Why eBay Keeps Getting Shoppers

    January 31, 2009
    Chris Crum

You can hardly talk about eBay without bringing out the disgust in all of the people who feel they have been wronged by the eCommerce giant. This group is comprised mostly of sellers who feel eBay has treated them with anything but respect, particularly since changing feedback policies in early 2008 (of course that’s not the only thing they don’t like. See my top ten list of seller frustrations).

Although buyers have had their own fair share of complaints about eBay as well, it still continues to be one of the leading places that online shoppers go to purchase goods, although retail comparison site JiffyPrice recently showed that Amazon has lower prices on many items that are available for immediate purchase.

eBay vs Amazon prices

"This goes to show how much savvy consumers can save by a very quick bit of shopping around," says JiffyPrice Founder Niall Thewlis. "However, most consumers don’t have the time to compare prices with umpteen different online retailers before making a purchase. We’ve simplified matters greatly, so that shoppers can quickly compare the price of an item between only Amazon and eBay, the two giants of online retail, in just a couple of seconds. We include only these retailers because they’re the ones that most people have used in the past and feel comfortable buying from."

Well that is one possible answer to the question. People feel comfortable buying from eBay (not everyone granted). Why do they feel comfortable? Because of the brand that eBay has established over the years.

Frustrated eBay sellers continue to flock to other sites to sell their goods, but none of them (Amazon excluded perhaps) carry the brand power that eBay does, and therefore can’t possibly attract the number of customers that it can.

While not all eBay sellers are unhappy with the site, it seems that the core of them are. It is interesting to see a site that is driven by users continue to thrive despite the boycotting of many of those users who have helped it thrive in the first place. That is brand power.

There are plenty other sites out there that could compete with eBay, based on the testimonials from users who urge fellow ex-eBayers to use them. Yet we don’t really see any of them emerging as a real threat to eBay. eBay is to online auctions what Google is to search. Whenever someone cleans out their closet, they’re encouraged to sell their stuff on eBay by their friends or family. I haven’t often heard “eBay” used as a verb like with “Google,” but it might as well be one. “I have Sinbad’s autograph. I wonder how much I could get for that on eBay.”  Statements like that are commonplace (minus the Sinbad part).

Because people think about eBay as a place to sell stuff from their own closet, they also think there is a good chance to get some cool stuff that came out of somebody else’s. And they’re often right. This cool stuff could just as easily be listed on another site as well, but eBay is the first name that comes to mind. If any other competing site wants to truly leave a dent in eBay’s market share, it’s going to have to so some really effective marketing.