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Sat Aug 19 2006 08:59:26

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

By: Ina Steiner

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When CEO Meg Whitman told analysts that eBay had lost its magic, she blamed store inventory. But Store inventory is not what is hurting the "core" (non-Store) eBay platform.

eBay launched Stores as a way for sellers to list slower moving inventory and to project a more professional image. Store items do not show up on the core platform except for rare circumstances.

"The marketplace has been overwhelmed with identical, often poorly-priced items that have diluted the magic of the eBay experience," Meg said. However:

- store items can't hurt the core platform with identical, poorly priced items; when you do a search on core, you don't find the store items;

- if there's a reason for core "losing it's magic," it's because of fraudulent listings; scam sellers; counterfeit items; BIN bandits; changing auction ending times due to extender tools; shipping gouging; and more. These are all things eBay has failed to fix;

- another reason for sellers moving to Store format instead of core is because of falling ASPs and STRs.

Making eBay Stores more expensive won't give sellers an incentive to move listings back to a marketplace where they can't make money. In fact, the ill will caused by the events of the last few weeks along with a laundry list of complaints make sellers loathe to put all their eggs in one eBay basket.

Sellers want quick turnover and higher selling prices just as much as eBay does, but core is not enough. If eBay makes its storefront unattractive, it will for some sellers be a "kick in the pants" that makes them look at opening their own independent storefronts and using Google Adwords, Froogle and MySpace to try and drive traffic to their listings.

Here's what sellers wish eBay had announced on July 19 (but didn't):

We were so excited about eBay Express, we wanted our sellers to have lots of store inventory to stock the eBay Express shelves. So we gave sellers lots of incentives to open stores and list even more items - we rolled out Stores in Search, giving more exposure to Store inventory.

Well, that was our mistake. We made it so attractive, that a lot of you focused on Stores at the expense of core listings.

Because we need to fix our mistake, we are increasing store fees from 2 cents to 3 cents, and we are lowering auction listings through the end of the year. We hope you will take advantage of the auction format.

We're also going to start enforcing our 10-item limit per seller. We know some of you have multiple stores with identical inventory. But having 24 eBay Stores with identical inventory in an attempt to get extra exposure in the search engines is just wrong.

We're also going to prohibit automatic auction-extender tools, because, as we said when they first came out, they hurt the buyer experience.

We're going to enforce our policies, get rid of scammers, begin a stricter seller-verification process, and improve our customer service to all users - buyers and sellers. Because we haven't focused enough of our attention on these crucial areas, we have hurt the eBay experience.

To sellers who list lots of different items on eBay, thank you. Your inventory adds value so that when buyers come to the site, they know they have lots of choices. We - eBay and our sellers - are partners. Your success is our success, and we truly do manage the company, not the stock. Here's to a mutually beneficial and long-lasting relationship!

Edited 8/19 at 2:51 (pasted wrong draft)

Comments (23) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: Sandy

Sat Aug 19 23:08:35 2006

Ina, you said it all. This right on target. I hadn't even thought of the fact that the flood of store items can't hurt core because they don't show up in core searches. Duh! And I agree that if it wasn't for eBay Express and the fact that eBay wanted us to stock the shelves so to speak we wouldn't be in this mess. Of course there is going to be a flood of store items when they give us a new free venue to show our items and they only want store items. They caused the flood, not the store owners. Sure we've all got some slow moving merchandise in our stores but now thanks to the fee hike I'm moving them off eBay to my website and when they finally do sell, eBay won't get a dime.

Finally your What eBay Sellers Wished eBay Had Announced bit hit home. That would have been the seller friendly way to make the announcement instead of making it our fault that core is suffering and punishing us because of it.

I'm not raging mad at eBay like a lot of sellers, I'm hurt and disappointed, I had hoped that they were a different kind of corporation, one that cared about it's customers. I can't even muster up the enthusiasm to attend eBay Live this year.

Well thanks for continuing to be the voice of the sellers and buyers on eBay.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core


Sun Aug 20 16:29:15 2006

Ina, absolutely, positively right on.  I agree with previous poster.  I'm not angry with ebay per se but I'm disappointed with they way they ambushed all of us without warning.  That kind of sneak attack tatic just goes to show that they have very little concern for the people that make them money... us... the sellers.  We are the ones that produce the ''magic'' not them. They have no magic only quirks and mis-steps.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: Justonce

Sun Aug 20 17:36:59 2006

Well I'm hopping mad.  Your answer is a good one Ina.  

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: joflora

Sun Aug 20 17:51:27 2006

Would that Meg would actually HEAR you and the rest of us, Ina. What a sorry mess things are now.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: leslie

Sun Aug 20 19:33:48 2006

I agree 100% with Ina. I am angry. I feel that the biggest obstacle to our success has been Ebay. We are supposed to be on the same side yet they have repeatedly done things that have hurt our business and have screwed up sales royally. Ebay was a wonderful concept while it lasted. I just don't see how they can continue to be successful doing the things they are doing.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

This user has validated their user name. by: Nan

Sun Aug 20 19:43:14 2006

Re: ''...and we are lowering auction listings through the end of the year. We hope you will take advantage of the auction format.''

The above quoted comment illustrates the reason that I do not believe eBay when they claim to want to revive the 'magic of auctions'.  

Because, IF that were true, they would have lowered the cost of core listings.

Since they did not, I can only assume their goal was simply to raise fees.  And the blather about 'back to the core' is just smoke and spin.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: David Ciaffardini

Sun Aug 20 20:20:02 2006

Please don't take it personal, but Ina, I find your reporting on this subject very weak on facts, while heavy-handed on alarmist rhetoric.

My feeling is you are exaggerating sellers' dissatisfaction with ebay and working hard to fan the flames of what discontent there is. You've done it in the past, you are doing it again.

It is all too easy for you to write articles speaking vaguely about sellers being upset with ebay. And I'm certain there are sellers upset with ebay. But what your articles continually lack are the facts to put your flame-fanning words into context.

Can you provide any numbers to give us an idea of how many ebay users are upset?  Any percentages?

MIght not there be plenty of ebay sellers who have no interest in promoting a boycott of ebay? Or sellers who think that the recent Store to Core emphasis may strengthen ebay in the long run and help their businesses? What about these people?

I'm a long-time seller and know many sellers who have no interest in promoting or participating in a boycott. In fact, we see it as counter-productive.

Of course, uBid, Alibaba and other potential ebay competitors—some who you court as advertisers on your website—may be quite happy with the nature of your reporting, but I, and others, would feel more comfortable if you could provide more concrete facts and figures to back up your assertions. Is that too much to ask?

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: bothellj

Sun Aug 20 21:01:21 2006

Ina, I agree with you 100%!  I am an Ebay store owner who will be closing tomorrow when the new fees take effect.  Ebay does not seem to understand that the store sellers bring additional extra income for Ebay instead of taking income from the so-called 'core' listings.  In fact it is the opposite in my case!  I have rarely used Ebay core listings auctions but liked the idea of a fixed price venue.  I opened my Ebay store just before they changed the patterns that took Ebay Stores off the internal search features, and I started using auctions (which were ineffective) in hopes of bringing traffic to the store.  Since the search change sales have dropped significantly, and to have a huge increase in their fees on top of that just added the last straw to my poor aching back!  I decided that Ebay did not want or need my business and that closing was my only viable option.  My impression of Ebay, which was not good before, has dropped to a new low due to these recent changes.  
I do hope Google or some other company will challenge Ebay in the auction and fixed price venues because they badly need a dose of competition to make them address their internal problems.  As long as they are the only game in town they can do what they wish, to the detriment of all!

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: Eve Farr

Sun Aug 20 21:37:21 2006

Sorry, Mr. Ciaffardini, but I disagree with you about Ina's reporting on the eBay ''store vs core'' mess.  I think she's telling it just like the eBay store owner's are saying.  

Right after ''the announcement'' was made, I received a call from someone at eBay wanting my thoughts about it.  To summerize our long conversation, I made the following points:
1) I am a small volume seller/store owner
2) I sell mainly low cost items - cds, dvd, educational materials, things that usually sell for $10 or less.
3) I also sell collectibles that don't usually do well in an auction format because they are so unusual. for instance, a 1941 Puerto Rico phone book.  At auction, I would have to hope that the one person in the world who wanted it would be looking for that phone book right at the time I had it listed.  In my store,it could sit there until they came looking.
4)  With low cost items, my purchase expense, the auction fees, FVF and PayPal percentages eat up any profit I might realize.  With a store, I can realize at least little profit.
5) Raising store fees will definately cause the store owners who decide to stay to remove their slow moving stock (like my PR phone book) thereby depriving the eBay buyer the ''magic of the eBay experience.''
The person I spoke with was unfailingly polite, as has everyone I've ever spoken with at eBay.  I believe he ''heard'' me.  Will the message get to Ms Whitman and Mr. Cobb? Probably.  Will they do anything about it?  Probably not.  It takes a big person to admit when they made a beaut of a mistake and then do the right thing and correct it.  Can they do it? Yes.  Will they? Who knows.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: Laura Iverson

Mon Aug 21 08:45:23 2006

They are absolutely wrong about it.  I closed my store and am listing primarily on ebid and aussiebids.  I also have my own website (which is only $4 a month).

One of the most galling comments to me was when eBay said it wasn't cost effective for them to maintain slow-moving store listings.

As an original artist, one of my main problems is the .01 sweatshop listings on eBay.  Buyers can't find the true original art in that vast sea of junky ripoffs.  eBay doesn't make anything when something sells for so little, and yet they not only tolerate those sellers, they court them.  It's so maddening.  Also, I've had my images stolen twice from them that I know of (on one, you could still see my signature--they were literally offering my painting, although the buyer would have only received a badly-done copy).  All eBay did in those cases was end the listings (after much paperwork).  They didn't have a problem with the cost-effectiveness of allowing these dishonest sellers to remain on eBay.

Lastly, I think eBay should revise their policy on website links.  If they don't want our slower-moving, higher-end items in the stores, we should be able to promote them in the listings.  


Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: Chuck

Mon Aug 21 09:28:04 2006

''Making eBay Stores more expensive won't give sellers an incentive to move listings back to a marketplace where they can't make money.''

That quote pretty much sums it up for me.  We have noticed Close Rate go from 60% down to 14% over the last 3 years while the store sales did nothing but increase.  With the cost of the store listings vs. the revenue they were bringing in I chose not to focus on the CR.  But now it is something that I need to start thinking about again.

As for your comment Mr. Ciaffardini, percentages do not really matter in a community of how many million users?  Even a small percentage of upset sellers will be quite a few.  

I have been following this issue and I have yet to see more than a handful of sellers who actually are not upset about the fee increase.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: maggy

Mon Aug 21 10:34:43 2006

You can see a list of store closings at this URL:
a while to load because the list is getting longer and longer.

Thought some of you might be interested in this.


Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: Steve

Mon Aug 21 15:48:02 2006

This article hits the nail on the head. Thankyou Ina for writing this.

Some have wondered how many stores have closed. I can't answer that but it must be a bunch because
shows ebay down about 333,000 listings since this time yesterday. (It was 370 g's earlier). Almost all the other sites monitored are up since yesterday.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: lorraine

Tue Aug 22 02:02:54 2006

I used to list 80-100 auctions per week plus my store of over 1000 items....when the last fee increases were incurred,I cut back to 25-30 auctions a week, considering them to be ads to lead them to my auction sell through had gone from 30% plus over the last two years to the raise in those fees plus the store fees made me re-address my way of selling.I did not participate in this weeks special, I spent my time cleaning out dead wood and cutting almost 800 items...leaving me at about me some leeway to bring in new items and still keep fees where I hopefully can make a profit....when our sellers reports starting showing me exactly how high a percentage the combined duo of ebay and paypal were taking....I knew changes would have to be made by me and started finding other sites to sell on. I now have almost 800 to add to those sites as well as some new ones.I have a base of over 1 years customers to e-mail when I finally find a place to light...
My biggest feeling about the April announcement was betrayal...ebay encouraged us to open stores, gave us the tools to build them successfully,we are the ones who have created a RETURN CUSTOMER BASE for ebay with our quality items and good customer service....we are 85% of their it is us that ebay doesn't want?Auctions suck because so many people list the identical flea market items , at low low prices and crazy shipping fees,bootlegs,give terrible customer service yada yada yada....a store could not stay in business doing that....We are whatever GOODWILL ebay has left, and they don't want us anymore. There must be someone who does.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: Karen Walker

Sat Sep 2 16:52:30 2006

I agree 100% with Ina.  I closed my store the day that the fee hikes took effect.  I sell hand made, one of a kind items and was doing very well.  Then store items were taken out of the general searches and sales tanked.      

Not because of store owners, with good and unique inventories, excellent feed back and good customer relations but because Ebay allowed too much trash to be sold, duplications and outright rip offs, and 1 cent junk, with huge shipping fees.  This cluttered the searches to the point of the ridiculous.  
Who did that, Ebay and their greed.  Lots of policies in place at Ebay, in relation to fraud, etc.  The problem is that Ebay does not, and has not, enforced their own rules.  Cheap overseas rip offs, fraudulent sellers, non-paying bidders were ignored.  

The Ebay ''Magic'' was not ended by reputable Ebay store owners, sellers and buyers, it was destroyed by Ebay, in their infinite greed.  
Store owners were the money makers for Ebay.  Makes us all question exactly what the motives of Meg Whitman and Bill Cobb really are.  
  Ebay pushed and pushed and publicised, asking for stores, then made it impossible for our buyers to find us.  Can anyone spell Stock Shorting.  They buried their comment on their intentions to buy back their own stock in a huge smoke screen and spin over changes in the fees and general searches.
 I was a devoted, and loyal, Ebay buyer and seller, almost from the beginning.  Unfortunately, like many huge corporations, concern for the welfare of the people that built them, was replaced by the pursuit of profits. How do they rationalize the ending of stores, when we generated over 80% or their profits.  I believe that their real motives are still hidden.  
 Too bad for them, that the thousands of sellers that are moving elsewhere, could care less what their motives are, their actions have consituted outright betrayal and bad faith.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: Sherrand

Sat Sep 2 21:42:03 2006

Back in 2002 eBay became my saving grace when I was sidelined with health problems. I couldn't work; cripes I couldn't even walk! I was told my professional career was over and that I would never be able to return to the job I loved. eBay gave me a purpose, a modest profit and introduced me to a whole new world. It was a fulfilling and wonderful experience and I cherished the people I met albeit electronically. But today the fun aka the ''magic'' is gone for me and I'm finally depleted of that sense of gratitude. Out of loyalty for what eBay had provided in 2002 when I was down and out I stuck through each yearly price increase. It was getting steep, eBay profits in my category of items was disappearing, Canada Post costs were going through the roof but I was determined to continue and make it work.
I was courted to open a store and finally did so this past May. I had no reason to doubt eBay's encouragement and advice towards my personal business growth - when it was recommended I open a store! Two months later, on July 20th, 2006 I received a slap of reality via email from eBay. It was unexpected, insulting and exhausted the last ounce of tolerance I had left to defend their business stategy and what I came to realize was artificial support for their sellers - their bread & butter. Pure abandonment best describes it. Me, along with many other little guys were just not invited or welcomed anymore to share the big picture.

I closed up shop to hang my shingle elsewhere as thousands of sellers around the world have done. In future I will use eBay - not BE used.

Mr. Ciaffardini, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I don't see your point of view being supported on this comment board - just mine. Perhaps you might concede that there is more discontent ''out there'' than as expressed amongst your group of seller friends.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: Janet M Hills

Sat Sep 2 21:53:18 2006

Ina Steiner has captured in a nutshell what hundreds of eBay power sellers have been verbalizing over the past few weeks ever since the huge fee hikes were announced.  My sales tanked also after store inventory was removed from the eBay search engines.  However, I was determined to use a few auctions a week to point customers to my store and just work harder to make this work for my business.  With a 500% increase in fees, there is no way I can make it work without downsizing the amount of inventory by at least two thirds.  The part that upset and angered me more than anything else about the whole thing was the misrepresentation to the public and the stock holders that most sellers would realize a 6% increase in fees.  Would that this were only true, but it's not even close.  Ina Steiner, keep reporting this story.  Hundreds of eBay power sellers who were upset have now become thousands by all indications, and we're just beginning to see the fallout that is going to result.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: Ann White

Sun Sep 3 01:36:33 2006

First of all, a thank you to Ina whose articles are always carefully thought through, a reflection of the research that goes into a story by a true reporter. As for Meg Whitman and her ''magic'' .. magic is slight of hand, magic is false, magic is trickery, magic is misrepresentation, so in THAT sense, Meg truly is putting the ''magic back into ebay''.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: David Ciaffardini

Sun Sep 3 11:19:42 2006

Whatever happened to the eBay seller boycott that the upset ebay sellers were heralding? From what one read on the news and internet reports, one would think it would have happend by now and eBay would be crippled. Did I miss it?

It's a shame when all this stuff gets over reported and exaggerated because it tends to turn away potential BUYERS from ebay, especially those who have never used eBay before and are a little hesitant to because of various fears abour rip-offs and stuff like that. When those potential buyers hear that SELLERS are talking of a boycott and all this other negative stuff they will be further discouraged from giving eBay shopping a try.  

Negative thoughts beget negative results.

Meanwhile sellers who keep listing on eBay keep making money. Maybe that should be a headline.

Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core   Why eBay Is Wrong about Store vs. Core

by: Dayna Hildreth

Fri Sep 8 19:14:17 2006

Msg for David Ciaffardini
If you were involved in YMCA fun in the 70's please contact me.

And by the way I go with ebay too!

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