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Fri Aug 5 2011 11:51:36

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

By: Ina Steiner

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Bill Fagan and Mimi Kriele have something in common - they both built up big businesses on eBay, expanded to multiple online channels, and ultimately gave up selling on eBay due to dissatisfaction with the marketplace.

Many readers are hungry for information about eBay alternatives, and the idea that there is "life after eBay" strikes a chord with them.

With Bill Fagan's business, Fuji Arts, he found eBay's Best Match algorithm was choking his business on the site. His solution was to advertise his own website using Google campaigns.

"When Best Match was implemented I told my eBay rep that I was going to take my eBay fees and spend them with Google," he told us. Within 60 days, he says, "our eBay business was irrelevant."

In Mimi Kriele's case, she found the influx of counterfeits from Hong Kong combined with eBay's poor enforcement of its policies were the main culprits hurting eBay sales of her company, Touch of Europe.

Today, Touch of Europe garners the lion's share of its revenue from its website and Amazon, with each accounting for around 40 percent of the company's sales, with the remainder coming from her physical retail store, conventions and trade shows. Ideally, she wants her own website grow to about 80 percent of the company's total revenue. Mimi is using Google AdWords, email marketing, a rewards program and appearances at shows to accomplish that goal.

In 2008, we also interviewed Bruce Hershenson of eMoviePoster.com about his decision to leave eBay. In his case, higher fees combined with new policies pushed him out the door. "Their removing sellers' ability to leave feedback makes all sellers of vintage items a target for blackmailers," he wrote at the time. What makes Hershenson's story so remarkable is that he was able to build a successful auction business off of eBay.

I've always advocated that sellers diversify, and we built the EveryPlaceISell.com merchant directory in 2008 in recognition of this growing trend (sellers have called it their "online business card.")

Multi-channel selling has finally become the norm even among small sellers. But if the "Life after eBay" stories teach us anything, it's the importance of establishing your own website.

I cover ecommerce hosting solutions in both EcommerceBytes Newsflash and in the twice-monthly EcommerceBytes Update newsletter, and there are plenty of ways to network with other sellers both in this blog, our forums and on social networking sites (The EcommerceBytes LinkedIn group has had some productive conversations recently.)

Let us know if you've decreased your dependence on one marketplace, and what steps you've taken and the challenges you're discovering along the way.

Links to the stories mentioned in this blog post:

Fuji Arts Finds Life After eBay

Longtime Seller Abandons eBay after Finding Growth on Other Channels - Part 1

Longtime Seller Abandons eBay after Finding Growth on Other Channels - Part 2

eMoviePoster.com Founder Talks about Decision to Leave eBay




Comments (43) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: The Doctor

Fri Aug 5 14:28:47 2011

EBay does not care about those who leave their site and take the business elsewhere. I was told frankly from EBay customer service that EBay doesn't need more sellers,(They have plenty)What they need are more buyers. This explains why numerous complaints about buyers who attempt scams or use the feed back as a tool to get what they want are ignored by customer service and we only receive a standard boiler plate response to emails. They just are not interested in the seller.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: larry

Fri Aug 5 14:29:05 2011

What's amazing is that no matter how many stories are printed about seller's negative reactions to ''Best Match'' or large, long time sellers leaving, complete with provided reasons of why they left, eBay simply does nothing.
I guess they are making enough money that they don't care. They're just not making it from me anymore. Pffft.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: BeAware

Fri Aug 5 14:29:13 2011

The best way to "beat" eBay is by consistently "dipping your toes" into the possibility of getting off the eBay site altogether.  First, get your business plan outlined (What are your goals?  What are your target prices? etc.).  Second, select a domain name and secure it (using such sources as Name.com, GoDaddy.com, etc.).  Third, sign-up for web hosting (many web-hosting sites give you access to rudimentary website building tools).  Fourth, every day spend about an hour building your website (yes, this is an additional hour out of your very busy day, but you will reap rewards from your efforts).  Fifth, continue conscientiously working to expand your exposure via suitable sites that fit your products (whether it be via Amazon.com, Etsy.com, Bonanzle.com, etc.), as well as using social networks for expanded name-recognition.  None of this will result in "over-night" success but, at least, you'll have the satisfaction of being part of your own trajectory toward business success.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: Todd Stephenson
Web Site

Fri Aug 5 15:07:47 2011

I am surprised that ebay's recent announcement that they are building a test fulfillment center in China to improve service for Chinese based sellers hasn't garnered more attention.  This will push even more of the small North American sellers off ebay.  First ebay wanted to be amazon.  Now they want to be alibaba too.  Others have said it, and I agree... it's a real shame.  Can we all just go back to pre best match search?  No, guess not.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: planet4sale
Web Site

Fri Aug 5 15:39:59 2011

Life after eBay? Maybe... Is eBay dead? Not yet. Is there a new, comparable platform? Not yet.

As a small seller of unique collectibles, I will stay on eBay until the last moment. I still make money here, and will for quite a while.

I have tried to setup my own own e-commerce web site, with shopping cart, calculated shipping, tax collections etc. Way too much work for very little return, and no traffic.

Tried Bonanza, no sales, doesn't have the features I need (calculated shipping and taxes - mind you, I'm based in Canada, very few platforms support my country)

Amazon, don't get me started - how do you make money when they set shipping rates for book and they don't cover the cost?

FBA - this could work, but not available in Canada yet.

The way I see it, eBay is like a Mount Everest, where all competitors are, at this moment, like ant hills. Everest is shrinking, ant hills are growing, but its too early for me to jump. I will jump when the second largest competitor is about the same size to catch the wave, anything else is a waste of time you could use find new inventory and sell it.


Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: BeenThereDoneThat

Fri Aug 5 17:07:55 2011

I launched my own web site in May 1997. I kept it up for about 10 years before taking it down. It never brought me much business despite having links to it ALL over the place (web sites, my sig file, biz cards, etc.). I now sell on Etsy and, more recently, Facebook. Facebbook rocks! I'll occasionlly dip my toes back into eBay and did so, in fact, just a couple of weeks ago. Made a few sales so it wasn't a total loss, but I'm mostly focusing on Facebook these days!

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: bsanut This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Aug 5 20:42:34 2011

I've had my own site for three years and it does ok, better every quarter, but still only 25% of Ebay sales.  Would it do better if I spent the $1500/mo+ in Ebay fees in adversing elsewhere?  I DON'T KNOW.  I'm responsible to my partner for a certain amount of income, and while Ebay is a pain, it's easier than the gamble of jumping out completely.  But I think about it a lot.

Joe

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: Digby
Web Site

Sat Aug 6 04:33:27 2011

Its funny every one says sellers are leaving ebay, but they still hover around 120 million listings and can add 3 million listings in one day with a special.

In the meantime we should all work on our own websites and alt sites such as ebid.net and bonanza until they get to say 20 million listings.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: Robert
Web Site

Sat Aug 6 04:39:08 2011

@the Doctor. It's really sad how eBay deals with it's sellers. I was their customers for years, but now i will reconsider. Of course there's life after eBay. There's someone out there lurking for the opportunity to throw them from the throne.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: Feehike

Sat Aug 6 07:06:22 2011

@ Todd
I am surprised that ebay's recent announcement that they are building a test fulfillment center in China to improve service for Chinese based sellers hasn't garnered more attention. This will push even more of the small North American sellers off ebay. First ebay wanted to be amazon. Now they want to be alibaba too. Others have said it, and I agree... it's a real shame. Can we all just go back to pre best match search? No, guess not

Thats something I am also surprised about, that most sellers do not see the effect that ebay & the fulfilment centres will have on the small to large ebay sellers.

Once those fulfilment centres are ready both in the U.S. and strategically placed within europe there will be no stopping the Chinese Retailers with their cheap goods.
Ebay as stated that the only thing that holds back the chinese is the shipping time, well what better way for ebay to help the chinese out, but to have warehouses already holding the Chinese cheap goods ready to be sent quickly to the buyer from the warehouse in the buyers own country or from one european country to another.

Ebay will not care if it loses some of its existing sellers as the Chinese will have huge inventories to replace the lost sellers listings.

They will use the unwanted sellers for as long as they can, while those sellers listings are buried at the bottom of the searches, while the listings of the huge International & Chinese retailers sit up the top of the searches.
I agree ebay will not go back to what it used to be, it will become a site for huge retailers to advertise & sell their goods worldwide.

The best course of action now IMO is to continue using ebay as long as you can but start building up other places to sell in the meantime.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: kevin

Sat Aug 6 09:27:25 2011

Great story.....I bet you would find hundreds of stories like this easily.  We left ebay and it was the best thing we ever done. I'll save the story for another time, but I would be very interested to see the common denominators in the reasons sellers left, and see them ranked in order of importance.  I'm sure some ebay exec would read it and dismiss it as "noise" but maybe it might be the start of getting the site back to what it once was.  If they'd address the larger issue that sellers have, I'd probably start selling some things there again.  My guess is the top reasons would be (in no particular order)

Lack of seller customer service, inconsistent customer service

inconsistency in policy enforcement

Lack of transparency in reporting, (dsr's, search, fees, etc)

Evaluation tools that don't match ( being rated very good can lead to a selling restriction)

Feel free to add you own

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: Margaret

Sat Aug 6 14:27:19 2011

Seven years ago I went looking for a platform to sell on. I looked at ebay, I even signed up to buy and have purchased a handful of items over the years. However, I had a bad feeling about selling on it so I never have.

Instead I opted for one of the online malls, have a store front, wonderful record keeping, low fees, many free listing days a year, no commission on items I sell, only an advertisement fee and monthly maintenance fee which combined are incredibly low. Sales are good, customers are happy. It sounds like heaven compared to ebay and I am so glad I followed my first instinct about them.

All you have to do is look around and you can find your Nirvana. If you stay with ebay you will eventually be sorry. If you stand back and look at what they are today and where they are going you will see it is to follow the dollar where ever it leads. This was once a good place to do business I hear you all say. I am sorry to tell you it will never be that again and you need to read the writing on the wall.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: summer in the city

Sat Aug 6 16:10:35 2011


If Donahoe thinks European consumers are going to stampede Ebay to buy cheap chinese garbage, he's in for yet another surprise.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: brian

Sat Aug 6 16:34:19 2011

I believe there is life after eBay. Once a vocal supporter of the site I now only list a few items to persuade them to go to my other venues. I have been with eBay since 1998. I once made money there it was fun with all the policy, and fee changes it is not worth trying to sell there. I have tried selling at .99 no bids. Offered to pay shipping even on items that start at or below $10.00. No luck!

Then this week I get a message at work out of the blue that eBay had called they me left an email address to contact. I contacted them not knowing what they want. I emailed my concerns as a small seller on how things have changed for the worse. Then I get another email from them to do a survey. It was basically them trying to be Amazon wanting to know my thoughts on sending items to them for a fulfillment program. No Thank you. Has anyone else have any thoughts on this. I tell people all about what eBay has become or is trying to become.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: Sleepy Time

Sat Aug 6 21:22:01 2011

Within the last few months, someone claiming to be Bruce Hershenson was on the forums asking questions about possibly selling on Ebay again.  

It was hard to see my hero caving in....

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: 101163

Sat Aug 6 21:48:51 2011

ebay ink blog has posted something titled "Nobody Cares About Us Little Guys…It’s Not Fair!".
Seems to be near an exact opposite of this post, extolling the glory of remaining on ebay and a work of comedy/fiction/brainwashing.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

This user has validated their user name. by: Mercy the Mingless

Sat Aug 6 22:24:43 2011

Boy those "Life after eBay" articles must have really chapped someone's A$$ at eBay, and they called out their Social Media Hit Squad to try and blow some smoke up our butts. Always remember though, the same old gaggle of Social Media Sellers that eBay likes to pump their agenda make their living how?...

Why, by teaching people how to sell on eBay, of course. How coincidental!

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: MR ME

Sun Aug 7 18:22:41 2011

and.......Please don't forget ... When doing your on-line purchases... look outside of eBay, support your favorite "alt" sites .
eBay will probably linger for years, but there is plenty of room for other sites.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: Jessica

Sun Aug 7 21:26:34 2011

I can't believe Bruce Hershenson or anyone dealing in rare movie material would want to be on eBay.While this area does not get flooded by cheap Asian crap and has little fraud on either end, it is a shadow of what it was a few years ago. Instead of rare original material going for significant prices it is mostly reprints at fixed prices. There is very little good stuff for sale and most people who bought material only go there once in a while (I also sold a bit) Truly sad. Bruce runs a terrific site and I do buy from him, but it is not practical for many folks to sell stuff through him and thus the market which once thrived on eBay is just Bruce and few things elsewhere.

Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord   Is There Life after eBay? Recent Columns Strikes a Chord

by: Bruce Hershenson
Web Site

Sun Aug 7 22:24:15 2011

Thanks Jessica! Like the subject of this article, I left eBay three years ago (after 300,000 sales) and opened my own site. My sales went from 2 million a year on eBay to 3.3 million a year on my own site, and NO eBay fees!  People keep asking me why I don't use eBay to promote my own site. This excellent article explains why. From the article: ''In 2009 eBay was maybe 10 percent of our sales and I'd say 75 percent of our problems. We were using it as a customer acquisition vehicle and even that didn't work,'' Kriele said. ''eBay became irrelevant.'' I could not agree more!

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