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Wed Apr 15 2009 09:34:54

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

eBay took away a major incentive for using its ProStores ecommerce offering when it decided to eliminate Third Party Checkout. eBay sellers had previously been able to send buyers to their ProStores checkout page where they could cross-sell additional items - at a much lower commission fee (0.5 - 1.5 percent versus 8.75% - 12% on eBay.

eBay had launched ProStores in June 2005 as a result of its acquisition of Kurant Corporation's ecommerce software. But eBay has always been ambivalent about the service and did a poor job marketing ProStores to sellers.

It seems likely a portion of ProStores users will no longer find the service worth using - you can read more about eBay's decision to eliminate Third Party Checkout in today's AuctionBytes Newsflash. (The decision to elminate off-eBay checkout affects all vendors using the feature.)

With eBay's current mood of shedding subsidiaries, including Skype and StumbleUpon, could ProStores be next on the block?

Update 4/15/09: I received an email from eBay spokesperson Usher Lieberman today stating: "eBay is narrowing access to third-party checkout to approved providers and has asked these third-party checkout partners to update their user interface or UI to conform with a set of guidelines provided by eBay. This DOES NOT involve any changes to the third-party checkout functionality consistent with eBay listing policies and existing legal agreements, just to the user interface. Some of the approved third-party checkout partners may opt out of these user interface changes, in which case they will need to begin using eBay Checkout." I asked for further clarification, Usher Lieberman has yet to reply.

eBay did in fact post an announcement in reaction to our Newsflash article stating it is not doing away with third party checkout in June. However, they failed to provide details and have yet to explain the effects of these changes.

Some third-party vendors have reacted to the article in the comments of this post, including Infopia who confirmed that eBay has eliminated the ability for merchants to cross-sell and up-sell items from the checkout flow. eBay's own subsidiary ProStores had told its customers on Monday that eBay was doing away with Third Party Checkout in 2010, but eBay's announcement did not confirm or deny this.

The kind of situation that arose today only confirms our editorial instincts. eBay said today in its announcement, "the definitive source of information about eBay is eBay." I eagerly await more information from eBay about Third Party Checkout changes coming in June!





Comments (73) | Permalink

Readers Comments

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: CLOSE YOUR STORE

Wed Apr 15 10:20:34 2009

It is a waste of money and time. We closed our store years ago and sell MORE now since stores are hidden on ebay.

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Daisy

Wed Apr 15 10:23:09 2009

Is it Intel Donahoe sits on the board for? Because they're taking a hit. It seems Donahoe has the anti-Midas touch.

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: KPA

Wed Apr 15 10:46:20 2009

As time passes under CEO Down-a-hole's reign it seems to me that he is slowly and systematically cutting of apendages. Eventually he'll cut out the heart and eBay as we've known it will finally die and his new Frankenstein will be born.

As a self employed business owner for decades it still stuns me to read the changes that keep taking place. Like many sellers I've moved the bulk of my business off of eBay without remorse or harm. Sales on the other sites I utilize are 500% better right now than sales on eBay.

With the announcement yesterday and now this it will be interesting to watch the next seller mass exodus from the site...sad...very sad to watch this happen to what used to be a dynamic, thriving, unique and great place to shop. Since sellers are buyers too I can't imagine the changes making things better. Skip McGrath had a great paragraph pondering if it isn't time for Down-a-hole to go. Sales certainly aren't getting better so there is still hope he'll get the boot and someone who knows how to run an ecommerce company successfully will take the helm. That change can't come fast enough since the swirling in the bowl is pickup up speed with each change the dufus and his crew makes.

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Scot Wingo

Wed Apr 15 12:25:55 2009

Scot Wingo from ChannelAdvisor here.  Ina's story titled ''eBay eliminates checkout redirect'' has been confusing to some customers of ours and I wanted to clarify some nuances.  

In short:

* The program is not going away
* We are listening to eBay's request to make some changes (branding and up-sells) to the ChannelAdvisor checkout.
* We have not committed to changes or a timeline and won't do so without considerable customer input.
* We would appreciate any input you have on the topic.

Detailed blog post is here: http://snipr.com/fy8m2

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Wed Apr 15 13:11:50 2009

Scot,
You are wrong about last year's announcement. eBay did tell vendors it was phasing out Third Party Checkout last year at eBay Live, it was not a "rumor." I wrote about it last year. http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y08/m06/i19/s00

eBay said yesterday it is phasing out Third Party Checkout in 2010 (From Prostores letter to customers yesterday: " eBay will completely eliminate Third Party Checkout completely some time in 2010.") And while technically eBay is letting merchants use checkout services like yours, they have effectively neutered them by taking away the ability to cross-sell. Which is why I assume you are asking your sellers to lobby eBay against doing so on your blog.

Here is part of what ProStores told its Customers yesterday:

"eBay announced today that as of June 15, 2009, they will only allow Third-Party Checkout through vendors who have updated their checkout pages to meet specific design and functionality requirements. Among the required changes, eBay has eliminated the ability to cross-sell and up-sell items from your own Web store in the checkout flow."

You're one of the four certified providers who have chosen to continue with the program. Others have chosen not to. As Infopia and ProStores pointed out in letters to their customers, is it worth the effort and resources to convert a full-functioned Checkout into a system with no advantages over eBay Checkout, when it will eventually be phased out altogether next year. Instead, wouldn't those resources be better spent on other features?

During my conference call with eBay, I brought up the issue and was waiting to hear back from the Certified Provider Program.

The story is accurate but I can understand why you are concerned about confusion among your customers. (At least eBay didn't send a letter to your customers as they did with Infopia.) There's always confusion when eBay fails to communicate with their customers (and with reporters).
Ina

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Jay Shaffer

Wed Apr 15 13:58:11 2009

Jay Shaffer from Infopia here - like ProStores, we too were disappointed in the recent eBay decision to mandate checkout pages with very limited design and functionality requirements. Among the required changes, eBay has eliminated the ability to cross-sell and up-sell items from your own Web store in the checkout flow as well as all but wiped the merchant's specific branding off the face of the earth -well at least off the cart anyway.

Both of those requirements are contrary to the core features and benefits that we provide our clients; helping them to establish greater brand presence online as well as maximize every revenue opportunity in every possible way - which includes cross-sell and up-sell merchandising efforts.

As for ProStores perhaps being the next eBay divestment, only time will tell.  Their recent announcement about no longer wanting to compete with Amazon on a ''storefront'' type basis and wanting to return to their flea market/antique boutique roots does, though, have a foreshadowing hint to it.

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Jeff

Wed Apr 15 14:08:14 2009

We're updating our checkout to meet the new requirements.   There was some heated debate here as to whether it was worth it or not, so I can see why several vendors decided against it.  We decided to do it mainly because we have several thousand customers who have their own merchant accounts that need our checkout.  Sure maybe someday those sellers would be able to use their same merchant accounts on eBay, but that day is not here yet and eBay would have left them high and dry.  This update is a huge PITA.  All pain, no gain.

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Jeff

Wed Apr 15 14:10:35 2009

Suppose I should have said this is Jeff S. from Auctiva.

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Jay

Wed Apr 15 14:17:26 2009

What puzzles me is why this is not becoming a rallying point for a HUGE lawsuit against eBay.  As the noose tightens, most of these off-eBay sites are going to go out of business. At the same time, all of this moves eBay away from being a ''venue'' and toward being a ''vendor/auction/seller'' -- that will dramatically increase eBay's exposure to 50-state regulation, etc.  It is not a pretty picture and leaves most sellers who were using off-eBay services in a very hard place.  I hate to see eBay killing itself by 1000 cuts, but since eBay systematically tries to kill off small sellers like me (I was only paying them $1300/month), I care NOT!  If eBay were to continue becoming irrelevant (it is well on its way in my industry, but no replacement is in sight), it would actually help my business because eBay would stop training and encouraging buyers to be irresponsible.  With eBay neutered, buyers would get a dose of reality again, such as ''sellers' terms of sale DO matter'' or ''if you received it, you DO have to pay for it'' or ''if you refused to pay for insurance and something is lost or damaged it is YOUR problem, not the seller's''.  Bye, bye, eBay.  Don't let the screen door hit you in the rear.

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: ma

Wed Apr 15 14:19:06 2009

Thank you Ina for keeping us up to date on everything. I knew prostores would go away. it made since for very few. Sellers who could afford proStores and sold that volumn could do their own website and not deal with ebay at all.
Going back to their "Flea Market" approach might save ebay.
Aww and life goes on so back to work for me. Thanks for the opportunity to comment. ma

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: voodoo

Wed Apr 15 14:20:00 2009

Sorry folks but as a buyer I WILL NOT buy from a seller that uses a third party checkout.

You will only once get a trojan or virus from one of these checkouts and I guarantee you that you will never use one again.

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Scot Wingo

Wed Apr 15 14:20:32 2009

Hey Ina,

Thanks for the response. I agree with you that eBay has made this a complete kerfuffle with lots of mixed messages and unofficial stances, etc.

All that being said, your article says: "eBay will eliminate its Third Party Checkout Redirect on eBay as of June 15, 2009"

Which by your own admission in comments here: "eBay said yesterday it is phasing out Third Party Checkout in 2010"

Isn't the case.

Also, I don't think I'd put too much weight into what the Prostores team says about programs they don't really run at eBay.

It would be great if you could clarify your original article to make it clear that the program is not ending in June of 09.

Scot

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Jay

Wed Apr 15 14:30:30 2009

voodoo said...
> Sorry folks but as a buyer I WILL NOT
> buy from a seller that uses a third
> party checkout.
> You will only once get a trojan or
> virus from one of these checkouts and
> I guarantee you that you will never
> use one again.

So, voodoo, how long have you been on eBay's payroll?  

What a crock!

If you are going to get a ''trojan or virus from one of these checkouts'', then YOU have a problem with security on your computer.

If you do ANYTHING on the web, including any use of eBay, you are vulnerable unless you secure your computer constantly with the latest and best virus, malware, etc., protections.

Blaming your own lack of security on any site -- other than a ''criminal'' site -- is simply foolish.  If you are going to get a virus from a checkout website, you could also get the very same from your grandmother's personal site where she shows her pictures of her grandchildren.  

It is up to YOU to provide your own security.

Besides, the payment acceptance & checkout sites have to undergo very strenuous auditing and testing on a constant basis as a pre-condition of their payment acceptance contracts. You are much SAFER at those sites than most others, but you are NEVER ''SAFE'' ANYWHERE.

(I am just an ordinary business person without any affiliation to anybody except myself.)

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Butt from Elbow

Wed Apr 15 14:40:56 2009

Hahaha, Even EBAY"s vendors & sales reps can't figure it out anymore. It's like Ebay is trying to die. Does Donuthead like puzzles? Because from the way they do things now, it seems like they run every change thru a shredder, then dump the info in the trash, and expect us to figure out what the heck they are talking about. Scot, how long before you tell ebay to go pound sand?

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Karcass76

Wed Apr 15 15:07:55 2009

Actually, I think Scott did a great job on his blog summarizing the eBay spring changes from the different point of views (buyers, sellers, services providers and street).

I think Scott and Ina's close coverage of eBay is good....and just proves that ebay rules this world. ;-)

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Karcass 67 , Liveworld stooge

Wed Apr 15 15:14:49 2009

Karcass, good name for an EBAY STOOGE, Ebay
is a walking zombie. Dead Is Dead, Sell Sell Sell. 1.5 million less page views, 18% lower dollar value of items sold, $3 million lost revenue last quarter & the numbers are going to be super ugly next week. Ina covers Ebay because of the incredible stupidity of their CEO makes for greast laughs.

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: chaz

Wed Apr 15 15:15:51 2009

When ebay announced pro stores in addition to its own ebay stores and the ebay auctions, I thought it was well on its way to world domination of the ecommerce scene.  However, when I tried pro stores, I didn't even complete the free trial period it was so bad.

Ebay still has a place and a good one, mainly for auction items that have a chance to produce a big profit margin.  Also for fast clearance sales.  The high fees and less active auction activity preclude the use of ebay for lower margin items that used to work.

That said, let it integrate all parts of the sale into itself.  Might well be easier to use in terms of checkout and label printing than current scenario.  One thing I'd welcome is a capable bulk label printing process - Paypal's still has a lot of glitches.  

So far as general ecommerce is concerned, I along with many others have to bite the bullet and do our own sites, market through google, etc.  We can include info on our sites with our mailings to ebay buyers.

I've chosen to use good old Auctiva's commerce program.  They've made a good effort for workability and decent designs.  It's still a lot more complicated than simply listing on ebay but the trade off is one's own identity that one can promote over the years.

I'm not a believer in free ecommerce sites.  The other service I looked at was volusion, but having used auctiva for about a year, I trust their commitment to good technology and relative ease of use.  

Life is too short to carry grudges over ebay's miscues.  We all know they blundered badly over the past few years.  That's their problem, not ours.

PS I have no affiliation to any site but mine.

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Ebay No More

Wed Apr 15 15:51:44 2009

Normally I don't agree with many Ebay decisions but on this one I have to agree with Voodoo and Ebay. As an Ebay buyer I won't purchase from a third party seller having been burnt too many times. It's also a hassle for the buyer and provides less security and transparency for the buyer.

Ex. Ebay listing says insurance is optional. So you go to checkout and the third party seller has the default set for mandatory insurance. It's added into the total in hopes that most buyers won't notice and pay for the additional insurance. Now I the buyer am required to find some buried box on the page to find and check or uncheck the box and change the default. More steps for me the buyer.

I have also been overcharged for shipping fees that are different than what was posted in the Ebay listing. As the buyer I now must contact the seller and begin the tedious process of communicating to change the checkout total. Support time varies from a few minutes to never. I have no backup from Ebay with problems with this form of checkout.

Third party checkout is a hassle all around for a buyer and it assists dishonest sellers with less transparency and supervision. I am required to complete extra steps at checkout filling in or confirming information. I receive email offerings from tons of sellers that I have never signed up for post Ebay sales email offerings. The icing on the cake was when a major seller mispelled my name and sold my contact info. I received dozens of unwanted spam product offerings with of course- the misspelled name prominently displayed in every offering.

My personal favorite is when I attempt to checkout and the third party system doesn't work. This happens more frequently than many of these companies will admit. As a buyer then I am forced to wait until a later time to checkout. Overall third party checkout is a convenience for the sellers not the buyers. So for once I finally have something to applaud Ebay for doing.

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Scot Wingo

Wed Apr 15 16:15:51 2009

eBay has an official AB post up now:

http://www2.ebay.com/aw/core/200904151259582.html

l
icies
and existing legal agreements.

Some of the current third-party checkout providers may decide to begin using eBay Checkout instead of making user interface changes to their own checkout system. In this case, sellers can continue to use their services.

If you are a seller using a third-party checkout provider, we strongly encourage you to contact your provider about their plans. Most of our approved partners are planning to make the necessary changes to their solution, including:

4Sellers
Afterbuy
Auctiva Corporation
ChannelAdvisor
Cultuzz Digital Media
Digital River
Kyozou
Sandbourne Systems
Vendio

To reiterate, we are not eliminating third party checkout on June 15, we are only asking third-party checkout providers to update the user interface.

Please keep in mind that the definitive source of information about eBay is eBay. You can find accurate information about any planned changes through this Announcement Board and through emails, calls and other official communications from eBay.

Sincerely,
Dinesh Lathi
VP Seller Experience

ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?   ProStores to Be the Next eBay Divestment?

by: Ebay's Slow Death

Wed Apr 15 16:22:46 2009

I was just thinking about Ebay recently saying:

-They are putting the payment dispute system on Ebay

-Putting label printing on Ebay

-Getting rid of ProStore's third party check-out from sales on Ebay

-And, once again trying to bolster the ''Buyer Experience''.

I think they are trying to make PayPal a stand alone entity, so they can sell it, or do an IPO. Same with ProStores. We know that Skype is for sale, and Stumble might be.  

This will leave Ebay, mostly dominated by the Diamonds, sound like a solid business to sell someone.

I do believe that Donahoe came from Bain, whose main business was breaking up companies to maximize their value.

I think that is what Donahoe intends to pitch to analysts when he announces earnings on the 22nd. He is going to tell stockholders that Ebay has more value broken up into pieces. I'm sure he has already convinced the Ebay Board of Directors of this strategy. So, he isn't likely to lose his job at the stockholder's meeting. For Wall Street and the Execs, it's all about the money they will make.

I hope someone can present a convincing argument that I am wrong.  And the trolls, who are out in full force today trying to PR us into believing that Ebay's latest announcement is good for Sellers, don't count.

As for us small Sellers, we were screwed as soon as Donahoe took over last year. Now, more than ever, we have no choice but to find other places to sell.

Donahoe should write the book, ''How to Destroy a Thriving Company in Less Than a Year.'' He is certainly an expert!

Or maybe, ''Disruptive Innovation for Dummies''

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