Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Will eBay Still Be the Place to Find "It" after the New Fees Kick In?

The only thing constant is change. At least, that's sure how it is with eBay.

With this latest round of fee changes, eBay is essentially getting rid of the Store inventory format. There will only be one fixed-price format now on eBay. The good news is this means all those fixed-price listings will have the regular exposure in eBay search and won't be "buried" anymore.

The bad news it is becoming more expensive to list those items in terms of insertion fees, with the $15.95 Basic Store format...from as low as $.03 before to $.20 with the new fee structure.

Will the additional exposure in search offset the fees? Time will tell.

Right now, with my understanding of how fees are changing, I see the biggest downside as that you can no longer let something sit there for such a low cost until it finds the right buyer.  As an example, a 1954 college yearbook (I sell yearbooks regularly) may take months and months (sometimes years) to sell, but with a Store monthly subscription covering my many Store items, it only cost me between 3 and 10 cents every 30 days.

This low prices enabled me and other sellers to let very specialized inventory sit and sit until the interested party came along.

Now, that same yearbook will cost me 20 cents if I have a Basic Store level subscription as I do now. Presumably the long 30-day listing duration will still be an option there for the new global fixed-price listing; otherwise we are talking about an even more expensive proposition.

To offset this, I could list a lot more items than I do now and go with the new Premium Store format, for $49.95 a month, which would bring my insertion fees down to $.05 per item. eBay says this is a good choice for "higher volume sellers" (more than 250 items per month).

Also, final value fees are going up, depending on what level of Store subscription you have. (One thing you cannot say about the new fee structure is it is easy to understand; there are a lot of moving parts).

I do think the increased visibility in search should help sales. However, in the old format, Store items would still show up in search if there were less than 30 auction-style or fixed-price items returned in the search results. This means that often, for very specialized items, buyers would see Store results in the search results anyway, because there just weren't that many of them overall on eBay.

In thinking about this more, I wonder if eBay would do better to find a reasonable pay-at-sale only format that enabled specialized items to sit there at a very low cost-risk to sellers so a wider variety of inventory could be there for buyers to choose from. (The new fee format does include a no-listing-fees option, but only when your item has a start price of under $1. This low start price may be too risky for many sellers. Have you ever had a $50 item sell for your flashy 99 cent start price? Not a good feeling.). 

I think I would be willing to pay a larger percentage of my sales price if I didn't have to pay anything up front, or had to pay very little, to keep the item sitting on the virtual shelf.

It would also be nice to see the whole selling process on eBay get simplified. Selling on amazon is ridiculously easy compared to eBay, in most find the item, type you description on one line, pick a price, and you're done. But, of course, amazon doesn't have the wide variety of stuff that eBay does, so you can pick from stock photos in many cases.

Let's see how all these changes shake out. As always, as long as sellers keep listing enough and buyers keep buying, eBay will remain a viable marketplace. But, I hope these changes don't erode eBay's status as the place to buy the unique, the special, and the hard-to-find.

No comments:

Post a Comment