Monday, April 19, 2010

The eBay Meltdown

A large number of sellers are complaining about a lack of sales on eBay since March 27. Some sellers state that they have had no sales and that it is not normal for what they sell. Other sellers have noticed a dramatic decrease in views and in sales. A few sellers report that their business is as usual.

I can report that I unsuccessfully tried to sell two large lots of books in the last month. I tried three times, and the last time, I lowered my prices significantly. My items had close to no views until the very last day, and the lots had very few watchers. I have never seen such a lack of interest in those kind of lots. I gave up.

On eBay's community boards, quite a few message threads exist with numerous posts from people discussing the lack of item views and lack of sales. The message threads contain so many common complaints from so many different people that there must be something wrong with eBay.

I would link to one or more message threads, but the last time I did that, the message thread got deleted fast. Why should I put up a sign pointing them out to the entire world? People who work for eBay do monitor what is said about eBay on the web. This is why I had to change the comment settings in this blog to allow only people who have a Google account. I had to make it harder for people to bash me because of my comments about eBay. I did not appreciate being told that I should be "grateful" to eBay for the changes.

With regard to the message threads scattered around eBay's community boards, many people think that eBay placing the store items into the core search results is responsible for their lack of sales. Others are certain that eBay's search has several serious glitches.

I skimmed through the various message threads, which contain a huge amount of information, and here are the main points that I remember.
  1. Across the board, everyone is reporting a steep drop in sales beginning on March 27. Some people are also pointing back to March 7 as the date when traffic began to dip. Top-rated sellers and small sellers alike are reporting this steep drop and are all pointing back to March 7 and March 27.

  2. Some people report that store items are not in core in their results. This has been confirmed on AuctionBytes. Some people think it is a browser issue, while others think it is a glitch. I recall someone stating that customer service mentioned a glitch.

  3. A test search is being conducted by eBay that supposedly affects only a small number of users. In the test search, some items are not shown to buyers. This could have a negative impact on the sellers of the items that are not shown.

  4. One person reported that when the title of a listing was copied and pasted into the form during the creation of another listing that the second listing was not searchable due to a control character added by eBay to the title as a result of a glitch. This person reported that the glitch was mentioned by customer service and that advice was given always to type the listing titles.

  5. Many people are now reporting odd patterns in sales, like one sale every four days or sales to just one part of the country then all sales switch to a different part of the country. There do seem to be quite a few people reporting these patterns. This is why many people believe in the rolling blackout conspiracy theory.

    I now believe that something like a rolling blackout is occurring, but I do not believe it is a conspiracy. More likely, eBay's servers are out of sync and displaying incorrect totals, and the traffic is too high on some servers and people are redirected to other servers. I now feel confident that something is wrong, but I disagree with the belief in a conspiracy. It is probably gross incompetence on eBay's part.

    I saw another item this weekend in a completed items search that I never saw before it closed. I cannot account for why I never saw it, unless eBay never displayed it in my search results.

  6. A number of people have reported that the store items that were switched to fixed-price by eBay have had no traffic, but the few items that expired naturally and were relisted have had normal traffic. These people believe that a glitch is causing many store items to be invisible until they expire and are relisted.

  7. Several people report that they have spoken to people at their post offices who have reported a sharp decrease in the number of packages mailed by eBay sellers. If true, this is very interesting.

  8. Multiple people are reporting starting valuable items at $0.99 in auctions, getting very few views and very few watchers, and having the items sell well below value.

  9. Various people are stating that they intend to start up a website in order to drive traffic to their eBay listings. This is amazing. Those of us who sell on alternative venues with low fees by necessity must drive traffic to our listings. It has always been assumed that by listing on the behemoth eBay that one's traffic is guaranteed, which is why the fees were justifiable. If people now have to drive traffic to their eBay listings, perhaps they are better off on Bonanzle.

  10. Perhaps most interesting of all is that while eBay's auctions have declined sharply, Goodwill's auctions on its own website are flourishing. Goodwill's site is simple and... an awful lot like eBay was back in the very beginning. Can you imagine that? People like it simple and uncluttered. It's too bad that the only sellers are the Goodwill stores, or I'd jump on board.
According to AuctionBytes, "eBay's traffic for the month of March was at a 6-year low compared to previous March numbers." For this reason, I believe that eBay is faltering, and sellers have just cause to be worried. Something is seriously wrong with eBay.

In my opinion, the service now provided by eBay no longer justifies the high fees.

1 comment:

stratomiker said...

I'm amazed at all the continual changes. Why do they keep pick-pick-picking at it? The fees have gone up so high that you can't sell any more for a low reasonable price. And fixed-price item fees have gone way up. Why? For a while they urged you to use 'postage free' items, but you have to pay a sale fee on the included postage and that's gone way up too. I just can't imagine what they are aiming at, other than to drive everyone away.

For example, if you sell a recent paperback for $4.99 postage free, you have to pay 90 cents final fee plus a 5 cents listing fee, if you use item specifics. That's a dollar. It costs $2 to mail it, plus the cost of an envelope, plus Paypal fees too - so you're talking almost $4 cost. Gosh, you get to make MAYBE $1 on such a sale?

With the new fees, you have to fix-price the book at $1.99 and charge $3 postage. That way you pay the eBay fee only on the price of the book - not on the postage cost.

This is really discouraging the Fixed-Price and Postage-Free modes of selling, which just a while ago they were trying to steer everyone to do!

I have had good luck with the 99 cents auctions, but only with recent paperbacks, like mysteries and romances (I recently got a huge collection of them). A lot of these get bid up to where you can actually make some money, and many of the buyers go for multiple copies, so it all adds up.

But not for the series books. I won't do a 99 cent auction on even a yellow PC. If it doesn't get bid up to something decent, you totally lose out.

It totally beats me what eBay is trying to do. The changes can't possibly make them more money because they are just driving people away. What is their point? How can they expect us to continue to sell items when there is hardly any profit left (on most items) after the staggering fees? And you have to remember the Paypal fees too!

I've been putting my series books items on Bonanzle. I think eBay's days as a 'collectible' site are fading - and maybe they want that. Maybe they want to be just a big online Walmart with everyday stuff, and the heck with all the vintage items that made them popular?