Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Few Quick Thoughts on eBay's Analyst Day

EBay's Analyst Day was today. I have read some brief summaries of what transpired. The gist of it is that CEO John Donohoe will keep eBay on its present path, which is to attempt to gain ground on Amazon. They admit that they are losing ground to Amazon, but they feel that by continuing this plan that they will ultimately gain ground. Um, I think they are losing ground because of this plan.

Scott Wingo has a summary of today's event in his blog, eBay Strategies. Several parts are interesting, but this one part is what stood out the most for me:
Q: Can you say more about this secondary market opportunity?

A: LT - yes, the old eBay was about cleaning junk out of your house, this is about cleaning junk out of your warehouse. The stuff retailers don't want
There you have it. EBay wants the big sellers, the department stores, and the closeout stores. They do want to become Amazon 2.0. They no longer want us, the people who collect vintage items.

Ina Steiner should have some good commentary about this event in her blog tomorrow. I'll write more once I know more about it.

1 comment:

Paula said...

Amazon is not a great place for collectors to look for books. So it stands to reason, if ebay wants to be more like Amazon, they also will not be a good place to look for collectible books. Even if collectible books are placed in a separate category, i.e., Antiquarian and Collectible, ebay will be a worse place for collectors because the bargains are found when ordinary folks list books that they don't know are highly collectible. In the future, these items will be buried even deeper than they are now, and really the effort to get the info you need will not be worth it. The time investment vs. benefit ratio will not be favorable.

So what will happen is a new marketplace for vintage books (maybe Bonanzle?) will get ebay's business in that category. The more ebay succeeds in its desire to be like Amazon, the more this type of business will migrate elsewhere. Why does ebay want to compete with Amazon in the book area? Amazon's main business is selling new books - they have the edge then in selling used modern books. Ebay will never have this edge. Let Amazon have that piece of the pie. Where the ebay model excels is in the second-hand market for older books. You connect the buyers with sellers - period. The better a seller presents his product in this market, the better he or she will do, assuming there is a market for the item. The other book sites - ABE and BIBLIO just do not compete with what ebay offers in this regard. Amazon does not compete in this regard.

If I were ebay, I would try to expand my collectibles business. This is where there could be some serious money IMO if ebay was to become the preferred marketplace for all types of collectibles, and they continued to allow folks who clean out attics and scour garage sales to offer their finds. They wouldn't have to keep and maintain tons of stock pictures or descriptions - just advertise and encourage that business and provide the buyer-seller connection.

Ebay shouldn't try to be another Amazon, or another cleaning out warehouses - they should try to find ways to expand on what has made them successful in the past. Helping connect buyers with sellers. For example, the search results are becoming unmanageable -since there are so many items offered, why not provide more categories, with more specfic and/or intuitive category breakdowns. This helps sellers to list in appropriate categories and helps buyers to find items to buy more easily. More specific example off the top of my head: make a category for "Series Books", break down by "Nancy Drew", "Hardy boys", etc., further breakdown by latest copyright date, etc.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. It's getting late I better sign off. ;)