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Sat May 19 2012 23:06:02

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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Of a sample of 50 of the top 500 eBay sellers from the 2004 Nortica List, only 13 sellers were still eBay members and still actively selling. So where have they gone? Check my article in Sunday's EcommerceBytes Update article, "eBay's Titanium Sellers: Where Are They Now?"

I wasn't surprised to see a number of people who had gone NARU, but when combined with the number of sellers who were not currently listing any items for sale, that makes for 37 out of 50, or 74% of former Titanium sellers who are not currently selling on eBay.

Where have all these sellers gone? Some of them seemed to flame out in ways that made news, such as Parrothead88, who starting in April 2006  began getting an unusual amount of negative ratings for the seller.

Parrothead88 also made eBay history when he became the first "shooting star" PowerSeller in 1999 when he earned 10,000 feedback ratings.

Some sellers, such as Randy Smythe, who ran the "Glacierbaydvd" business and ranked #2 on the list, have moved on to very different things. Smythe is now Senior Director, Marketplace for Buy.com. Smythe said his category (Movies and Music) "became a commodity" and he didn't see the future in it long-term.

Other sellers such as Swedemom (who also runs her own ecommerce website) are still standing, but not without a lot of struggle and recalibrating along the way.

In eyeballing the top 50 of the list, I would guess several large companies (alibris, totalcampus.com, procarparts.com, the_sharper_image, abebooks-half) simply decided to focus on their own websites. maybe they were tired on the fees. In other cases, they may have renamed their business on eBay and be operating under a slightly tweaked user id. (This is the case with "Justdeals.com," which was taken over by new people and renamed simply "justdeals" on eBay).

What do you think happened to those 500 Titanium PowerSellers from 2004? How do you think the top sellers on eBay have changed, or not? Post a comment here!




Comments (13) | Permalink

Readers Comments

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

by: bookseller This user has validated their user name.

Sun May 20 00:42:10 2012

Alibris is still on eBay in a pretty big way, but under at least 2 seller names (alibris_books_09 and alibris_books_03 - for all I know there may be an 04, 05, 06, etc. as well). And rather than listing directly on eBay, they cross list from Half.com. So under the right search conditions, based on those two seller names, they likely have well over 2 million listings on eBay. If you search by their seller name on eBay, you won't see any items ''listed'' because the listing is a feed from Half. Abebooks was acquired by Amazon in December of 2008, so I'm sure they were pulled off eBay by Amazon sometime after that since the two companies are decided competitors.

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

by: Bruce Hershenson This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Sun May 20 06:46:27 2012

In 2004, we at eMoviePoster.com sold around 60,000 items on eBay for $2,596,098.17, so we were certainly among their foremost Titanium sellers (the only reason we were not on the top 50 list of Titanium sellers is that list was ordered by feedback, and our sales were far greater than many of the 50 who had higher feedback than us).  We were one of the only true ''99 cent, no reserve'' sellers left on eBay who did so on a giant scale.

In early 2008, eBay not only raised our rates 40% in a single day, but they also made changes to their system that said to me that they were ''declaring war'' on smaller sellers, and I believed then it was their intention to drive all but the largest sellers off eBay (through unevenly applied rate increases, and micro-management of sellers) and so I took my entire business off eBay and onto auctions on our own site http://www.emovieposter.com

The result? Our sales have set records every year since we left, with sales last year of $3,543,243.00 (and so far this year we have sold $1,400,713.00).

Best of all, we no longer llve in fear (as still active seller swedemom says, ''You wake up in fear every morning of potentially not having a business the next day because of some weird policy or hold on something'').

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

by: Theresa This user has validated their user name.

Sun May 20 09:24:15 2012

Very interesting article and information.  Thanks for doing the research and sharing it with us!

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sun May 20 10:18:52 2012

They went where Macys went - and alot of others .. OFF eBay. B&H Photo (who was never on eBay) told me outright - they would NEVER sign up for eBay as they dont like eBays controling policies.

You only see a few large electronics sellers left, as they are in the protected class (thanks NOAH) as eBay wants to compete with Amazon and needs them.

eBay is SO dumb that they let buy.com (buy) list items! that allows buy.com's own 3rd party sellers and Rakutens list on eBay while competing with them at the same time. Its a simple way for them to grab eBay buyers and switch them over to buy.com with out hassle.

There a few others left Datavis, E&B - but they have eBay reps that clean up the mess when something goes wrong. If you or I had that many negatives, we'de be gone in a heartbeat.

This article proves what we all here already know - eBay isnt a place to make a living off of - at any time your model can go poof - because some child with an MBA who doesnt understand the real world can mandate a rule that hurts you. It also proves that eBay isnt a long term business strategy - its unsustainable!

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

by: eBayOldTImer This user has validated their user name.

Sun May 20 10:32:13 2012

Regardless of how you spin it, 26% retention rate of your top echelon of sellers is not a good thing.

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles

Sun May 20 12:50:11 2012

Anyone that made thousandS or million$ in eBay in one point or other will look to move away and become free of the eBay's fees obsession.

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

by: Arch This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 21 11:42:20 2012

This clears up a couple misconceptions I had.  I thought Titanium sellers likely received special treatment from eBay.  This seems for the most part wrong, and actually is terrible business on eBay's part.  They should cater somewhat to those customers.  

I really see now that all eBay sellers live in constant fear of being shut down after a bad run.  It's just plain stupid.

In spite of the above eBay continues to grow.  Why? Easy entry and its everyone's dream to have their own business and eBay is the easiest way to do it.  

I don't know of any other companies that do the idiotic things that they do and still keep growing. Shows the power and reach of the internet.

I came to the conclusion from this article that the end game for my business MUST be becoming self sufficient on my own website.  This will require getting a lot of help on the technical side to set it up right and an google ad budget similar to the fees that I pay on eBay but I guess it will pay off in the long run.  

I also sell on the Amazon, and it is the same story as eBay really.  You can lose that account anytime too.  But in Amazon's case only 30% of their business comes from 3rd party sellers so working well with them is not as critical as eBay.

This was an awesome article and thank you so much for publishing it.  A real wake up call to everyone selling on eBay and Amazon for the majority of their sales.

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

by: everygoodthing This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 21 13:03:45 2012

Does anyone know who the top 50 sellers are today on ebay?  I'd love to see a list. I'm guessing that many are the big guys - wonder if they get special treatment? If I were a large business, it would seem a little crazy to put up with the constant changes that require tech changes in listings.

Ebay is a great marketing tool for your business, but convert your customers to your own website is the way to go. The initial investment to get things running smoothly is worth it from what I've heard. Just make sure you offer Paypal as a payment option!

If anyone knows where to find that list, please post. I'd love to see it!

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon May 21 13:12:02 2012

If I was making $1 million on eBay prior to the changes of 2008, I guarantee I would be making more, and keeping more, by starting my own web site.

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

by: AlBeSure This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 21 15:13:59 2012

The Titanium Sellers of 2004 got the message that ebay was getting greedy and most of them left. I would almost bet that there are only a few Titanium Sellers left nowadays that are not big box stores.
Ebay has forced a lot of great sellers off of the site due to feebay greed.
Like if you have a store on feebay, you pay the store fee ( $100 ) to have a store in order to list items for sale at a lower price (listing fees like $0.03 or $0.15) instead of $0.35 to $1.00 for the same item with out a store involved.

When you sell something in your store on ebay, you pay 11 % of the final selling price of the item as well as a portion of the shipping fees as well. And if you use paypal ( as demanded by ebay ) , ebay / paypal gets another fee for using their payment processing.

When it is all said and done, ebay could and does make a chuck of change here, a $10 sale could net the seller after ebay fees and ebay deals about $8 to 7.50 from the sale. Then the seller has overhead to deal with and the wholesale cost of item.  So when everything is cost accounted for, the seller could make a whopping $0.15 to $1.25 depending on the overhead.

So to stay in business on ebay , the Power seller must sell several thousand items a month just to keep afloat to stay in business. Can you imagine a Titanium Power Seller staying on ebay to make just $2,000 a month? Most would not, but some stay just on ebay for the traffic that ebay brings.

So who are the Titanius sellers that are left from the past years??

You get the picture. The games and fees eventually force out the sellers that are not from Asia or the big brands. The writing is on the wall.

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Mon May 21 19:30:15 2012

I guess titanium isn't good enough to get the sweet deals the diamonds get.  

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 21 23:32:08 2012

Titanium has the same breaking strength of human long bones.

Bend anything too far and it will snap.

What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?   What Happened to the eBay Titanium Sellers of 2004?

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 26 13:31:30 2012

Nice to see and hear from Bruce again, after all these years.
How ya doing Bruce- I read what you have been doing since leaving ebay and all we have to say is GOOD JOB.
Your ol' buddy,
Howler



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