It’s amazing to me that with all the dozens of new Web 2.0 companies starting up on a daily basis, nobody’s taken a serious run at eBay. Why are auction sites so afraid of eBay? Even eBay’s users hate eBay these days.
Maybe today’s startups are smart enough to know that auctions don’t work anymore, period? I’m not sure that’s the case. I think eBay’s structure and system has made auctions too annoying to use effectively. A new flashy AJAXy competitor should be able to win over a chunk of eBay’s audience, if only from one popular corner of it.
More on eBay’s trouble: Trouble at eBay – ReadWriteWeb
“I think [fixed prices] will disappear online, simply because it is possible – cheap and easy – to vary prices online.” That was MIT Media Lab’s Patti Maes in 1999, at a time when eBay’s business was booming and auctions were seen as the future of ecommerce. Flash forward 9 years, and BusinessWeek is today calling online auctions a dying breed, Nick Carr is wondering if auctions were a fad. Indeed, the fixed price (“Buy it Now” only) format is beginning to dominate eBay, and the company has taken recent steps push fixed price even harder. But the death knell of the online auction format is not eBay’s biggest problem — no, that would be the small exodus of sellers from the site.
Here’s how eBay is killing itself. “Buy It Now, ” or “BIN”:
Fixed price BIN-only listings now account for 42% of the gross merchandise volume on the site, and the fixed price format has been growing at a much faster rate than auctions over the past 6 years.
eBay is turning into a virtual marketplace with price tags, not gavels and auctioneers. And they keep restructuring things to ensure it.
Meanwhile, I use Amazon, which gives me greater exposure, better fees, and an easier payment system. I don’t want to venture into the world of eBay ratings anymore, thanks. It’s a jungle in there.