Sunday, April 25, 2010

The eBay Meltdown Part 2

On the eBay message boards, the complaints of low or no sales continue. Sellers are also complaining of fewer watchers and fewer questions getting asked about their listings. Everyone is still pointing to the end of March as when sales slowed or stopped altogether.

Quite are few people are now mentioning odd regional sales. One person reports that all sales are coming from Ohio and Texas. Another person reports all sales coming from California and North Carolina. Yet another person reports sales coming from two distinct regions of the country with nothing from the rest of the country.

Someone else says that they sell to California, Texas, and Canada. A person in New Jersey reports that nearly all sales go to California, with no sales to the surrounding states where the postage cost would be lower. Another person reports no sales for weeks then four items selling to the same city in Michigan.

Does it not sound strange? It could be an odd coincidence, but it sounds like people who live in different areas see different items.

Most people still think that the store items going to core is the reason that sales are down, and I tend to agree. I had to change my search technique in order to overcome the problems caused by all items in the results. I now search newly listed only for Buy It Nows. I then run a search for ending soonest for only auction items. What if the average buyer is not doing this? They would be able to find nothing in a search that returns many thousands of items.

We have it lucky that most series book searches return only a few hundred items. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are the worst, but those searches return under 9,000 items each. I just did a search for "cell phone" and found 369,000 results. No wonder sellers in other categories are having serious problems.

Some people point to Google at the culprit. Quite a few people have indicated that their items are suddenly very hard to find on Google, and they believe that their sales have decreased as a result.

I find this very interesting, because my Bonanzle sales from Google slowed to almost nothing back in October. The specific reason I find it interesting is that my sales from Google have started back up in just the last two weeks. I have had 11 sales since April 17, and five of them have been through Google. I have been averaging no more than one sale per month through Google since October. Hmm....

I suspect that eBay has come into disfavor in the most recent Google update, and those of us who sell on other marketplaces are benefiting as a result. While I do not like seeing people on eBay going through these problems, I have to admit that I am happy to have the Google exposure again.


Jennifer White said...

I just had another sale from Google. I have had 12 sales since April 17, and six of them have come through Google. I love that Google has turned the juice back on. I hope other Bonanzle sellers see the same results.

stratomiker said...

How do you know if a sale comes through Google? Do you have to do anything to set it up? I find Bonazle sort of annoying insofar as they don't make some things very clear.

As far as eBay is concerned, they are going the way of Wall Street, Enron, and the big banks. Something is up, probably corporate raiders have infiltrated to bring it down, or insiders are manipulating things to put more $$$ in their pockets even if it means an end result of disaster.

I saw this firsthand with Adelphia Cable in Coudersport when they used the Judy Bolton fandom as a means to channel money when the father, who was part of our group, and two of the sons embezzled $7 billion (they are now in jail!). We were only one of a couple dozen means they used to channel money. The daughter had an entertainment company in New York (Ted Turner, Jane Fonda, Elton John, Billy Joel attended her wedding in Coudersport), and we were promised Judy Bolton cable movies to be broadcast on their system; we were videotaped constantly in our explorations, but never given a copy of any of the tapes; and many other really strange things. Plainly, we were used as a front for behind the scenes activity, and you can bet it's going on at eBay now.

There is no reason why eBay would be immune from this kind of activity. They have become a Wall Street darling; somebody will get in there and manipulate things to get obscenely rich while it will result in the bad fortune of many others.

I have been loyal to eBay for a long time, but now I see their nonsensical changes hurting people, people who helped make them big, and I'm tired of it. Be prepared for a big scandal and collapse to come for eBay, and maybe an Obama bail-out.


Jennifer White said...

You know, some of the people on the message boards have mentioned the possibility of a bail out in the near future.

I have a subscriber account on Bonanzle, so I get to see some stats that you probably are not able to see. If you click on "view item stats" in My Bonanzle, you will see how many booth views and item views you have had in the past week. The booth views are to the main page of the booth, and the item views have no relation to the booth views. You have to add up the individual item views to see what that total is.

Since I have a subscriber account, I also get to see sales sources on that page. It tells me whether my recent sales have been from direct traffic, from this blog, from my website, or from Google.

Since October, nearly all of my sales have been from my website and this blog or have been direct traffic from repeat buyers. In October, Google did an update that caused Bonanzle's items to drop in the results and diminished our Google visibility. It is quite clear that Google did an update in the last two weeks that put Bonanzle back into its previous position.

Last year, I had quite a few sales through Google up to October. It is great to see that we are getting the Google exposure again, because it will bring in new buyers.

On the other hand, it may more be that people are frustrated with eBay's search results from the last few weeks and are now looking outside eBay. That could be the cause of the spike in the Google sales. In either case, I like it.

I also failed to mention that investors were disappointed in eBay's first quarter results (even though eBay played up the results as quite good), and several negative articles were published about eBay in the last week. Some people are beginning to see through the smoke screen.

Meanwhile, Amazon's sales rose tremendously during the first quarter. It seems that eBay's loss is Amazon's gain. The irony is that eBay changed in order to try to beat Amazon at its own game.

Paula said...

Why do people think the government would bail out ebay? That makes no sense to me whatsoever.... Can someone explain the logic? Although bigger than most, it's just another online business and one that provides a service not any real product.

Paula said...

Regarding Google product search results, I have found a way to show up (sometimes). If you go to "Batch Edit Items" and then select Search Optimize on the left-hand side, it will show you the Item Search Attributes that are sent to Google for each of your items. Before you change anything, the attributes you will see are the ones that you set up with values in the Item Traits fields.

I researched a bit how Google product search works, and found that the Product Type attribute is important. I developed my own Product Type attributes using Google's predefined product type groupings for books (ones that would be appropriate for Nancy Drew books) and added some further breakdown at the end to try to hit on search criteria that might be entered in the hunt for vintage ND books. I also developed some Feature attributes and others that I thought might be helpful. I then used batch edit to add these attributes to all my items. Here is what my item search attributes look like now:

binding:Hardcover; condition:used; author:Carolyn Keene; feature:picture cover; publisher:Grosset & Dunlap; feature:vintage; product_type:Media > Books > Fiction > Mystery Novels > Nancy Drew; product_type:Media > Books > Vintage Nancy Drew; product_type:Media > Books > Fiction > Vintage Nancy Drew; feature:yellow spine PC; product_type:Media > Books > Fiction > Childrens Books > Nancy Drew; year:1962

Some of these come automatically from item traits and others I added manually. You have to use the format exactly as specified on the search optimize screen when adding your own attributes. Fortunately, when you add new items by duplicating old ones, all of these search attributes are copied, and the item trait attributes are modified if you change them when editing the item, so all that is good.

I'm not sure this really helped to be truthful. If I enter "Vintage Nancy Drew Whistling Bagpipes" in Google search, my book is usually one of those shown in the Google Product results. But if I search for "Vintage Nancy Drew Broken Locket" a book that I have added recently doesn't show up. I don't know if it will in a few weeks, but for now it's not. So anyway, just wanted to report and share what I had done that had "some" success. Perhaps whatever they did recently to make Bonanzle more visible is now making this type of optimization ineffective. I don't mind as long as Bonanzle items are showing up in Google searches!

Paula said...

I just found something else out! Do a Google search for "Nancy Drew Broken Locket" or any book. Then after the results come up, click on "Shopping" at the top of the page. Our books are shown there! When I search on "Vintage Nancy Drew Broken Locket" my book is the only one shown, so perhaps that is why they don't show Google Product Search results on the main page for that search. Interesting!

Jennifer White said...

Thanks for posting your observations, Paula. I need to check into it sometime soon. I know I could do more for exposure than what I am doing.

I have looked at the Google Analytics data for my booth, and I want to write a post about what I noticed. Okay, I really need to start listing everything I want to write about so that I don't forget.