Is eBay Trying To Be Something That It’s Not?

    October 26, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

This week, eBay announced the launch of some new personalization and curation features for the eBay Marketplace, and that it is expanding its efforts in local commerce, including the extension of its eBay Now delivery service into 25 new markets by the end of the year.

Will these offerings keep sellers around and buyers interested in shopping with the ecommerce giant once simply known as an auction site? Share your thoughts on eBay’s current direction.

It has been about a year since eBay unveiled its Pinterest-like feed design, which it rolled out to users in February. Now, eBay is continuing in the Pinterest/Etsy-esque direction, launching five new specific features: Collections, Curators, Follow, Profiles and eBay Today.

Collections are described as groups of products that have ben handpicked by “expert curators, buyers and sellers.” Curators are “top trendsetters across a variety of interest areas, who create beautiful collections on eBy to help you easily connect you with items you’ll love.’

At least they didn’t say “tastemakers.”

eBay Collections

The Follow feature lets eBay users personalize their feeds by following collections, curators or regular eBay users, as well as specific interests. The Profile is pretty basic. It applies to both buyers and sellers, and lets you share info about yourself, the collections you’ve created, your interests, and the people you follow.

eBay Collections

Finally, eBay Today is a new page aimed at helping users discover “the very best collections of items” on eBay, selected by the company’s Chief Curator and Editorial Director Michael Phillips Moskowitz.

eBay Today

eBay has 200 curators including: Alexandra Cousteau, Andrea Linett, Ashley Avignon, Benjamin Clymer, Billy Farrell, Brian Walton, Cecilia Dean , Chris Benz, Chrissie Miller, Darcy Miller, Eddie Borgo, Graham Hill, Janie Bryant, Jauretsi, Jen Atkin, Jeremiah Brent, Jon Rose, Justin Bell, Kelly Oxford, Lucy Sykes, Pharrell Williams, Richard Rawlings, Ryan Block, Solange Knowles, Tenzin Wild, Todd Selby, Veronica Belmont, and Zem Joaquin.

eBay tells sellers, “This new experience puts great new tools in your hands for driving sales and developing loyal, repeat customers. You can use the new collections, following, and eBay profile to transform moments of inspiration into purchases of your great inventory. We’ll also be introducing new features and an exciting new look for your eBay Store. From bigger, bolder listing images to new ways to spotlight inventory and share on social media, subscribers will soon have even more tools available to them to turn browsers into buyers. All sellers will have this option by the end of January 2014! ”

I have to say, the discussion out there around these features from what I seen has basically consisted of tumbleweeds. One reader, however (commenting on this very article) makes an interesting point, saying, “The new Follow/Social Trending features on eBay are the silliest and most useless things to happen to date. Stop trying to make the web site something that it is not. eBay does not equal Facebook, Twitter, etc.”

Is eBay in fact trying to be something that it’s not? Must everything consist of social/follow features? Frankly, I personally don’t have a lot of use for them on a site like eBay, but perhaps a substantial amount of people do. It will be interesting to see how the enormous eBay community engages with these features over time. Will sellers really see a significant difference?

The local stuff, on the other hand, may just turn out to be huge for businesses and consumers alike. We’re talking rapid delivery of products, and it’s only the very early days of this roll-out.

eBay Now was first introduced a year ago. It lets shoppers have products from local stores delivered to them in an hour or less. As mentioned, it’s expanding into 25 new markets. It goes live in Chicago on Tuesday, and then in Dallas later this year. This will be followed by unspecified international markets, including London early next year.

eBay Now

eBay also plans to offer eBay Now same-day delivery for local goods on eBay.com in cities that have the service. eBay will also release scheduled delivery for eBay Now so that customers can buy something and pick an appropriate time to have it delivered to them.

In addition to that, eBay is letting shoppers order online and pick up products at local stores. This particular feature is live immediately for Toys ‘R’ Us and Best Buy, and will be for other retailers in the near future.

Finally, the company announced that it has acquired Shutl, a marketplace that utilizes a network of couriers to deliver local goods on the same day. The pick-up should help eBay its expansion efforts for eBay Now.

“The world is changing, with the lines between online and offline commerce blurring and the expectations of buyers and sellers rising rapidly,” said Devin Wenig, president of eBay Marketplaces. “With eBay’s latest steps, we are bringing together the best of what people need from a shopping experience – speed and convenience – with things people love about shopping, like discovery and inspiration.”

“eBay is a technology company; we understand that retailers, brands and sellers of all sizes need a new set of solutions to deliver the kinds of experiences consumers expect in today’s environment,” he said. “We’re making fundamental changes to our business that put us in a position to be the right partner for merchants and the best place for people to shop – anytime, anywhere and on any device.”

Are you an eBay seller? We’d love to hear your reaction to eBay’s announcements. If you’re not a seller, do any of the announcements make you want to reconsider? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image: BusinessWire

  • ebay user

    Hey Michael Phillips Moskowitz, the new Follow/Social Trending features on eBay are the silliest and most useless things to happen to date. Stop trying to make the web site something that it is not. eBay does not equal Facebook, Twitter, etc.

  • http://www.myfloridashop.com Rose

    I agree the new features are useless, they should concentrate on letting the sellers personalize their stores. You can’t put anything on the pages, it all looks the same all across ebay. Even if you change the theme it looks cold and boring, you can’t add a personal message when you want to the features are all hard to find and use. Nothing is like a regular e-commerce site, why because it is an auction site.

  • Bob Rodriguez

    My wife uses e-bay religiously, both as a buyer and a seller.


  • Pamela Grow

    eBay has been on a downward spiral ever since Meg Whitman was at the helm. First mistake: trying to compete with amazon, rather than highlighting the uniqueness that was eBay. Second mistake: treating sellers like dirt with progressively increased fees (out of over 100 sellers I had saved four years ago, two remain). A brilliant, brilliant concept that has, basically, gone to shit. I’m a former powerseller, and long time buyer. Amazon is now my marketplace of choice.

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  • http://games-searches.com Khen

    Wow is only i can say for now

  • http://www.mormozine.com/ Mormo

    Ebay recently stopped paying it’s affiliates. I guess they are using that money to pay the curators?

  • eBay15years

    It appears the business model eBay started with has changed – now the push is to encourage the big store sellers who can deliver high end trendy products within an hour anywhere in the country – the nuts and bolts sellers are being shown the door. The people I feel for are those who gave up jobs thinking they could make a living selling on the site.

  • Diane

    Didn’t you all know that MBA stand for MULTIPLE BAD ACTIONS?

  • http://webbeetle.com.au/ webbetle

    eBay’s vendor fees of 10% of all sales are a killer; as long as they keep these as high I guess the turn over will not increase much…
    I’m currently buying a lot online, I research many products and prices online, often through eBay. But once it comes to ordering I tend to search if an eBay vendor has his own online shop. Surprise: most commercial vendors do, and in almost all cases are cheaper through their own shop – most simply add the seller’s fee to their eBay price! So to me eBay has become nothing but another search engine.

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  • http://accentmas.co.uk Kate

    Ebay used to be known as THE place to bargain hunt, and as aseller I hunted bargains to offer ot the bargain hunters successfully, however, then the Big Boys moced in, the TKMAx, Marks and SPencer and other huge companies who wiped us out; as someone else said, the ‘nuts and bolts’ sole traders and small businesses who built Ebay are disappearing. The rules and idiotic policies and high fees drove us away, the charges for a store that you can’t personalise drove us away, the cases opened against sellers that a 5 year old could see were not genuine, just a consumer trying to get somehting for nothing that resulkted in sellers getting poor feedback, lower discounts – they think they own ALL online sales and coupled with PayPal theya re certainly going that way. I am raw about Ebay, they have just about closed me down due to their ‘sorry we removed your listing in error, we will reinstate it’ yeah, at the bottom of the listings, after wriring to all my customers who had ordered and telling them that they should apply for a refund, AND wiping out all sales data for that week….I won’t be relisting on ebay, the worry just isn’t worth it. Go to the website please – it accentmas.co.uk!

  • http://www.stevefreemanonline.com/2013/10/reasons-for-leaving-ebay/ Steve Freeman

    After 11 years of trading on ebay and a similar period as an ebay affiliate the latest increase in fees on postage and changes to the affiliate 7 day cookie reducing to one day have finally led to me abandon eBay as a business platform. If the affiliate forums are anything to go buy ebay must be seeing a drop in traffic and earnings.

  • http://www.mickisuzanne.com Micki Suzanne

    I’m a marketing writer, author of How to Sell Vintage & Gold Jewelry Online. (My second book about selling on eBay.) eBay is changing names of key processes faster than I can edit; what the heck. This is SO CONFUSING for newbies. In this economy the focus should MORE THAN EVER be on helping new folks be smart about selling possessions and goods. I embrace the easy access to Facebook and use it regularly, but all the other options seem like overkill. You’re blurring your core services eBay; love you but KEEP IT REAL.


  • http://photogitems.com Eamonn

    I am a seller on ebay now for over 5 years. While my first three years saw an increase in sales each year. Ebay started to fix things that were not broken, as a result sales for the past two years are declining this year I am down 30% over last year.
    I have done everything eBay has asked I have more listings then I ever had. I am a top rated seller 100% positive feedback, but ebay sales still decline This month October I have seen the worst month of the year.
    It is time for eBay to get back to the basics

    • http://www.mickisuzanne.com Micki Suzanne

      Totally agree; I’m shocked how slow sales are considering the big stores are advertising for Christmas already. It’s super annoying, but I expected it would give us a bump.

  • http://frommtaxes.wordpress.com/ STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION)

    Looks like they are selling out to the big guys. And based on some of the above comments a lot of small and loyal businesses were not considered. Looks like EBay has a big identity crises. It will be interesting to see if their gambit here will pay off.

  • steve smith

    Null arguments >>
    As a seller I am able to inject whatever message or HTML I want into my store pages for free. I can do the same to my auction and sale pages. <>
    As a seller I am paying (9% of (sale + shipping)) as a fee.
    As a seller I am paying ($0.30 + 2.9%) of sale transaction as a fee.
    As a seller I am paying $1.69 for the cheapest USPS delivery w/ tracking.
    Perfect Example:
    If I bought an item wholesale (earphones) for $0.80 and wanted to sell it for $1 I would need to charge the buyer $3.11 to make that $0.20 while eBay/PayPal make $0.42 on that very sale and I pay $1.69 for USPS to ship the inside US city to city. This means the customer pays an extra $2.11 to not go to a dollar store…

    Keep in mind that the cheapest USPS with tracking is >>> $1.69 <<<

    Anti-American US Policy:
    An eBay purchase on an item from China (say an mp3 player) gets shipped here with tracking for the total price of $1.29
    The item is dropped into my mailbox with tracking by a USPS carrier.

    How does China pay less than $1.69?
    How much do they pay eBay/PayPal on a $1.29 sale?
    HOW does China get free USPS delivery and tariff???

    – !@#$%^ WTF !@#$%^

    More Anti-American from Congress:
    Congress is attempting to put a national sales tax on all internet purchases in America. Does the US government also want eBay sellers to fail?

    • Previous Power Seller

      Well put Steve,
      its difficult for buyers to understand just how little revenue goes to the seller and is raped from our bottom line – ebay+paypal double fees & Nazi-like rules including censoring any negative speech or complaints about their Co. in the forums.

      I used to be a power seller, until eBay CEO’s upturned every selling standards and sense of fairness that infringed the most basic of good faith business ethics. Now, as in this article, eBay is catering to large retailers – not realizing the this balancing act relies on the fine line of shipping costs. When USPS prices skyrocketed this year, it upset the scales and irreversibly wounded international sales. Now, since our sales and shipping costs are mortally intertwined as a ‘single fee’, we have absolutely no recourse. its called FeeBay for a reason.

      Sellers DO NOT dictate the true costs of shipping, yet are now responsible for it as added revenue to eBay ? WTF. Now that eBay has let giant merchants shoulder their way in and suffocated the smaller sellers who FOUNDED ebay as its backbone over all these years, since the upturn of the USPS/Postal system prices; now is losing sales to these same double-faced giant retailers who sell the same products they USE eBay to advertise on, but offer discounts and free shipping when customers purchase from their own official online merchant websites. Thus, they don’t have pay a dime for any sale that doesn’t go through eBay, even though they’ve flooded the market and drowned out the original and smaller sellers.

      Now, ebay looks pretty much all the same, littered with advertisements and click ads to snag the impulse buyers, as it tries to sate the gluttony of its own greed.

      They (eBay CEO’s) entirely forgot to calculate that buyers/customers are intelligent enough to SEARCH for the best deals online (eBay was the key market for unique/cheap items) but now find a better price for their money elsewhere.

      eBay crippled its sellers, especially the lower cost items which are what customers originally came here to find ~ but no more…

      …so as above, what idiot would pay over $3 for 1 set of earphones when they could buy x3 of them for less? they wouldn’t, period.

  • sarkey

    I’m a former power seller on eBay as well & I agree with most of the comments above. Years back, when eBay started courting buyers over sellers & creating ridiculous rules on refunding, mailing costs, payment form, etc. I left as fast as my little online fingers would carry me. I now use eBay only to search for prices/solds & to get an idea where the market is. eBay’s an unwieldly dinosaur & the “personalizing” is just copying all the other socializing selling sites, along with a dose of Pinterest. Wow, the power of Pinterest – now that’s a better story! (Everybody wants a bite of their ingenious Apple). I like Amazon a lot better than eBay for selling. Too bad the eBay powers-that-be treated some of their “little-guy” sellers. like me, with such disdain they drove us elsewhere.

  • http://www.flaminghotmedia.com FHM

    We have a lot of clients hat are not wanting to join ebay, wanting to be taken off ebay and new and inexperienced clients asking if people do see it still, as a place where people go to buy things cheap. I personally think long term wise, ebay has got this tag and it will take a while for it too change. We are finding that more clients are wanting to open up on Amazon. Market place, and no matter what changes ebay makes, the thought is still that ebay is where you go to buy things cheap, imported electronics, second hand goods, and a place where you maybe ripped off. Serious sellers we deal with do not want to cheapen their brand by using ebay.

  • http://www.jlgleather.com JLG Leather

    We used to have a store on ebay, and tried it for a good 6 months or so, but we got sick of the high return rate after people had worn items for a do, then returned it as not received. We didn’t refund people but ebay were not on outside and were making it difficult for us to work there, so we pulled the plug. I also believe like the FHM that ebay is a place people goto buy something cheap and second hand, and if I may say so, not the type of customer we want, as it caused a lot of headaches and time wasting, compared to using other channels. If you want to see a pair of second hand jeans, or a load of kiddies clothes, then ebay is good for that, but any serious business I think will do better elsewhere like we do.

  • Tbiz

    I’m an eBay affiliate aka Partner, and am very concerned. They just switched back to straight percentage commission from a quality click algorhythm format, which would be totally fine, except they went to 24 hour cookie length. This is really killing affiliates. It’s a slot machine game now.

  • http://www.ealtbay.com/ Frank Simmons

    EBay stated better than three years ago that they wanted to be an Amazon like ecommerce site, and wished to depreciate the core auction business and its attendant problems. I see this move towards quickly delivering products, in targeted products, as another step in that change of business model. Sadly, they are pricing out their auction sellers, and sending them to other alternate online sites.

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  • Jack

    I believe they have a good chance of losing many of their current buyers and sellers; particularly if someone else comes along with a site more tailored to the small buyer/seller format of the original eBay.

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  • Tony

    Like all succesful enterprises in this glorious age of bullshit, they are never satisfied with vast fortunes, they have to diversify into other fields because they are so greedy. This is why we have banks doing other than banking and investing in dubious schemes and losing our money in the process! De-regulation was a big mistake and so now we have a free-for-all situation which is confusing and chaotic to say the least.

  • http://swancreekbridal.com Tammy

    Thank you for all the input. Was thinking of adding a store on EBay have to rethink.

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