eBay seller strike enters second week

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Philgarlic

Sellers striking in protest at eBay’s recent fee and (mainly) feedback changes have announced the strike is to be extended for another week until 9th March.

proposing extending the strike shows that support is far from universal: “I pledge to KEEP listing and buying” says one commenter, and another vacillates: “I pledge not to buy or list any Auction style Listings. My store will remain open for those who choose not to boycott. My store suppliments my income.”

Is it working?

It depends what you mean by working. Most sellers I heard on this issue were striking as a *protest*: I didn’t see any real expectation that eBay’s management would reverse their decisions, and I don’t see any sign of that having happened. If those protesting feel better for having done so, good for them.

The other aim frequently expressed by striking sellers was to “hit them in the pocket where it hurts”. Has that happened? Reports vary. I’ve seen people claim a a 13% drop, even a 20% drop (#4 in comments). The problem is that the Medved graph showing the downward plunge, starts on Monday 17th, the day before the strike. Though it shows a “my viagra wore off”-style drop, it doesn’t tell anything like the real story.

A tale of two graphs

eBay.com February 2008 listing totals

Fortunately, Only eBay has a chart tracking numbers of listings since the beginning of February. Hardly surprisingly, we see that on 13th February, the cheap listing day, listings hit an enormous spike. And throughout the next ten days, we see those listings decrease as they end or are bought.

The graph tells us that CLDs increase listing numbers. It could even be telling us that eBay sellers were trying to clear inventory before the fees changes. But if there’s a drop in listing numbers, it’s about 4%: the same drop we see on 3rd February when there wasn’t any strike going on. The graph might be telling us that eBay listing totals are very volatile, but I don’t see that it tells us that a seller strike is about to bring the company to its knees.

“You dirty bird! Misery Chastain cannot be dead!”*

There are times, and this is one of them, when eBay sellers remind me of no one more than Annie Wilkes, turning from Number One Fan into axe-wielding maniac because the story she loved was over. Meg wrote us a great series of romance novels; are the grittier, harder-hitting works that JD seems to be promising going to be to our taste?

For some sellers, the answer is no. I don’t know how to put this nicely, so I’ll just be blunt: eBay is no longer the place for some of us to sell. If you think things have changed radically over the last month or so, think again: I’ll predict that recent changes are *as nothing* to what we’ll see next year, and the year after. eBay a couple of years down the line will be unrecognisable.

Which, I hasten to add, is a good thing. If eBay is even going to survive, it has got to change radically. In 1995, ecommerce websites were prohibitively difficult and expensive to set up. Credit card processing was for big companies. Search engines were – comparatively – useless. The world was ready for a site that could bring buyers and sellers together. But that site has been taken over by the internet itself. You can now get an ecommerce site up and running in less than ten minutes, and get Google to pick it up in less than a day. Where do eBay fit into all this?

My answer: by doing exactly what JD has started to do this month. By offering buyers a guarantee, that by buying through eBay, they’ll get the quickest, most reliable service, from sellers who acknowledge their legal rights and who will act like professionals. Those who can’t fit in with this vision, well, I get the feeling they’re welcome to go elsewhere.

(* If you don’t get the reference, it’s Stephen King’s Misery and I heartily recommend the . The is good too.)

2 Responses

  1. Film holds it’s own, but the book is far more chilling. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ (this is as close to a scared face as I can get ๐Ÿ˜› ).

    Same as ebay really. A bit Hollywood on the surface, but underneath a chilling current of unrest, fear and speculation. Mwoooooaahhhhhhh !!!!!!

  2. Cheap Listing Days (CLDs) always increase the number of listings. If that is so, however, then why did listings not go up the day the lower ebay fees went into effect which was on Feb 20? If the new fee changes really mean lower fees to sellers as Ebay claims, but sellers dispute, then every day following Feb 20th is a CLD. Listings should have risen signifficantly on Feb 18, instead they continued falling dramatically.

    This is the first time i can remember that listings did not increase in response to ebay lowering its fees. So either the new ebay fees really do not lower users’ fees, as many sellers claim, or, the seller strike which started on Feb 18 and preceded and overlapped the permanent fee reduction had the effect of completely neutralizing the expected spike in listings. In either case, the data favors the claims of the ebay sellers, especially those sellers supporting the strike.

    If this change to the fee structure was at all successful, it would have increased listings without a doubt. Therefore, the real interesting question is: how much more severe would the effects of the strike have been, had it not overlapped with the “fee reduction”?

    Also, in analysing the graph we have to consider that even if every ebay user participated for one week in the strike by not listing any new items, there would still be auctions up every day during the strike. Why? Because at the first day of the strike the majority of auctions were listed prior to the strike and they expire according to their duration. This also supports the fact that the auctions counts started to decrease one day prior to the strike. Some sellers may have realized that in order to not have any 7 day auction up on Feb 18, they need to NOT list starting on Feb 11 and beyond. Others may have prefered to let their auctions expire during the strike and not relist until after the strike.

    This week and next will be interesting. An increase of the auction counts over the next few days will be more evidence that the seller strike was successful. Of course, it will also be evidence that ebay’s fee reduction was successful in stimulating auction listing growth. If auction counts remain virtually unchanged until next week, then things will really get interesting ๐Ÿ˜†

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