Whatever Happened to eBay?

I’ve been a vocal Amazon Marketplace user for a few months now, but there are certain things that aren’t feasible for Amazon. Items that don’t have an Amazon number, for example, can’t be sold through the Amazon system. Also, you’re selling one item at a time, so bundle packages aren’t part of the process. If I want to sell the last year’s worth of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, or package together a couple of textbooks I have lying around, I can’t do it. The individual items don’t have their own entries in Amazon’s database, and you can’t do more than one item per listing.

There’s the limitation.

In the case of comics, you have a periodical problem. Amazon sells magazine subscriptions, but not individual issues of the magazine. (There are a few exceptions, but I’m talking about the general rule of thumb here.) You can’t sell last month’s issue of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN because it’s not there, nor can you sell the last year’s worth, because that doesn’t have an Amazon number.

So for those kinds of things, I’ve been investigating eBay recently. eBay has a couple of good things going for it. First, it has eyeballs. The traffic numbers on eBay are pretty good. It’s the most popular auction site out there, and when you’re trying to sell items with bidding wars, you have to have lots and lots of people interested in buying your item. You need those eyeballs. Second, you have greater shipping flexibility with eBay than Amazon. At the Marketplace, Amazon tells you what the shipping charges will be and that’s the end of the story. On eBay, you dictate that cost, and you can do it any way you want — media mail, first class, Priority Mail, etc. You can charge for the envelope you’re using to make the shipment. Disclose it all, and if there’s a buyer willing to pay it, you’ll make a sale.

The downsides are, as previously mentioned, that it takes more work in dealing with people, and the money goes through PayPal (best case scenario) or separately via check or money order or some other service. Again, you can dictate how you take payment, but the more choices you offer, the more money you’ll make.

But I discovered something while perusing eBay lately – there’s not much there anymore. I’m looking up Completed Auctions figures to see what I might be able to sell some of my stuff for, and I’m coming up blank. Granted, some of the stuff is relatively obscure, but not all of it. Where have all the eBayers gone? Is there an up-and-comer in the on-line auction market? Is there a separate comics-only auction site that all those sales have gone to? There’s still a ton of stuff on there, but the oddball stuff that you used to find on eBay as a matter of routine is missing. What happened?

I wrote all of the above about a week ago, truth be told. After that, something else happened. eBay changed its fee structure.

Guess what? eBay sucks even more now. They’ve lowered the listing fee, but increased their percentage on the final selling price. It’s a greater fee if the final sale is less than $25. This is eBay’s attempt to get more products listed at their site, possibly to help promote the auction business over the store fronts and Buy It Now listings that currently dominate the site, from what I’ve seen. Problem is, all those smaller auctions are resulting in less profits. So either people will find ways to bundle auction items together to get to a $25 price point, or just not list them because the profits are sinking.

Here’s a hint to eBay: If you REALLY want to drive growth in your business, cut the rates across the board. As listings grow, all eBay has to invest in are more hard drives, I suppose. It’s not like every item listed results in man hours of labor or storage. It’s ALL bits. eBay can afford to cut rates in an attempt to gain more listings, more auction listers, and more eyeballs. It’s about time eBay did that. If they really want to grow their business, it’s time to take the price advantage. Lower the rates, increase the number of auctions, reap the benefits.

Cutting listing fees while hiking final sale fees to cover it is just insulting.

In fact, the best thing they could do is cut out the PayPal transaction costs. eBay bought up PayPal. They’ve integrated it into their site to make it the easiest payment method for users. But if eBay is already getting their money from listing fees and final price point percentages, why charge their users twice by making the seller pay for the honor of receiving their money?

5 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to eBay?

  1. Well, there is an alternative to eBay now in regards to comics and graphic novels, Atomic Avenue. I have found Atomic Avenue to have a much larger selection of issues when I am looking for particular things. So, if you have any comics you want to sell, you might want to try there.

  2. Ah, I had forgotten about them. I looked at them when they first launched and then promptly forgot they existed. It’s built up impressively, at first glance. Thanks – I’ll explore this one further.

  3. With the new fee and feedback structure, I’m probably done with eBay for good – at least in terms of selling things. I will still buy stuff, but it just doesn’t seem worth the hassle anymore, especially when you’re selling stuff like books and dvds. Amazon really is the way to go to unload unwanted media.

    Now to hurry up and unload these action figures I don’t want before the new policy takes effect.

  4. Great article. Over the last several months I have had a hard time trying to find any graphic novels to buy on ebay. Believe me i looked but you are correct in that there is not much there anymore. I got to try this atomic avenue site. Also, yes amazon does have some very good deals on new and used trades especially if you arent a collector and only want the material for reading purposes.

Comments are closed.