|Sun Apr 11 2010 23:05:51|
eBay's Problem Child: Collectibles
By: Ina Steiner
It doesn't take a PhD to identify an iPhone, but you have to have some expertise to know that McCoy never made a Red Riding Hood cookie jar, despite the fact that some sellers identify the cookie jars they're selling as such. The area of antiques and collectibles has always presented a unique challenge for eBay, even back in the day when they had category managers. Reproductions remain a serious problem for honest antiques and collectibles dealers…so what's a marketplace to do?
Information the company shared with its Voices community members last Fall, as well as a new survey eBay is conducting, may give an indication as eBay's plans to counter the fact they do not have paid antiques and collectibles experts on staff.
eBay told members of its "Voices of the Community" program last October it was considering more community interaction and feedback in the collectibles category. Some of the actions it outlined included:
Allowing community members to provide information to eBay (for free) is a double-edge sword. The sharing of information - known as crowd-sourcing - can provide a goldmine of information (see "eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes" - Link). But could also open eBay up to liability issues if they don't act on such information (see "eBay Found Negligent after Failing to Heed User Warnings" - Link). Perhaps eBay believes that by bringing it behind closed doors by using a closed discussion board, it could better manage the process.
- Regular call with Collectibles Voices members
- Forum of 500 -closed discussion board for providing feedback and monthly surveys
- "Letters to Collectibles" - like "letters to the editor" where everyone can email their input for the category
- Loosen rules and restrictions of the eBay Boards.
- Categorize original vs. reproduction and antique/vintage vs. new items, possibly with Item Specifics & Demarcation of 20 yrs old or older as antique/vintage
- Combat fraud onsite leveraging the expertise of the community
- Further Refine Best Match
- Implement Catalogs, such as Krause's and Beckett's
Questions from a recent survey echo the Voices "Brainstorming Session" that eBay is considering adding a field for sellers to fill in where they would designate collectible items as "original" or "reproduction," and reveals it may allow sellers to classify their items as reprints and modern reproductions.
eBay is also considering adding a field for sellers to designate the date or time period of collectibles. Anyone selling collectibles is likely familiar with the question of what can be classified as vintage, and what can be classified as antique, for example.
It's not clear whether eBay would make those fields optional or not.
Another question in the survey indicates eBay is also considering updating the current category structure, including reducing - or increasing - the variety of subcategories.
Too Late for Community Approach?
eBay has tried hard in the past several years to change their image - some have called it eBay's Amazonification strategy - and many sellers feel those changes have hurt the collectibles category.
It may be a big assumption to think "the community" is still willing to share their expertise with eBay for free.