Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu Mar 7 2013 22:08:26

What Does Neiman Marcus Departure Mean for eBay?

By: Ina Steiner

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Neiman Marcus had a rocky start when it launched the Last Call By Neiman Marcus fashion outlet store on eBay in 2011 along with 19 branded outlet stores. Like others before it, the company learned it takes a lot of work to sell on the eBay channel. In January, Neiman Marcus departed from eBay permanently.

As reported in Friday's Newsflash newsletter, Neiman Marcus told us it had learned a great deal from its partnership with eBay, "but it did not meet all our expectations."

What do brands want when it came to the eBay channel? Donahoe promised incremental sales - access to its millions of shoppers. eBay built a special on-ramp for brands to dump their catalogs on its marketplace and offered special pricing deals. eBay acquired top brands through its acquisition of GSI Commerce and began offering golden promotional opportunities to those manufacturers and retailers. (I wrote about the exposure eBay gives Sony in September, as an example; and promoting brands on eBay's social networking accounts is typical behavior.)

When we warned readers about eBay's stealth plans for Operation Catalog in 2008 (which eBay initially denied), sellers were skeptical about the likelihood of their success. And many believed brands simply wanted to use eBay as a customer acquisition tool, using eBay to drive visitors to their own websites.

As we observed 2 years ago, when Last Call By Neiman Marcus opened its eBay store, it began collecting email addresses from visitors, which was against eBay's policy (at least for regular sellers).

eBay launched with 20 fashion outlet stores in 2011 as part of its focus on creating tailored vertical shopping experiences in key categories. How many are there today? There are currently 25 fashion outlets listed in the eBay directory.

A lot has changed over the past 5 years, and the departure of Neiman Marcus from eBay is a good time to reflect on whether eBay is succeeding with its shift to favor large brands, and whether that strategy has made eBay a stronger, healthier marketplace.




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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 7 23:10:11 2013

They left probably for the same reason a lot of us left....very little traffic!  There's good reason why ebay gives away so many free listings...they're gorging the site with goods hoping they can maintain revenue.  In the old days we were lucky to get a free listing day once or twice a year.  They messed with a good thing until they killed it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Thu Mar 7 23:35:24 2013

It means that both ebafia and Nieman Marcus got exactly what they deserved, and I think other big box stores will follow suit sooner or later.

It's yet another consequence in the sixth year of The Ho's three year turnaround plan.

Past time for new corporate leadership who will end the quarterly Wall Street Roulette games, eliminate 75% of ebafia's top heavy management structure, and behave like a blue chip company who gives dividends to investors.

It's over, Pierre. What you see if you're even looking is the corpse twitching.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rocky

Thu Mar 7 23:49:30 2013

It appears, from perusing the feedback, that their major problem was listing stuff they didn't have in stock -- and then doing nothing about it promptly.  Are we not sure that eBay had not done some urging in Neiman's departure?  

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by: Ebay Seller-Ebay Buyer This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 8 00:15:12 2013

Might have been hard to make payroll and run an Ebay business considering all the returns and the high Ebay and Paypal fees.  Store fees are a complete rip off--it's unavoidable to have a store and not pay at least 20% to 25% in combined ebay and paypal fees

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by: BackInBlack This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 8 00:59:01 2013

What @Ming said.
And...
Nothing makes me angrier that sellers harvesting my PayPal e-mail addy to Spam the crap outta me. I've had it happen from small sellers to Music 1-2-3 (I'm now getting catalogs in the mail from them too, thanks to one eBay purchase).

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 8 01:02:11 2013

@EBAYSELLER-EBAYBUYER--

Surely you don't thing ebay was CHARGING the SAME rates to NM as they are charging US?

Fell off my chair laughing.

And if ebay thought NM was going to ebay to "Garage Sale" their left overs--well I have a BRIDGE for them in Brooklyn.  

NM went to ebay to grab as MANY email addy's and customer contacts as they could and GET OUT.  Now that ebay is having their bots scour the Messages inc for even "fractured" email addys this might have curtailed NM's Grab-N-Git technique.  

I don't blame NM at all--I blame EBAY for making it hard for even the biggest sellers to deal with the insanity that The Ho has created.  The association with ebay --where they cannot seem to settle into ANY sort of a business plan for more than a nano-second--might just not be the way NM sees themselves doing BUSINESS and SELLING.  After all--HOW long has NM been around???

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Fri Mar 8 02:05:02 2013

Regardless, it makes you wonder just how much longer Toys-R-Us will hang in there given the abysmal sell through rate they achieve ...

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas

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by: spirit-of-shiloh This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 8 02:59:07 2013

Oh well eBay is trying to be a B&M and it isn't working. Time for them to cater to the small sellers again who made them into what they were. Too bad China ''fake item'' sellers don't leave too.

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by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 8 03:06:44 2013

For respected name brands, social network or not, it is absolutely stupid to enter ebay channel.  Why?
Because ebay is well-known for humiliating small American sellers.  Forcing them to jump through hoops, hijacking TRS and 20% refunds, and shamelessly taking 12% on postage fees.  No self-respecting entity would want to be associated with social outcast without higher self-serving evil plan of their own.

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Fri Mar 8 04:23:09 2013

Maybe Neiman Marcus left when they realized their image was being tarnished by associating with ebay. I know I'm embarrassed to tell anyone I sell on ebay. Shhh!

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by: frustrated This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 8 08:18:12 2013

BUMMER!!

I was gonna rent an $800 dress to wear once and then send it back with wine stains!!

Too bad, now I'll have to settle for some OTHER fashion dummy still selling there.

Get it?

Returns for anything for 30 days do NOT work for high-end clothing.

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by: jsgeare This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Mar 8 08:21:57 2013

How dreadful! Not having Neiman Marcus on eBay is like not having chewing gum with your spaghetti. Unthinkable.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Fri Mar 8 08:22:47 2013

I've never bought a LOT from Neiman Marcus, (nothing lately) but when I did it was through their own Neiman Marcus website. The Last Call site was always there if I wanted. Stuff was still way overpriced.

But my point is, why would I buy from NM (or any big box) through eBay when they have always had plenty of perks for buying from their own website!

If a big box - big name retailer does not have their own kick-a$$ website to sell from - well they deserve to go out of business!

I agree with the others, only incentive I see is to gather emails for marketing your own site.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri Mar 8 08:52:24 2013

I got the impression that this was one of JD's ''flagship'' accounts and a source of great personal pride. Something that he could point to as being a way to get other high-end retailers to follow.

Personally, I'm delighted that NM is moving on and abandoning eBay. I hope it is an embarrassment to JD and that it serves as a warning to others and a MONUMENT to his FAILED SCHEME of converting eBay from a ''noisy'' dirty-little-flea-market into his vision of a grand ''Outlet Mall''.

As Basset so correctly pointed out... any of these retailers and manufacturers who have any competence at all will ALREADY have their own online distribution channels. So why would they need (or even want) eBay?

I get a great deal of satisfaction in seeing the JD House-of-Cards begin to collapse. This is just the first major high-profile defection and others are likely to follow.

Sadly, this comes all too late for the countless number of sellers whose lives (and livelihoods) were destroyed or irreparably harmed by JD's folly.

Even worse... this went FAR BEYOND being a mere ''experiment'' that could easily be abandoned and reversed. The effects of JD's ''vision'' and his unwillingness to see what was happening are permanent. The damage cannot be undone.

eBay will never again achieve its former greatness. Its reputation is forever tarnished. Sellers will never again trust eBay to do the right thing. As long as JD is at the helm, we can rest assured that it's all about eBay (at the expense of everyone else... including the sellers!)

Long gone are the days when eBay's success depended upon the success of the sellers and was BUILT UPON the success of the sellers. --- Now, sellers are just another commodity to be abused, cheated and bled dry.

It sickens me, and saddens me to see what eBay has become. But having said that... I will admit that NM's departure is amusing.

Schadenfreude, anyone?

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Mar 8 09:25:40 2013

Don't know why anyone sells on ebay, big box or not. Never shopped on NM either on line or in purpose although I have heard of it for years. When I want something from a normal store, I research their website for it. I certainly don't go to ebay. When I was willing to still buy on ebay (not anymore after I kept getting SNAD items) I went there to find deals from individual sellers, which is the whole point of ebay. The powers that be have their own ideas about what ebay should be doing and have ruined the place and this started with MEG not Donohoho. After the first couple of years of MEG's rule I had to get out unless I wanted more real ulcers and wanted to give all my proceeds directly back to ebay. I wasn't running a store there to make ebay rich but that is what happened. I don't mind paying fees if I think I'm getting value from them but on ebay you don't.

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 8 10:15:29 2013

“A monkey could drive this train” - Meg Whitman

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Mar 8 11:14:18 2013

For ebafia to change, not only will The Ho have to go but Devil Wenig as well. They're the evil twins of sleazy e commerce.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Mar 8 11:14:37 2013

and Griff as well.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 8 12:10:58 2013

The problem isnt NM, TRU, Datavis, Skullcandy or any of the big brands.

In general, when theres a problem in a company, it comes from the top down, and in this case (like many others) eBay as a company has no real plan on how to bring business to themselves in 2013.

Im not going to bash anyone - Id rather not have David shut down the thread (though what I think of eBay and its management is WELL known).

eBay (as a business) is like an old, rusted car sitting in a field since 1953 that is going to be restored - or at least thats the description JD thinks he received eBay in when he took office.

A smart person when doing that type of resto, would think about what kind of vehicle they want to make out of the bones of the car, and then strip it down, sell off parts that are good but unusable, disgard parts that dont work and then go about painting, stripping, and rebuilding the auto.

In eBays case they never thought any of it through. JD may be smart or he may not be - I never met him so I cant say - but what IS obvious is that instead of doing a complete resto, SOMEONE (he or his team) though that you could "patch" the auto/eBay and get it back on the road in 1 day.

So we got all these "patches" and none of them "really" work. Buyer Protection, Seller Protection, Yes to Auctions, No to Auctions, pushing sellers out with obtuse rules about pictures, Magic invisible DSRs, feedback abuse, multitudes of non paying buyers and of course VERO are all ideas that have failed.

Instead of JD sitting down and examining what parts of eBay works and what doesnt ... he let his team "patch".

Be aware though that not every manufactorer on eBay is there for the same reason. As an example, NM wasnt there for the same reason Skullcandy is on eBay. Skullcandy is there to undercut its own dealers and make sure they cant sell on eBay, stem the tide of people using eBay as an unauthorized sales channel, and to harasss ANYONE they dont want on eBay.

NM was there (so it seems) to get brand recognition, harvest emails and use eBay as advertising. That process only takes you so far - as they found out.

eBay will continue with or without NM. They still havent rolled out thier out of the country shipping plans (whats taking so long eBay?), they still havent figured out Fullfillment by eBay, they havent gotten local pickup figured out and they certainly havent figured out thier core business - safe buying and selling on eBay.

JD thinks hes patched one issue - mobile - and JD - god bless you - but it isnt what you think. Just because people browse on the go, and fix thier listings - thats not ecommerce. All you have done is shift people using thier mobile devices to purchase or look at items instead of thier pcs. You dont have NEW incremental business!

eBay still has many tricks up its sleeve - the authorized buyer BS - thats on the 2013 adgenda, they will keep making monkeys out of themselves at trade shows (does anyone know if they will be at the ASD show? And of course when things really get boring, they will wake up VERO for a new round of harassments.

2013 will see a shake up - Im sure you will see another major player leave (JC Pennys for one), and I doubt J&R can hold on on eBay much longer as they are paying bills in 75 days instead of 30.

eBay isnt all roses - not by a long shot - and even if you go the TRU route of just plain ignoring eBays PITA buyers and eBay looks the other way, eventually it catches up with you ...!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Fri Mar 8 12:23:09 2013

I believe Neiman Marcus learned the hard way that eBay does not attract the typical high end customer NM anticipated.

NM likely expected eBay would be the platform from which they could liquidate goods at prices which were well above clearance. Instead, NM found eBay buyers are born & bred price conscious bottom feeders who only pounce on goods with rock bottom prices.

That Neiman Marcus allowed themselves to be associated with eBay in the first place, then hung around until 2013 are the only surprises here. The outcome such as it is was inevitable.

eBay got the exposure they wanted by being able to say they had attracted Neiman Marcus as a retailer.

Now that Neiman Marcus has treated eBay like a bastard red headed step child it should not be a shock that eBay will have nothing to say about the departure. Anytime eBay ends up with egg on their face, the response is to remain silent as if nothing happened.

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