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Sun Jan 18 2009 21:04:55

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

By: Ina Steiner

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The Wall Street Journal reported that analysts are expecting eBay's fourth-quarter earnings to be "relatively dim" as it restructures its business in the middle of an economic recession. Over recent years, eBay has lain much of the blame for its slowing growth rate on its core auction business. So it was with great interest to me to read a letter from one of eBay's earliest auction sellers in the collectibles field who reported a record year in 2008, most of that year selling off of eBay entirely.  

Bruce Hershenson was a top eBay seller under the User ID emovieposter.com, starting on eBay in March 1998. He explained his decision to leave eBay altogether in this interview with AuctionBytes a few months ago:

"They literally raised our fees over one third, at a time when they delivered fewer buyers who paid lower prices! Their removing sellers' ability to leave feedback makes all sellers of vintage items a target for blackmailers, and the rest of their recent changes were equally wrong-headed."

Bruce sent an email to me today to report that he had his first $3 million year ever - this despite the terrible economy. He also reported lower costs by moving to his own platform. Here's Bruce's letter, which he invited me to share with readers.

Ina
It has now been one year since my "I have sold 300,000 items but am quitting eBay completely" post, which I posted on the eBay PowerSeller Forum, and which you re-published in Auctionbytes. I thought you might be interested in an update to what has happened to me in that year.

Our Auctions On Our Own Site Are a Proven Success!

WE JUST TODAY "CLOSED THE BOOKS" ON 2008, AND NOT ONLY DID WE SET OUR ALL TIME SALES RECORD, BUT WE ALSO HAD OUR FIRST THREE MILLION DOLLAR YEAR EVER ($3,090,269 in sales for the year)!

We have hosted our auctions on our own website for 8 months now (over 4,700 registered MOVIE POSTER collectors, with lots more signing up every week), and the results are better than those we used to receive on eBay (even in those most challenging economic climate!

The auctions are helped by the great bonuses we regularly offer all buyers (such as a great free full-color T-shirt that costs us $9-$11 each at wholesale in our "special" auctions, and the many free $20 books we give in most auctions), and the fact that we can now charge less for shipping than we used to (because we no longer pay exorbitant fees to that "other" online auction company)!

Here are some year vs. year dollar comparisons:

2007 Halloween auction: $133,000
2008 Halloween auction: $262,000

2007 December auction: $286,000
2008 December auction: $283,000

2007 sales: $2,901,940.21
2008 sales: $3,089,249.39

2007 fees paid to eBay: approx $120,000
2008 fees paid: approx $70,000 (see below for breakdown)
-----2008 fees paid to eBay: approx $30,000 (Jan-April)
-----2008 fees paid to my new host & adwords bought ( May-Dec): approx $40,000

Our non-paying bidder rate on eBay was around 2%, and it is now under 1%.

On eBay, we were adding 200 new buyers a month in 2002-2004, BUT BY 2007 THAT HAD SLOWED TO JUST 50 A MONTH, and we are now adding around 200 per month!

Of course you are welcome to post the above on Auctionbytes if it fits in somewhere!
Bruce




Comments (64) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Lisa

Sun Jan 18 21:22:22 2009

Way to go and Congratulations Bruce!  I no longer sell collectibles on eBay, not just because of the insane price increases, but the PP only requirement as well as the hiding of all bidders which is an open invitation for sellers to shill and taking away our ability to leave FB.  I'm working on my own site now, which has always generated okay sales, but I have a new shopping cart installed and expect more consignments and better business since like Bruce, I can cut my costs by what I won't be paying eBay in FVFs and listing fees.  eBay is still a great price for a reseller like me to find great bargains for resale, probably now more than ever, but I only sell things that I really can't sell anywhere else and even then with a lot of fear and caution because anybody can complain about anything and we are at the mercy of buyers now.  eBay = also ran.  

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Sun Jan 18 21:47:54 2009

Congrats! You must be thrilled! You also must be happy that you can relax and not worry about when the next shoe will fall, as it aways does on ebay!Enjoy your profits, and thank you for being an inspiration to all of us who were screwed by ebay over this last year, we know we can sell elsewhere too!

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: James Brookins

Sun Jan 18 22:00:31 2009

What other advice can you give the small guy like myself. I have sold  on ebay and now switching to Ioffer. Plus using social media in hopes to drum up sells. Very limited funds do not allow me to open a website  just yet. However, I know that should be my goal. Took on a consignment of 400 plus pieces Department 56 collectibles. What platform/s could you recommend. One or more that would be best to liquidate this collection and bring the most profits.  Auctionbytes newsletter Jan 18th article about  BabylonMall   had me checking into using this venue. But they are for handmade items?  This is at times very daunting for those who want to offer goods but there are so many options most are cost prohibitive. Leaving the little guy in a cloud of dust. It would be  nice to know there is some sort of hope for small sellers, too?  

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: LisaB

Sun Jan 18 22:10:27 2009

Your site looks wonderful, Bruce! Congratulations! That is very inspiring and I hope we can all find happy and prosperous new homes for our businesses.

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: hello hello

Sun Jan 18 22:30:31 2009

It sure must be nice to receive free advertising here on AuctionBytes ... as it was on the PowerSeller board for many months after quitting ...

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Henrietta

Sun Jan 18 23:00:58 2009

Congratulations Bruce not only on your record breaking year but your ability now to run your business as you see fit. No more half baked directives from micro-managing MBAs who know all the theory but have never built or grown a business.

To James B above, come to www.bonanzle.com where you can find everything but the ordinary.

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: eBuyer Feedback

Sun Jan 18 23:04:12 2009

Nice to see a member of the vocal minority succeeding instead of being demonized as a rogue seller.

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Patricia

Sun Jan 18 23:45:21 2009

Last year Bruce had already surmised what the rest of us are learning....you can sell off-ebay and you can make MORE profit because you won't have Ebay's greedy high fees and you won't have to put up with a stranglehold of draconian policies.  A lot of us are flocking to the up and coming sites and opening our own website.  I am a small seller and my website business is very small but it has passed out my sales on the ''new'' Ebay and I realize a lot more profit from my website sales and am able to negotiate with my customers and give them incentives to buy.

Ebay, by its own greed and stupidity is dying and soon it will be very evident to everyone!

Best of luck Bruce - you have a great niche and a good head for business and marketing...something Ebay no longer has ;-)

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Patricia

Sun Jan 18 23:49:44 2009

@James - pick up a website at godaddy or one of the other hosts.  I have godaddy and like them.  I have well over 200 items on my website - probably closer to 300 and it costs me less than 5.00 a month for the space (I pay it 3 years at a time to get the lowest price for the most space).  Get proactive - learn some HTML and go for it....but be ready to put the sweat equity into it.

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: James Brookins

Mon Jan 19 00:23:22 2009

Thank-you Henrietta for the tip. Have checked this platform. Looks  promising just have not had the time to chck the fee table and store front.  If you get a chance I just posted a blog on twitter.com/1littlebirdy leave your comments if you don't care.  

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Allan kraig

Mon Jan 19 00:34:39 2009

BRUCE, I want to especially Thank You for all the care you have shown the small eBay sellers by coming back to the eBay posting boards (seller central crew) and sharing your experiences & ideas for a better way with us small sellers left behind by the new eBay changes & actually giving us HOPE that one day we will hopefully with some prespire & we will aspire to reach the level of sales you have worked so hard to achieve (bravo! WOW!) ... I do hope that I said this right, but Thanks to YOU you have given us all hope that we too may succeed & have a life "AFTER eBay" ... also Thank You INA for keeping us posted as well, we all would have fallen off the face of the earth if it weren't for your words & reports showing us the way in this dismal darkness now eBay took the light away .. Allan Kraig

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: James Brookins

Mon Jan 19 01:10:23 2009

Thanks for more supportive feedback. Please understand that I never said that the success of Bruce Hershenson was not notable nor unworthy of praise? What I was asking was for tips for the little guy from the big guy. Bruce Heshenson is a go getter and I commend that.  I am ever greatful to see community support. The newsletters from Auctionbyte.com have been helpful for the small guy like me. In gaining the inside scoop and connecting with community supporting folks like Henrietta,Patricia,Allen K. and I'm sure others who will offer tips and advice. It will also be great to hear any support from Auctionbytes.com  on this subject.    

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Music Poster Seller

Mon Jan 19 01:39:14 2009

Go Bruce!

But we have to remember that Bruce has very rare, very in-demand, niche specific antiques of value. People from around the world want them and not many people have them. Bruce has enough DESIRABLE inventory to run a full-time business, that's rare these days.

Most ebay sellers (former or present) don't have that situation. Bruce's stuff is truly COLLECTABLE and makes $$ he can live on.

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Music Poster Seller

Mon Jan 19 01:46:22 2009

Oh yeah, I forgot:

@hello hello

Do you work in San Jose or the Utah branch? How is your 401K doing? Do you disagree with Bruce's assertions that ebay doesn't gouge it's sellers on the fees vs. the return?

Thank you!

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Grim Reaper

Mon Jan 19 02:29:05 2009

No offense Ina, but this ''win story'' is getting old, and Bruce's $3M level of selling is far from what most have in mind as ''small seller''. I'm also quite surprised that Bruce doesn't seem to be grateful at all for eBay. Perhaps he wouldn't be where he is today if it wasn't for the experience gained on eBay. - GR

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Gary

Mon Jan 19 06:53:01 2009

Congrats Bruce and crew! Now if we can just convince Jay to take such a bold move.
Best regards,
Gary

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Bruce

Mon Jan 19 07:51:24 2009

Thanks! I full well know that most smaller sellers can't leave eBay in the way I did, and that is why I very much hope that very soon one of the alternate sites will ''take hold'', and when it does, I urge all of you to give it your full support, for then you will all have a way to leave eBay as I did, if you choose.
-----As to me being grateful to eBay, I sold over $1 million dollars a year for ten years prior to first selling on eBay, and it was sellers like myself who took the then bold risk of moving a million dollar a year business entirely onto eBay in 1990 that greatly helped eBay gained the strong roots that it did back then. I had a strong business for ten years before I ever sold an eBay item, and so maybe eBay should have been the slightest bit grateful to me (and if they had been, I surely would still be selling there).
-----It was precisely because they did not value me in the slightest, and because they felt they could endlessly raise my fees while delivering fewer buyers who bid less and less. Instead they should have concentrated on finding more buyers and improving both the buyer AND seller experience before raising fees at all, but that way of doing business never seems to occur to them.

Bruce

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Just Wondering

Mon Jan 19 08:00:46 2009

Why is it that the people who sell collectibles think they are the only ones who are getting hurt by Ebay. What about the other thousands of sellers. Sounds a little self centered to me.

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: Realityshack

Mon Jan 19 08:34:44 2009

Bruce, hope you have continued success. I too stopped selling on Ebay about a year ago and have increased sales, in fact, I have just added another full timer to my business.
I'm not surprised about the negative comments here, its sad how many people there are jealous of others success. They are probably the ones buying the ''Get Rich Selling On Ebay CD's'' from the infomercial scams.

eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay   eBay Auction Seller Breaks Sales Record Off-eBay

by: jenny

Mon Jan 19 09:40:35 2009

---so maybe eBay should have been the slightest bit grateful to me (and if they had been, I surely would still be selling there).

---they felt they could endlessly raise my fees while delivering fewer buyers who bid less and less.

Well said Bruce!

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