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How Amazon and Google are taking eBay's Business 289

Posted by timothy
from the aye-you-betcha dept.
prostoalex writes "Wall Street Journal says many online sellers who started on eBay are now going solo, being helped out by 'name-your-own-price' Amazon Marketplace and Google's and Yahoo's advertising programs, which allow small businesses to direct their ads to search engine users interested in specific items. The article discusses several companies where online sellers, being disappointed with eBay's falling profit margins, increasing fees, disruptions coming from PayPal account freezes and high fraud rate, are leaving eBay. Many start with setting up their own sites, continuing to do business on eBay, but then switching to solo e-commerce entirely after looking at profit margins."
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How Amazon and Google are taking eBay's Business

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:15PM (#12885208)
    controls keyword spamming and curtails the megasellers
    • by Col. Bloodnok (825749) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:23PM (#12885258)
      Lying about the location needs to be sorted out too.

      I'm sick and tired of searching for items in the UK and having to sort through pages and pages of crap from Hong Kong (which seem cheap until you look at the shipping costs).
      • They should show the postage cost next to the item price. Then you could just avoid looking at the items with high postage costs.
      • I think you're one step away from addressing the real issue... what ebay needs to fix is SHIPPING COSTS. You have to carefully read every listing to have any idea what the bid amount really means, because it's useless until you add on the shipping!

        pricewatch [pricewatch.com] saved itself from ruin by adding shipping costs into the advertized prices. It's long past time for ebay to do the same!

        • "What ebay needs to fix is SHIPPING COSTS. You have to carefully read every listing to have any idea what the bid amount really means, because it's useless until you add on the shipping!"

          Shipping to WHERE? Unless the person uses a flat-rate service like USPS Expre$$ Mail, shipping increases with the distance.

          • by lorelorn (869271) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @08:56PM (#12886173)
            Shipping to where I am of course.

            Sellers routinely advertise what the different shipping rates are. As a registered user my location is known to the site- why can't it just indicate the shipping costs for items I'm looking at, or say if they are not mentioned?



            eBay already allows you to view by availability to your locaiton, they just need to take it one step further.

    • That's a bold statement considering 2005Q1 revenues increased 36% over 2004Q1 to something like $1.05 billion. Keyword spamming and megasellers may diminish the value of eBay but you got to admit the company is very successful and making money hand over fist.
    • indeed. the keyword spamming sucks but you can work your way around it (just ignore the shit).

      What really sucks ass are the fricking mega "powersellers." I just bought something the other day (promedia ultra 5.1) and not only am I pretty sure that I was shill-bid up to a higher price, but I got the thing and of course it doesnt work (dead amp, clearly dropped hard and not in shipping). I'm out return shipping and I plan to issue a chargeback if the guy wont give me back the full amount I payed him (no

      • He is one of those sellers that has tens of thousands of feedbacks and they roll in fast enough that the front page is always positive but the negatives are quite negative (and there are negative ones listed as positive to avoid feedback retaliation which is another shitty part of ebay).

        I'm not sure what the problem is. When you view his profile, you can clearly see the total amount of negatives he has (5772 out of 80908 transactions, which is a HUGE proportion in my opinion - I'm wary of anyone with less
  • by Txiasaeia (581598) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:16PM (#12885209)
    ...but Amazon is much easier for me to sell stuff than eBay ever was. Sign in, type in what item you want to sell, name a price, and that's that. Buyer pays Amazon, Amazon tells you to ship, you ship to buyer, Amazon pays you. The first time it takes a while, but after that it's extremely fast.

    A.ca takes 15% off the top, but they give you a generous shipping allowance so it doesn't cut into your profit margins (and it's actually fair, so if you *buy* from a seller, that reasonable price stays reasonable b/c the seller can't jack up the price). Win-win for both buyer and seller. The kicker is that every time I've sold something with A.ca, it's taken at the longest a week before somebody's bought it.

    eBay? Never again. I'm willing to pay 15% just so I never have to *think* about Paypal.

    Disclaimer: I work for neither Amazon nor Google. I'm not getting paid for this. The reason I'm saying all this is because Amazon is the only company I've dealt with over the past few years that has made me feel like a human instead of a problem.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sign in, type in what item you want to sell...

      ..."Welcome to eBay! List the item you would like to sell!"

      name a price, and that's that.

      "Use our Buy It Now option to set an item at a desired price!"

      Buyer pays Amazon, Amazon tells you to ship, you ship to buyer, Amazon pays you.

      "Make payments easy using Paypal, Bidpay, or any other method of payment you deem appropriate!"

      A.ca takes 15% off the top

      "eBay fees depend on the starting and ending price of the item. See Table A..."

      • I'm not aware of a site called "Amazonspaymentsystemsucks.com," nor have I heard any horror stories about Amazon stiffing customers.
        • by boodaman (791877) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @07:49PM (#12885828)
          I've been using Paypal since 1998. As a seller and a buyer. I also have my iTunes account hooked up to it, and also use their ATM/debit/Mastercard. Transaction amounts have ranged from as little as $1.00 to as high as a couple thousand for a laptop.

          I've never once, NOT ONCE, since 1998, had a problem with Paypal. The only issue I have with them is their practice of taking a couple extra days to credit my account, but this somewhat sneaky (it is only sneaky because I don't like it, they clearly state how long I might have to wait for my funds) practice is outweighed tremendously by the convenience of their service.

          I've been mystified for years at all the complaints about how bad Paypal is...I've never experienced any evidence of it at all, and neither has anyone I know.

          This makes me doubt the stories describing how bad Paypal is...I would think that in 7 years of use, me or someone I know would have experienced something bad if Paypal really was as bad as the stories describe.
          • I haven't had the nerve to try paypal, despite its convenience. Reason: I get so damn many spams telling me to update paypal account user data [when I don't even have an account] that I just assume paypal is rife with phishy imitators, scammers and schemes or has lousy protection and security arrangements. Thats probably unfair but would you date a girl if you'd first met two dozen people who claimed they were pimping her?

            on the other hand, as a buyer of, say cameras, from J Random Amazon-enabled seller,
          • by LetterJ (3524) <j@wynia.org> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @10:36PM (#12886592) Homepage
            Allow me to introduce myself (then you'll know someone with a Paypal problem), I'm J. Since you're relying on your anecdotes as evidence of Paypal's innocence, the $12,000 that was stolen from my credit cards and linked checking account, coupled with the fact that, even after they'd been notified that the transactions were fraudulent (which I had to tell them, even though all of the real banks involved notified me immediately), they tried to push the transactions through 2 more times (as a "convenience"), puts them in a pretty crappy category in my book. I, too, started using them in 1998. I, too, had their Mastercard. However, I had what you apparently see as a mythical bad experience with Paypal.

            So, after signing over the naming rights to my backyard, I finally got a phone number to deal with them (note that all of the 10 or so real banks I currently have accounts with ALL have phone numbers readily available). Of course, Paypal's "dispute" resolution process is to lock all sides until *they* are satisfied that it was fraud. It actually took me nearly 6 months to convince them that, despite the fact that the most I'd moved around prior to that point was $400 and all of it domestic, I suddenly decided to transfer $12,000 to the Czech Republic at 3:00am on a Saturday. Once I finally convinced them that I wasn't the one who sent it, it took another 6 months to get the $150 or so I still had in the account.

            Paypal wants to be treated like a real financial institution, but doesn't act like one.
          • well, my experience directly contradicts that and my anecdotal evidence suggests that 100% of people I know using paypal had problems.

            I opened an account using a card I got specifically for online purchases. I was a first time bidder on eBay and saw that the seller only took paypal. I opened the account, but never used it (didn't win the auction, never had occasion to use it).

            Months later I got a cc bill with all kinds of charges from $50-$500 all to paypal over a couple weeks for a total of around $2,6
          • by michaelhood (667393) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @12:08AM (#12886962)
            The year was 2001, a client wanted a simple way to wire me money for remote consulting services I was providing. I suggested PayPal, and helped him to configure an account.

            When he would pay me, he would send approximately $150-250 through PayPal. This occured 8 times.

            When I received the funds in my PayPal account, there was never any indicator of how he provided funds to PayPal, nor did I think I should care.

            Approximately 6-8 months after the last transaction, I logged into my PayPal account prompted by an e-mail I received from them.

            My account balance was -$1300 and some change. After calling PayPal to figure out what happened, I found out that the client had disputed the charges.

            He worked out of his home, I called and reached his wife. His credit card had been stolen and he charged back any transactions he didn't recognize.

            When I called again to reach him, I couldn't seem to communicate what had happened. (He was rather non-technical). He thought that other charges he saw on his account were the ones for me, but these were checks he had written for another matter. He refused to "double-pay me."

            So, since PayPal doesn't bother to check with merchants or ask any questions whatsoever before charging back transactions, I'm out some $1300.

            I call PayPal, they tell me they need proof of shipping. The funds were sent and labeled as 'for services'! I questioned this, and they seemed confused, and then said they needed proof of shipment, again.

            I'll let you draw your own conclusions from this story. I'm tired of writing, but google around and see how MasterCard or Visa handles chargebacks with their merchants. PayPal is NOT a financial institution, by any definition.
    • Dear Seller (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Letter (634816) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:30PM (#12885315)
      Dear Seller,

      It's true that Amazon takes 15% of your selling price. But did you realize that they also make money on shipping?

      The amount they reimburse sellers is less than they charge buyers for shipping.

      Sneaky.

      Letter

      • Well, yes, this is something that we don't like too much about Amazon, but my wife prefers Amazon over eBay because eBay will charge you regardless if you sell your product.
    • And just in case...

      Amazon.com US Customer Service
      Phone toll-free in the US and Canada: (800) 201-7575
      Phone from outside the US and Canada: (206) 346-2992 or (206)-266-2992
    • Have you ever checked out half.com? Owned by E-bay, same system, and you may not have to deal with the California tax. You just pay E-bay with a credit card, and they pay the guy, and send you the item. It is incredibly similar to the Amazon "new and used" resell system.
    • agree.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by slashmojo (818930)
      Amazon is the only company I've dealt with over the past few years that has made me feel like a human instead of a problem.

      Have to agree.. just as a buyer I have found their customer support to be second to none. Any time I have had a problem they have fixed it instantly - even if they lose money as a result, for example by sending replacement products out (internationally) which they have done for me several times.

      They are the only online retailer that I really trust.. they've earned it.

      • They are the only online retailer that I really trust.. they've earned it.

        So do I...Almost. If they could just police their DVD listings (anime especially) to keep people from selling obvious bootlegs, i'd have no bone to pick with them.
    • Disclaimer: I work for neither Amazon nor Google. I'm not getting paid for this. The reason I'm saying all this is because Amazon is the only company I've dealt with over the past few years that has made me feel like a human instead of a problem.

      Amazon, however, isn't very good to other businesses. Have you noticed how they sold Toys R Us products. They slowly started shrinking the name "Toys R Us" in favor of Amazon. It was "Amazon presents Toys R Us" then the products were just called Amazon products

      • by DogDude (805747)
        That's the way Amazon is with *all* merchants now. The buyer essentially gets -zero- information about the seller, and the seller gets -zero- name recognition from Amazon. That, on top of Amazon's quite hefty fees, makes it a good place only if you don't have the expertise or the money to build your own web site.
      • Amazon, however, isn't very good to other businesses.

        Somehow I'm not able to shed any tears for poor little Target and Toys R Us. I suspect that they are big boys who can take care of themselves when it comes to Amazon.
    • I'm a frequent poster on eBay community Boards, and one eBay Pink [employee] once said that when an auction is reported for eBay to review if it's in violation of a rule, they take about "1 or 2 seconds" to look at it before removing it. This is horrible customer service as one removed auction can scare away bidders from a reputable seller, who perhaps has done nothing wrong, and has used a phrase that's either deemed as keyword spamming, or an invitation to trade off of eBay.

      eBay seems to think that they
  • Ebay Policy (Score:5, Funny)

    by LittleGuernica (736577) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:16PM (#12885214) Homepage
    Ebay's policies are also getting ridicilous lately, tried to sell my kidney that looked like it had the face of the messiah in it, but they didn't let me..
  • curious.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeAlien (164869) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:16PM (#12885215) Homepage Journal
    So people selling things are choosing ways that make them the most profit?

    Bizzare.
    • Re:curious.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jfengel (409917)
      It is remarkable. eBay is an auction site, which in theory is the best way to make a profit. eBay's overhead should be fairly low, since they're just running a web engine (as opposed to having a large warehouse, manufacturing, inventory, and fulfilment employees) and therefore its prices should be low.

      And for years people established businesses there, and it was a good way for people to make a business selling stuff without the overhead of having their own web site. This article says that's changing and e
      • Re:curious.. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by robertjw (728654)
        So maximizing profit isn't news, but abandoning eBay sure is.

        Yes and no. It's news because eBay dominates the market, but it's not news if you look at it objectively. eBay has been on top for a while, but it's not a perfect system. New buyers are frustrated with snipers and crazy shipping prices that sneak up on them, sellers are irritated by Paypal issues and eBay constantly raising prices. Other sites are managing to catch up with eBay's technology so users are looking for some new places to do busi
        • My experience with EBay is that a lot of sellers build their profits into the shipping. Some of the shipping amounts are simply outrageous. Of course, I'm not precisely sure what EBay can do about that. The real solution is for the consumer to say "I'd buy your widget, but $20 shipping on a ten ounce item is just robbery, so I'm passing."
  • by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:17PM (#12885219) Homepage Journal
    EBay, with more than 147 million users world-wide

    With this sort of penetration any impact will be neglible for quite a while. There are still a ton of people trying to emulate the largest person to person for sale site.
    eBay increases their fees because they can. If they thought these other places were such a direct threat yet they wouldn't do so. There will be a time this combination will be a large threat, but not yet.
    • With this sort of penetration any impact will be neglible for quite a while.

      Maybe, but perception on the Net is everything. As soon as people start bailing they will do so in droves. It would be in eBay's best interest to keep people happy and not encourage them to look elsewhere. I wonder how long it will be before Google comes up with a full fledged auction site that competes seriously with eBay.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:20PM (#12885238) Homepage Journal
    network. I know other outlets aren't immune to frauds, but ebay is fucking rediculous. Whenever I am looking for anything substantial(for instance iBook, xbox etc) I have to sort by highest price first. Why? Because an overwhelming majority of the auctions are for "Information on how to get a free iBook!" or "iBook for 40 dollars". Ebay doesn't have to legally police it's network for those types of fraud, but I think their lax policies are going to harm them.

    Not to mention the huge number of grey market items on eBay. I don't want to buy anime off of there because a majority of the DVDs are Chinese bootlegs. I would rather download them than buy the bootlegs....
    • I realize there will be a lack of content if I say what I intend to say, but I agree so incredibly I will just say this.

      Amen. ;)
    • There's also the problem that Ebay's business operation creates lots of small fraud cases, which binds law enforcement ressources. I don't think it's fair that Ebay tries to shrug off all responsibility and to burden society as a whole with the resulting costs. After all, they don't pay any taxes over here.
    • by KaiserSoze (154044) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:42PM (#12885408) Homepage
      I can't "Me Too" the parent enough. Back in 1999-2000 I bought and sold many, many items off of eBay (at least many, many cheap electronics and trading cards based on my college budget). Right around 2002, however, I slowed my browsing and now I haven't even gone to the website for over a year. The reason: any non-trivial item I want to look for (laptop, camcorder, digital camera, LCD projector) is infected with frustrating-as-hell spam reading "GET ITEM X FOR FREEE!!!!11!" eBay, for all intents and purposes, has been hijacked by the no-product "FOR FREE"-guide spammers and extremely high volume power sellers. It is just really hard to wade through the crap to find some guy who's just selling his camcorder because he doesn't want it anymore.
    • A "Brand New Holga [lomography.com] 120CFN lomo toy camera" is not an 8x10 view camera [lotusviewcamera.com]
  • by DogDude (805747) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:21PM (#12885248) Homepage
    The problem is this... all 3 of these aggregators (Ebay, Yahoo, and Amazon) all focus solely on price. Anybody who knows anything about business knows that competing on price is a very, very bad idea. It's almost always a losing battle. On top of that, the fees that these sites charge for selling are outrageous. We've decided to use *none* of them, and instead sell on our own. We get to keep our profit margins, and we get to offer real information to our buyers. We may not be the cheapest to the nickel, but honestly, that's not the kind of business we want. People who are pinching pennies are not the kind of customers you want because there's 0% loyalty... and that's what these agrregators strive for... making the sellers relatively anonymous, and focusing *only* on price. Amazon, eBay, and Yahoo will always be good for small sellers that don't have the means to set up a web site, credit card processing, etc, but once you can do all of that, it makes no sense to work with these big guys, where you'll just be a number in a crowd.
    • All three of these places work great as advertising due to the traffic each site receives. Massive amounts of people already head to those sites with the intenet to buy as well. Use the massive amounts of traffic and the occasional "loss" in the profit margin spent as eBay/Yahoo/Amazon commision as your ad budget.
      Example:

      1) Post something on their sites

      2) Advertise the hell out of your own website on each post

      3) Browsers become buyers and watch the shoppers from all of the above auction/sales sites com

      • Take a look at Amazon. It's very hard, and I'd say near impossible to find information about the actual seller. eBay is pretty much just a big junkpile of ads and scams, from what I've seen. I'd never buy anything from eBay. Amazon, however, goes the other direction, and tries to make it transparent to the buyer. I believe that Amazon makes the buyer experience good, but does go too far with this, in that sellers are hurt to such an extent that merchants such as myself who actually have a brand name lo
      • Also... (Score:3, Informative)

        by DogDude (805747)
        Also, Amazon.com allows *no* cross selling by their merchants. Meaning, you can't in your item description, your email to the buyer, or anywhere else, suggest that the customer visit your site. So Amazon may be good for a merchant who doesn't care about cross-selling, or building a brand, but for anybody else, it's a dead-end that just leads to commodity selling. If we were to sell through Amazon, the buyer couldn't take advantage (or even be aware of) the massive amount of information we offer, our exce
        • Re:Also... (Score:3, Informative)

          by prostoalex (308614)
          or the fact that we ship everything the same day.

          And why would an Amazon Marketplace customer not be able to enjoy it, if they bought an item from you?

          Amazon requires shipping within 2 business days. And the shiping costs are fixed, so no eBay adverts of $10 laptop with $500 shipping (exaggerating here a bit, but you know what I mean).

          And I've seen Amazon IDs (selling mostly books) feature domain names, which makes it pretty clear that the seller exists as an independent site as well.
        • Re:Also... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hondo77 (324058) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @08:21PM (#12886000) Homepage
          Huh? You ship the item, right? Put your promotional material in the package. "Visit our site. 15% off your next order. Same day shipping." Amazon doesn't let you do that?
  • by DeadSea (69598) * on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:22PM (#12885257) Homepage Journal
    I still don't see a person with just a few used items to sell, being able to do well on Froogle or Amazon. Its quite a bit harder to get a listing there than on Ebay.

    I would be interested in what percentage of ebay auctions are from full-time sellers. It seems that these folks probably drive a sizable percentage of Ebay's revenue. Losing them could hurt the bottom line of the company very badly.

    Amazon and Google still have a ways to go to become all that popular with full time sellers. There are a ton of guides [treasurefish.com] for becoming a full [amazon.com] time Ebay seller [ecommerce-guide.com]. But I find very few for Amazon and Google.

    • by NilObject (522433) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @07:04PM (#12885544) Homepage
      I, being a college kid, had a fat stack of old books and textbooks I needed to get rid of quickly and earn some spending cash off of. So I went straight to Amazon.

      It took me about an hour total to start a new account and then list (apporx) a hundred books. Then I just sat back and watched the e-mails roll in. "Send this book to this person" "Send this book to that person" Zip! Schwip!

      And I made several hundred dollars in the space of a few days by selling a fraction of the books.

      With EBay, I would have had to spend an entire day listing listing items, dealing with PayPal, and then getting porked from behind for the fees.

      Bah humbug.

      I can easily see myself running a full-time used bookstore from Amazon. There's a number of brick-and-mortar companies getting rid of a lot of inventory and making money on Amazon. I can see why: it's so easy that you make up for your 15% commission in the time and labor costs you save.
    • half.com? It's owned by eBay except it's fix prices and fixed shipping rates. No bids, just the bottom line. So far I've had very good luck with them and I've used the service half a dozen times.
  • http://www.craigslist.org/about/press/ebay.stake.h tml [craigslist.org]

    Ebay has enough money they can buy out some of the small companies, just like microsoft does. Eat up the competition, until the DoJ steps in and slaps with a tiny fine. (-;
  • by v3rb (239648) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:23PM (#12885263) Homepage
    EBay was originally set up to allow individuals to sell merchandise to other individuals. That's why the feedback system was so important. Before PayPal and BidPay you had to use personal check or money order. Do you buy from a seller business with a feedback score of 65322 over one with 4352? When people had feedback 100 it mattered.

    People started selling so much they started businesses. Then Ebay started jacking up the fees because they saw businesses making money off their website. Ebay was supposed to be for used merchandise. Now everytime I do a search for used merchandise I can barely find any because I have to wade through businesses that post 20 ads a day because they have 500 units in stock. Ebay just isn't made for that.

    The moral of the story is there is a progression that goes from being an individual seller to a company that sells on ebay. If you continue to grow...it just makes sense to get off ebay.
    • I've been having a hard time finding used stuff on ebay too.. So is there some _other_ auction site that all the used sales have moved to?
      Anyone?
      I doubt we have a sudden shortage of used stuff.
  • The San Jose Mercury News had a headline last week announcing "EBAY NATION". I guess Amazon wasn't too happy about that. I wouldn't be surprised if "AMAZON WORLD" appears in next week's paper.
  • Yep, sounds about right. CNBC is airing The Ebay Effect next week signifying both the complete cluelessness of CNBC and the jumping of the shark of Ebay. Talk about being late to the party! Holy 1997 Batman.
  • One word. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dema (103780) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:28PM (#12885302) Homepage
    Good.

    I was a big fan of ebay back in the day. I still have an account that I use on very rare occasion. But today ebay seems to be nothing more than a portal for people who don't want / can't afford to setup physical shop. Ebay lost is greatest quality, IMO, a while back: the personal experience.

    The last few things I sold a couple of months ago were random shirts from indie bands. Of the five people I contacted after winning, none of them ever replied to my emails. One of them left me negative feedback because she felt the shirt was in poor condition. I would've been glad to refund her the money and let her keep the shirt if she had contacted me, but apparently talking to another human (even by email) is a bit too much for ebayers these days.
    • IMHO, ebay's feedback system is broken. Like the problem you have, ignorant buyers don't get in touch with sellers. Sellers hold feedback hostage from buyers until they receive positive feedback. This skews the feedback seen. I've been exclusively a buyer, I have little interest in selling on ebay. I've fallen into the habit of giving feedback to the seller when he/she gives it first. On one hand, I paid the seller quickly with the method the seller wants, I held up my end of the bargain, I should get pos f
    • Unfortunately, some people just don't have any common sense.

      I've sold a lot on Ebay, not as a permanent seller but just clearing out a lot of role-playing games rules and CDs from my collection.

      One guy I sold a book to left me neutral feedback because the book had been damaged in transit (the wrapping paper had been torn) before even contacting me.

      To me, the book was a piece of worthless junk and I would have refunded the guy his money and let him keep it, just like you. I emailed him, gave him the

  • by fname (199759) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:29PM (#12885314) Journal
    My brother started 5 years ago selling jewelry on his website and eBay. It was tough to get any traction on his website, selling inexpensive silver jewelry [silvergemshop.com], and he had a lot more success on eBay. The website was, at best 10% of his business. But about 3 months ago we started an advertising campaign using Google's Adwords program. After a slow start, sales have started to take off thanks to a redesigned landing page that better featured the great deals he has for wholesale silver jewelry [silvergemshop.com]. [Ya, that's a plug... is that so wrong?] We've doubled the ad budget just this week and if the trend keeps up for a few more weeks, he might be able to get 50% of his business off eBay.

    The content network is really what makes it work. More than half of hits come from the content network, and more than half the sales. The click-through rates are about the same, which surprised me quite a bit.

    So, without RTFA, I can support the WSJ's premise. Google does threaten eBay-- it allows small sellers to get their own customer base independent of eBay. eBay may not see a drop in sales, but long-term I think this hurts their growth.
  • With the talent behind Google, and the online prescence of Amazon, there is no doubt they can eventually overtake Ebay as the popular option for the masses. Going to an online store to purchase or sell items, require more than simply turning on a PC running Windows. The market is already somewhat ahead of the game in their knowledge and willingness to try something new. As such, they are that much more open to new options, should they be saturated with those options when it comes to marketing.
  • eBay is a JOKE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jesus IS the Devil (317662) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:31PM (#12885324)
    eBay and Paypal rank way up there as the most evil companies on the net. I have a friend who sells via eBay, and from what he's been telling me, eBay has been making it harder and harder to get refunds on failed auctions all the while increasing their fees.

    As for Paypal, it's practically a crook's paradise (eBay is too actually). They force you to enter in your checking information if you wish to perform any transactions over a few bucks (forget the exact $). Once you've done this you are completely at their mercy to screw you over however they'd like.

    With credit cards, you always have the option of a chargeback. Once you have linked your banking info to Paypal, good luck! Now they get all the say as to when/if they will give you credit back if something goes wrong. If a seller sends you a box of bricks, screw you.

    Here's a personal experience I've had with Paypal. A while back I posted an ad to sell some stuff. Someone bought them and paid via a "VERIFIED" Paypal account. The buyer came by my house and picked them up in person. Everything looked legit until Paypal reversed the transaction saying the "verified" account was stolen. I emailed Paypal and all I got was one runaround after another. In fact I started getting the same replies over and over again!

    My problem is, either Paypal is an escrow or they are not. If they're not, they have no right to refund the money. If they are, they have an obligation to re-imburse me for my losses. However, they took the coward's way out, refunding the money to the user to avoid being sued and losing in court for failing to protect their user accounts, and screwing me in the process saying that only orders sent by mail are protected under their TOS.

    I really hope eBay and Paypal die off in really horrible deaths.
  • by DaedalusLogic (449896) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:32PM (#12885325)
    of problem customers and scams. I'm all for competition. I was liquidating a motherboard on eBay that was an open box part obtained from an RMA. After the customer received the part and crammed half a dozen cards into it, he declared it broken. Which it might have been... and I told him how to file an RMA on that part. I also offered to refund part of his investment if he just wanted to return it to me outright.

    Soon the story changed... the item wasn't was "as described"... I started getting explanations of and I quote, "Living in a trailer with a handicapped brother with a $10,000 plate in his head." I was going to need to send him $70 for the item to be returned...

    Then he proceeded to file complaints with PayPal and try and get his funds frozen.

    What merchant would ever let you buy a product, break it, and return it for more money than it is worth? And what crazy payment system allows you to raid a merchants bank account because you most likely zapped the product with your own hands?
  • Be Warned! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pandrijeczko (588093) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:32PM (#12885326)
    Do not think that you have any degree of protection from PayPal either.

    A friend of mine was robbed of £400 after he made a PayPal payment to a seller for a PC. He never received the PC and PayPal took absolutely no interest in refunding the money.

    The excuse PayPal gave? The seller didn't have enough credit in his PayPal account to refund the money - and has since been kicked off of Ebay.

    Neither PayPal or Ebay care about you being fiddled of money, they take their percentage for basically doing nothing.

    • Sorry, totally fail to believe this - I also got diddled by a seller, and was out £600 - paypal took it out of their account, putting them into substantial negative balance. Also, my little brother now has a large negative balance, because he ripped someone off. Stupid little shit.

      On the other hand, I've now been wrestling with parcelforce for 6 months over a laptop they *decimated*. They're the real crooks. Did you know that the minimum insurable packaging for 'electronic equipment' is a fucking *sh
    • Re:Be Warned! (Score:3, Informative)

      by rogueuk (245470)
      that's why you should set your PayPal account to use your credit card.

      PayPal dicking you over? Go over their heads and call the credit card company for a charge back. You get the money credited back to your account by the credit card company and PayPal now has the 3 ton gorilla credit card company going after their money. You get an email from PayPal asking about the problem, but it's out of their hands.
  • by slashkitty (21637) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:35PM (#12885352) Homepage
    They didn't mention that yahoo auctions just went completely free.. It's just ad supported now. I would be very happy if eBay had a little more competition in both the auction and payment sectors.
  • Now hopefully there will be less spam in the descriptions and searches can become relevant again. E-Bay isn't a place to run a business; it's a place to sell shit you don't want.
  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:36PM (#12885364) Journal
    ... and that's the problem. I sold my motorbike on Ebay when I emigrated to the US last year, and was so disgusted with the service, I even wrote a journal entry [slashdot.org] about it.

    Ebay doesn't care if the seller has problems as long as the percentage cut is in Ebay's bank account. They do little-to-nothing to make the seller's life easy, in fact it's a very customer-unfocused setup.

    As long as Ebay keep their current modus operandi, I'll not be using them again, and they have to run out of sellers eventually...

    Simon
  • by AEton (654737) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:38PM (#12885379)
    An interesting project which would require a very large operation would be to start keeping track of every completed eBay auction. With such a database, you could search by keywords or some other query to figure out the historical value of items, the best time to sell them (graphing calculators in August when school starts), or to analyze other trends. This could be valuable both to buyers and sellers.

    The current eBay robots.txt includes the text
    # eBay may permit automated access to
    # access certain eBay pages but soley for the limited purpose of
    # including content in publicly available search engines.

    So Google could get away with doing such indexing - which would be of very high value to many people, since eBay makes old auctions inaccessible after a certain period - at least under the current robots.txt.

    I'm aware of the legal and technical problems that might arise. (Recall the 2000 Bidder's Edge lawsuit where an online auction aggregator was prevented by eBay from using their data.) You'd need a large company and a lot of machines with different IP addresses to quietly check every auction, and I can think of at least twelve different ways such a database of prices, bids, times, durations, titles, and descriptions could be important.

    So why hasn't anyone done it?
    • Google already does it. Try to buy something on Froogle and you'll eventually notice that half of the listings are from shitty E-Bay "businesses".

      The names of the companies will usually say something other than E-Bay, but if you click on enough, you'll find them for sure.
      • And what's worse is that Froogle doesn't even make a token attempt at including the additional costs like shipping and handling. So the eBay sellers it indexes seem cheap but are almost invariably poor deals.

        However, Froogle doesn't seem to keep historical data and doesn't index auctions that aren't from eBay stores (with "buy it now" auctions). Or, if they do, they're keeping it an in-house secret - and what a cool database that would be to have around!
  • phishing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fairwind (894304) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:39PM (#12885380)
    The amount of people falling victim to phishing on eBay is frightening. Users with perfect feedback and years of eBay activity can be fooled by a single email asking to verify their account information. I've seen some strange auctions listed from what seemed to be honest and trustworthy people. However it was an account hijacked by a phisher. As the number of phishing victims rises, the feedback system will become obsolete. I hope amazon and google don't suffer a simliar fate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:52PM (#12885468)
    I rarely every find a "bargain" on eBay anymore; I've stopped looking at the site. I see allot of stuff selling for prices higher than retail. However, most things are priced at about 85-95% of new. Go search closed auctions for a Mac Mini, you'll really have to dig to find a used one that sold for less than 95% of what you'd pay from Apple.

    Me? I'll bone up the extra $25 and buy a new one.
    • I rarely every find a "bargain" on eBay anymore

      Ebay is only good these days for collectors who want hard to find items and are prepared to pay a premium for them.

      The other thing to remember is that a lot of people on Ebay just clear out junk on there. As they do this, they accrue positive PayPal balances as sellers pay them but that balance, to me at least, never feels like "real" money anyway.

      There's been a few times when I've paid more for a piece of computer hardware on Ebay than via a reputable

    • ...as the users want it to be.
      Maybe you are looking at the wrong sort of stuff, but i usually by books and manga on ebay (if something interesting pops up), and for "like new" quality i usually pay about 1/3 or the retail price.
      You cant have to be patient.
      (ebay SHOPS are something i never visit. The whole concept seems to be missing the whole point)
    • Several years ago I was searching ebay for deals on open box Star Wars figures. I just wanted them to play with and tape fire crackers to them. I was looking to get them for less than retail for my own personal destructive habits. Everything that I found that was open box was going for MORE than retail price. I could wander down to walmart and get it brand new off the shelf for less than what these morons were bidding for this crap.

      More recently I have returned to ebay to try and get tickets to a "sold
  • by slavemowgli (585321) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @07:11PM (#12885586) Homepage
    EBay's single biggest problem, in my eyes, is the fact that you still have to pay a considerable fee even if your item does not sell. For casual sellers at least, this makes the whole platform unattractive - other services, such as amazon, only charge you when you make a sale and leave your item up there pretty much indefinitely until you *do* sell it.

    Of course, the downside is that you have to pay more; amazon.de, for example, charges both a percentage (15%, I think) *and* a flat fee, so if you have something that you want to sell for less than a handful of bucks, you might actually even lose money - the shipping fees they charge the buyer wouldn't even be enough to cover actual shipping to start with, and they're usually more than eaten up by the fees, too, so you may well end up with a net earning of only one buck for a book that cost the buyer eight or nine bucks, including shipping (it's happened to me). The bulk of the money is, ultimately, shared between amazon and the postal services.

    That's one reason I really hope Google gets into auctions - there definitely needs to be some competition in this area so prices will go down. And I trust that Google has both the financial and the technological strength to pull this off - not to mention the "do no evil" philosophy which would make me trust them to not rip me off *too* much at least.
  • Ok was this just a cheap Google plug? From my experience the rate of return on Google ads is usually much lower then the listing fee on ebay auctions...unless your selling some really big ticket items. But try selling one NES game or Beanie Baby by placing Google ads or a eBay listing...there is no way Google would win in that equation unless you got lucky.
  • by TheNarrator (200498) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @07:19PM (#12885638)
    People think they can run an e-commerce shop and not do any technology or even integration. They can run the whole thing via ebay. The problem is is that there's a lot of margin getting eaten up by fees to service providers and the services aren't flexible. That, and anything that is really really easy to run is going to be subject to a lot of competition very soon and declining margins, like ebay drop shipping.

    If you're on the internet you're a technology company. The same way that if you're a retail store you're to some extent in the storefront design, logistics, human resources and interior design business. At least in retail you can get into a franchise where someone has figured all this stuff out for you. With technology though there isn't a really good reason to franchise because there isn't the limited trade area issue.
  • I use an rss feed from http://www.dealmein.net/ [dealmein.net] People pitch in a find deals then post them. Sometimes you see FUD or ill considered postings but on the whole its really useful in the non-ebay world.
  • They're launching a new version Merchant Account Paypal [paypal.com] to compete with the other folks out there (Authorize, etc.) Most storeowners I've seen (once who take paypal in addition to their own merch accounts) are extremely leery--too many eggs in one basket, and many will never do that again (though some will no doubt join once an OSCommerce mod comes along).
  • The eBay/PayPal fees have simply gotten outrageous.

    Did anyone notice that immediately after eBay missed its numbers last quarter they jacked up the seller fees? Their customer reps claimed that one had nothing to do with the other and that fees were increased to provide us sellers with more advanced services. Uh huh.

    I've stopped selling on eBay because they've been taking 15-20% of everything I sell.
  • Ebay is the Big Name in online sales. They're the site everybody goes to when they want to buy or sell something online. They dwarf everyone else. So obviously, they've gotten a bit arrogant, 'cause where else are people going to go, huh?

    It'll be interesting to see if they catch on early enough to save the company.

  • Barrier to Entry (Score:2, Informative)

    by mauriatm (531406)
    IMO Ebay has a high barrier to entry. To be successful at selling you must have a good track record, which is perfectly fine, but for those who need to sell 1 item or small items, forget about it. My example: purchased a webpad on Ebay, used it for ~2yrs. Then wanted a new one, but the only way to recover any cost was to sell the old one on Ebay. People emailed and said they couldn't afford the risk to buy from me since I had not sold anything so big. So I took a serious loss, but I had no choice if I reall
  • by nmos (25822) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @09:33PM (#12886328)
    Last year a bunch of us bought Sharp Zauruses (Zauri?) from a guy on Amazon. At first he looked legitimate, lots of positive feedback etc. Unfortunately it quickly became clear that it was a scam and getting Amazon to do anything about it in a timely manner was impossible. I did eventually get my money back from Amazon via their guarantee but the scammer apparently got away with thousands of dollars and lived to go on and scam others because Amazon was completely unwilling to look into his behavior untill at least 30 days from the transaction.

    One problem with the Amazon Marketplace is that it isn't as obvious as it should be that you're not buying from Amazon. I'm sure Slashdot readers can tell the difference but I couldn't send a friend or relitive there and expect them to notice.

    Another problem with the Amazon Marketplace is that the feedback doesn't give you any clue to what the other person bought. As it turns out many scammers build up positive feedback by selling high volumes of nearly worthless goods (used/crummy dvds etc) and then suddenly switch to selling more expensive items. I thought at first maybe this was just an isolated incident but when I looked into it more I found hundreds of sellers following the same pattern. I've been on Ebay since some time in the 90's and never been scammed but managed it on my first try at Amazon.
  • by putko (753330) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @09:47PM (#12886394) Homepage Journal
    I'm happy to see Ebay taste the sword.

    Although they've provided a useful service, they've made a point of suporting all sorts of liberal issues, which just seems holier-than-thou. Its a goddam e-fleamarket.

    I don't care that you want tri-sexuals to be able to get married, government-paid sex-change operations, govt. money for my pet's sex change operation (my cat Felix is really a Felicia) and so on.

    Amazon and Google have the sense to keep politics out of their business model.

    Also, the article didn't mention Craigslist, which is really killing Ebay -- Craigslist is free.

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