Poll: Can eBay Right the Ship?

By Josh Catone
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eBay is caught between a rock and a hard place, and their share price is reflecting that, hitting a new five year low today. According to Morgan Stanley analyst David Joseph, who downgraded eBay today, the reason for eBay’s poor performance is an inability “to compete in buyer experience” with other online sellers. Joseph says that buyers are now looking for a simple buying experience, and the auction format isn’t that.

People also like and expect features like free shipping and one-click ordering that eBay — which isn’t actually controlling the sale of goods — has less leeway to offer, says Joseph. Not surprisingly, eBay’s share of the ecommerce market, according to Morgan Stanley, has fallen 2% over the past couple of years, while Amazon’s has grown a point and a half.

For all their troubles with shifting buyer attitudes, the biggest point of trouble for eBay might be with sellers — the site’s lifeblood. As we reported in August, eBay’s moves to please buyers, which have included putting more emphasis on fixed price auctions and policy changes such as turning off negative feedback against buyers, have not been popular with sellers. Many sellers feel that eBay has lost its soul and are now looking elsewhere to sell their goods.

Purveyors of handmade products are moving to sites like Etsy, while sellers of the antique, used, or collectible items that eBay originally built its business on are being pushed to classifieds sites like Craigslist. Meanwhile, fixed price sellers have opportunities to sell on other sites, such as Amazon, which can even also handle fulfillment.

So a question for you: Can eBay save itself?

[poll id=6]

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  • Anonymously

    As a buyer and seller on eBay for almost 7 years, I have become extremely disappointed with eBay. I love old things and eBay was the perfect online flea market/yard sale. There use to be so many items to chose from in every category. Those were rare, difficult to find anywhere items. I actually could make some money on eBay at one time selling items to make money for my collections. It is more and more difficult to sell items on eBay even those the selection has decreased. eBay has taken the fun out of buying and selling. The fee increases and the change in feedback and those fantasy DSR’s…. There really is something to the phrase: “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”. eBay had a gold mine and they are destroying it. Especially right now, Mr. Donahue’s hated small seller, flea market venue would be a welcome sight. The price of gas, people can’t afford to drive all over to go to yard sales. Just sit at their computer and shop. If we all wanted new we would go to Walmart, Mr. Donahue.

  • aNYmousLyon

    The poll is inadequate, because the first two choices do not adequately address the complex problems with eBay. My experience is virtually identical to Anonymously. With close to 1,000 all-positive feedback, save a neutral (which was a negative for a while?) from a buyer that blamed me for USPS performance (when I shipped the day payment arrived), I can clearly and objectively evaluate eBay’s failures. eBay was originally a “venue”, but increasingly set itself on a greed-infected path of destruction. I would say self-destruction, but it has destroyed incentive for a large portion of its members along the way. eBay has failed to provide mandatory-training to new members and has unleashed anybody (no matter how unfit for participation) into the marketplace, with only a suggestion that they review mediocre-instructions on how to perform (this includes both buyers and sellers). I consistently see experienced sellers (moreso with new sellers) inadequately describe functionality and cosmetics of items they sell. The problem here being the buyer can not hold and inspect the item in person. Buyers rarely ask questions and tend to blame sellers for their own failures (including buyer remorse). Far too many buyers have no idea the troubles (auction writeups, pictures, fees, communications, non-payers, switch-artist-scammers, etc.) sellers face. Communication has been poor in almost every case where a problem resulted. eBay has consistently raised fees and misrepresented those fees as being a savings to the sellers. eBay has consistently played with the system, but has added no real value for their increases in fees. They have charged fees in advance, while not insuring the seller is paid. eBay bought PayPal and is doing its best to force its use by sellers in order to grab an ever-growing cut of the sellers’ take. eBay has been allowing problem members to remain or easily return with a new ID. Josh has included a few other issues and I could go on for pages. eBay could be fixed, but it will fail if it doesn’t radically change 75%+ of what it has done (and failed to do). It only remains afloat because it has monopolized the market. If another site can provide the venue with adequate manditory-training and protection for members, along with truly-permanent expulsion of problem people…at a fair price…eBay will drop off the face of the earth within a couple months.

  • paypal abuse

    One of the great problems with eBay from a sellers point of view is that PAypal can reverse a payment when the buyer is irresponsible.
    for example, we sell moving pack which are quite heavy and cost £10 to £15 to ship.
    A buyer will buy this and change their mind after the item has been shipped. Usually the problem is that they bought the item too late to be delivered by the weekend. buying late afternoon on Thursdays. or they were not at home for the first delivery and 2nd delivery would be too late.

    what they do, and this is happening to us regularly, is refuse or deliberately not facilitate delivery. the item will then be retuned to sender at cost of £25 at least.
    what do paypal do in this case? they will reverse the payment to the seller.
    this has happened to us several times and they are encouraging this irresponsible selfish behaviour. we have to pay the £25 return shipping and the paypal take back the full payment. no effort is made to help recover the £25.

    we have a returns policy that would refund the purchase and outward shipping if the goods are returned within 7 days. paypal do not tell the buyers that they should receive the goods and ship it back for a full refund.
    instead they will reverse the payment leaving the seller to pick up the £25 charge. even if the buyer tells paypal that they deliberately refused delivery, they will still give a full refund at sellers expense.

    this is encouraging people to change their mind about their purchase and refuse delivery and leave the seller to pick up the pieces.
    I am thinking of moving to our own web sales with a Google checkout.

    eBay/paypal need to address this issue. sellers like us will leave eBay if they can not address this issue.

  • the ebay fees is too high and too many,I will say good to ebay~~~

  • There is no hope for ebay or its short-sighted board of directors and its CEO. It truly can be said that when something’s not broke, don’t fix it but, upper management thought they knew best and took a mega-giant money making machine and figured they knew what works.

    Problem is that they have no clue what works and each time they attempt to fix the last “fix” they send themselves deeper into the abyss. Then again, what do corporate flunkies care about more than anything else? Their own perks and stock options! They have no direct stake in ebay’s success (such as their sellers) as they already have their departure plans in place and golden parachutes at the ready.

    PESA accounts for 400M per year in sales on ebay and they should have been knocking down ebay’s door a long time ago. Now PESA members look about as idiotic as their fellow ebay parrots (in upper management) who sold them ALL on a future, which did not seem to include them. Now PESA cries “wolf” while ebay upper management goes “woof” “woof” as the tail was truly wagging the dog the entire time. The back doors deals between it ebay and its select group sellers, is ripe for some type of investigation.

    What will ruin ebay is its faceless, uncaring upper management team who systematically make all the wrong decisions. The shareholders have spoken and ebay stock has gone from a 52 week high of $40.00 per share down to $18.00 per share. The true indicator of ebay is its stock price and no one is really taking much stock in ebay’s management team, their style nor their ideals for the future.