Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is It eBay's Fault?

ANOTHER eBay store Closes its doors!

I swear, this is like the 3rd eBay store owner I've known to just throw in the towel and give up.

The trend I've been seeing is:

Gal gets an eBay account.
Sells a few items.
Opens an eBay store.
Spends night and day listing items.
Filling the eBay store.
More items in the eBay store.
eBay store bursting with items.
More days filling the eBay store.
Putting items out in the core as buy it now (outside the eBay store)
Adding lots of photos.
Trying to add a couple featured listings.
(guessing they can make more money if they feature the item)
Adding BOLD to a few items with the hope of making more money.
Upgrading to highlighting an item.
Adding more photos with the hope of making more money.
Listing more items in the eBay store.
Filling it with everything they can find.
Join a dropship company with HOPE of getting rich.
Paying a monthly fee to a dropship company.
Paying a monthly fee to a template service.
Paying a monthly fee to a CLUB because they think they can be a better seller if they keep paying monthly fees.
Next, may try an upgrade.
Upgrade the eBay store with hope of more exposure.
Put more items in the eBay store ......

3 months go by .....
Few sales here and there but monthly fees are very high.
Will find more JUNK to put in eBay store ......

May break even but fees are still high .. hoping to make it so keep putting items in the eBay store... then FRUSTRATION sets in ....... THROW in the TOWEL .. GIVE UP .....
poof CLOSE the eBay store ......

Now, list a FEW items on eBay and put more on sites that are FREE or CHEAP with HOPE of making more money ...... NOW, the items SIT and debt sets in.

Twiddling thumbs while the seller waits in frustration.
Still have inventory, few monthly fees roaming around ..

Must be eBay's fault ya think?

Can't make any money on the site, must be eBay's fault?

Lost money, must be eBay's fault?



It seriously breaks my heart as I hear stories like this all the time.
Then, when the seller finally lets me know they are failing or I seek them out and lend a hand. We take a look at the figures together and OMG no one wants to buy the stuff they are selling in the first place! There is no market for their GOODS!

I wish I was still making thousands from one Beanie Babie!
OH those were the days!
But trends change and guess what?



I do love helping people!

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and the road to success is open for all those wanting to travel the highway of opportunity.

Selling on eBay can get the bills paid.

Selling on eBay is a learning experience while you grow and nourish your eBay business.
Strategies are available.
The possibilities are endless.
Debt can be conquered.

If you are in the Ocala FL area and would like to take a class, please contact me.
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Sweet Cherry Vintage Lingerie said...

More times then not is eBay's fault. Yes, there are naive, small sellers out there, however eBay has changed and the small mom and pop sellers is not a venue anymore for them.
In fact, they aren't a "venue" at all. Donahoe has run eBay into the ground, it's unfortunate.

My traffic has stooped to an all time low, and I'm not doing anything different. 1. the market, 2. eBay. Combine both of those and that equals disaster.

Vickie said...

It is partly eBay's fault because they just stopped caring about what small sellers need to keep alive. My sales have gone up & down bu with all the changes imposedby eBay, there have been some rough months.

I do everything possible to generate sales. 2 years ago, I called eBay's Seller Help Line & they told me there wasn't much they could help me with. The reason? After they reviewed my store, they said I was already implementing everything possible & only had one or 2 suggestions.

I re-vamp my store, my Me Page & market the heck outta my store. eBay needs to start listening to what "mom & pop" sellers really need & not continuously ignore us.

Stephen said...

Well, sometimes it really is eBay's fault, other times, it's not. Obviously the recession hasn't helped. Less disposable income means just what it sounds like.

I don't have a "store. I'm just a casual seller of used paperback books, and usually have about 10-30 of them for sale at one time.

For such low-priced items, the fees are bordering on ridiculous, and that cuts into the meager profits one can eke out.

In addition, the policies of eBay - driven by the posting fees - tends drives prices (i.e. starting bids) down to ridiculous levels. One might argue that this is just the the natural confluence of capitalism and competition, but frankly, the artificial fee structure of eBay (encouraging a less than 99 cent entry price point) is not naturally occurring. Items are not finding their natural level of price.

If a seller tries making this "low-ball" pricing strategy up with higher shipping/handling fees, that technique won't work either, since eBay now restricts them, too: arbitrarily.

There are a lot of factors to success in selling, and there surely must be things that still sell well on eBay and other things that don't. But eBay isn't making itself easy to love these days.

Danna Crawford said...

Hi Cherry,
Thanks for the comment and I look forward to you being on my Radio show , Feb. 6th I have you booked for right? :-)

OK girlfriend ....

I think the term "mom/pop" sellers is over rated. The reality is, selling on eBay is EQUAL to everyone. Mom, pop, grandma the "18" year old and even: JACK SHENG, an amazing eBay seller!

How we run our business and what we do with it is not to blame on eBay or Mr.Donahoe.

Traffic stopped?
Could it be no one is looking for that product?

There are many reasons for traffic stopping other then a traffic light OUT or a traffic JAM .. lol

Seriously, I encouragement you to step-back and take a look at OPTIONS and ask yourself questions .. WHAT CAN I DO to step it up?

I tell my students PLAN B is waiting and there is always a Plan B for selling success.

Anita said...

Danna, have you been reading my business plan? LOL No, it is obvious (to me, anyway), that we must sell what sells in a down economy. There are certain things that sell no matter what month it is; whether the economy is good or bad or unpredictable; holidays or not; any day of the week.

I highly suggest contacting Danna to find out what that might be for you. I am going to let you know about Danna's PowerSelling Calendar soon! I'm very excited about it! Need to add that someone mentioned doing all the marketing they could do...imho, marketing is like cleaning house - you can NEVER be done. It is something that becomes a part of your life, thus part of your success and there is no single place to market that changes more than the internet. The possibilities are endless! Then there is marketing in real life for your internet store! It just goes on from there exponentially!
Anita at ModelSupplies & DNAshopper

Danna Crawford said...

Vickie : "It is partly eBay's fault because they just stopped caring about what small sellers need to keep alive."

Do you seriously think eBay stopped caring? Why would it be in their best interest to NOT CARE?

If we don't succeed with sales, then eBay is not succeeding with sales. We are a team here and believe me, they WANT YOU to succeed! It IS in their best interest for YOU to be a successful seller.

HOW you go about it is up to you.

Ok, so you made the 1st move to do SOMETHING about it by calling the Sellers HELP line. You say you got no results, so DID YOU STOP THERE?

Seriously, I am not being rude, but you could call back and try again.
We all have bad days, could be the person you spoke with had personal "issues" and a long day, WHO KNOWS but the point is NOT TO GIVE UP!!!

Get mad! Be a GO GETTER, find a way and seek out answers to increase your business. Look for SOLUTIONS ... Mom, Pop and King Charles all are trying to make ends meet. Everyone is here for the same reason .. TO MAKE MONEY!

We should all be arm in arm UNITED rather than HE SAID SHE SAID its eBay's fault.

thecrabbynook said...

Danna - I have mixed feelings about eBay right now. I love eBay and because of eBay I was able to start an e-commerce retail business after I retired from my first career. However, you have to admit that eBay has made some really bad choices the last few years that has effected many small and large sellers.

When you stated something to the effect, "...maybe there isn't anyone looking for those kinds of products anymore on eBay...", you are probably right. Because each retail site attracts different kinds of shoppers and lookers. When eBay took Stores out of Search in 2006 I requested a consult at LIVE that year because my sales plummeted. They said, "No one is looking for your product on eBay."

So, I branched out and started selling my products on Amazon. It is amazing! I get regular sales there every week. The same products, different lookers.

I started building back up on Ebay last year and at first, my sales were very good. Then I had lowered search status through the holidays for international shipping times and costs and my sales plummeted again. Now, after the holidays, eBay has decided to remove international negatives and neutrals for shipping because they realized it is not the sellers fault. But, the damage is already done...

Best match is a joke. My products are still showing up behind international sellers who have higher shipping and lower feedback. I sell ethnic collectibles so my products will show up with international sellers.

Everyone is different on eBay... What one sells, their pricing, etc. So, what may work for you, will not necessarily work for me. Right now, it seems that the buyers I am getting on eBay want an item for garage sale pricing, in brand new condition and shipped free. The traffic to my eBay store has steadily dropped over the last year and right now I am getting 25% of the traffic I was getting the first of last year. eBay does not normally attract SAKS type shoppers. eBay comes across to be fighting to keep any type of buyer on their site right now and sometimes buyers make ridiculous demands of a seller, again pushing sellers away when eBay refuses to stand behind their sellers.

I write newsletters, blogs, Twitter and participate on Facebook. All of the things that you recommend that a seller do. Evidently, I am not doing it right, because it has not helped my sales. I get questions from readers to help them with a problem or clarify an issue.

Danna, I love you and your enthusiasm. You have helped so many. I always feel better after reading something you wrote or listen to you talk. You have been a blessing.

EZAuction Photos said...

eBay or any other business, it's impossible to make a profit if you don't sit down with a pencil and try to figure out what tools you need and which ones are just shinny new things you'd like to try.
It's easy to blame eBay for your problems, but much harder to look at your business to see where you failed.
Great article Danna.

Danna Crawford said...

Hey Stephen,
I greatly appreciate your input!

Selling PB books can be challenging. When I used to sell loads of books I would always compare odds with selling on or eBay Auctions.
I did use Amazon years ago and did ok with it, but I found it easier to have all my items under one roof!

I don't care for Amazons feedback system either, BUT HEY feedback, that is another blog away! ((smiles))

Bottom line, you are a perfect example with the items you sell, WHY OH WHY research is so important. Many PB books are not worth listing and are better off put into box lots or add a quarter price tag on it and save it for the next garage sale!
Sure you know what I mean as I trust you are indeed researching before listing.

I do know many ladies that had eBay stores and would sit and LIST and LIST and LIST away filling the store with books that no one wants. This is exactly my point.
Don't fill the store up with stuff that no one wants or is not selling.
Check the trends .. check the current fads .... know what I mean?

Beth Cherkowsky said...

Danna - GOOD Post even if I don't agree 100% -(maybe 99 44/100ths.) BUT I have some thoughts on both sides:

1. eBay mgmt needs to make nice with Googlebase management and Google. Doesn't matter if eBay mgmt likes google mgmt or if they are technically competitors, and nobody here in my post is asking for their checkout, although I wouldn't mind being able to use it, BUT when WE sellers(ebay's customers) get into googlebase and show up in Google search results, ALL of us - me, Google and eBay ALL make more money. So get the lead out Mr Donohoe and the mgmt team and go kiss and make up.

As for eBay caring, what makes anyone think they ever "cared". They are a business. We are supposed to be businesses. If you want someone who "cares" go see family and friends. If you want to do "business" let's get busy and do it.

Oh and ask your blog readers to stop expecting my husband to buy enough to revive the entire economy all by himself. He's trying but he needs their help. If everyone who reads your blog buys one thing a day or a week from another ebayer, the economy will pick up a lot faster than waiting for a government pork roll.

Great Blog Post! - now I'm going back to listing/relisting/delisting..

UdderlyGoodStuff said...

There was no bigger ebay cheerleader than myself until this past year. I dug my heels in and said no I don't want to go to other sites I love ebay but ebay has pushed me to look for other options.
I wouldn't even mind the fee schedule if I was getting the exposure that used to be ebay, but traffic is down and I think this has a lot to do with the ongoing tension between ebay and Google.
Now the rollout of the new My Ebay page has me not even able to conduct my business as I have, there is something really buggy in the programming, was supposed to be fixed this morning but still is not.
Why is ebay making unnecessary changes to something that was working just fine?
The stars being tied to discounts and exposure is another huge issue! One miffed International buyer can ding my stars enough to take money away from me, that isn't right.
I would love to be waving my pom poms for ebay again really I would!

Danna Crawford said...

Hey Anita,

I know you are a gal on a mission with a strong business plan for sure!

Thanks for the comment and the support. Look at you with your "specialized" product line.

You are a great "role model" so I guess thats why you sell Model Supplies! ((smiles))

I've also enjoyed your radio show and think its fantastic how you've branded yourself.

Movers and Shakers will go far! You are an example of that!

Keep up the good work and will be sending out your order ASAP. My supply should be in any day!

Take care,

Cozy Daisy said...

Great Post and I agree.
I don't feel it is eBay's fault either. Let's do a scenario here. You have decided to open a store in the mall. You pay your rent, which BTW is way more than $16.95, you are doing good. Then all of a sudden things slow down. Is it the Mall's fault? Are they responsible for your business success? I don't think so. You had dreams of running your own business, you researched your selling avenues, and made a business plan (you did do that's important). The mall may raise your rent or change their hours, electric rates may increase, that's business. Your either in it or not. Make changes and don't blame eBay. After all they are trying to run a business too.

Ginny aka Cozy Daisy

Anonymous said...

I agree with many things said here. I don't agree that it's always e-bay's fault. I think that's a broad brush stroke not painted well. I have other issues with e-bay. It seems they are catering to buyers to the degree that no matter what, a buyer is right. I think they got a lot of complaints about unscrupulous sellers that were legitimate but I also think they got a lot of complaints from people who don't read listings correctly or misunderstood them. For example, if someone wrote 'like new' in an item listing, I would never consider the item new. I polled people on this, too. We all came to the conclusion that 'like' means similar to something but it's not. In other words, something looks new but it's not. I truly think people are just getting lower IQs as time goes by because I think that they misinterpret those sort of things incorrectly and when they get something that's NOT new but like new, they complain that they thought it was knew.

Anyway, I just had a listing pulled because of that same exact thing and frankly I am so mad at e-bay I could spit (I'm being nice, I'm much madder than that). In the Item Description, I actually wrote, "As you can see, even though they are not new, these are in perfect condition!" And the item is. It even has its original box. But I am out of a listing fee and a probable sale because it was being watched...and probably because come dumb #(@# in the past misinterpreted that exact verbiage and whined like a big baby to e-bay.

I had other problems in or around September where they slapped me with seller restrictions and I couldn't even sell a freaking little kids USED Gap shirt because it was considered designer. The seller restrictions were on me because my shipping star rating dropped to 4.71 I THINK it was because earlier in the year before I lost my job, I started shipping only on Saturdays because that was about the only time I could get to the post office. I kept that up and once the star rating thing was implemented, even though my listing CLEARLY stated I shipped only on Saturdays, people were dinging my star rating. And it lowered me to below a point e-bay deemed not good.

Which leads me to another issue. I cannot fathom the stupidity it took to put a star rating on seller's shipping rates. If you bid on and win or buy an item from a seller, you are agreeing to that shipping rate. Why in the looniest mind would you then give someone the opportunity to see that you charged $3.49 for shipping but actual shipping was $2.99 so then they ding your star rating because you charged more than the sticker on their package. They don't remember that you had to buy that envelope and/or drive to the PO and maybe don't care. THAT IS WRONG that e-bay let's people judge your shipping price when they didn't have to bid on or buy your item in the first place if they didn't agree with it. I don't like the star rating system anyway because any miserable person could ding you if something wasn't exactly as they thought it should be.

I really believe in my heart of hearts that e-bay is cow towing (sp?) to buyers to the detriment of sellers. I mean seriously, I cannot believe the atmosphere that's been created. I actually have had a seller 'turn me in' for something I innocently did that was not even harmful to anyone. I put the URL to my e-bay page in the feedback of a seller AFTER I gave them rave kudos and positive feedback. And I know they did it because e-bay put their user in the e-mail they sent me. Do you think I will EVER buy from them again? NO WAY! And I think sellers rat out other sellers because they know e-bay is so catering to buyers that they can easily get another seller a hand slap or worse, especially if they consider them competition or maybe they're just jealous someone's getting away with something they are not.

I haven't been discussing this with anyone, except people in the forums back in September about the seller restrictions. There are some things said here that I felt I could mention these things. They are very troubling to me and honestly if I could hock my wares elsewhere and do at least as well, I would. I just really feel that all these restrictions and catering to buyers no matter what stupidity they bring to the table has really set up a bad air in e-bay land. I got $5.00 that some fellow seller turned me in on the LIKE NEW thing. I read that policy and it could not have possibly pertained to that phrase in my title in any reasonable, intelligent person's mind. Have you ever read it? And I got another $5.00 that says they did it because they were mad because they thought I was getting away with something they weren't. I would laugh at how stupid all this is if it didn't cost me money and potentially harm my status on e-bay.

I have personally seen other sellers doing things that I knew were against certain policies but in my opinion, many of those policies are wrong and I frankly didn't care if they were breaking them. And since I'm not petty enough to be jealous because they were doing something I wouldn't because of policy, there is no way I would turn them in anyway.

I really wish that things could be simpler and more beneficial to sellers. Like it was back in earlier e-bay days. I don't think everyone should be punished because of those who are unscrupulous and I don't think e-bay should cater to buyers over sellers. They are getting money from us whether there's a sale or not. said...

I think its all in how you work your marketing and money. Consulting with students, I found that Danna is right, they had expensive monthly fees with programs that they did not know what to do with or were over whelmed but figured it they kept paying they would get it eventually.

Simply if you are selling out of your store, auctions, or buy it now, what are you selling? Is it in demand?

With the state of the economy, the demand has changed. If you have a website, throw a poll on it for what people are looking for online. Ask your friends and family what they are spending their money on. You may be surprised.

If you were paying rent for a store in a shopping mall, would it be the shopping malls fault if you did not have sales?
You are basically renting space online to sell your goods and this is far cheaper than in the shopping mall.

Marketing is everything and Danna is an exceptional teacher if you need help. One of the things that got me when I first met Danna and read an article she wrote on ebay, she said " Are you staring at your ebay store and wondering where the buyers are? Stop looking there and look to places to advertise and get your name out there". She is absolutely right. Do your research and Drive the traffic in.

Make use of places that offer free advertising like , and for your ebay items.

You are in charge, its your business, you can make it work.

Have a fantastic day,

William Leides said...

I used to run an ebay store.. but after the fees and everything started to hike I decided to change my outlook. Literally, last year when (jan/feb 2008) when ebay made some drastic changes, i was about to leave ebay all together. Partly in frustration, partly in annoyance, partly in fear i wouldnt make any money. But the truth of the matter is, ebay.. like it or hate it is a machine, and you have to treat it as such. If it were not for ebay i wouldnt be able to do the things i'm able to do in my life right now. So, i'm just going to stick with ebay and change my game plan as they change theirs.

Don't give up!

William Leides

Danna Crawford said...

Thanks bunches Crabbynook for the valuable input you've added to the comments here!
I greatly appreciate you sharing your stats and ideas.

I've also watched you grow your business and I run into you all around the net at different times. The branding you've been doing on your name is definitely working!
I'm sure I'm not the only one that can spot you a mile away because of your logo!
GREAT JOB with that I must say!

It is interesting to me that you are selling the same on two sites and selling more on one than the other? I am curious to look at your keywords used in each and if they are EXACTLY the same or different wording.
I think you should do a blog about the stats on that.
Set up EVERYTHING identical including the title, photos, keywords, description and even the price!
Would make for an interesting post!
Let me know,

Danna Crawford said...

**waves** to you Beth for 1st off the post about the google search. It has been an interesting topic in eBay land for sure!
Only eBay and google know whats up with that because I've only heard rumors with no confirmation from eBay or google about anything different. SO if you do find something out direct from the source, would LOVE to view it!!!

Beth said :
As for eBay caring, what makes anyone think they ever "cared". They are a business. We are supposed to be businesses. If you want someone who "cares" go see family and friends. If you want to do "business" let's get busy and do it.

When I said that about eBay Caring I meant they DO CARE ABOUT THE NUMBERS!!! Which we know they do! Normal for anyone to CARE about their numbers, just as I care about my profit numbers as well! SO, if eBay is NOT getting listings up by ANY type of sellers, then they DO CARE!

Sorry I wasn't more clear with that!! I did mean on a BUSINESS caring level not personal!! :-)

Thanks again Beth for your support! Love your blog too btw!


Tommy said...

A few thoughts to share.

eBay is a corporation and corporations go away is they do not make a business. We each in our own way are a business and we rent space from eBay, so to speak. Corporations have to change to keep making a profit. We as business owners have to change to make a profit and stay in business. If you are not willing to change your business will will suffer, struggle, and finally go away.

Life and business require vision, change, goals, steps, reworking, etc. If you are not will to adjust to the market you will have problems, i.e., the current auto makers. You simply cannot grow and change, and expect to stay the same. One theory says that if you are not growing, then you are stagnating, and that leads to end of whatever is not growing.

I have generally found that those who are not growing are complaining about something and they usually make it someone else's fault. No one made you not change or not grow. Whatever happened to self-responsibility.

A while back a lot of sellers were protesting (and still are). They did not like the changes. If the big boys change how the game is played, you have to change to stay in the game.

To borrow a phrase from Danna, "There is enough eBay for all of us." That is true and it is particularly true if you are willing to change how you play the game. When everyone bales out on eBay, there is even more eBay for those of us who decide to change as the game changes.

I am still a very small business but I have seem my business grow during all the eBay changes because I was will to change with the game.

Don't take it personal. It is a business. If you are going to take business personal then you may be in the wrong line.

Sorry to those of you who will think this is too in your face.

Debonaire Flea Market said...

Great post! I have been debating on closing my store, and just selling thru auctions, but when I read your post, I realized that maybe I need to reset my goals & put a lot effort into my store (it won't matter which way I am selling, if I don't follow thru). I haven't been doing much marketing since the middle of Dec, and can tell the difference. Besides, if I had a brick & mortar store, I would have to be there the entire time it was open and the fees (rent, utilities, insurance, etc) would be a lot more than my E-bay fees. Thanks for the eye opening thoughts:)

Joyceb/danse said...

Hi Danna, you are a great eBay cheerleader and more important you keep working to make it work.

There is another side to falling eBay sales that few sellers want to hear about but I think it is important.

Sellers have to take some responsibility for the changes eBay has made over the past few years.

eBay buyers (who now have many buying choices on the Web)are having increasingly negative experiences and it's bad news for everyone.

I've been buying on eBay since 1996 and selling since 1998. A couple months ago I made four purchases for Christmas gifts. Two of them arrived in due time without problems. But two of them ended up going through mutual withdrawal initiated by me because I did not have any communication from the sellers and did not receive the items after two weeks. That means that 50% of my purchases were a problematic situation created by the sellers.

The sellers did refund my money (too late for me to get replacements in time for Christmas and they had good DSR and Feedback ratings.

In 10 + years of buying on eBay it is the first time I did not receive items I purchased or communication explaining why an item would be delayed.

As a result the next time I want similar items for occasions do you think I'll look on eBay? Unlikely.

It doesn't matter whether you are hobby sellers or building a business it's essential to become professional sellers. Your competition on the Web is professional. They spell out their terms, return policy, shipping, expected delivery date and item descriptions. Then they deliver.

It's easy to blame eBay for their attempts to force more professional behavior from their sellers and often it's the mirror that reflects the problem with selling on eBay.

It's unfortunate that those sellers who did not perform taints the experience for all the great sellers out there but competition is tough all over the Web. Sellers have to adjust to that competition by adjusting to the best the eBay platform has to offer and making it work.

E. Sheppard said...

I am really liking this blog and this post. It is my first time here. I really like hearing another viewpoint. When I go to Ebay and read the posts there on the community boards section, it seems like there is way too much complaining, and not enough ideas.

I will be definitely going back to Ebay and trying again, so when I found this site (with its many ideas and positive attitude) I was so glad!

I will definitely be reading this very closely, and trying some of the GREAT ideas here too.

Look for me starting back up in a week or two. :-)