Seller's Story : why we're quitting eBay

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When I first started hanging around on the PowerSeller Board, longer ago than I like to remember, one of the people I really looked up to was Louise from . She seemed to have achieved exactly what I wanted to achieve myself: her own business, based around eBay but not exclusively reliant upon it. Over the last few years, I’ve watched her and soon-to-be-husband Paul expand their business, set up a great website and fill a warehouse with their stock. And then this week, she told me the sad news that as of next month, Boxes & Busts will no longer be trading on eBay. Here’s what Lou had to say:

My first taste of eBay came in November 2001 when we purchased a small occasional oak table. I then discovered gemstones and mounts and started making my own jewellery which I sold thorough – where else – eBay. From there Paul and I started a business selling jewellery through party plan. We had to buy some gift boxes for our own use and could only get them retail in small quantities. After a few months we had some spare boxes and started selling them on eBay. The rest is history.

We started purchasing to sell and was born in June 2002, selling not only jewellery boxes, but all sorts of retail display items. At that time there was very little of this type of thing being sold on the site and we quickly grew until we had over 1500 ads running at any one time. We outgrew home when it started getting dangerous to move around – you know the sort of thing – the dining room and one bedroom was a store room, the kitchen table was the packing table, another bedroom was the office and under the stairs was another store room. When the furniture in the lounge started getting closer to the centre of the room, we moved into a 2100sq ft trade warehouse in July 2003 and that’s where we still trade from, although we are now bulging at the seams with approx 2500 lines. We’ve also started our own website at www.boxesandbusts.co.uk.

During our time on eBay the site has changed phenomenally. As with any success story when people see what they believe is easy money to be made, they all jump on the bandwagon. Lots of hobby sellers started selling for minimal profit; lots have come and gone, but our superb service and quality of stock has stood the test of time.

In our early days, being a powerseller was quite an achievement and we were very proud of that status. Then in a move typical of eBay they changed the goal posts and hobby sellers were now powersellers and not businesses. Now the best part of having powerseller status is the Powerseller Forum.

The real start of our demise on eBay came when sellers from the Far East started listing directly on the UK site for less than we could import for, coupled with the change of search default making the worldwide option the first thing buyers saw. We have altered the way we trade to try and overcome this but there is no way we can compete with the prices these sellers can offer. Then to add insult to injury, US visibility ended. Within a short period of time we lost close to 80% of our eBay business.

It is with much regret we are leaving the site. It has been a decision made over a period of time but when we did some number crunching again this month it became much easier to bring down the final hammer. With the lower turnover we were now doing it means the that the latest changes to feedback have put our business at the mercy of what could be a few vindictive buyers or competitors. We are not prepared to keep going any longer under these conditions.

The days are long gone when trading on here was fun. It seems a long time ago when we used to be excited to switch on the computer in the morning.

The future is a rosy one for the business as a whole though, www.boxesandbusts.co.uk is thriving and due for a revamp soon to add our new service and some more refinements. The hot foil printer now means we will soon be offering our customers the choice to have their details on their boxes and we plan to introduce additional services such as stationary and promotional items to complement their boxes etc. We will cease trading on eBay on 31st July 2008.

There are undoubtedly people who will characterise this as failure: of B&B on eBay, or more likely, of eBay itself. I don’t think this is the case. Boxes and Busts is an amazing success story: one of a business which has deftly adapted to changing circumstances, which has used eBay to achieve independence, which hasn’t been bound to its own beginnings and which seems to me to have a bright future. Well done, Lou and Paul!

Got a story to tell about your business and eBay? Let us know.

32 Responses

  1. I remember reading this a few days ago and thinking how sad it was that such a good seller was leaving, good luck for the future you two.

    Something else I remember was a bizzare comment from a senior eBay staff member,,, if I was just about to loose a 15k a year account I would be trying to keep them! not wishing them luck !?!………business sure has changed over the years.

  2. I’ve actually been to Lou and Paul’s operation in Cardiff in the past and I know they’ve thought long and hard about leaving eBay. The great news from this story is that eBay has been a brilliant incubator for their business to grow it to a stage where it can run as a standalone web buisness. It’s kinda sad that they’ll be leaving eBay entirely though, even though I can totally understand the buisness decision behind it.

    Good luck for the future guys ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. disagreee with the powerseller comments,
    being a powerseller has only been of any real use this last few weeks.
    before that it was a total white elephant, regardless of if you were a business or a part timer,
    it was just a good piece of ego massage by ebay until recently

  4. Well good luck guys, I’m finding a better world outside ebay, its easier and more profitable and im sure you will find it that way to!

    Stu

  5. I have nothing against Hong Kong or China, i have been there a couple of times and source the vast majority of our stock direct from Chinese suppliers.
    However Ebay is packed full of items from Hong Kong & China, a quick search of Hong Kong it titles & description returns 176,000 items. Surely buyers are put off by the low price, high postage, possible customs charges etc, and therefore should Ebay have put these sellers more higher up on their “target list” when trying to bring back buyers

    The loss of Boxes & Busts, along with many other similar sellers is doing nothing whatsoever to enhance the buyers experience.

    A few questions
    Do the HK sellers pay the 10p for International Visibility ?

    Is the level of unpaid sellers fees significantly higher in HK ?

    Have Ebay asked UK buyers what they think of all of these HK listings ?

    The levels of fees Ebay are losing from UK sellers must be starting to impact, it will be interesting to see what the quarterly figures show.

  6. One thing we see at ChannelAdvisor play out time and time again is that as sellers spread their wings to the broader world of ecommerce, they start to view eBay as a good liquidation channel. So imagine as your website ramps up, you still have eBay as a way to turn inventory to cash. Of course with your products, you don’t have to focus so much on inventory turns, but it’s something to think about. I hope we’ll see you back as you evaluate that as an option/strategy.

    Also, eBay is great for acquiring customers for your website, so don’t forget that option too.

    In any case, best of luck in the future – make sure your website is sending out google product search feeds with very high quality. That’s some great free exposure.
    Scot

  7. i would have to agree with scot here. i wouldnt personally throw the towel in on eBay. even if you see eBay as your marketing budget. think of the exposure you could drive to your own website.

    BEST OF LUCK THOUGH!!

    just one point i need to make. they say ”The days are long gone when trading on here was fun.”

    im not on eBay for fun. im on here to make money!!! fun doesnt pay the bills. if i want fun ill go to alton towers!

    Good luck though

    Abs ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. “The days are long gone when trading on here was fun. It seems a long time ago when we used to be excited to switch on the computer in the morning.”

    I think ebay and a few others have under estimated the fun factor of ebaying

  9. Onwards and upwards Lou and Paul. Good luck with your new ranges.

    Sorry to read that you are leaving ebay, but I understand why.

    Julie

  10. I can totally empathise and understand why Paul and Lou are cutting out ebay. Too many things are just not working out anymore. Once a retailer has a website, ebay feels very time consuming in comparison.
    At the moment, ebay-in-flux, is not a pleasant place to be and some sellers feel very voulnerable. Maybe Lou and Paul will come back at some point, where hopefully oodles of new customers will be waiting for them.
    Bonne chance.

  11. Unfortunately we are hearing the same sort of stories here in the States. Your comment regarding “The days are long gone when trading on here was fun. It seems a long time ago when we used to be excited to switch on the computer in the morning” rings so loud it hurts.

    I believe that eBay has become just a Scot Wingo says, a liquidation site. The site is being flooded by high volume liquidators of new items.

    What eBay had in uniqueness is gone, and so is the atmosphere it once touted. eBay still can be useful as an advertising tool to draw traffic, but even that is being taken away from the sellers.

    Wishing you great success from your own website.

  12. Lou and Paul,

    I am thrilled that your business is flourishing and have no doubt you’ll be successful in what you do off-eBay: you’re tenacious, inventive and clever. I was working at eBay as your business grew and admired what you were doing and was pleased to meet you so many times. I also think every seller should be thinking like you and looking at other channels.

    I agree with Scot and others: eBay can (and perhaps should) be part of the mix. Be it for liquidation, lead generation, SEO or whatever. But seeing as you’ve crunched the numbers and made a rational, reasoned decision, I wouldn’t presume to know better. ;o)

    But, knowing the passion (dare I say love?), that you’ve have had for eBay in the past, I believe that your story should be disquieting to eBay staff. This line in the post stood out for me: “Lots of hobby sellers started selling for minimal profit; lots have come and gone, but our superb service and quality of stock has stood the test of time.

    You are the sort of sellers eBay wants to retain, nurture and profit from. You provide the excellent service that eBay buyers want. In many ways you are the best of eBay. And if you’re off… well, as a shareholder (I have 2 shares!), I’m worried. But seriously, they should be fighting to keep you.

    Best of luck in everything you do: not that you need it.

  13. Is nobody at Ebay interested in stories such as these? They darn well should be because even if they don’t care if these sellers up and leave….they should care that they are probably also BUYERS! What ebay is trying to attain is still a big mystery to me. At the present rate I see only failure for them and no reason for any sellers to stand around and wait for something good to happen out of this mess Ebay brought on all by themselves! If sellers have other options they need to reach out to them. http://www.ACEOart.net

  14. I recognize the photo monce, were BoxesandBusts Powersellers of the Month at one stage.
    If I was in charge of Ebay UK I would be on my way to Cardiff today to get the lowdown on how once valued sellers such as these feel about Ebay now.

    For the sake of ร‚ยฃ6 a month and ร‚ยฃ10 to ร‚ยฃ20 listing fees I agree that it would probably pay them to keep a very small presence on Ebay and.use it for marketing purposes, but all in all a sad indictment of Ebay at the moment.

  15. #14

    I doubt that anyone will be on their way down to Cardiff anytime soon.

    Some have already mentioned the comment from ebay, but for those that didn’t see it in the original thread in the ps forum, here it is,

    Posted by Ricard Ambrose – Head of Trust & Safety

    “Best of luck Lou – I remember meeting you in the eBay offices a few years ago when you designed our Jewellery Boxes & Supplies category.

    Hope the website thrives.”

    Regards
    Richard

    Now just putting aside people’s views on ebay and whether they are a good or bad company, I would not be saying goodbye and close the door on the way out to customers like that. Someone you have met, who has been a long standing customer, I would be wanting to know why they were leaving and what I should be doing to rectify the situation.

  16. to be fair to ebay
    they seem to have grasped the nettle , with all the recent changes,

    as a buyer, given the choice, I would much rather buy from a regulated and contolled site,
    than from a web page set up and run by the trader,

  17. lets be honest being POSTM was not that hard to do, you just had to be daft enough to stick your hand up, or clever enough to use it as free advertising and promotion

  18. ๐Ÿ˜†
    I used to feel sorry for some
    lambs to the slaughter,
    that blue tent gave me hours of mirth ๐Ÿ˜†

    come on jamie you can blow the gaff now, whats the real story!

  19. Good luck. As a well respected and successful seller leaving eBay it will be eBays loss, and will further damage the buyers experience, IMO
    Sean

  20. Sad to see you go, Lou and Paul – wishing you all the very best as your business flourishes elsewhere!

  21. HOWEVER,to be very fair (:-D) in the context of missing out on International Visibility I think it probably is important that the US spelling appear somewhere in the listing, preferably as a dual spelling in the title.

  22. What a very interesting article, we were sad to hear the news that the ebay is no longer working out but with the right marketing Im sure the business will continue to do well. We wish you continued success.
    Simon and Carol
    GODBLESSTHISMESS

  23. Well this is sad, but certainly not the only one’s to decide this.

    Agree with many of the other post though, personnally I would maintain a small present on ebay though.

    With all the recent events, ebay has certainly become a 2nd thought in many sellers minds, and posts on tamebay confirm, that it has made sellers think about where the future is.
    Ebay certainly upset (to put it mildly) thousands of sellers with their hard new ‘rules’.

    We have now set up on Amazon & ebid, early days yet, but frankly we will never by held to ranson by ebay’s arrogances’ again, but we will still be on there………………

    All the best & great trading in the future, what ever you end up doing.

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