Wednesday, February 6, 2019

eBay’s Changing Strategy

Spencer Soper (Hacker News):

Wall Street bought the story for a while, but with Amazon gaining and EBay atrophying, investors have been losing patience with Wenig’s slow-and-steady approach. That impatience came to a head on Tuesday, when Billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. -- which owns more than 4 percent of the company -- published a letter outlining “urgently needed” steps that included assets sales and share buy-backs.

EBay’s growth was languishing even before Wenig took over in 2015 after the company split from faster-growing PayPal Holdings Inc. Many shoppers still think of EBay as the online rummage sale of yesteryear, where you could snag a deal on someone’s baseball card collection or video game console by bidding in an auction. In fact, EBay is much like any e-commerce site these days, replacing a trip to the mall by offering deals on new iPhones, Under Armour shirts and cordless drills from DeWalt.


As a shopper I hate a lot of the recent shifts in their strategy. The only thing interesting enough to make me want to deal with all the hassles of eBay are the interesting vintage or collectible one-of-a-kind items: coins, camera gear, art, etc. These things are more work to list and describe but make for an always entertaining browsing experience. I loved eBay back in the day when it was like one big never-ending garage sale.

The catalogization of eBay, moving toward SKU-based product pages with sellers providing fulfillment, ends up feeling like a weird me-too version of the Amazon FBA race to the bottom. Small sellers with interesting inventory have been bled to death with ever-increasing fees and seem ready to pack up the wagon and move on to greener pastures.

The featured products on the homepage have the same bland sameness as every other e-com site and as a shopper I don’t feel like I have much reason to ever go there these days. Right now I’m seeing a Patriots ballcap, some men’s sneakers, and a small grill. Might as well be shopping at Target.

Kirk McElhearn:

For many years, I have bought new iPhones and sold the previous models. As a tech journalist, it’s useful for me to have the latest technology – even though I don’t do this every year – and I don’t want to accumulate old devices, like many of my friends who have “boxes of phones.”

I used to do this on eBay, but, when I tried to sell my iPhone 8+ recently, the experience was so bad that I will never do it again.

Previously: eBay Is for Suckers.

1 Comment RSS · Twitter

Ebay deserves to die, they got too greedy. I'm not sure exactly when it started to go downhill but I think it was around 2012, when they began charging 10% fees for both the final sale price and the shipping price. Which is ridiculous because it costs them the same fraction of a cent to list a $2 CD as it does to list a $3,000 vintage stereo. Why should they get 20 cents from one seller but $300 from another? I've been a member of Ebay since 1998, back when they charged 2.5% of the final sale price (and free or 50 cents for a listing?).

Now it's just a joke. I haven't sold anything on there since 2014 — when I got bit by the 10% fees for the first time. The last time I looked, there weren't really that many deals to be had from regular folks selling used gear. With all of the fees, people either aren't selling on Ebay anymore or they're listing their stuff for much higher than it's really worth.

It's the same thing with the App Store -- why does Apple take 30% of a 99 cent game and also 30% of a $19.99 app? Their cost is the same, but Apple takes more from developers who create top-tier apps? It should be the other way around... take less from quality apps to encourage more quality.

Leave a Comment