Monday, December 20, 2010

Death of Online Auctions, Ebay and the Web

I've been swamped over the last two months.  I have been running like a maniac both preparing for the holiday season and trying to get my new website for Himelbros working for the new year.  I have large plans to try and grow my site into not just a market place for my brand but I hope to be able to sell other finely crafted "small batch" vintage inspired swag and true vintage pieces.

I had an important reminder why there is urgency for me to get this site up.  This week I decided to list 35 items in the auction format on Ebay.  I've been on Ebay since its opening.  There is a long long story here, one that some of my friends think is a tall tale, but suffice to say before Ebay, the first online auction was a vintage clothing auction in Utah.  I was flatly rejected when I put out proposals to develop an open use online auction for collectibles by developers here in Toronto.  When Ebay opened up it was a godsend for me and my forward thinking peers.


Sadly today the reality has set in for me that Ebay is dead for selling.  I've seen the end coming for a while as after almost 15 years of selling the golden era of the auction format has come to a close.

While the price of running and hosting your own selling site is as cheap as opening a blog, Ebay became an increasingly hostile place for sellers of collectibles.  Those junk dealers and garage sale enthusiasts were the very same people who built the base of Ebay.  Unfortunately for Ebay they became increasingly over managed and viewed as expendable.  The site has geared itself to try and manage customer satisfaction, and charge exorbitant fees in lieu of its increasingly managed marketplace.  What the management failed to realize is that the buyers on Ebay are also the sellers.  As it became increasingly difficult to sell, the very competitive marketplace of bidders were being booted off and alienated as sellers.  While the theorists and controllers of management debated the declines in sales, real people were being alienated from the fun and open marketplace that was Ebay and building their own sites, or the many other nearly free auction sites that are micro competitors. One of my classmates from high school assumed the head of Ebay Canada and I often thought perhaps I could convince him of change before it was too late.  Even he left in controversy as Ebay fell into dissarray. 


The long and the short of it...I listed 35 auctions at 99 cents and sold 10 items for 99 cents.  I would be better off donating my goods to a charity store.  If a brother cant sell a perfectly good n-3b for 99 cents the value of online auctions is practically nil!


That being said I am getting ready for a holiday and a new start in the New Year.  Here are some nice juicy photos of jackets and boots...some of my favourites of the last few weeks!

Here's an interesting link to a fellow who really really likes leather...I don't know who he is but he sure looks slick and into his leather...and that makes him interesting to me!
Selby on Alfus the leather king








6 comments:

  1. Received this in my inbox

    Hi David,

    I read your blog and found it interesting but I guess I'm a little
    confused about
    your posture towards Ebay. Are you saying that for a private
    entrepreneur Ebay
    has become too controlling and expensive? I have never been on the
    selling
    side and am a fairly late comer to the site. But for say the past two
    years have
    had what I would say is a lot of success and satisfaction shopping on
    line, Ebay
    included. My recent purchase from you is a prime example of a find
    that if it
    were not for Ebay and cyberspace, I might never have accomplished. Its
    true I
    find the obligatory feedback format that Ebay has instituted kind of a
    pain and
    annoying. On the other hand I have had two instances were I was not
    satisfied
    with the sale, and had Ebay back me up and rule in my favor.

    In my opinion, a buyers perspective, Ebay works despite its
    entanglements.
    Hope you have a successful upcoming year. I'm glad you are out there.
    (T......or)

    ReplyDelete
  2. m guessing that a large part of my success on ebay is due to my
    blog...which could take vendors almost anywhere to buy online. Paypal
    fully insures buyers for any issues with sellers..and in the end as a
    vendor you are only as good as your reputation.

    Most sellers on ebay are big box retailers now... Because the of
    the erosion of regular guys and gals selling on ebay the majority of items
    sold are junk, electronica etc... The collectible component of ebay
    selling has deteriorated to almost nothing. Also in the old days you
    could run an auction for almost ever item and have multiple bidders...now
    there are almost no bidders...and it is always unclear if you are bidding
    against the actual bidder or a friend of the owner of the item. Ebay
    created a system where they tried to remove the trust and fun and replace
    it with command and control, like many corporations with the belief that
    they could electronically impose good will. ON top of that fees now
    account for almost 20 percent of any sale.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would say that after you become an expert in ebay (and I can tell you I
    have been buying and selling in the same field for 20 years and know all
    the buyers and all the sellers) you cannot be aware of these changes and
    issues. People have positive experiences buying from me because I am an
    expert...that being said the negative experience you had is reflective of
    the decline of ebay not the other way around. I will build my own
    site...which is cheaper and just as search able as ebay...ebay has become
    an international advertising tool....I use it to buy store quality
    goods...because I know i AM BACKED UP BY STORE, MANUFACTURER AND EBAY
    GUARANTEES but that is not what ebay was about...it was a collectibles
    site not a fence, junk store...or an insurance company...trust is made by
    growing a community..I have one so people know they are safe...I fire
    customers too you know because they come to my community and cause trouble
    due to lack of courtesy and experience!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Seems like the only way to get anything for vintage and one-off stuff is to put it up for a fixed price and wait it out. I've gotten burned on stuff that should sell for 5x, 10x. 20x as much because I put it up on auction and it got sold for $1.99. Unfortunately, this means that the prices go up when you are looking to buy, as well, since everybody else is doing it.

    Etsy is also my new favorite place for vintage and hand-made. You have to wade through 10,000 knitted pot-holders, but there is some really great stuff and really knowledgeable buyers. Check it out if you haven't.

    ReplyDelete
  5. your 100 percent right Joe...to be honest there are no deals left for pickers either...since rudimentary vintage knowledge has spread through sources like ebay the days of cheap and available vintage are over,...I guess if you want cool, and old you just have to pay or offer via fixed prices...hopefully we will all survive and make money and everybody is happy....(and I will stop getting hate mail through ebay from customers)

    ReplyDelete
  6. The death of eBay occurred when it went public. Like all corporations in the US, it's only goal is to increase the wealth of the preferred shareholder. It's current business model is shortsighted and means that it will fail in the long run.

    eBay's biggest fault is that the falsely believe that the "buyer" is their customer. This is simply not the case. The "sellers" pay for everything. While agree with their intentions of trying to create a safe place for all users, their actions have done little to help the "sellers" position. In fact, it becomes more and more difficult to sell.

    With the government and other big interests pressure, it's surely the end for small sellers in the near future.

    ReplyDelete

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