“And now, the end is near…” Ahem, sorry. Wrong karaoke. I’ve heard that if you get from Christmas to New Year without some kind of list post, they take away your blogging card. So here are ten random things that may, more or less, or may not happen for eBay UK in 2010.
1) DSRs replaced with scores out of 10
eBay have been testing this one for months now; they’ll finally take the plunge and introduce feedback out of ten. Classic green/grey/red feedback will remain for nostalgia’s sake, but will be totally sidelined when measuring seller performance.
2) More outlet sellers
eBay UK’s business development team will continue to do their job, recruiting big high street names to the site with promises of a captive audience and favourable placements. They’ll neglect to mention exactly how demanding eBay buyers are…
3) More outlet sellers will screw up
We’ve seen more than one outlet seller go into meltdown this year; we’ll see it happen to more than one next year too. eBay will continue to ignore the issue; the eBay community will continue to be incensed by it.
4) Headline feedback will change in favour of outlet sellers
We’ve had a sneak preview of this already. Outlet sellers, incensed that their image is being damaged by negative feedback, will demand something is done about it. eBay’s response will be to highlight a seller’s total number of sales, and to hide the number and percentage of classic feedback. Buyers will see a Great Big Number and feel reassured.
5) The rise, and rise (and rise) of PayPal
eBay earnings calls, shareholder meetings and analyst days will be dominated by PayPal, with Marketplaces relegated to a “we don’t really talk about it” corner. Bill Me Later will roll out to Europe. PayPal will make lots and lots of money. Amazon will be the only top 100 online retailer not accepting PayPal.
6) The fall and fall of auctions
Auctions will continue to slide, with Buy It Now reaching around 70% of eBay sales. Some media commentators and many sellers will continue to insist that eBay should “go back to doing what it does best”; buyers will continue to vote with their feet.
7) Free auctions for private sellers
All auction listings, regardless of start price, will be made free for private sellers. A multitude of business sellers will threaten to list on their private accounts. eBay UK will therefore slap a maximum listings’ value on private sellers (as eBay France has already done).
8 ) Free listings in Media for everyone
In their continuing efforts to leech off a little of Amazon’s success, eBay will abolish insertion fees for everyone in Media categories. This won’t actually make much difference to listing numbers, as the categories are absolutely flooded already.
9) More Amazonification
Amazon-inspired features will continue to spread across the site. “Product pages” will dominate search results, especially in Media and Electronics. Someone in Richmond will try to get user-generated content (like Amazon’s reviews) reinstated as a prominent feature on eBay; that person will find themselves Punishment Pinking on Q&A in fairly short order.
10) eBay struggles to define itself for another year
And this is the one that really breaks my heart.
A decade ago, almost to the day, my boss walked into my office and said, “oy internet girl, have you heard of eBay? I’ve got this *great* business idea…” I didn’t know it, but it was a life-changing moment.
Ten years later, and I look at that site that changed my life, that changed so many lives, that I thought was brilliant, and I see just another ecommerce corporation run by people with MBAs.
I see a company that doesn’t know what it is, what it has or what it wants to be: a company that pushes auctions one minute and buy it now the next, that promotes big box retailers and ignores its best resource: its wonderful, loyal, long-tail-grabbing smallest niche retailers.
I see a company that stifles the brilliance of its employees under a bushel of bureaucracy.
I see a company whose CEO’s grand vision appears to be “let’s stop looking like a car boot sale”, yet day after day, he allows illegal terms and conditions to go uncontested on his site, often from those very big box sellers that he’s touting as his top outlets.
I see a company that was at the heart of the start of ecommerce, that utterly squandered its advantage. When it figured out it had screwed up, it wanted to be Amazon. Now, astonishingly, it seems to want to be Overstock.
I see no vision. I’d love to be proved wrong. But I’m afraid I won’t be.
And you? How do you think 2010’s going to pan out for eBay? Leave us a comment.
Hat tip to Auctionbytes for permission to use the feedback screenshot.