Friday, 20 June 2008

Ebay Pisses Off The Longtail

"We formed the economic base of eBay from the start, and we are hurt," said Karen Bendorf, who sells a small number of kitchen collectibles from her home in Menlo Park. "We're just appalled that eBay could treat us in such a manner."

Wow. You gotta wonder what the heck is going on over there at Ebay. The latest in a string of bad decisions Ebay has decided to give larger discounts to its top sellers.

Now, out in the non-digital world, this might seem like a completely natural business decision. There are loyalty programs galore for high sellers and purchasers. The issue here however, is that Ebay was built on the long tail. Its base has always been the little guy/gal and yet that very little guy/gal is the one continually being screwed by Ebays policies (go check out their angry forums one day - quite a treat).

I can't imagine my brother, who is a vintage clothing whole seller, won't go on a complete rant in the comments on this post (as he does to me almost weekly) about how Ebay has gone from the centre of his business world to the bane of his existence.

And maybe some of you think Ebay shouldn't care. The little guy isn't worth the big bucks so screw 'em. Keep raising their fees, don't give them equal treatment as buyers on the reputation rankings and continue to change your policies to support only the big revenue players.

Only problem? The reason Ebay was able to dis-intermediate traditional buying and selling models and the reason it became a monopoly in the auction market, wasn't because of the big guys. It was built on the little masses. Now those masses continue to defect and are looking for the next big thing.

I think Etsy should just go to town - right now. Open their doors up beyond the handmade market and make themselves the worlds largest marketplace for the little guy. A little downstream disruption in the small seller game is exactly what Ebay deserves and I personally can't wait for it to happen.

photo credit:


vanessa said...

Amazon is another one who could eat eBay's lunch. Not for auctions so much as small sellers willing to go the fixed price route. People are as pissed off about eBay-owned PayPal and Amazon's about to take that one on. If they can surpass PayPal, they may be able to take a bite out of eBay as well. See "The Long Tail of Transactions" (yes, getting tacky, I know):

Leigh said...

Good point Vanessa - transactions are the next place for Ebay to lose.

David Himel said...

Many many people are widgeting their way into online commerce. Specialty sites and low cost selling alternatives have moved many into their own microbranded sites. Ebays own popularity allows it to be used as an advertising tool to redirect transactions away from the actual site. Build your own critcal mass and sooner or later everybody will no where to find you, and it aint gonna be on ebay. Like so many they now spend more resources on alienating and controlling their users than facilitating them.

ng2000 said...

Valuable resource of ebay news summaries:

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