Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Feb 10 2016 22:51:17

eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

By: Ina Steiner

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Does Etsy have anything to worry about now that eBay is joining Amazon in going after artisans and crafters? eBay CEO Devin Wenig told Wall Street analysts on Wednesday that eBay was pivoting away from "big retail" and said he would rather have a million small businesses than three more huge retailers with commodity products. 

Wenig said eBay doesn't compare well against commodity goods, and what makes eBay different is "unique inventory and great value."

And to add a "rich and diverse set of inventory," eBay will go after boutiques, artisans, crafters, and small bookstores - eBay hasn't even scratched the surface when it comes to small sellers and entrepreneurs around the world, he said.

Wenig said eBay has a branding problem because people still think of it as an auction platform with used goods, but that's a minority of its business, he said. But while he's able to say what the eBay brand isn't, can "unique inventory and great value" really resonate as eBay's brand?

Is Wenig, intentionally or not, positioning eBay as a discounter? Here's how Wenig said eBay would win: better choices, better prices, more versions, more variations.

And despite talking about "unique" inventory, Wenig talked a lot about iPhones, electronics, auto parts, and kitchen blenders.

Wenig also talked about eBay's attempt to build persistence and link equity of listings as a way to ensure search engines like Google display eBay items in search results.

"We have 800 million items for sale - 300 million of them disappear every 30 days." Wenig said eBay's re-platforming (aka structured data catalog) will help it create permanent product pages so the search engines will rank them higher.

Of course, eBay could also change its fee structure - it's eBay that removes the listings after 30 days unless sellers reup and pay relisting fees.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Feb 10 23:30:35 2016

"[H]e would rather have a million small businesses than three more huge retailers with commodity products."

I'll believe that when Wenig does away with rolling blackouts and selling limits, and institutes some actual seller protection.

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 11 00:06:14 2016

What a joke. The prices of books on eBay are, almost without exception, way higher than Amazon. You can blame that on the relists. As long as sellers can relist for free, there is no incentive to be competitive. Now with Amazon announcing that it is going after the Chinese sellers, what is left for eBay? EBay is far too stupid to even think of going back to their roots, quality used and collectible items, and antiques. But they won't. They will keep allowing overpriced or uninteresting items to be relisted for free, forever, clogging up the site with garbage, and preventing buyers like me from finding what I am looking for. I quit running 80% of my searches two years ago because of the masses of relisted auctions. As for bookstores, back when I was selling books on Half and eBay I tried to convince eBay to have many more specific sub-categories so that buyers could browse the book subjects they were interested in. A b&m bookstore's subjects is limited by the number of shelves it has. EBay could have had highly refined subject categories. Instead they went the other way and, unbelievably, lumped all non-fiction subjects into one gigantic category, non-fiction. That really helps people find books, doesn't it? Apparently they don't teach retailing 101 in Harvard business school.  

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 11 00:06:23 2016

Uh huh ... Like Sparrow said - I'll believe it when I see it.

eBay knows EXACTLY what it has to do - when/if changes ever occur - then I'll know he's serious.

Of course the TRUTH about all this is that the big commerce people he (eBay) was getting back end money from ... ran out of money to give him. They are being kicked to the  curb - its just that simple.

EVERYONE of us here said it when it started. At some point, big commerce will fail and fail badly. They will all either up n leave or be kicked out - its just a matter of time.

Macys (JD's boys) are closing stores - they have no money to give eBay anymore. Kmart is doing REALLY poorly, as is Sears (who has their OWN ecommerce site. Most big manufacturers are also fleeing - but thats another topic for another day.

Now that DW has read all of our posts here (he should send Ina and David a check for providing the place to which hes getting all his ideas from) lets see him do something about the issues plaguing eBay.  

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Thu Feb 11 00:27:56 2016

A possible breakthrough!?!?!

Finally someone at eBay who acknowledges that they are not trying to be Amazon, and that the Bay is indeed a different marketplace than the River.

Now get rid of Cassini, since the search algorithm favors commodity vendors (not only the Big Box folks, but the Asian sellers as well). Then we can see true change, and a return to what built eBay.

This is the ''last call'' for this company to do the right thing. The stock price is tanking, and the forecast is for little to no growth in the near future.

GIT-R-DONE!

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Feb 11 02:29:29 2016

Ebay doesn't take care of the ones they already have very well.  Why do they think with more of them it will be better.  Better for whom?!?!?  Certainly not the sellers unless Ebay is willing to have more realistic rules and properly trained CSRs.

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

by: nsc This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Feb 11 03:21:46 2016

@alaska, the relisted searches you keep complaining about are a function of Cassini.

Cassini punishes listings that have sat too long by denying them visibility. Sellers figured this out and stopped listing "Good Til Canceled" and began listing and relisting for shorter terms, to the point that eBay had to put a surcharge on time periods of 1 and 3 days.

So it's just another example of site dysfunction due to the perverse incentives of the search engine.

@pace306, why do you say Wenig knows what to do? He may, as you say, know that eBay's various "pay to play" schemes are failing, but that hardly means he really understands how to revamp the site for actual retail by many smaller sellers, even if he is making noises about wanting to go in that direction.

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Feb 11 03:30:57 2016

The fee for auctions 1-3 days has been around longer than Cassini.

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

This user has validated their user name. by: White Rabbit

Thu Feb 11 03:34:09 2016

I haven't seen any positive changes yet but I do appreciate the words.8 months? of words.  

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

by: eastdyke This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 11 04:13:13 2016

A very confusing message.

Just what have 'unique inventory ....' and 'Think of every boutique and artisan, and small bookstore, and handmade crafter ....' got to do with 'requiring sellers to list with Product Identifiers in order for eBay to be able to create Product Pages'

The stuff he talks about one minute has no product identifier and then in the next minute he talks about stuff that requires them.

Still waffling and wallowing, sadly.

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

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

Thu Feb 11 04:32:42 2016

"[H]e would rather have a million small businesses than three more huge retailers with commodity products."

'[W]hat makes eBay different is "unique inventory and great value."'

These statements being contrary to the destructive policies of the cretinous Johnny Ho, does Devin Little have Johnny Ho's permission to make such statements?—LOL

Notwithstanding the constant stream of delusional and disingenuous nonsense that flows from eBay/PayPal, the share prices of these two clunky operators demonstrate the reality ...

Aug 2007: (pre John Donahoe) AMZN ~$40; EBAY ~$40;
Jul 2015 (pre eBay-PayPal split): AMZN ~$480; EBAY ~$66;
Jul 2015 (post-split): AMZN ~$530; EBAY ~$28; PYPL ~$37;
Currently: AMZN ~$483; EBAY ~$22; PYPL ~$32—LOL
eBay is effectively going backwards, at a rate of knots ...

Regardless of the "spin-off" of PayPal from eBay, eBay and "PreyPal" remain joined at the hip, and anyone that thinks otherwise is uninformed; and, thanks to a continuation of most of the imbecilic policies introduced over the eight year reign (2007–2015) of the "Pain from Bain", John Joseph Donahoe II, the eBay marketplace is continuing on its slow journey down the toilet; nevertheless, during Johnny Ho's occupation of the eBay corner office, this cretin and his gang of hand-picked Keystone Kops still managed to obtain for themselves massive, unearned, "performance" bonuses—while the company's shareholders received not a penny ...

eBay is likely the most unscrupulous commercial entity operating on this planet; but, have no fear, eBay is an equal opportunity fraudster—demonstrably—they will knowingly aid and abet the defrauding of buyers by unscrupulous eBay merchants who bid on their own auctions, and of honest sellers by unscrupulous buyers—as long as there is a financial benefit in such fraud for eBay; and if anyone thinks that the clunky "PreyPal" is any more scrupulous, given their equally poor customer service and lack of any effective mediation of transaction disputes—sans a hard-wired bias towards the buyers/payer that they necessarily now have to pander to, that is, and good luck to all you small online merchants who get chewed up in the process ...

The real problem at eBay is that, following the devatation caused by the cretinous Johnny Ho, the remaining Keystone Kops haven't a clue about how to plug all the holes that the Ho drilled in the hull of the rusting old scow and stop it from finally going submarine ...

The eBay executive suite—where the incompetent mingle with the disingenuous, the unscrupulous, the malevolent and the outright criminal, and the just plain stupid …

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Thu Feb 11 05:33:31 2016

eastdyke said exactly what I was thinking.

All points Wenig stated were  contradicted. pivoting away from big retail and commodities...then later talking about iphones, electronics. And how on earth do you add an inventory of unique, artisan, crafted products? You all know what this means, right? More flooding of Chinese ''hand made'' goods. Ebay along with Etsy and Amazon joining ranks or playing ''monkey see, monkey do'', the small seller does not stand a chance especially in the US marketplace.

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

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

Thu Feb 11 05:49:47 2016

Too Late WENIG. WE don't want you.
Ebay deserves a KNOWLEDGEABLE shepherd.
"You ain't it".

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

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

Thu Feb 11 05:53:56 2016

ALSO :
Wening is using Ebay as his Personal Golden Goose in that anyone listing their own handy work is going to get copied by China.
STAY AWAY FROM EBAY.

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Feb 11 06:58:56 2016

iheartjacksparrow nailed it. I can always tell when I'm on a rolling blackout and I can always tell when eBay is hiding my listings.  I know that they put selling limits on my account even though they say they don't.

Wenig stated earlier last year that he was going to "reconnect" with small sellers. I haven't seen that happen.

When he gets rid of Cassini I might believe that he is serious, but as of now, he has no credibility with me. We all know what Cassini was designed to do, and that is to give eBay's enterprise darlings and the Chinese top billing.

We have seen a history of eBay trying to be just like Amazon.  Fairly recently Amazon has gone after the crafts and handmade market.  Is it any coincidence that we hear Wenig taking a  page from Amazon's playbook?

And beware my fellow sellers, we saw Amazon's China announcement this week. Look for eBay to double down on China.  

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 11 07:13:11 2016

Just more Ebay speak where the right side of the brain is out looking for the left side. These so called leaders are out to lunch.

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

by: Frank Abagnale This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 11 08:03:24 2016

Is it April 1st already?

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 11 08:15:11 2016

NSC :)

He does know what to do - its called LIEING.

DW was JD's left hand man - he knows how to undo the damage JD did - he saw it first hand.

Whether he has the business acumen or not - is another matter.

But, eBay has become SO reliant on all that back end money - that (to quote Queen) "nothing really matters".

When you have tons of money comming in from VERO, Deal Of The Day, and all the other schemes eBay has, you dont "need" sellers anymore.

Rude, obnoxious CS agents can easily tell sellers that they dont care, that eBay doesnt care, that taking losses is ok and part of business and that its even good for them .... eBay has become as "faulty" as that return is. Why? 'cause they dont need their listing fees and FVF's - money is comming in from other places.

"Pivot" is political speak. Its said (like Poppins Supercalifragalistic .....) when you dont know what to say.

eBays 10k paints a dreary picture and explain in no uncertain terms why THEY feel that they are being held hostage to the forces against them. Between places like Amazon and 3p sellers (whom they can only control so much) poor old eBay is being tossed about like a ship on an ocean, fighting the storm.

Theres no plan in that 10K to brighten investors fortunes. Just like THIS announcement is only there to BS investors (why cant eBays stock ever cross the $30 a share price?), DW's statement is just a pile of BS to serve anyone who will listen as to what eBay will do next.

DW said he wants to reconnect with sellers. That was what 8 months ago? Well, where is the effort? Where are the new programs? Where are the new tools? Where are the new marketplaces? eBay couldnt even get a deal on USPS for its sellers (I think they did - they are just pocketing the difference (theres that back end money thing again)).

eBay is running some new modifications to its ominous Returns program .. OK - but why wasnt it rolled out before the holidays? Why is it still "in Beta"? Why do you have to be CHOSEN to join? Ridiculous.

Cassini CANT be changed, thats where the REAL money lies. I list items - I have a perfect record, I have the best price, I have the best pics (including UPCS etc) and Im usually NOT on top of the list - no matter how you configure Cassini.

I even found a new thing - some of my listings - dont show up on eBay mobile app, but show up when you use your pc!  (new eBay maginc hiding game)

As everyone else said - its a big yawn till something substantial happens (like loosing employee bloat ... do they REALLY need 32,000 employees?)

Maybe he can change the logo again or something?

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

by: rhawk This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 11 08:33:45 2016

NEWSFLASH.....this is not rocket science Wenig.

There are four things ebay MUST do NOW, and all the time to get back what they lost...


1)Show all products 24/7 without rolling geographical blackouts for sellers

2)  Stop the weighted and favoring/catering searches. Scrap cassini asap.

3) Stop allowing the site to be inundated with chinese crap.  Stop the favoring of chinese sellers. Enforce rules, and practice fair trade shipping charges both ways from china to America.

4)  Lift the ceilings ebay places on sellers sales.  (don't pretend they do not exist)  If we don't make money.....ebay don't make money.

Simple eh'????

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

by: JQ This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 11 09:20:27 2016

Ditto to all the above versions of "I'll believe it when I see it."

Wening had been running the eBay marketplace for more than a year and that year has been one long assault on the types of sellers he claims to favor in that interview. I know because I am one.

Every quarter under Wening my exposure and sales on eBay have declined. The policies he created and supported have been pushing small sellers of unique items out the door at eBay for years.

He could significantly change that dynamic TODAY by simply eliminating rolling blackouts and returning eBay to a level selling field for all users.

Wening should be judged on his actions not his words. When small sellers do that, they arrive at a very harsh judgement.

Perminate Link for eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores   eBay Pivots from Big Retail to Crafters and Bookstores

by: ignatz This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 11 11:10:03 2016

Wenig has a great idea there! Attract "small sellers" who offer an inventory of unique, hard-to-find items.  He's a genius!

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