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How Amazon and Google are taking eBay's Business

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the aye-you-betcha dept.

Businesses 289

prostoalex writes "Wall Street Journal says many online sellers who started on eBay are now going solo, being helped out by 'name-your-own-price' Amazon Marketplace and Google's and Yahoo's advertising programs, which allow small businesses to direct their ads to search engine users interested in specific items. The article discusses several companies where online sellers, being disappointed with eBay's falling profit margins, increasing fees, disruptions coming from PayPal account freezes and high fraud rate, are leaving eBay. Many start with setting up their own sites, continuing to do business on eBay, but then switching to solo e-commerce entirely after looking at profit margins."

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Am I taking the first post business? (-1, Offtopic)

pv2b (231846) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885181)

eBay sniper skillz

Re:Am I taking the first post business? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885197)

> Am I taking the first post business?
> eBay sniper skillz


Re:Am I taking the first post business? (5, Funny)

pv2b (231846) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885271)

You have been outbid.

1992 Called... (0, Offtopic)

1992 Called (893858) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885189)

They want their thinly-veiled corporate tyrants who get rich off the blood of the poor back.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885533) []

Yeah, go on, mod me fucking down and I'll fucking bite off your fucking greasy smelly shrivel-penis, you fucking Googel-astroturds.


MightyMartian (840721) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885621)

This guy is to search engines what Creationists are to science.

eBay will fail unless it... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885208)

controls keyword spamming and curtails the megasellers

Re:eBay will fail unless it... (5, Informative)

Col. Bloodnok (825749) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885258)

Lying about the location needs to be sorted out too.

I'm sick and tired of searching for items in the UK and having to sort through pages and pages of crap from Hong Kong (which seem cheap until you look at the shipping costs).

Re:eBay will fail unless it... (2, Informative)

teh_winch (791118) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885641)

They should show the postage cost next to the item price. Then you could just avoid looking at the items with high postage costs.

Re:eBay will fail unless it... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885650)

I think you're one step away from addressing the real issue... what ebay needs to fix is SHIPPING COSTS. You have to carefully read every listing to have any idea what the bid amount really means, because it's useless until you add on the shipping!

pricewatch [] saved itself from ruin by adding shipping costs into the advertized prices. It's long past time for ebay to do the same!

I don't know about other people... (5, Interesting)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885209)

...but Amazon is much easier for me to sell stuff than eBay ever was. Sign in, type in what item you want to sell, name a price, and that's that. Buyer pays Amazon, Amazon tells you to ship, you ship to buyer, Amazon pays you. The first time it takes a while, but after that it's extremely fast. takes 15% off the top, but they give you a generous shipping allowance so it doesn't cut into your profit margins (and it's actually fair, so if you *buy* from a seller, that reasonable price stays reasonable b/c the seller can't jack up the price). Win-win for both buyer and seller. The kicker is that every time I've sold something with, it's taken at the longest a week before somebody's bought it.

eBay? Never again. I'm willing to pay 15% just so I never have to *think* about Paypal.

Disclaimer: I work for neither Amazon nor Google. I'm not getting paid for this. The reason I'm saying all this is because Amazon is the only company I've dealt with over the past few years that has made me feel like a human instead of a problem.

Re:I don't know about other people... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885278)

Sign in, type in what item you want to sell...

..."Welcome to eBay! List the item you would like to sell!"

name a price, and that's that.

"Use our Buy It Now option to set an item at a desired price!"

Buyer pays Amazon, Amazon tells you to ship, you ship to buyer, Amazon pays you.

"Make payments easy using Paypal, Bidpay, or any other method of payment you deem appropriate!" takes 15% off the top

"eBay fees depend on the starting and ending price of the item. See Table A..."

Re:I don't know about other people... (2, Insightful)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885668)

I'm not aware of a site called "," nor have I heard any horror stories about Amazon stiffing customers.

Dear Seller (5, Interesting)

Letter (634816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885315)

Dear Seller,

It's true that Amazon takes 15% of your selling price. But did you realize that they also make money on shipping?

The amount they reimburse sellers is less than they charge buyers for shipping.


Letter Support (1)

Valiss (463641) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885342)

And just in case... US Customer Service
Phone toll-free in the US and Canada: (800) 201-7575
Phone from outside the US and Canada: (206) 346-2992 or (206)-266-2992

Ebay blows large, stinky goats.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885362)

I used to use Ebay, but stopped after they sent me a nasty "you are ripping people off" email.

Seems that someone I used to work with (but hadn't seen in *over a year*), had a bunch of auctions going, and got hospitalized for a couple of weeks. The auctions came to an end, and he never contacted the buyers (who then complained to Ebay) because he was in a coma.

Because of this, Ebay suspended *MY* account(?!?!?!?!), and sent me a nasty email about it. It was up to me to prove that my former co-worker and me were not the same person.

Fuck them. I'll never use Ebay ever again. uses the same system (1)

frikazoyd (845667) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885369)

Have you ever checked out Owned by E-bay, same system, and you may not have to deal with the California tax. You just pay E-bay with a credit card, and they pay the guy, and send you the item. It is incredibly similar to the Amazon "new and used" resell system.

agree.. (3, Informative)

slashmojo (818930) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885438)

Amazon is the only company I've dealt with over the past few years that has made me feel like a human instead of a problem.

Have to agree.. just as a buyer I have found their customer support to be second to none. Any time I have had a problem they have fixed it instantly - even if they lose money as a result, for example by sending replacement products out (internationally) which they have done for me several times.

They are the only online retailer that I really trust.. they've earned it.

Re:agree.. (1)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885505)

They are the only online retailer that I really trust.. they've earned it.

So do I...Almost. If they could just police their DVD listings (anime especially) to keep people from selling obvious bootlegs, i'd have no bone to pick with them.

people vs businesses (1)

gosand (234100) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885628)

Disclaimer: I work for neither Amazon nor Google. I'm not getting paid for this. The reason I'm saying all this is because Amazon is the only company I've dealt with over the past few years that has made me feel like a human instead of a problem.

Amazon, however, isn't very good to other businesses. Have you noticed how they sold Toys R Us products. They slowly started shrinking the name "Toys R Us" in favor of Amazon. It was "Amazon presents Toys R Us" then the products were just called Amazon products. The same thing kind of happened with Target stuff on Amazon. If you are a business, you have to pretty much sell your soul to deal with them (much like Wal*Mart).

Ebay Policy (5, Funny)

LittleGuernica (736577) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885214)

Ebay's policies are also getting ridicilous lately, tried to sell my kidney that looked like it had the face of the messiah in it, but they didn't let me..

Re:Ebay Policy (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885504)

Next time, don't mention giving free Live8 tickets along with your kidney.

curious.. (4, Insightful)

PopeAlien (164869) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885215)

So people selling things are choosing ways that make them the most profit?


Re:curious.. (2, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885371)

It is remarkable. eBay is an auction site, which in theory is the best way to make a profit. eBay's overhead should be fairly low, since they're just running a web engine (as opposed to having a large warehouse, manufacturing, inventory, and fulfilment employees) and therefore its prices should be low.

And for years people established businesses there, and it was a good way for people to make a business selling stuff without the overhead of having their own web site. This article says that's changing and examines why.

So maximizing profit isn't news, but abandoning eBay sure is.

Re:curious.. (2, Interesting)

robertjw (728654) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885537)

So maximizing profit isn't news, but abandoning eBay sure is.

Yes and no. It's news because eBay dominates the market, but it's not news if you look at it objectively. eBay has been on top for a while, but it's not a perfect system. New buyers are frustrated with snipers and crazy shipping prices that sneak up on them, sellers are irritated by Paypal issues and eBay constantly raising prices. Other sites are managing to catch up with eBay's technology so users are looking for some new places to do business. Perfectly natural.

"distuptions" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885218)

me fail english?

Re:"distuptions" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885498)

thats unpossible!

Maybe over the long term this will hurt. (4, Interesting)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885219)

EBay, with more than 147 million users world-wide

With this sort of penetration any impact will be neglible for quite a while. There are still a ton of people trying to emulate the largest person to person for sale site.
eBay increases their fees because they can. If they thought these other places were such a direct threat yet they wouldn't do so. There will be a time this combination will be a large threat, but not yet.

Re:Maybe over the long term this will hurt. (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885609)

With this sort of penetration any impact will be neglible for quite a while.

Maybe, but perception on the Net is everything. As soon as people start bailing they will do so in droves. It would be in eBay's best interest to keep people happy and not encourage them to look elsewhere. I wonder how long it will be before Google comes up with a full fledged auction site that competes seriously with eBay.

or... (-1, Troll)

cryptoz (878581) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885223)

You could just be careful with your money and not buy stuff that you want to sell three weeks later. Really, honestly, it does save you money in the long run.

Okay, okay, fine. I figure this is actually a good thing. I mean, we're all communists here, right? So we want to have the small time guys get just as much of a chance as the larger corporations, right? right?

Slashdot readers leaving for CNN (1)

coopaq (601975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885232)

After so many distuptions in spelling, /. readers heading to to get their tech news.

Maybe eBay will finally start policing it's own (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885238)

network. I know other outlets aren't immune to frauds, but ebay is fucking rediculous. Whenever I am looking for anything substantial(for instance iBook, xbox etc) I have to sort by highest price first. Why? Because an overwhelming majority of the auctions are for "Information on how to get a free iBook!" or "iBook for 40 dollars". Ebay doesn't have to legally police it's network for those types of fraud, but I think their lax policies are going to harm them.

Not to mention the huge number of grey market items on eBay. I don't want to buy anime off of there because a majority of the DVDs are Chinese bootlegs. I would rather download them than buy the bootlegs....

Re:Maybe eBay will finally start policing it's own (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885281)

I realize there will be a lack of content if I say what I intend to say, but I agree so incredibly I will just say this.

Amen. ;)

Re:Maybe eBay will finally start policing it's own (1)

Florian Weimer (88405) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885329)

There's also the problem that Ebay's business operation creates lots of small fraud cases, which binds law enforcement ressources. I don't think it's fair that Ebay tries to shrug off all responsibility and to burden society as a whole with the resulting costs. After all, they don't pay any taxes over here.

Re:Maybe eBay will finally start policing it's own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885367)

Another annoyance: iBook buy it now price $1, shipping/handling: $999.

Re:Maybe eBay will finally start policing it's own (3, Informative)

KaiserSoze (154044) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885408)

I can't "Me Too" the parent enough. Back in 1999-2000 I bought and sold many, many items off of eBay (at least many, many cheap electronics and trading cards based on my college budget). Right around 2002, however, I slowed my browsing and now I haven't even gone to the website for over a year. The reason: any non-trivial item I want to look for (laptop, camcorder, digital camera, LCD projector) is infected with frustrating-as-hell spam reading "GET ITEM X FOR FREEE!!!!11!" eBay, for all intents and purposes, has been hijacked by the no-product "FOR FREE"-guide spammers and extremely high volume power sellers. It is just really hard to wade through the crap to find some guy who's just selling his camcorder because he doesn't want it anymore.

None of them are worth it (4, Interesting)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885248)

The problem is this... all 3 of these aggregators (Ebay, Yahoo, and Amazon) all focus solely on price. Anybody who knows anything about business knows that competing on price is a very, very bad idea. It's almost always a losing battle. On top of that, the fees that these sites charge for selling are outrageous. We've decided to use *none* of them, and instead sell on our own. We get to keep our profit margins, and we get to offer real information to our buyers. We may not be the cheapest to the nickel, but honestly, that's not the kind of business we want. People who are pinching pennies are not the kind of customers you want because there's 0% loyalty... and that's what these agrregators strive for... making the sellers relatively anonymous, and focusing *only* on price. Amazon, eBay, and Yahoo will always be good for small sellers that don't have the means to set up a web site, credit card processing, etc, but once you can do all of that, it makes no sense to work with these big guys, where you'll just be a number in a crowd.

Re:I look at it as *cheap* Advertising. (2, Insightful)

GecKo213 (890491) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885402)

All three of these places work great as advertising due to the traffic each site receives. Massive amounts of people already head to those sites with the intenet to buy as well. Use the massive amounts of traffic and the occasional "loss" in the profit margin spent as eBay/Yahoo/Amazon commision as your ad budget.

1) Post something on their sites

2) Advertise the hell out of your own website on each post

3) Browsers become buyers and watch the shoppers from all of the above auction/sales sites come to you next time and buy direct

You can also ship more advertisements for your own website with catchy phrases like. Buy direct next time at [Your URL here] etc.

Re:I look at it as *cheap* Advertising. (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885599)

Take a look at Amazon. It's very hard, and I'd say near impossible to find information about the actual seller. eBay is pretty much just a big junkpile of ads and scams, from what I've seen. I'd never buy anything from eBay. Amazon, however, goes the other direction, and tries to make it transparent to the buyer. I believe that Amazon makes the buyer experience good, but does go too far with this, in that sellers are hurt to such an extent that merchants such as myself who actually have a brand name lose out in the end. Somebody (and I need to look closer at Yahoo), need to go more middle-of-the-road. They need to offer the seller some exposure, while still keeping the buyer experience good.

What's wrong with PayPal? (1)

mcho (878145) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885254)

It's like asking a group of people whether they like Windows or Linux, but what's wrong with PayPal? I don't see why some swear by it and others swear at it...

Re:What's wrong with PayPal? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885276)

Paypal is excellent unless you happen to be one of these guys [] .

Re:What's wrong with PayPal? (4, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885296)

I haven't had a problem with them, but see [] .

Re:What's wrong with PayPal? (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885305)

Go read at There are many horror stories there.

The stupid thing is that if you know ANYTHING about Paypal's policies (by, you know, actually reading the fucking information that Paypal provides) you'll notice that the vast majority of Paypal problems are nothing more than stupid users that didn't RTFM and get pissed because Paypal doesn't have protection on all transactions and shit like there. There are some legit concerns, but about 9 out of 10 complaints are just fucking whiny morons.

Re:What's wrong with PayPal? (2, Informative)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885374)

Paypal is great for convenience, but terrible for selling in conjunction with Ebay. I've had several unfounded claims laid against me, and despite winning all of them, they locked funds out of my account for over a month to resolve each dispute. Any Paypal user who bought and paid something through Ebay & Paypal respectively can file an unfounded dispute and potentially get their money back, plus keep the product.

I had a buyer purchase something from me, and they demanded a full refund, but refused to send the product back. So what did they do? They filed a dispute, and the same day the funds were withdrawn from my account to be placed on hold. Great. I ended up winning the dispute (thankfully) after a month of deliberations, but I spoke with several Paypal represenatives, and all expressed the simple fact: as a seller, you have no securities unless you purchase protection policies. For buyers, they can get their money back without purchasing any policies. Unfair, yes, but just something you learn the hard way...

Otherwise, Paypal has been a great system for me. Could be better, could be worse, but it's not much different than a typical financial institution in that respect.

Re:What's wrong with PayPal? (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885557)

In essence, they operate with the guise of a bank but without any of the restrictions or responsibilities of a bank.

They can and will freeze funds for pretty much any reason they want, simply because someone at Ebay told them to. They'll freeze your entire account, and sometimes take your account away entirely (so I've heard) for selling things on ebay which skirt the line of Ebay's policy.

And, since they're not a bank, they're not reqiured to pay interest at all, as banks are, and are thus able to use the huge sums of money sitting in paypal accounts to invest or loan out to make themselves money at an even higher rate.

Re:What's wrong with PayPal? (1)

Momoru (837801) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885569)

PayPal is currently the easiest cheapest way to accept credit cards on your web site as far as I can tell...I used to use a well known credit card merchant and they really ate into my profits, paypal takes a much lower cut compared to most credit companies...but they do have some evil "merchant is always wrong policies", where someone makes a fraudulent charge, and not only do I have to give them the money back I have to pay PayPal a $10 fee as well for my trouble....Merchants should not have to suffer for PayPals lack of fraud detection. Anyone know of a better alternative?

A sellers perspective... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885573)

YMMV depending on what you sell and who your target market is. We **WERE** selling items in the 20-50 dollar range. Problem as a seller?

All a buyer had to do was claim they never recieved the item and they'd get their money back, regardless of whether we provided paypal with a tracking number or not! Why wouldn't you swear at that?

Paypal seems fine if you're just selling some used items that has no appeal to human scum, but if you sell anything some scumass wants, you're going to take it in the shorts.

Things I would feel comfortable accepting payments for via paypal... ham radio equipment, old game consoles/cartridges, martha stewart type things. Things I would not accept payment for... CDs, anything associated with rap music or hiphop culture, jewelry, brand name clothes, etc...

Basically, if you would be worried about some ghetto ass punk robbing you for it, don't accept paypal as a payment for it. It's true it didn't happen all the time, but it got so bad that the fraud against us with paypal reached over 8 percent of our transactions. NEVER AGAIN. You want to buy from us, you come to our website and use your credit card. CC companies are much easier to deal with and far more fair in our experience.

Ebay will still rule the online garage sale (3, Insightful)

DeadSea (69598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885257)

I still don't see a person with just a few used items to sell, being able to do well on Froogle or Amazon. Its quite a bit harder to get a listing there than on Ebay.

I would be interested in what percentage of ebay auctions are from full-time sellers. It seems that these folks probably drive a sizable percentage of Ebay's revenue. Losing them could hurt the bottom line of the company very badly.

Amazon and Google still have a ways to go to become all that popular with full time sellers. There are a ton of guides [] for becoming a full [] time Ebay seller [] . But I find very few for Amazon and Google.

Re:Ebay will still rule the online garage sale (3, Interesting)

NilObject (522433) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885544)

I, being a college kid, had a fat stack of old books and textbooks I needed to get rid of quickly and earn some spending cash off of. So I went straight to Amazon.

It took me about an hour total to start a new account and then list (apporx) a hundred books. Then I just sat back and watched the e-mails roll in. "Send this book to this person" "Send this book to that person" Zip! Schwip!

And I made several hundred dollars in the space of a few days by selling a fraction of the books.

With EBay, I would have had to spend an entire day listing listing items, dealing with PayPal, and then getting porked from behind for the fees.

Bah humbug.

I can easily see myself running a full-time used bookstore from Amazon. There's a number of brick-and-mortar companies getting rid of a lot of inventory and making money on Amazon. I can see why: it's so easy that you make up for your 15% commission in the time and labor costs you save.

Re:Ebay will still rule the online garage sale (2, Funny)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885627)

Wait a second. Are you suggesting that is a good place to sell books? That's amazing. If you didn't know better, you'd think that the site was designed to do just that.

Have you tired... (1)

Valiss (463641) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885620) It's owned by eBay except it's fix prices and fixed shipping rates. No bids, just the bottom line. So far I've had very good luck with them and I've used the service half a dozen times.

Dont forget Ebay buys shares in craigslist. (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885260) tml []

Ebay has enough money they can buy out some of the small companies, just like microsoft does. Eat up the competition, until the DoJ steps in and slaps with a tiny fine. (-;

This is the way it should be (5, Interesting)

v3rb (239648) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885263)

EBay was originally set up to allow individuals to sell merchandise to other individuals. That's why the feedback system was so important. Before PayPal and BidPay you had to use personal check or money order. Do you buy from a seller business with a feedback score of 65322 over one with 4352? When people had feedback 100 it mattered.

People started selling so much they started businesses. Then Ebay started jacking up the fees because they saw businesses making money off their website. Ebay was supposed to be for used merchandise. Now everytime I do a search for used merchandise I can barely find any because I have to wade through businesses that post 20 ads a day because they have 500 units in stock. Ebay just isn't made for that.

The moral of the story is there is a progression that goes from being an individual seller to a company that sells on ebay. If you continue to just makes sense to get off ebay.

Re:This is the way it should be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885356)

I agree and I don't understand why Ebay wouldn't just split their business into seperate "areas". The "garage sale" area could sell used/useless shit (like it used to be) and the "small business" area could continue selling wholesale packaged items with warranties.

Splitting up the sellers of crap from the sellers of new items would probably revive Ebay and make them more competitive with Amazon and others.

Re:This is the way it should be (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885419)

If you continue to just makes sense to get off ebay.

And on the flip side, with 140 million potential buyers, businesses have every marketing reason to stick with Ebay.

Re:This is the way it should be (1)

dynamo (6127) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885434)

I've been having a hard time finding used stuff on ebay too.. So is there some _other_ auction site that all the used sales have moved to?
I doubt we have a sudden shortage of used stuff.

Re:This is the way it should be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885559)

Not to mention the grade inflation. Almost everyone seems to have 99.8% positive feedback, even when they erroneously ship things and have to take returns.
I am having issues with a seller who has my return shipping costs for ransom till I leave a positive feedback for him. Needless to say, he's getting a negative rating, fuck the twenty bucks.

Speaking of which... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885266)

The San Jose Mercury News had a headline last week announcing "EBAY NATION". I guess Amazon wasn't too happy about that. I wouldn't be surprised if "AMAZON WORLD" appears in next week's paper.

Probably not... (1)

dakirw (831754) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885381)

since eBay's located in San Jose and Amazon's not. Some hometown bias here, I'd guess.

Re:Speaking of which... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885598)

The world is not enough - old family motto...

-Anonymous Amazon Employee

The Ebay Effect (1)

tobes (302057) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885282)

Yep, sounds about right. CNBC is airing The Ebay Effect next week signifying both the complete cluelessness of CNBC and the jumping of the shark of Ebay. Talk about being late to the party! Holy 1997 Batman.

So we don't /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885283)

Bidding Adieu
Threatening eBay's Dominance,
More Online Sellers Go It Alone

Service Gripes, New Rivals
And Better Technology
Spur Independent Spirit
Mr. Wieber's 14-Day Meltdown
June 22, 2005; Page A1

In 2002, John Wieber started worrying about his business, which sold refurbished computers through Internet auctioneer eBay Inc. Although he was earning $1 million a year in revenue, profits had started to slip as competitors flocked to the site. EBay also raised its fees, further cutting margins, and fraud was becoming a problem.

So Mr. Wieber revamped his Web site and began selling through other online companies, such as Inc. and Yahoo Inc. Last year, his sales neared $5 million, but his eBay revenue grew at a much slower pace, making up only a quarter of the total. It will likely fall still lower. Of the auction site, where he got his start, Mr. Wieber says: "Too many sellers, not enough buyers."

EBay, with more than 147 million users world-wide, has long been regarded as the dot-com survivor that could do no wrong. Mr. Wieber's story shows why the company may be losing some of that luster. Setting up an online store is so easy these days that sellers needn't rely on eBay as a source of customers. Advertising is simple and inexpensive, thanks to new technology from companies such as Google Inc. And multiple competitors, including Amazon and Yahoo, are pulling once-loyal eBay sellers into their orbit.

EBay's latest fee increases, in February, have intensified seller complaints about poor customer service and falling prices. One result: EBay sellers are helping one another declare independence. A recent conference of eBay merchants featured a workshop on "Developing your own Web site." For the first time, after a decade of rapid expansion, traffic to eBay's U.S. Web site declined in the first quarter, as revenue growth hit a record low. Reflecting the concerns, eBay shares have fallen 36% this year.

EBay is still growing at rates most companies would die for. Its oldest markets, which are maturing, are being supplanted by business in fast-growing countries such as the United Kingdom, Korea and China. More than 60% of new registered users in 2004 lived outside the U.S. and that expansion overseas helped boost revenue 51%.

EBay executives say sellers often dabble in other marketplaces and with their own Web sites. "It's not an either/or," says Michael Dearing, eBay's senior vice president of marketing and merchandising. He says sellers typically return to eBay because it offers "extraordinary value."

In a bid to boost growth and help sellers be more successful, eBay has spent roughly $1.5 billion in the past 18 months to acquire Web sites in areas such as online classified advertising. It has also invested heavily in customer service, an area the company concedes it didn't pay enough attention to in the past.

EBay, based in San Jose, Calif., thrived in the 1990s as a uniquely efficient way for small merchants -- from part-time hobbyists to million-dollar companies -- to reach customers across the globe. Initially popular as a way to peddle second-hand goods, eBay morphed into a market for used, new and even luxury items. EBay charges sellers a small fee to list items, based on their value, and a commission when they sell.

The auction company estimates that 430,000 people in the U.S. make part or all of their living through the site. These days, many of them aren't happy.

In 2000, Tom Hawksley began selling CDs and DVDs on eBay, leftover inventory from a chain of video stores he used to own. Last year, from his home in Windermere, Fla., he tried selling on Amazon, which levies a hefty commission but no listing fee. Mr. Hawksley found he could sell DVDs of TV shows such as "Dragnet" or "Adam 12" for $35 on Amazon, where he can set his own price, compared with eBay, where he found consumers unwilling to pay more than $10.

EBay shoppers are "looking for unreasonable bargains," Mr. Hawksley says.

Mr. Hawksley says he made more profit in four months on Amazon than in four years on eBay. Merchants and analysts, such as ComScore Networks Inc., say prices are higher on Amazon because it attracts wealthier shoppers.

Michael Paese began selling bicycle parts on eBay from his San Antonio home in 2003. Last year, sales slipped as eBay's fees rose and, with the help of a consultant, Mr. Paese created his own Web site. He lured shoppers by contracting with Yahoo and Google to serve up small text ads to anyone searching the Web using words relating to his business. These text ads, which have revolutionized the advertising business, appear on the search engines' results page and on third-party Web sites.

Mr. Paese says text ads are highly effective and bring in better business. "If someone goes to me on eBay, he's not really my customer," Mr. Paese says. "If they come on my Web site, they are."

Mr. Wieber, the laptop seller, was once a traveling salesman for a New York-based textiles company. He discovered eBay in 1998 while shopping online for a computer. He noticed that the site sold refurbished laptops at a higher price than even computer makers' own Web sites. To take advantage, he bought a bunch of refurbished laptops that year and listed them on eBay.

He sold as many as 30 laptops a day, typically for between $750 and $1,250. Mr. Wieber estimates each sale carried a profit of $150. His wife, a part-time teacher, helped by typing shipping labels and packing boxes.

By late 1998, Mr. Wieber says, he was making more money selling laptops than textiles. The next year, he quit his job. Selling on eBay brought a less frenzied lifestyle and freed him, for example, to attend his two daughters' ballet classes. In 2000, he says, his eBay sales topped $420,000, earning him about $100,000 in profit.

Mr. Wieber was in the vanguard of a new type of entrepreneur, set loose by the Internet's capacity to break down business barriers. By 2000, eBay had 22 million registered users and a growing cadre of "power sellers" who register $1,000 or more in monthly sales. As his business grew, Mr. Wieber occasionally tapped a tech-savvy neighbor, Douglas Deist, for advice and loans. Late in 2000, Mr. Deist quit his job selling software to join Mr. Wieber in a company they called Exel-i Inc., for "ex-Long Islanders," after their childhood home in New York.

Although he didn't pay much attention at the time, Mr. Wieber started receiving calls and emails from customers who had seen his eBay auctions or his bare-bones Web site, which featured little more than contact information. Mr. Wieber began selling to them directly, marking his first baby steps away from eBay.

In 2001, Mr. Wieber's direct sales more than quadrupled to $217,000, representing more than 25% of Exel-i's revenue. It was clear that selling direct was more profitable. EBay's fees, for listing items and for sales commissions, could be as much as $18,000 a year. Mr. Wieber moved Exel-i out of his house, where the garage was stuffed with computer-laden pallets, and into an 1,800-square-foot warehouse.

In July 2002, eBay erroneously shut down one of Mr. Wieber's accounts. For 14 days, Exel-i had trouble listing products, completing transactions and sending email. Mr. Deist fielded angry calls from customers, the Better Business Bureau and PayPal -- an electronic-payment service that was in the process of being bought by eBay -- who all questioned whether his company existed.

EBay reinstated the account, but the incident soured the two men on the auction company. At the time, eBay didn't provide telephone customer support to all sellers. Messrs. Wieber and Deist called eBay but were told to send a request for help through email. After 10 days, an eBay employee called, but didn't apologize, recalls Mr. Deist. "They were really cavalier," he says. The glitch propelled the pair to enhance their Web site. "You can't depend on someone you can't communicate with," Mr. Deist says.

EBay officials wouldn't comment specifically on Exel-i's account, citing privacy restrictions. Mr. Dearing, eBay's senior vice president, says the problem may have come from the company's attempts to tackle fraud. "We've gotten better," he says.

Earlier this year, eBay expanded telephone support for sellers. It also pledged that every email would receive a response from a real person, instead of an automated system. Bill Cobb, president of eBay North America, posted a note on eBay's site when the change was made, admitting that the company hadn't "invested enough" in customer service.

In August 2002, Exel-i added a "shopping cart" feature to its site, laptopbroker .com, allowing customers to place orders. A few years earlier, that would have been expensive and time-consuming. Today, much of the technology can be bought off the shelf and a support industry has sprung up to help small merchants set up payment systems. Mr. Deist set up Exel-i's electronic back office in under two weeks, with a consultant's help.

For 2003, Mr. Wieber's eBay sales topped $1 million. But his concerns about the site grew as competition increased. About 10% of Exel-i's auction items weren't selling, something that hadn't happened before, and the company had to swallow the cost of listing the items. Profits on laptops that did sell fell to about $70 per machine from $150 a few years before. And, like many eBay sellers, Mr. Wieber fell victim to fraud. One complicated scam, involving fake mailing addresses, cost Exel-i $1,000 a week for several months. Messrs. Wieber and Deist chafed at their inability to talk to anyone at eBay about such issues.

Mr. Wieber started testing other auction sites, although the less-than-satisfactory experience reminded him of eBay's strength: millions of potential buyers that let merchants "keep inventory turning on eBay very, very efficiently."

But at that pivotal moment, online advertising took off. First, Mr. Wieber spent an average of $1,000 a month to make sure his company appeared in online directories. Then he discovered the new search-based advertising system popularized by Google and copied by others. Mr. Wieber paid search engines to make ads for his company appear whenever users searched online for terms such as "IBM laptop T20." Merchants love search-based advertising because they know their ads will be shown only to people interested in specific subjects. Mr. Wieber would sometimes spend $1,000 a week if business was good.

He also hired ChannelAdvisor, a Morrisville, N.C., e-commerce consultant, to redesign Exel-i's site and tie it more closely to systems that manage Exel-i's inventory and prices. ChannelAdvisor was founded to help eBay sellers but now makes much of its money helping merchants develop their own sites and sell through Amazon and Yahoo. The result, says Mr. Wieber: Sales through and another site jumped 55% last year to $245,000, compared with a 15% increase in Exel-i's eBay sales.

Last October, at a conference of eBay sellers in Las Vegas, Mr. Wieber talked briefly with Sam Wheeler, Amazon's director of North America sales and marketplace. Two weeks later, a colleague of Mr. Wheeler called. "I almost fell off my chair," Mr. Wieber recalls. Aside from an occasional call pitching new services, no one from eBay had ever called to ask about his business, Mr. Wieber says.

Three Amazon employees spent two months helping the businessmen create a special numbering system that would allow them to sell on Amazon. Sales are small but are increasing roughly 50% a month. Mr. Wieber says Amazon sales are twice as profitable as eBay sales.

An eBay spokesman says the company may not have reached out to Mr. Wieber during his early years, but says it has added customer support to rectify the problem.

On Jan. 12, eBay announced higher fees for merchants who post large pictures with their listings or offer goods at a fixed price. Mr. Wieber figured the increase would cost an additional $38,000 this year. He decided to stop using those features.

In response, rival online marketplace Inc. lowered its listing fees and is courting eBay's top 2,000 sellers. EBay's fee increase was "a boon for us" says Holly MacDonald-Korth, Overstock's vice president of auctions. Mr. Wieber is trying Overstock, although he says it isn't as lucrative as Amazon.

In April, a Google representative called Mr. Wieber and offered free help composing text for search ads. Google is also developing its own payment-processing system that could compete with eBay's PayPal. Mr. Wieber says he plans to increase spending on Google's ads after further revamping his Web site.

Write to Mylene Mangalindan at

thanks (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885395)

as we all know, is run off of an iMac connected to a home dsl line.

Googlezon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885290)

Amazon + Google sounds like GoogleZon... Google does no evil, but i'm unsure about Amazon :/

Amazon USED to do evil (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885548)

They spammed. Unfortunately, so did their then-only-major-rival, Barnes & Noble Online.

AFAIK, neither has spammed in a major way if at all in years.

One word. (5, Interesting)

dema (103780) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885302)


I was a big fan of ebay back in the day. I still have an account that I use on very rare occasion. But today ebay seems to be nothing more than a portal for people who don't want / can't afford to setup physical shop. Ebay lost is greatest quality, IMO, a while back: the personal experience.

The last few things I sold a couple of months ago were random shirts from indie bands. Of the five people I contacted after winning, none of them ever replied to my emails. One of them left me negative feedback because she felt the shirt was in poor condition. I would've been glad to refund her the money and let her keep the shirt if she had contacted me, but apparently talking to another human (even by email) is a bit too much for ebayers these days.

Re:One word. (1)

UrgleHoth (50415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885487)

IMHO, ebay's feedback system is broken. Like the problem you have, ignorant buyers don't get in touch with sellers. Sellers hold feedback hostage from buyers until they receive positive feedback. This skews the feedback seen. I've been exclusively a buyer, I have little interest in selling on ebay. I've fallen into the habit of giving feedback to the seller when he/she gives it first. On one hand, I paid the seller quickly with the method the seller wants, I held up my end of the bargain, I should get pos feedback. On the other hand, I know that not all buyers are good buyers, like the real estate adage, "Buyers are liars," The buyer may pull the crap that the parent poster described.

Re:One word. (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885583)

Unfortunately, some people just don't have any common sense.

I've sold a lot on Ebay, not as a permanent seller but just clearing out a lot of role-playing games rules and CDs from my collection.

One guy I sold a book to left me neutral feedback because the book had been damaged in transit (the wrapping paper had been torn) before even contacting me.

To me, the book was a piece of worthless junk and I would have refunded the guy his money and let him keep it, just like you. I emailed him, gave him the option of a refund or an additional similar book I had, he took the additional book as settlement, but I'd already got the neutral feedback.

Unfortunately, too many buyers are too quick to believe they are dealing with deliberate crooks on Ebay rather than just using common sense, accepting that sometimes things do go wrong beyond the seller's control and actually emailing the seller first to try to reach a compromise.

Oh (1)

wastingtape (576230) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885303)

so that's why there aren't any good deals on ebay anymore...

My brother fits this to a "T" (2, Informative)

fname (199759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885314)

My brother started 5 years ago selling jewelry on his website and eBay. It was tough to get any traction on his website, selling inexpensive silver jewelry [] , and he had a lot more success on eBay. The website was, at best 10% of his business. But about 3 months ago we started an advertising campaign using Google's Adwords program. After a slow start, sales have started to take off thanks to a redesigned landing page that better featured the great deals he has for wholesale silver jewelry [] . [Ya, that's a plug... is that so wrong?] We've doubled the ad budget just this week and if the trend keeps up for a few more weeks, he might be able to get 50% of his business off eBay.

The content network is really what makes it work. More than half of hits come from the content network, and more than half the sales. The click-through rates are about the same, which surprised me quite a bit.

So, without RTFA, I can support the WSJ's premise. Google does threaten eBay-- it allows small sellers to get their own customer base independent of eBay. eBay may not see a drop in sales, but long-term I think this hurts their growth.

Tweaking landing pages... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885500)

Take a look at Urchin [] if you're tweaking landing pages. They have really good integration with adwords, and the price is reasonable for the report set you get.

Using Urchin, your brother will be able to tell what individual users are doing on his site. And he'll be able to see what keywords perform well, and which don't. And he'll be able to see what "natural keywords" (terms people searched for which appeared in the search results) are sending people to his site. Sometimes buying a keyword or two from the list of terms that appear in natural searches can be a good move.

Finally, he'll be able to tell what ranking works well for him. Sometimes paying $0.52 for the second place in the AdWords list versus $2.32 for the top spot can be a good move as far as ROI and conversions. You can see that sort of info with Urchin.

Disclaimer: I work at Urchin. Ya, all this is a plug... is that so wrong? :-)

If anyone can do it, Google and Amazon Can (2, Insightful)

HaFBaKeD (893874) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885316)

With the talent behind Google, and the online prescence of Amazon, there is no doubt they can eventually overtake Ebay as the popular option for the masses. Going to an online store to purchase or sell items, require more than simply turning on a PC running Windows. The market is already somewhat ahead of the game in their knowledge and willingness to try something new. As such, they are that much more open to new options, should they be saturated with those options when it comes to marketing.

Re:If anyone can do it, Google and Amazon Can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885473)

Its "presence"

eBay is a JOKE (5, Insightful)

Jesus IS the Devil (317662) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885324)

eBay and Paypal rank way up there as the most evil companies on the net. I have a friend who sells via eBay, and from what he's been telling me, eBay has been making it harder and harder to get refunds on failed auctions all the while increasing their fees.

As for Paypal, it's practically a crook's paradise (eBay is too actually). They force you to enter in your checking information if you wish to perform any transactions over a few bucks (forget the exact $). Once you've done this you are completely at their mercy to screw you over however they'd like.

With credit cards, you always have the option of a chargeback. Once you have linked your banking info to Paypal, good luck! Now they get all the say as to when/if they will give you credit back if something goes wrong. If a seller sends you a box of bricks, screw you.

Here's a personal experience I've had with Paypal. A while back I posted an ad to sell some stuff. Someone bought them and paid via a "VERIFIED" Paypal account. The buyer came by my house and picked them up in person. Everything looked legit until Paypal reversed the transaction saying the "verified" account was stolen. I emailed Paypal and all I got was one runaround after another. In fact I started getting the same replies over and over again!

My problem is, either Paypal is an escrow or they are not. If they're not, they have no right to refund the money. If they are, they have an obligation to re-imburse me for my losses. However, they took the coward's way out, refunding the money to the user to avoid being sued and losing in court for failing to protect their user accounts, and screwing me in the process saying that only orders sent by mail are protected under their TOS.

I really hope eBay and Paypal die off in really horrible deaths.

eBay has it's share... (2, Interesting)

DaedalusLogic (449896) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885325)

of problem customers and scams. I'm all for competition. I was liquidating a motherboard on eBay that was an open box part obtained from an RMA. After the customer received the part and crammed half a dozen cards into it, he declared it broken. Which it might have been... and I told him how to file an RMA on that part. I also offered to refund part of his investment if he just wanted to return it to me outright.

Soon the story changed... the item wasn't was "as described"... I started getting explanations of and I quote, "Living in a trailer with a handicapped brother with a $10,000 plate in his head." I was going to need to send him $70 for the item to be returned...

Then he proceeded to file complaints with PayPal and try and get his funds frozen.

What merchant would ever let you buy a product, break it, and return it for more money than it is worth? And what crazy payment system allows you to raid a merchants bank account because you most likely zapped the product with your own hands?

Be Warned! (5, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885326)

Do not think that you have any degree of protection from PayPal either.

A friend of mine was robbed of £400 after he made a PayPal payment to a seller for a PC. He never received the PC and PayPal took absolutely no interest in refunding the money.

The excuse PayPal gave? The seller didn't have enough credit in his PayPal account to refund the money - and has since been kicked off of Ebay.

Neither PayPal or Ebay care about you being fiddled of money, they take their percentage for basically doing nothing.

I call BS (1)

madaxe42 (690151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885590)

Sorry, totally fail to believe this - I also got diddled by a seller, and was out £600 - paypal took it out of their account, putting them into substantial negative balance. Also, my little brother now has a large negative balance, because he ripped someone off. Stupid little shit.

On the other hand, I've now been wrestling with parcelforce for 6 months over a laptop they *decimated*. They're the real crooks. Did you know that the minimum insurable packaging for 'electronic equipment' is a fucking *shipping pallet*?!

Google Wallet to take on PayPal (1)

kegger64 (653899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885333)

I haven't seen much discussion on /. about the rumor that Google's going to take on PayPal directly. let_e.php []

If the rumors turn out to be true, both eBay and PayPal could be in for some serious trouble.

Free Yahoo Auctions.. (5, Informative)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885352)

They didn't mention that yahoo auctions just went completely free.. It's just ad supported now. I would be very happy if eBay had a little more competition in both the auction and payment sectors.

Re:Free Yahoo Auctions.. (1)

SlashdotMeNow (799901) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885523)

Google should do this with their rumored payment service - setup a free auction service, charge a minimal fee for the payment service, and make money from ads (which is their core business anyway)

uh huh (2, Insightful)

Nexcet (792231) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885357)

Well, if your reselling (most case you are) you still have to go by MAP [Minimum Advertised Price]. Maybe its the services ^_^ hrmm...

Good riddance (1)

77Punker (673758) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885359)

Now hopefully there will be less spam in the descriptions and searches can become relevant again. E-Bay isn't a place to run a business; it's a place to sell shit you don't want.

I don't really like Amazon... (1)

KoReE (4358) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885361)

I don't really like the Amazon marketplace from a buyer's standpoint. It's just clunky. Which, it may not be clunky, but I'm so used to Ebay. I have yet to find something on Amazon I couldn't find on Ebay, and Ebay's interface is nicer. However, I have no comment on selling on either service, as I've only sold a couple of things on Ebay (when the comissions were low) and have never sold anything via Amazon.

These are just my experiences.

Ebay is gunning for Ebay alone (4, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885364)

... and that's the problem. I sold my motorbike on Ebay when I emigrated to the US last year, and was so disgusted with the service, I even wrote a journal entry [] about it.

Ebay doesn't care if the seller has problems as long as the percentage cut is in Ebay's bank account. They do little-to-nothing to make the seller's life easy, in fact it's a very customer-unfocused setup.

As long as Ebay keep their current modus operandi, I'll not be using them again, and they have to run out of sellers eventually...


Re:Ebay is gunning for Ebay alone (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885443)

and they have to run out of sellers eventually...

Are you trying to imply that there is an upper bound on human greed and stupidity?

Re:Ebay is gunning for Ebay alone (1)

halltk1983 (855209) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885540)

Very much OT... but I have to...
You are a s/w consultant and your name is simon, having worked both in the US, and UK... are you the BOFH?

Why doesn't Google index eBay? (2, Insightful)

AEton (654737) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885379)

An interesting project which would require a very large operation would be to start keeping track of every completed eBay auction. With such a database, you could search by keywords or some other query to figure out the historical value of items, the best time to sell them (graphing calculators in August when school starts), or to analyze other trends. This could be valuable both to buyers and sellers.

The current eBay robots.txt includes the text
# eBay may permit automated access to
# access certain eBay pages but soley for the limited purpose of
# including content in publicly available search engines.

So Google could get away with doing such indexing - which would be of very high value to many people, since eBay makes old auctions inaccessible after a certain period - at least under the current robots.txt.

I'm aware of the legal and technical problems that might arise. (Recall the 2000 Bidder's Edge lawsuit where an online auction aggregator was prevented by eBay from using their data.) You'd need a large company and a lot of machines with different IP addresses to quietly check every auction, and I can think of at least twelve different ways such a database of prices, bids, times, durations, titles, and descriptions could be important.

So why hasn't anyone done it?

Re:Why doesn't Google index eBay? (2, Informative)

77Punker (673758) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885421)

Google already does it. Try to buy something on Froogle and you'll eventually notice that half of the listings are from shitty E-Bay "businesses".

The names of the companies will usually say something other than E-Bay, but if you click on enough, you'll find them for sure.

Re:Why doesn't Google index eBay? (2, Interesting)

AEton (654737) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885493)

And what's worse is that Froogle doesn't even make a token attempt at including the additional costs like shipping and handling. So the eBay sellers it indexes seem cheap but are almost invariably poor deals.

However, Froogle doesn't seem to keep historical data and doesn't index auctions that aren't from eBay stores (with "buy it now" auctions). Or, if they do, they're keeping it an in-house secret - and what a cool database that would be to have around!

Re:Why doesn't Google index eBay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885460)

i am a actually one of those ebay API partner things.

i was trying to write a agrrgator basically dataminer. that would enable one ot really assess decent resale values on current market values. thers so much data there taht it ouwld be very intersting to me.
months later if i find they implemented an ebay pulse or zeitgeist one of the first things i tried to implment but they whacked me with the T&C violation.

gaah they are creeps who hold theire precious data more vulable than possibly ad revenue/ market research data reselling

fear ebay.

phishing (3, Interesting)

Fairwind (894304) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885380)

The amount of people falling victim to phishing on eBay is frightening. Users with perfect feedback and years of eBay activity can be fooled by a single email asking to verify their account information. I've seen some strange auctions listed from what seemed to be honest and trustworthy people. However it was an account hijacked by a phisher. As the number of phishing victims rises, the feedback system will become obsolete. I hope amazon and google don't suffer a simliar fate.

Re:phishing (0, Flamebait)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885531)

Sorry, but I've no sympathy for victims of phishing. If you're stupid enough to fall for a phishing attack then you either need to get yourself some computer training or put your PC on Ebay and stick to pens and paper.

If you simply remember the rule that no legitimate organisation will ask you for any secure information via email, then no phishing attack can ever work against you.

There's been enough warnings about this already and if people took the time to read those, and the "Policy" areas of online sites they deal with, they would not be victims.

Ebay is Good for Buyers and Bad for sellers (1)

guntaka (893977) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885382)

Amazon is for rich people. Ebay is only for people who wants bargains

What?! Ebay is pricey... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885468)

I rarely every find a "bargain" on eBay anymore; I've stopped looking at the site. I see allot of stuff selling for prices higher than retail. However, most things are priced at about 85-95% of new. Go search closed auctions for a Mac Mini, you'll really have to dig to find a used one that sold for less than 95% of what you'd pay from Apple.

Me? I'll bone up the extra $25 and buy a new one.

Re:What?! Ebay is pricey... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885657)

I rarely every find a "bargain" on eBay anymore

Ebay is only good these days for collectors who want hard to find items and are prepared to pay a premium for them.

The other thing to remember is that a lot of people on Ebay just clear out junk on there. As they do this, they accrue positive PayPal balances as sellers pay them but that balance, to me at least, never feels like "real" money anyway.

There's been a few times when I've paid more for a piece of computer hardware on Ebay than via a reputable online seller purely because I've had enough balance in PayPal to cover the item rather than resort to a credit card with the reputable seller.

The other thing to note is that here in the UK, it takes 7 working days for PayPal transfers to appear in your bank account - consequently, someone has that money and is earning interest on it for a whole week before you see it.

Shouldn't this be from... (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885556)

the eating-somebodys-lunch department?

eBay's biggest problem... (3, Interesting)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885586)

EBay's single biggest problem, in my eyes, is the fact that you still have to pay a considerable fee even if your item does not sell. For casual sellers at least, this makes the whole platform unattractive - other services, such as amazon, only charge you when you make a sale and leave your item up there pretty much indefinitely until you *do* sell it.

Of course, the downside is that you have to pay more;, for example, charges both a percentage (15%, I think) *and* a flat fee, so if you have something that you want to sell for less than a handful of bucks, you might actually even lose money - the shipping fees they charge the buyer wouldn't even be enough to cover actual shipping to start with, and they're usually more than eaten up by the fees, too, so you may well end up with a net earning of only one buck for a book that cost the buyer eight or nine bucks, including shipping (it's happened to me). The bulk of the money is, ultimately, shared between amazon and the postal services.

That's one reason I really hope Google gets into auctions - there definitely needs to be some competition in this area so prices will go down. And I trust that Google has both the financial and the technological strength to pull this off - not to mention the "do no evil" philosophy which would make me trust them to not rip me off *too* much at least.

Google? (1)

Momoru (837801) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885587)

Ok was this just a cheap Google plug? From my experience the rate of return on Google ads is usually much lower then the listing fee on ebay auctions...unless your selling some really big ticket items. But try selling one NES game or Beanie Baby by placing Google ads or a eBay listing...there is no way Google would win in that equation unless you got lucky.

E-bay road to riches 101 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12885606)

Steal a person's paypal account.
Post fake auctions.

Only North Koreans do this mind you.

There's a cost to using third party services (2, Insightful)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 9 years ago | (#12885638)

People think they can run an e-commerce shop and not do any technology or even integration. They can run the whole thing via ebay. The problem is is that there's a lot of margin getting eaten up by fees to service providers and the services aren't flexible. That, and anything that is really really easy to run is going to be subject to a lot of competition very soon and declining margins, like ebay drop shipping.

If you're on the internet you're a technology company. The same way that if you're a retail store you're to some extent in the storefront design, logistics, human resources and interior design business. At least in retail you can get into a franchise where someone has figured all this stuff out for you. With technology though there isn't a really good reason to franchise because there isn't the limited trade area issue.
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