eBay's Bill Cobb addressed several questions about the eBay Stores fee increases at tonight's Town Hall meeting. I'm writing up a summary of the event for tomorrow's Newsflash newsletter, but thought I would share some excerpts from my notes here that I don't have room for in the article. Please note that eBay will provide a full transcript at http://www.ebay.com/townhall and these are my quicky notes - I don't guarantee this is error- and typo-free!
An eBay member submitted a question: "What do you owe Store subscribers such as me that spent hundreds of hours creating listings, only to have eBay's prices raised so dramatically that it's no longer worth selling at certain price levels,...You cannot expect continued loyalty to the eBay community by employing such betrayal tactics."
Bill Cobb answered:
I understand the sentiment and I've heard this from Stores sellers especially those who sold primarily or exclusively in the Stores format and especially those who sold at lower average selling prices. With the action we took in July, while across the board, we have talked about this in our posts, etc., we do think it was the right move to help balance the marketplace, and to restore the balance between auctions and store listings, it certainly created a very difficult situation for some individuals, Store sellers. We believe that this is a fair comment that we seem to have been very inconsistent in the way we have dealt with Stores, and I want to say a couple of things here.
One, I think that's right, we went a little bit too far in terms of how much we were exposing the Store format, I think we got ahead of ourselves. The store format was designed to be supplemental inventory to the core format. It is a very important format, we will be keeping this format for a long time,...I think Chris is going to address some of the ways we are going to build value and enhance the functionality of Stores.
So we are very committed to the Stores product. But I understand that in some specific instances that it is no longer viable for people to sell on eBay and that's unfortunate.
I do think that overall we've taken the right steps. I think that the eBay marketplace needs to be centered on auctions and auction style listings, i think that is the right way to go. I think it is what draws the most buyers, it draws the most interest, and frankly it's what provides the greatest value for buyers in the form of lower prices.
I do feel that what we owe store subscribers is to continue to enhance the product and continue to enhance the value they that they pay for that, but I understand that we have been inconsistent over the past months, that's why we tried to be very specific, and the post was long on July 19th, in terms of what our go-forward strategy is and where our focus is going to be. We are going to center the concept - center the marketplace on auctions, and that's not going to change going forward.
Another user submitted a question that - bottom line - asked, why is eBay penalizing Storeowners.
Part of Bill Cobb's answer was the following was regarding the value proposition of eBay:
The reason you should sell on eBay is not to take a lot of inventory and load it up into a format and have it sit there and see if it sells over the course of months or years. eBay is a fast-turning marketplace. eBay is the place where you have the most visitors who spend the most time on the site and fortunately spend the most money on the site. That's why we lead ecommerce.
We are the place on the Internet where the seller can, within 2 weeks, have a very high probability of selling an item between the original listing or the relist, if they are pricing it at the appropriate level.
So we want our sellers to use the core format as their primary means of selling and that the store format would be a supplement to that. So what we're trying to do - and I realize that sometimes it's wrapped up in the emotion of a fee increase - is to really articulate why it is you should sell on eBay, and we think that the reason you should sell on eBay is that you'll maximize your cash flow because you'll turn your items faster than any other place on the net.