Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed July 8 2015 14:54:58

eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay's incoming CEO Devin Wenig is sending a message that the company wants to focus on its core shopper: bargain hunters and those looking for unique items. On the other hand, he's keeping sellers busy by requiring them to add Product Identifiers to their listings of new items - in order to give eBay a "structured data catalog," Wenig said.

With eBay talking a lot about trying to attract the core shopper, we wonder, have you noticed any difference? For instance, eBay is currently running an invitation-only promotion to encourage sellers to list long-duration fixed-price listings, more suited to commodities than to collectibles.

Either way, talk of a new strategy is enough to make Wall Street happy. A new report provides insight into how analysts are viewing eBay Marketplaces as it splits off from PayPal and the enterprise unit (which caters to large retailers).

The "Unique Items versus Commodities" question is not a new one, nor is the current messaging from eBay management about its vision new either. It seems what's old is new again. Take a look at this paragraph from a 2008 AuctionBytes Blog post about eBay CEO John Donahoe's vision:

"As eBay continues to roll out change after change in 2008, many have tried to understand Donahoe's vision of eBay. The company has not communicated its vision well other than wanting-cake-and-eat-it-too statements - eBay wants to have a retail-like experience with great value and selection (the Amazonification of eBay), but also wants the small sellers and online auction format. Yet eBay's actions seems to be focused on only the first part of that vision."

Sound familiar?

Brands should have a clear message, so we throw it out to readers. Should eBay attract the old-school eBay shopper who is looking for bargains or hard-to-find items, or appeal to the Amazon-type of shopper who wants new goods in a hurry with free shipping?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 15:09:03 2015

I guess it might be too much for this company to have a dual strategy.
eBay doesn't know WHAT to do.

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed Jul 8 15:16:37 2015

I believe eBay's current messaging all but acknowledges that they have managed to alienate many former buyers with their constant glitches, unannounced system tests which alter the buying experience, and every progressing adversarial policies which pit buyers against sellers in the transaction process.


eBay has learned that they no longer have any good will with these former buyers and sellers, so they are taking the only path they did not destroy over the last decade.

Wall street analysts want to look at eBay through rose colored glasses hoping they will be able to generate stock sales of the stand alone eBay.

When eBay starts reporting their sales revenues after their split with PayPal, the picture for eBay will not be pretty.

eBay, loaded with post split debt, uncontrollably hemorrhaging buyers while alienating sellers, losing many key employees to competitors, and with a plan going forward that is little more than a rehash of past failed plans, eBay has put itself in serious trouble which it may be unable to wiggle it's way out of.

Investors and Wall Street will not be fooled for very long, and the post split honeymoon for eBay will be extremely short.

 

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 15:17:31 2015

Wall street headless clowns believe anything Fleecebag tells them. And I do understand that Fleecebag has an obligation to the stockholders to make money for them only, even if it means screwing the sellers that pay.

Fleecebag with all the chest pounding and hot air blowing is still clogged with duplicate listings by the thousands...

Giving away more free listings does nothing to create traffic, all they do is create a log jam of duplicates.

The chinese junk dealers have taken over Fleecebag.

If one thinks things are bad now just wait another six months. Fleecebag will continue to  screw the small sellers while favoring the diamonds.

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jul 8 15:24:25 2015

I honestly think they don't have a clue. They say whatever is most convenient at the moment.

As always, look at what they actually do, not what they say that they will do.  It appears to me by recent actions that it is full speed ahead favoring big Enterprises and the Chinese.  My guess is that if they could sell it quickly they'd do so in order to let someone else clean up JD's horrendous mess.

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 15:46:14 2015

You cannot keep making the same mistakes , & hope things will get better. I do not understand , if you have educated people , why you cut off your nose to spite your face. Nothing deadbay does , has made any since , past 2008.

I deal in antiques , vintage ect... There is no safe sale at deadbay for me. I realized this & moved on. I will not cater to a sinking log , & filing pockets , of undeserving so called college brats.

I dont believe in deadbay , nor will again. They have proven to be an evil intity to me.

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: ebayisscrewed This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 16:08:07 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IrjRGW1wNk

I have to add this here too.  I think this guy really hits the nail on the head.  Identity Crisis.  

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Jul 8 16:13:44 2015

As usual eBay is speaking out of both sides of its mouth at the same time, and the message invariably gets scrambled; so, what's new at eBay under the new leadership of Devin Little?

Still, you can easily tell when an eBay spokesperson is being disingenuous: their lips are moving ...

The eBay executive suite—where the incompetent mingle with the disingenuous, the malevolent and the outright criminal, and the just plain stupid … http://bit.ly/11F2eas  

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 16:17:55 2015

''... those looking for unique items.'' Hello Mr. Wenig. That's me! 99% of the searching I do on eBay is for unique or very rare items. I've spent a ton of money on eBay since 1997. But I'm not spending much anymore because the relists have swamped the new listings of unique or very rare items. It's almost impossible to find the items I'm looking for because the relisted items outnumber the fresh items 100 to one. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack. The same overpriced or uninteresting items get relisted over and over and over. For hardcore collectors of unique or rare items it has become a nightmare. Constantly seeing the same unsalable items in our searches is driving us crazy. And it is killing auctions. It’s shocking how many auctions for unique antique items have been relisted dozens of times. It’s taken all of the fun out of searching eBay. This never happened when sellers had to pay for listings. If eBay wants to save its vintage collectibles and antiques markets, it needs to immediately address this problem. We need to be able to filter out relisted auctions from our searches. Forcing a buyer to see the same auction item show up in search results over one hundred times is only hurting eBay. I'm not running most of my bookmarked searches anymore. If you give us a filter for relisted auctions I'll start doing my searches again, and buy a lot more expensive items.

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: aim04744 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 16:18:37 2015

They are trying to be both. Again. And they cant. As soon as they figure out that we already HAVE an Amazon and come up with an original plan (wait, they already had one), only then will this site do well.  

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Jul 8 16:22:18 2015

The "smart money" on Wall Street is NOT looking at eBay through "rose tinted glasses"; EBAYV is currently trading at $26.21 and Amazon is at $430. Wall Street well recognises that in the eight years that the cretinous Johnny Ho has been at eBay's helm, eBay has been going backwards, not forwards ...

The eBay executive suite—where the incompetent mingle with the disingenuous, the malevolent and the outright criminal, and the just plain stupid … http://bit.ly/11F2eas  

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Jul 8 17:31:41 2015

Buyer of both categories on eBay - but BY FAR, way more unique items.


Most new online items purchased have mostly come from Drugstore or Walmart dot coms.  Or Zazzle and other private online sellers with a longtime presence.

Drugstore, for one, has an eBay account.  I don't know why I would want to access them through a third party!

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

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

Wed Jul 8 18:16:24 2015

"We are going to focus on our core customers AND the sellers- we are not considered a "core" customer??

How do the diamonds who are being sold out with GSI not FURIOUS and leaving, or are they leaving??

PP stock is NOT trading at $45 as it was, folks are pre-buying it today for $35.

SO NICE that the "split" is occurring while Greece, China and the Phillipines are in trouble and the market is tanking- tee-hee-hee.

Ebay want UPC's so folks can comparison shop commodity items in store like Amazon- that's the main reason.

Ebay lost us as cheerleaders YEAARS ago- the few cheerleaderd left cannot hold ebay up- word of mouth made ebay and it will also take it down- they certainly give us a lot of ammunition.

It is a bit bittersweet for sellers like myself who have been here 13-14 years as we are the only ones who understand what was lost.

Massachusetts Howler

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: troglites This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 18:26:53 2015

Any unique or collectibles items I have will not be listed on Ebay. I have had much better success on Etsy, without having to jump through all the hoops. Plus, their fees are not near as steep as Ebay's, which yields more money in my pocket for higher value items.  

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 18:41:58 2015

Anyone confused? Of course many are.
We have all witnessed the bring on the big boys to wipe out the small guy on ebay.
Now is bring on the Chinese, build them warehouses in the US and have the Chines wipe out the big American business.
Unique, Antique items on ebay, the buyers for that are not there on ebay and if they are ebay policy of siding with with a bad buyer most of the time is chasing away honest sellers.
Ebay just does not get it, if a buyer does not read the ad description it is the buyer's.
fault but not on ebay.
Ebay needs to go backwards, no money back guarantee, a two way feedback system worked but a star rating system works better.
The TRS is bull neutrals are negatives? A buyer gives a neutral stating I thought it was this or I assumed it was that. The buyer DID NOT READ THE DESCRIPTION.
INSTEAD EBAY PUNISHES THE SELLER.
eBAY POLICIES ARE THE PROBLEM......
How many millions in fees were flushed by ebay and its policies.
IT IS NOT THAT HARD TO FIX!!!!!
Make buyers check a box that they have read the description, do not hide it from them that is just crazy.
Nobody wants to see the days again where dishonest sellers had their way, but the present policies are going way to far.
The star rating system is fine. If a buyer wants a claim of not as described it actually must be not as described, no more I thought or I assumed. Buyer remorse is a factor and returns should only be for new items, then it it is up to the individual seller to determine returns for used, antique, collectible and customized items.
Get real people.
I think a fee like a tariff should be put on Chinese sellers on ebay, this is the USA not China.
If Devin Wenig wants to make ebay go he needs to reverse the policies and use common sense not stupid sense.
Do we really need to charge the seller a fee for the  sellers shipping cost? Really why has this not gone to court yet?
You can go online and find numerous posts teaching buyers how to screw a seller on ebay, how to screw your competitor on ebay.
Ebay could address that and change that by reversing moronic,idiot policy.
It is all just so hard to believe that someone would make policies that would do so much harm to honest sellers and see that harm that they have done and not fix it.
Not fix it because that person has to be right and is totally incapableof admitting they are wrong.
This is a oppurtunity for Wenig to make a great move I hope he does not blow it.
The infection will be moving on to the paypal board, I am sure Paypal will begin to slide soon after if he gets any say so.

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Wed Jul 8 18:42:31 2015

I know why eBay is doing this.

I run about 200-250 listings a month.

I get 150 of them free and have to pay for the other 50-100

This promotion is for new listings only.

So if eBay can get me to list more free this time around they know that what doesn't sell will get relisted next time around and I'll have to pay for those listings.

I got invited but haven't activated it yet.

Not sure I want that much going on at once.

I just don't have that much time to fix all the broken tools I have in stock.

Too much work too little time.

I'll probably pass on this freebie.

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: blackmail This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 18:56:38 2015

ebay is for sure confused to say the least. I am done with this nonsense, my antique items just do not sell there any longer, use to be great now too slow seems like just money wasted listing fees and membership fees  

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 19:48:06 2015

....they want unique items yet cozy up to the mass market Chinese.

....they want unique items but then force UPCs (most unique items dont have upcs especially if they are PRE 1972)

Whos the bigger idiot? The people over at Citi who believe this crap, or Deven Bonehead who thinks this will SAVE eBay?


Why are there so many stupid people in the world ?

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jul 8 20:21:44 2015

Ina says "eBay is currently running an invitation-only promotion to encourage sellers to list long-duration fixed-price listings, more suited to commodities than to collectibles."

Long duration fixed price.....correct me if I'm wrong, but won't Cassini bury these listings if they don't sell quickly?  It has been said many times here and elsewhere that that is EXACTLY what happens.   And hasn't it been said many times, here and elsewhere, that you have to constantly refresh listings (taking new photos, writing new description, mixing up the titles...and who has time for all of that) for them NOT to get buried?

We'd consider long duration listings if they would get rid of Cassini and bring back the search that once worked.

None of this BS on eCRATER.

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: troglites This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 20:28:32 2015

Wenig was quoted in an article from Sept 5, 2014 :

''While people still think eBay as a place where they can find auctions, used goods and ''consumer-sold'' goods, that ''is not the reality of our business any more,'' he said early on. ''It is largely new goods - over 70 percent.''

Next he commented on growth from big box retailers.

I also found it interesting that Wenig stated ''We'll move toward becoming the world's first online global marketplace to use structured catalog data at scale for all listings.'' Key word - ''all''.

So my bet is that Ebay is looking for the Amazon type of shopper - that seems to be their my primary interest. I think that is very unfortunate. As far as the quote in the 2008 article, I don't believe Ebay wants the small seller. As Donohoe said, they are ''white noise'' and under Wenig tutalege, I think they are still deemed to be ''white noise.''  

Perminate Link for eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?   eBay Strategy: Unique Items or Commodities?

by: moto-science This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 8 21:21:21 2015

Ebay wants stupid and compliant sellers to give it away to Ebay's scammy bottom of the barrel buyers.....

Who cares wants Ebay wants ? ~4 years of sheer contempt for sellers and finally sellers have made other plans on other venues.

Thank god for google search......

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