Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Aug 6 2013 22:47:20

What's the State of Collectibles at eBay?

By: Ina Steiner

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We've got a really interesting series coming up in the EcommerceBytes Update newsletter about the state of collectibles at eBay. Greg Holden talks to the experts and explores whether Amazon may have a shot at filling in some of the gaps - timely given today's official launch of the Amazon.com fine arts store. (Would you purchase a painting or collectible on Amazon?)

In Wednesday's Newsflash newsletter, Greg Holden presents a teaser piece as way of introduction, with some insight from the famed Terry Kovel, Harry Rinker and eMoviePoster.com's Bruce Hershenson. They have some interesting things to say!

Greg's piece is also timely given a rumor picked up by Skip McGrath. He says eBay management has explored selling its auction business, though he had no information on whether a decision has been reached. I'd love to hear readers' thoughts on that, and if they think it's a good idea, or perhaps if they think it's too late.

There may never again be anything like the eBay marketplace in its heyday for collectors, but there are plenty of online and offline venues where they continue to meet, trade and chat about their passions.

Let us know if you agree with the experts after reading Greg's introductory piece Wednesday morning, and let us know what your experience has been as a dealer in the antiques/collectibles trade and as a collector yourself.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for What's the State of Collectibles at eBay?   What's the State of Collectibles at eBay?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Aug 6 23:36:53 2013

While it may come as a surprise, it certainly would not be a shock if eBay were to sell it's auction business.

All signs point to the fact that current management does not have the first clue as to how to revive the once thriving marketplace. The existing over compensated cadre of multi millionaires have proven more adept to alienating sellers as opposed to helping sellers thrive and survive.

Management has had to resort to creative bookkeeping and slight of hand accounting practices in order to generate GMV numbers that amount to weak growth at best. Current management has run out of tricks, maxed out fees, and can not seem to find new sources of revenue.

eBay management has broken the marketplace and with their lack of first hand experience they appear unable to reverse the damage they themselves have inflicted.

A sale would seem to be the only way they could avoid taking the blame for the downward spiral eBay's marketplace has suffered under their leadership.

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This user has validated their user name. by: silent anarchy

Tue Aug 6 23:49:52 2013

Sales of collectables for me on ebay are dead. I have to relist items numerous times before anything. I regretably  returned to ebay about 8 months ago after a near 5 year absence there, i stopped selling when paypal was mandatory. Sales are very few and experamenting with the 'best offer" option proved to be a joke for most of my items. I see sold prices on most collectables are very low then they used to be. I had a few good items listed and the offers were about 10% of my asking price. I had an item with a starting bid of $500 with offers of $25 to $50. I listed some rare bayonets with offers being a fraction of thier value. Plus i have had various cases opened almost 1 every month now for trivial things like packing or an unstated scratch or slight refund on price  and 2 buyers tried to get full refunds after the tracking showed delivery. One buyer won the case. If i get 1 more lost case i will quit ebay for good, its too much of a minefield now for sellers.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Wed Aug 7 00:55:49 2013

If selling ebay is the only way to get rid of John Donahoe then, sell! sell! sell!

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by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 7 01:32:06 2013

Ebay kicked about 15,000 sellers off their site today using a new policy that employs that flawed DSR system. The repurcussions will be very interesting.

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 7 02:33:51 2013

If eBay were to try to spin off it's auction business, who would buy it in it's current state?

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by: JordanMalik.com This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Aug 7 07:39:11 2013

I can understand why eBay would sell off it's auction business because of the (reported) success they've had providing an 'e-commerce platform' for major brick and mortars like ToysRus. But the repeat business that eBay gets from buyers who love the thrill of the auction would be gone, I don't think eBay (or anyone else) could properly measure the negative impact of that.

-Jordan Malik
http://JordanMalik.com/blog

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Aug 7 07:57:06 2013

Ric, eBay have an auctions business?  LOL

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

Wed Aug 7 08:40:51 2013

I'm afraid that under JD's rule, eBay auctions are *FOREVER* destroyed. ~ There's no going back, there's no reviving them.

Not only have so many SELLERS been burned so severely (and so often) that they'll never trust anything related to ''eBay'' again... the once-loyal customer base has been disillusioned as well. Those customers will also never return, and have moved on to other venues as well.

What a shame that it had to be this way.

There's NOTHING left to restore. JD threw eBay auctions on the bonfire... dancing with glee and smug self-satisfaction.

An art restoration expert can fix, mend, patch, retouch a masterpiece painting that has been damaged. But, if the only thing remaining of the masterpiece painting is a charred frame and canvas ashes... there's NOTHING worth saving.

That's eBay.

Not worth saving.

It's ruined. Gone. Forever.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Wed Aug 7 08:43:34 2013

“… eBay management has explored selling its auction business,”—LOL

This could be another reason to try to “clean up” the user forums and get rid of all those ungrateful, disloyal people who are creating all that “noise” that continues to ring in the Ho’s ears …

Funny how corporations always start talking about the possibility of selling off an arm or a leg, or a kidney, when they are in trouble; and I would suggest that the auction business, in its present state, would be worth only a small fraction of whatever eBay’s “smoke and mirrors” financials may suggest it is worth …

Still, if they are going to sell, they had better do it soon while there still is any auction business to sell! Not that there is, in reality, much auction business left.

Anyone that thinks of buying this auction business had better be very, very, careful with their due diligence: a great many of the auction transactions eBay is now collecting FVFs on are not real sales (even some of the BIN/BO). From my observations, many professional sellers are now trying to “market” their businesses by bidding on their own nominal start auctions and buying a good deal of their own stuff (and some BIN items too); obviously, these faux sales distort eBay’s financial reporting because eBay is collecting FVFs on both the real and, the ever increasing number of, faux sales, but from an ever decreasing number of sellers.

Those “oceans of red” that are being produced by “honest” sellers are telling of the true state of the eBay marketplace … is it any wonder eBay is offering so many free listings to everyone and their dog? Obviously, the water is lapping at the gunnels of the rusting old scow; clearly, it’s come time to take to the lifeboats …

Frankly, I don’t know how the likes of “she who cannot be mentioned” (STR supposedly ~75%) and her much bigger, mostly scrupulous, major competitor (STR ~4%) are surviving, particularly with the amount of work involved in listing such women’s fashion-wear items.

Anywhere you see a large number of bidders making an even greater number of bids on an item, unless it is something special, you can bet that the majority of the bidders/bids are more than likely commercially supplied shills … http://bit.ly/11F2eas

Collectibles auctions in Australia too are generally very weak; I see the same higher-price-range stuff relisted over and over and over …

And, it’s not just auctions that are producing the “oceans of red”, so are the BIN/BO listings … “toysrus” has a STR of ~6%; they have even tried a few “funny” auctions! So, which is the problem? Toys-r-Us or the eBay marketplace?

Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out where eBay’s reported income is coming from …

Then there is the huge disparity in value between Amazon’s and eBay’s shares prices that has developed only since the Ho took the helm … Clearly, under the Ho, the smart money on Wall Street now considers eBay to be a "dog", and Donahoe to be a very poor dog handler ... http://bit.ly/YvxFEg

And if the chief headless turkey thinks that the clunky, unprofessional “PreyPal” is ultimately going to save his bacon, he truly is utterly delusional … http://bit.ly/UVXx53

“Ignorance can be fixed, stupid is forever.”—Don Wood ...
Without a doubt Donahoe, your condition is forever …

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 7 09:33:58 2013

So now even the "experts" agree with what WE have been saying here for MONTHS, the shame is it still wont wake up the board of directors or Wall Street.

There's SO much cash floating around that no one cares .... except Amazon.

eBay under JD doesnt want to be in the auction business - whioch is fine - sell it OR segment it enough that people know and get someone who does understand the business - to run it.

But JD knows as little about business management as I know about quantum physics so that wont happen.

On a personal note - I know that most of what those people said is correct. I collect toys. "Way back when" eBay was fun, eBay was exciting, I found alot of great deals on things - but now all that is gone and if I want something, I'll go to a toy show in my area (like a Greenbergs Train & Toy Show) and get it there from a small business person (like myself, just im not in the toy biz).

They are also right that all of eBays stupif rules (remember they are JUST A VENUE) have made eBay a royal pain in the @$$.

eBay decided long ago no to invest anything into thier crumbling property, except a coat of paint 2-3 times a yr under the guise of a "spring or seller update". Theres never anything good in them, just like a painting wont fix underlying structural damage.

eBay did this to save money (like any landlord) and when there is an issue - its on the tenants (sellers) to caugh up money for "renovations".

eBAy does as little as possible to get by (thats how EVERY issue on eBay is solve) do nothing or just refund the buyer - then end.

CS agents? get people that dont speak english people offshore who work cheap.

Payments? Force people to use paypal so you can bend them at your will.

Vero issues? Just pretend that everyone is guilty (cause a bigger gorilla then urself said so) and let the sellers suffer.

Postage costs, issues? Just dump it all on the seller, make them have traking, and up the FVFs on it since you feel you have a right to more of thier money.

When you tell people in todays age that you sell on eBay - they shake thier heads and laugh.

Its old, its lame, its a rip off, eBay lies, steals and cheats - and besides JD, Wenig, Hershman, Griff and Matsuda - we all know it to be the truth. If I was a betting man however - Id bet they know it too, they just dont care.

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by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 7 10:11:39 2013

Ebay's sudden purge yesterday of 15,000 small sellers using a new flawed DSR policy is another outrage. It's time for those affected- and any concerned ebay seller- to write to their Congressman and Senator in Washington D.C. (Google their addresses) and request that an investgation be launched of the internal corporate activities of ebay. Those impacted also need to blog, write letters to the editor of local newspapers, contact local investigative reporters at local TV stations. A spotlight of scrutiny must be brought to bear on ebay.

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by: Danni Ackerman This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Aug 7 10:14:42 2013

I had a little giggle when I read this.  I still find eBay fun!  More challenging than in the "good old days" maybe, but not really!  They are making improvements constantly to help us "little guys" succeed.
You have to just be savvy in not only what you put up for sale but how you put it up for sale and price it - many get discouraged more about the pricing that has changed due to the influx of competition and hence feel eBay is no longer the place for antiques and collectibles.  I can assure you I help people every day grow thriving businesses on eBay in these categories!
I wonder when any of these three experts last sold things on eBay?

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by: Danni Ackerman This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Aug 7 10:16:02 2013

As to the booting off of 15,000 bad sellers from eBay I say bravo!  These were not just for a few low dsrs, these were for falling below the minimum standard policy - which is hard to do!  you really have to ignore all the warning flags.  We are all better off without those bad apples!

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 7 10:23:18 2013

The Arts categories are as bad as Collectibles.  There were artists on Ebay pulling down thousands of dollars per painting and paying large fees to Ebay to get their items up front by using feature plus in more than one category.  They are ALL gone now or they are merely selling prints of their original works.  I, myself, as a very small seller went from paying Ebay over $100 a month in fees down to less than $3.00 a month for the one item I put up.  If this is compounded by the thousands who now only list once in awhile or who have left completely....then its understandable that Ebay is in dire straits.  New management is called for before this whale washes up on the beach to die but I doubt they are smart enough to see it!

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 7 10:25:27 2013

@Danni Ackerman....you can "giggle" all you want but Ebay is not even a shadow of its former self.  As for 15,000 "bad" sellers.  I no longer deal there...I'm a seller since 1998 with not ONE negative in over 3,000 feedbacks.  Not ALL the people leaving Ebay are "bad" sellers.  There is NO TRAFFIC at Ebay....period!

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by: Rick This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 7 10:39:56 2013

Keep in mind that sellers like Danni Ackerman, John Lawson, Marsha Collier, Betsie Bolger, Danna Crawford are eBay TRAINERS. They essentially earn more money teaching people how to sell on eBay than they do selling on eBay THEMSELVES. So of course, an article like this is DANGEROUS to their income.

You have to follow the money. If a person is shilling for eBay, chances are, they are being paid by eBay in some form or another.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Aug 7 11:14:22 2013

For years now, my items are mainly fixed price. If I use auction format, I use it like a modified version of fixed price.

Meaning: I don't expect the item to fetch much more than the starting price - so I think of the starting price as fixed.

Why do I use the format at all? A different angle of visibility & hopefully those that seek the auction format will take a look at my store items. Sometimes the winner makes multiple purchases.


Re: collectibles. Could part of it be the economic times? I don't collect things anymore to just sit around & look pretty.  But I have purchased some items at a bargain price for everyday household use that at one time would have sold quite high.

It just seems there is a lot of OOAK or collectibles ''out there'' to choose from, whether on eBay, ecrater, Bonanza - any venue that pops up when you google.

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by: abprules This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Aug 7 11:14:39 2013

@Danni Ackerman - If ebay truly kicked off 15000 sellers because they were the "bad sellers" that would be one thing. To fall below their so called standards is easier than you think. For instance, we have been selling on ebay for over 12 years. We have sold about $1.5 million there. We have done everything we know to do that is right, by the rules, etc. We had two buyers through the holiday season last year who didn't want to pay custom fees.As a result of that, they decided to leave a low DSR for shipping.And another who left negative by mistake but couldn't figure out how to remove it despite calling ebay's supports team.  What did this do? In ebay's DSR evaluation, it put us at a below standard according to ebay's DSR system. According to you, falling below the standards is hard to do..I say on the contrary. We had to wait for 3 months for ebay to bring our standards back up to where they should have been in the first place despite the fact they say that they review once a month. Every month I called and all of my standards had "green checks" on the dashboard, yet ebay decided that they should wait 3 months to change anything.

Yes, we continue to sell on ebay because we believe, or we hope, that it has to get better because surely it can't get any worse, there are still things that the eBay administration could be to listen to sellers who have faithfully continued supporting them.

So, Danni, one of these days, you may need to take a look at how you jump to conclusions about "what is hard to do" on ebay before you talk with others who do follow the rules yet have been harmed by the DSR system as a whole.

Just my opinion...

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

Wed Aug 7 11:32:02 2013

I cheered when Ms Crawford posted her last pro-eBay rant (and which scolded and ridiculed all of the disgruntled and disenchanted eBay critics). My glee was not in the rant itself, but in her parting shot and promise that she would never return here again.

I guess it's easier for some people to ignore reality and deny the truth than it is accept facts and to face it head-on.

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 7 11:33:28 2013

@Bassett....no, its not the economy.  I took my art from Ebay to a small almost unknown site dedicated to art and I'm doing well.  Not as well as 2007 on Ebay - which was the last year before they went haywire, but pretty darn good indeed.  I get more views in one day on that one site then I would get in over a month on Ebay...along with sales and repeaters.  Ebay has fallen to its lowest point and whether or not they can ever pull themselves up out of it is unlikely.

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