eBay Picks Buyers Over Small-Time Sellers

from the changing-times dept

Every time we've mentioned eBay lately, we've received a long list of complaints in the comments about how awful eBay is. It's become quite clear that there's plenty of dissatisfaction with the company -- and a big part of the problem seems to be figuring out who eBay is really representing: buyers or sellers. In theory, as an impartial marketplace, eBay should be able to serve both sides. After all, you need both sides to be happy to make the marketplace truly effective. However, with growing concerns of fraud on eBay, it seems that the company has recognized that it's more important to focus on improving the experience for buyers -- and less so for sellers, especially the smaller sellers. Witness eBay's recent change to ban sellers from offering feedback on buyers. Apparently too many sellers were using that feature to "retaliate" against any buyer that left negative feedback, and that was distorting seller ratings, often upsetting buyers.

An even bigger indication may be recent deals that eBay has done with big-time sellers, such as Buy.com, who has apparently worked out a special deal with eBay to list various products at fixed prices, with no listing fee. This has plenty of sellers seriously pissed off, as they can't compete with Buy.com in those product areas, but it probably provides a better user experience for buyers -- many of whom just want a cheap price from a trusted seller, and are getting sick of long, drawn out auctions. Of course, for you dot com history buffs, it's a bit ironic to remember that before eBay came along, the "leader" in the online auction space was OnSale -- who did very similar deals with big companies to sell off their inventory. Then eBay came along and its person-to-person sales model pretty much doomed OnSale. Either way, this makes you wonder if this trend will continue, and how it will impact eBay overall. The big sellers may fill in some of the gaps, but it changes the nature of what eBay's platform really provides.
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Filed Under: buyers, marketplace, sellers
Companies: buy.com, ebay

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  1. identicon
    Bill, 16 Jul 2008 @ 9:00pm

    I'd like to make my Very Biased vote for Bonanzle (http://www.bonanzle.com).

    OK, the bad news first -- we just launched a couple months ago so our daily traffic is still low. However, we are in the process of syndicating all of our items on Oodle and Google Base (should be fully setup by end of week), so when you post an item on Bonanzle, you're still exposed to thousands of buyers daily.

    The good news? Bonanzle was built by a team that has seen what the eBay copycats have tried, and we've tried to learn from their mistakes.

    With as little hoopla as possible, here's a couple of the difference between Bonanzle and our competitors:

    * We're simpler and more intuitive to navigate
    * We let buyers and sellers chat and transact in real time (built in chat in every store, you can chat from your browser or your IM client)
    * Posting items on Bonanzle is more user friendly than any comparable site -- we look up a good price/description for your item when you're posting it, we let you take one picture of many items and crop it, and we have a 0-page-load process for selling items.

    (And we're free, and we import items from eBay and Craigslist).

    We are small, but visit our site and you'll see we're dead serious about becoming a Craigslist/eBay hybrid without all the hangups. We just need some experienced buyers and sellers to help us season to taste.

    Bill Harding

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