eBay : Cry Havoc! And Let Slip The Dogs Of War!

Hi gang,

“Ohhhhhh,  the sun’s not so hot in the sky today.”

“And I can feel summertime slipping on away, yes I can.”

-September Grass,  James Taylor

Believe it or not,  the title of this post and my man James’ quote are actually related.  You see,  I hate summer.  For my business, and I suspect for many businesses,  my sales are almost directly inverse to the temperature –  the hotter it is, the worse my sales are.

So I really root for fall every year.   The blazing heat of summer here in Charlotte begins to subside and sales start to slowly creep up.   Soon,  I will have to wear ankle socks under my flip flops.

This year will be different, however.  This year, there is a war brewing.  

Now don’t get me wrong – every year there is a battle brewing on eBay.  We spend summertime locking down our technical systems and fine tuning our customer service processes.  We huddle around spreadsheets in our war rooms, preparing to do battle with our competitors.   4th quarter is coming.   It’s time to make or break our entire year.  Some sellers do as much as 40% of their annual business in 6 weeks on eBay.  Sales skyrocket, and we’d better be ready and able to handle it.

This year will be different, however.  This year, there is a war brewing.

Many of the massive changes eBay recently announced go into effect in a few short weeks from now.   We sellers have spoken to each other about them, read and posted on message boards,  and participated in conference calls.  The changes are not small.  The changes will completely change everything on eBay.

Here’s the fun part –  we really can’t do much planning for the changes.

eBay has made so many changes so close to the busy season that, quite honestly,  I feel like a sitting duck right now.    The problem is that nobody knows what will happen to their items if they decide to stick with Auctions vs. go 30 Day Fixed Price, for example.  Nobody has seen or can test search results.   eBay is tweaking Best Match for both formats so, depending on your situation, one may favor the other for you.  Then there’s this velocity component they are adding – nobodys seen that in action either.   Will I sell more Bambi DVD’s if I put up 1,000 of them on 30 day Fixed Price,  or 1,000 auctions for them over a month?  No idea.

This fall and winter will be a war of endurance for sellers on eBay.  We are going to all have to test our new strategies live, and hopefully make good decisions as we see sales results.  We are going to have to do all that as sales pick up in general, and as competitors unleash their strategies as well, WHILE eBay is introducing even more changes (3.00 capped shipping in October, for example).

This Christmas may see sellers selling more than ever before,  and it may put other sellers out of business.   I personally think the net effect of all these changes on eBay will be to simply redistribute orders from Seller A to Seller B.   I don’t think we will all benefit, as I don’t think eBay’s going to offer up a larger buyer pie this Christmas.

So a war is coming – it’s probably the biggest war ever on eBay for sales this Christmas.  

Soooo, do I pack my sword or my crossbow?  Help!







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