discussed their perception that eBay’s controversial move to recurring listings (“GTC”) has been bad for their sales, and that broken RSS feeds have been detrimental to sellers’ marketing efforts.

Some companies spend a lot of money on market research to identify problems and opportunities for their firms, but in the case of eBay, management need only visit their own discussion boards to hear what customers have to say.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

11 thoughts on “Why Are Some eBay Sellers Struggling?”

  1. I’m beyond struggling. My first 2 years selling, 2012 & 2013, I sold $206,000.00.
    I kept about 250 listing per month.
    Since March of 2104, I have steadily gone downhill. There is no doubt in my mind that
    it is blackouts. What I do sell goes mostly to the same 5 states. I keep between 800 & 1000
    listings at all times. Pay $59.95 a month for store and I jump thru all hoops and whisltes.
    Mondays were always the biggest day, in the olden days, 35-40 packages. Then it went to 20,
    then 14, then 9, now 4 or 5. The last 3 weeks, I am allowed 1 sale per day. Once in awhile, 2.
    Does no good to call them.
    I have several friends who sell pretty much the same type items I do–they continue to sell as they
    always have.
    Now for the craziest part: I read either on this site or eBay. that conservatives are being “punished” by being blacked out. I am conservative and very vocal about it on Facebook. We all know all of these places; eBay, google, FB, twitter, etc. are huge liberals. At first I though it was ridiculous, but I have come
    to believe that is exactly what is happening. All of them are joined at the hip and I do believe I am being
    black balled. Just wondered if any other vocal conservatives have noticed the same.
    My subscription is due August 1st. I will either downgrade or say aidios. I’m too old to work this hard
    to be treated this way.

    1. I have been on eBay for 16 years. When I became too vocal on the boards, my sales went way down. I am a small seller, just trying to pay a few extra bills. I was a strong critic of GTC because I knew that it was a big money grab by eBay. I was getting listing sales, then when I started to complain about GTC I didn’t get them anymore. I had several accounts so I could list my 50 free and wait for a listing sale to list more each month. I even bought another laptop so that I could see all my accounts. I watched as people who were selling similar items have great sales and I had very few. I know I was blackballed. I stopped selling in March on all my accounts. I had over 500 listings at that time. I have since been kicked off the discussion boards a few times because I mention another selling site, while others can mention them and their posts stay up. I am sure the cheerleaders are eBay employees. I have seen much more of them recently spreading propaganda. It doesn’t matter if you use just a posting ID, because eBay will find what other accounts you have and blackball them too.

      I had a store but when the recession hit, it wasn’t worth it for me anymore The sellers that sold similar items are mostly gone from selling. Now with only 100s of listings, when there used to be 1,000’s. Promoted listings are only promoted on eBay, they are not promoted on any search engines. Another Money grab from eBay. If you search for something now, you will see promoted listings for items that don’t even come close to the key words you have entered. eBay is desperate to sell. All those small USA sellers with items under $20 have left. They were the bread and butter of eBay, and now they are gone. They won’t be back because they were burned by GTC, GD, 30 Day free returns, and NAD returns in general. The last month I had 3 returns that cost me more than my sales. Not worth it anymore.

      They are not paying Google anymore, since Google is now a total pay to play site. Google will eventually sell everything or at least get a commission from selling sites. Another reason why sales are down. Google gets 90% of all searches on the internet.

      Sellers are buyers and buyers are sellers. I have stopped buying completely from eBay. I don’t think I ever will buy again from any seller. And I had my favorite sellers I would buy from. I will buy on other sites. Yes, eBay is a liberal site. Totally Totalitarian and it is losing the battle. They will not survive.

    2. @lalaland

      sorry, but I find your theory way out there, I’ve been selling over 20 years, and it’s been declining for small sellers for awhile now. This has nothing to do with politics, they have enough of a problem with all the algorithms without inserting politics. They are favoring big sellers, and more importantly now “promoted listings”
      By your theory, then facebook would have “black balled” you.

  2. All the new twists of ebay making us sellers opt in for sponsered/promoted listings, markdown manager, guaranteed delivery, free returns, just to be “more visible” to be able to sell more, great thing, but its at a big premium for ebay. Our sales just slightly increased a bit using those features, but the jury is out if its really affordable or practical cost wise. Our selling fees increased quite a bit signing up for these programs, more than it should, than not to mention they also hold a 4% increase in our category fees, because we are a little high stacked against our “peers” so said. Ebay has us stretched out to the limit at what they can take or hold us to to be visible or to pay to be visible better put, along with so called penalties at 4% against our so called peers they claim is justified(thats alot). Jury is out on that also. A lot has changed in the last 2 years in my view. I feel like im working more for ebay than myself at times.

  3. “Why Are Some eBay Sellers Struggling?”
    I’ll tell you :
    You MUST sell your own UNIQUE product.
    And then take care of YOUR customers / clients in grand fashion.
    Otherwise you’re just competing with China.
    And I don’t allow that.

  4. In my experience this happens on many discussion boards, not just Ebay. Every platform has its cheerleaders. some of whom lack the sophistication to carry on a balanced debate. What works for one vendor may not work for another selling the same or similar items. What worked 3-6 months ago may not work today. That does not mean that the seller is incompetent. Things can mover very rapidly in the online universe.

  5. Ebay definetly made changes that cost them billions in lost sales. Wall street better wake up.

  6. I won’t even ask for help on the eBay forums. Their answer is always to blame the person looking for help. The situation does not matter; it could be a veteran that lost half their sales suddenly or a new seller that can’t move stuff at half the price of busy competitors in a booming market. The answer is always “hur dur, ur stuff sux and 2 ‘spensive.” They’re as worthless as the flea brains in eBay management.

    All I know is my “crap items” that “cost too much” sell fine at conventions, even with the handicaps of having to carry cash and interact directly with me.

  7. Sometimes its the sellers inexperience, but mostly, its simply Ebay shifting views around. The only thin gyou can really do is keep starting new stores because at least those get a boost in placement.

    Don’t ever let anyone tell you its your fault when you know you’ve done everything possible under the sun to get your sales back to what they were.

    Ebay is the master of hiding listings or rerouting views to their preffered sellers like the chinese

  8. It’s much more than “some sellers” that are struggling. More like MANY. And most of the fault goes to eBay and their nonsense. The cheerleading trolls on the eBay community board are truly sickening. Always the same morons disputing every real problem. eBay knows sales, buyers, and sellers are in decline. So eBay has employed the strategy of no longer caring about actual sales, but instead trying to scheme money out of everyone in every other way possible. The multiple levels they’re doing it is so numerous and often hidden/deceptive on purpose that I won’t bother to waste time listing them all. They will bleed everyone dry until they also leave in disgust. The problem is that many don’t even know they’re being screwed over because eBay keeps changing everything to cause confusion. This company needs SEC and FTC investigation to reveal just what they’re doing and how they go about their business. Imagine all the goodies that would be dug up.

  9. Ebay no longer feels that paying them for a store with a certain number of listings, should give a seller any expectation of their items being shown to prospective buyers. Wenig is determined that Sellers are going to pay Ebay extra money to have their items seen and possibly sell because they know they cannot justify an across the board increase in any of their fees due to the pathetic condition their platform is in. Donohoe started Ebay on this downward spiral but at least Ebay still had enough buyers to cover his ineptitude. Unfortunately that is no longer the case and every poor decision that Wenig makes (which in actuality is any decision he is involved with), sticks out like a sore thumb because it further reduces Sellers abilities to sell on Ebay as well as costing the Sellers more in “Special Fees” just to have a chance to sell something. He is a complete disaster in every aspect of running Ebay but for some reason, either they are also inept or he has dirt on them) the BOD will not make the decision it needs to if they are going to salvage what was once a proud leader in Ecommerce Sales. Now they are nothing but a has been that their manager (Wenig) keeps trying to plunder for more money for his pockets.

    I refuse to pay Ebay anything more than the 10% that they currently collect for their FVF and my sales on Ebay are showing the pathetic results. But all this does is continue to chase more and more business to other sites, which will continue until EBay either sells their platform or closes it as more and more buyers abandon the sinking broken ship. Nothing that his 3rd rate programmers change ever works correctly without messing something else up and their Search Engine is now nothing but a classified ad section of your newspaper with those Sellers who are willing to pay Ebay more money in FVF now being placed at the top of the search whether those items have any relevance to what the buyer wanted to purchase. So now Wenig is chasing off what few buyers they have remaining because Ebay will only show what Ebay what will make Ebay the most money rather than what the buyer wants to buy. I know the only thing I ever search for on Ebay now is completed listings to see what things sold at for an idea of what to sell it for on the other sites. My only purchases now are the free shipping supplies and all my other money is spent on other sites that show me what I asked to see. I keep seeing others who used to spend a lot more on Ebay saying the same thing, but then Wenig wonders why revenues continue to drop and the competition continues to blow them out of the water.

    Naturally I have made the comments about this on their discussion boards and they either hide them in the Ebay Cafe or delete most of them, but either way Ebay makes sure my sales suffer even more. The current CEO of Ebay is nothing but a useless figurehead who has no idea how to run an ecommerce platform. He even showed it in his last quarterly discussion with Wall Street when he made the announcement that GMV was down for the quarter but that was expected as Ebay stopped spending money on marketing and are expecting the Sellers to get so desperate for sales that they sign up for Promoted Listings so Ebay can make many times close to double its normal fees. There are only so many businesses that can afford to keep lowering their prices for the Low Income Buyers that Ebay is trying to attract, while at the same time paying extra FVF on sales they do actually make. Wenig is hoping that he can keep making these short term revenue increases until Mangled Payments becomes mandatory for all Sellers, but I think he is going to be in for a rude awakening as to how many Sellers give Ebay the boot when this requirement happens. The lack of current volunteers to join Mangled Payments should five him some clue as what Sellers and others think of Ebay being in charge of their money also.

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