eBay’s “level playing field” is now officially dead. Big retailers, sellers with a £1m turnover and those who form part of the “few top sellers” who deliver 38% of eBay sales are now priority, according to eBay executives.
Many eBay sellers will say that this is hardly news. And they’d be right. But finally, in the past few days, interviews and press releases from eBay have clearly confirmed a strategic focus on the very biggest of eBay sellers.
Clare Gilmartin, the Vice President of eBay Marketplaces is reported as saying: “Figures show that 38 per cent of sales come via a few top sellers. We work closely with these firms to ensure they have the support they need, for example, dedicated account managers and other help.”
For the vast majority of serious eBay sellers, even those who sell several hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds worth of goods every week, this committment may be surprising. No Gold and Silver Powersellers have account managers at eBay. And of those we’ve spoken to lately, few Platinum Powersellers even enjoy the rather meagre privilege of access to a dedicated, knowledgeable, named eBay account manager either.
I have personally spoken to eBay sellers in recent months who spend thousands of pounds in fees every year but don’t have access to a dedicated account manager at eBay who is willing to speak to them and help them solve a problem.
Any business turning over a few hundred quid’s worth of trade on eBay should be not ignored. But all the anecdotal evidence I see shows that such businesspeople, the lifeblood of eBay, receive (at best) cursory care from the the very people who take their fees.
Further proof of the focus on uber-business sellers was clear last week when eBay executives celebrated the 159 eBay sellers with a turnover of one million pounds annually. eBay director Angus McCarey provides glad words in his interview, but anyone with experience as an eBay seller of late, especially below that now all important £1m level, will certainly wish to beg to differ with him.
The tragedy of eBay’s love affair with the biggest sellers (and often the worst), is so ironic, as to be comedic. Amazon do it better. There should be room for everyone in the world’s biggest marketplace but to worship big retailers is to forget what smaller retailers deliver better than a faceless giant.
What price personal service, great prices and sheer swiftness? These are all things that Britain’s small businesses all provide on eBay. And which many buyers, such as myself, are now finding more easily on Amazon and direct from sellers’ own ecommerce sites.
eBay will die if it ignores the small sellers that built it. And one question is still begging: “who are the ‘38%’ sellers?” We should be told who eBay favours the most.
Update: 31/08/2001, 11:00am eBay have asked us to point out that the original quotation from Clare Gilmartin regarding eBay has been changed on the FMWF. It now reads: “Figures show that 38 per cent of sales come via our Top Rated Sellers. This is an eBay term which is given to those sellers, whether tiny or larger, which have achieved the gold standard for customer service.”