Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Sept 10 2013 21:18:34

Could Amazon Crush eBay's Collectibles Business?

By: Ina Steiner

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Amazon continues to encroach on eBay's turf with its moves into the collectibles space, and today it announced a deal with one of Hollywood's top talent agencies, Creative Artists Agency, to boost exclusive memorabilia on its site through Prize Authentics - a "best-of-brands business relationship" between Amazon and CAA.

But as EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor Greg Holden writes in tomorrow's Newsflash newsletter, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison with eBay's collectibles business. He spoke to expert Harry Rinker who said this is a move by Amazon into the primary rather than secondary (resale) market. Greg writes, "As an investment, buyers need to realize that it can take 30 years for an object to move from what Rinker described as a "desirable" item to a "collectible.""

The question may not be whether Amazon "could" crush eBay's collectibles business, but whether it wants to. Amazon keeps tight reins on every aspect of its business - sellers must be pre-approved to sell in collectibles categories, and Amazon spokesperson Erik Fairleigh told Greg that Amazon has "hundreds" of sellers in the Sports Collectibles store on Amazon. Compare that with eBay's hundreds of millions of users, any of whom can list a collectible at any time.

Amazon and eBay are both struggling to grow their third-party seller business but from opposite positions. eBay wants to reduce fraud and control and limit who sells on its site (it went through another recent purging of sellers last month). Meanwhile, Amazon wants to keep fraud at bay but increase the number of third-party sellers.

Interestingly both companies are turning to "facilitators" - Amazon with CAA, and eBay with its recent decision to let Collectors Universe's Professional Coins Grading Service (PCGS) power its coin catalog.

But it's a bit like trying to regulate flea markets - there will always be demand for rare and unusual items, and buyers will always be willing to take a certain amount risk in attaining such goods (all the way up to the high end art market, by the way). If eBay and Amazon are too restrictive about who can sell on their marketplaces and what they can sell, collectors will find another way to get their hands on prized treasures.

Looking out 5 or 10 years, where will collectors and dealers conduct business? Will it be eBay, Amazon, or one of the numerous alternative marketplaces? Or something else altogether?




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by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 10 21:34:08 2013

Etsy is already picking up former ebay sellers in collectibles, just as Amazon has and will continue to do so. Corporations like ebay are not only beholden to their stockholders (for whom they may very well be bending and massaging the numbers), but they must abide by the laws of each of the 50 states ( which means PayPal holds of more than 10 days are VERY MUCH ILLEGAL for ebay to impose in many states, check with state banking regulators, I did). Corporations also HAVE TO ABIDE BY AN INCREDIBLE NUMBER OF RULES AND REGULATIONS IMPOSED BY THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION. So maybe there's nothing illegal or amiss once an investigation gets conducted. BUT I DOUBT IT. So maybe there are no improprieties going at ebay, but come on, do you really believe that BASED ON THEIR BLATANT ABUSE OF SMALL SELLERS SINCE 2008? Where there's smoke there's fire, and I'm firmly convinced that a corporation capable of doing some of the things they've done to thousands of sellers is capable of doing a whole lot more. And yes, this is exactly the sort of thing to write to your Congressmen and Senators about.

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by: E-pins This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 10 22:08:44 2013

ebay mission accomplished that crush on it's own.

Wasn't there an ECB article on the dreath of collectibles on ebay?

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Sep 10 22:32:48 2013

Ina asks: "Looking out 5 or 10 years, where will collectors and dealers conduct business?"

At the rate it's going, will eBay still be in business in ten years? If Amazon continues to expand the collectibles categories, I see people going there. And as mentioned by NetWatch, I'm sure a lot of people moved to Etsy. Since Etsy states that Vintage is anything 20 years and older, you could list your Star Wars collectibles from the three original movies for sale there. I sell collectibles on eCrater. So any of the alt sites that are still operating in ten years will probably have collectibles sellers, but because of its size, I'm guessing Amazon will be the winner.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Sep 10 22:47:49 2013

While eBay's CEO spends his thinking days seeking not so clever ways to heckle his Amazon counterpart (excess capacity in newspaper trucks), Jeff Bezos keeps his focus on how to systematically and successfully chisel away parts of eBay's business.

Donahoe has never successfully developed a business, and is a degree or two above the chimp Meg Whitman said could run eBay.

Jeff Bezos on the other side has been the driving force behind Amazon's steady double digit growth because he he is the exact opposite of Donahoe with regard to having an innate ability to  carefully expand his business.

Before eBay, Donahoe was a destroyer of business, and his past experiences have produced more destruction than innovation during his tenure at eBay.

Bezos will out think, our innovate and out maneuver John Donahoe at every turn because he knows how to grow a business. He can build a successfully develop or expand any category he chooses, and when he does, he will successfully grab market share away from eBay.

Simply put, and based on the results of his years at eBay, Donahoe lacks the necessary skill set to build and grow sales.



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This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
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Wed Sep 11 00:02:19 2013

With Amazon fees. It is very to see they take down eBay.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bijoux Dragon
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Wed Sep 11 01:43:45 2013

A year ago I applied to sell in the collectible /jewelry areas.  I have been approved to sell collectible books and silverware for a number of years.

I was turned down because the vintage I sell is used (duh???) and they were only allowing new jewelry to be sold by third parties and with their fulfillment.  I have been seeing some 'vintage' jewelry, much of it recently made in China lately with Amazon fulfillment.  

Nobody but me is going to pack and ship my jewelry.  It's not uncommon for me to get an item just rattling around in a huge box or crammed into a bubble envelope with no padding so I just don't trust them not to damage vintage jewelry.

Someday they will wake up and allow vintage jewelry, until then, I stick to books and silverware on Amazon. Ebay ... phooie.

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 11 02:21:03 2013

Amazon won't crush ebay, John Donohoe will.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Wed Sep 11 03:02:04 2013

If Amazon ever seriously dives into the vintage/used good market, eBay will have a problem. Amazon is operating from a much more trusted level than eBay has ever attained. Customers aren't afraid to buy on Amazon they way they are on eBay. There's far less of a belief that you'll be scammed on Amazon and they could parlay that into a serious advantage in the resale market, if they do it right. That market is fraught with issues relating to quality and perception from both sides of a transaction. Ebay abdicates all responsibility (just a venue, right?) while Amazon is far more proactive. I don't know of Amazon would truly succeed in that market, but it would be truly interesting to see.

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by: 2l82w8 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 11 04:24:44 2013

Alas, five years out, or ten, I fear eBay will still dominate the collectibles market.  The network effect is just too strong.  

Absent a direct, concerted and sustained challenge by an Amazon or Google or (maybe) Yahoo, eBay seems to have an unassailable position.

Certainly the etsy's and Ruby Lane's are unlikely to do more than whittle at the edges of the market.  (Yes, I know we all wish that weren't true, but look at market share.)

And the current forays by Amazon into the collectibles market are far from either direct or concerted challenges.  Cherry picking, at best.

Yes, it would be nice if eBay fell to a rival.  It would also be nice if unicorns frolicked on rainbows and cotton candy clouds.  Both are just pleasant dreams.

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by: pfft!! This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 11 04:25:25 2013

the day Amazon either starts allowing vintage and collectibles or 1 of a kind product OR sets up a site to do so I am SO GONE from ebay.
I've been patiently waiting for YEARS.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Sep 11 07:28:01 2013

Now that Amazon.com is doing it, does this mean that all of a sudden eBay will reignite their interest in collectibles?  Monkey see, monkey do.

If Amazon ever opens up clothing and accessories to small sellers eBay will be toast.  John Donahoe's years of disruptive innovation versus Bezos' actual innovation.  Let the stock price of each company speak for itself.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 11 08:04:20 2013

I WISH Amazon would start a new platform for real collectibles like eBay. I feel that eBay, as a market for collectibles, will be gone in 5 years. My sales have fallen off horribly since May 1--like night and day. I decided to re-invest my time again in my fallow Etsy store, and listed a couple hundred unique collectibles. In this first week, I sold more than at eBay all of June & July (maybe just a slight exaggeration). I was shocked and delighted. I also created a Pinterest gallery of about 2700 unique item images to drive people to both stores. I am thinking of downgrading at eBay and discontinuing listing. I think eBay for us small sellers already is in death throes. I have been selling at eBay since 1998 :( Very sad.

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by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 11 08:22:41 2013

Yes, the party has been over for small sellers at ebay for quite some time. Guardrail or Quick Decline is the mechanism in place to target small sellers with a couple of low DSRs (seller OPINIONS) ad swiftly slap restrictions or suspension on them. It hands like a Sword of Damocles over small sellers' heads. the 15,000 sellers who were purged by ebay on 8/6/13 had to go sell somewhere else, now didn't they?

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by: doboy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 11 10:00:02 2013

I remember when eBay was the darling of the cottage sellers and collectors.  Years later it has become the WalMart dinosaur of selling sites.  

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by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 11 10:42:42 2013

Beware of Amazon, their resolution process A-Z claims is ad Draconian and one sided as e-bay, selling collectables or anything 2nd hand will be a nightmare........

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 11 11:30:19 2013

Its a complicated question. Are we talking about NOS or used?

What AGE will Amazon consider items to be collectable? Are talking about old toys, old china, vintage fabric or what ?

If Amazon wants to - they could CRUSH eBay in a second - the question is .. what do they want to do?

eBay will always have its share of the collectable market, just like they do in every other segment - but its penuts compared to Amazon.

Funny, I just got an emailk from a vendor (stuffed animals believe it or not) ... guess what it said?
"Retailers are prohibited from advertising and/or selling martFIVE products on ebay.com, Shopzilla, Google Shopping or any other third-party website." .....  LOL EBAY.COM - the PARAGON AND LIGHT OF THE INDUSTRY!

JD has taken the once vibrant eBay marketplace and made it as vanilla as can be - THAT is thier weak spot and Amazon knows it.

Thanks to JD, everyones pics, policies, shipping terms, payment methods are all the same ... PLUS you get the same few favorite sellers shoved in your face over and over (thanks to Noah Hershman and people like him ....).

Yes, Amazons ASIN pages are the same over and over - but people expect that - uniformity in thier shopping experience. With eBay people expect new and exciting experiences ... something JD did away with. Now my listings look like Mings or Rics or Annies (lol).

People on eBay used to be able to judge for themselves about those experiences. Maybe I wont buy from a seller that has no return policy, or maybe I want one that will take my personal check ...

All that is gone... but part of buying collectables (and I know since I collect toys) IS that special personal service ...

If Amazons collectable toy market improves - Ill go there to buy (its not like I have anything else to do since eBay sales are DEAD!)  

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by: Small Guy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 11 11:43:45 2013

I know I'm beating a dead horse, but the last five items (real antiques) I listed on Ebay got NO BIDS.

I sold on Ebay for 10+ years with 500 sales and 100% positive feedback.  (a small but honest seller)

I would think there should still be a market for the small sellers (who've been banished from Ebay) for antiques and collectibles.

Like so many others, I keep waiting for one to emerge.  Maybe that's wishful thinking.  

Maybe the antique/collectible ''auction'' market has dissipated because younger buyers are not interested in what used to sell so well.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Wed Sep 11 13:01:52 2013

Small Guy > Please list and rightly price your antiques and collectibles on ETSY.
Get back to us in 12 weeks and tell us how it's going.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Sep 11 14:15:55 2013

Small Guy says: "Maybe the antique/collectible 'auction' market has dissipated because younger buyers are not interested in what used to sell so well."

I think you're absolutely correct. Nowadays, teens and young adults live their lives on their smartphones, texting, tweeting, pinning, shooting selfies, etc. Who has time for collecting? Couple that with the fact that people just don't have the money to buy non-essentials like they used to, and the results are a diminished market.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 11 16:00:25 2013

@THE END and the other poster who is selling on ETSY--

I would LOVE to sell the vintage--and yes I DO mean REAL vintage not chinese crap===on ETSY (or anywhere for that matter!)---can you let us know what sort of things you think do well there---I find their search impossible so maybe it is ME not knowing HOW to look for stuff there---and how exactly to list this stuff so it DOES sell?   I have an entire house FULL of stuff of this nature that I NEED to get rid of prior to a move.  

I used to list the same sort of stuff on ebay and have it FLY out the  door so I know it is not the nature of the ITEMS or my ability to describe them and I have decent FB soooo---it's gotta be--ebay.  

Maybe this could be the focus of a column by INA????

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