EBay's Whitman Says Changes Needed to Placate Auction Sellers
By Danny King
July 3 (Bloomberg) -- EBay Inc., the world's largest online auction company, will upgrade its Web site to placate sellers and revitalize the company's slumping sales growth, Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman said.
``You'll see more changes in the next 12 months on our site than you've probably seen in the last three or four years,'' Whitman said in an interview. ``EBay was so successful that we did not keep up with the user experience that was required.''
Sellers have complained that EBay allowed the site to become cluttered with too many listings, resulting in fewer sales and driving shoppers to other retailers including Amazon.com Inc. The company has adjusted fees to try to increase revenue, which rose in the first quarter at its slowest pace in at least eight years.
``People come to EBay for fun, for value, and for those popular and pleasing and weird and wonderful items,'' Whitman said in the interview on ``Conversations with Judy Woodruff,'' which airs on Bloomberg TV tomorrow. ``And we got a little bit too much commodity-oriented.''
Shares of EBay, based in San Jose, California, rose 15 cents yesterday to $32.33 in composite trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market and are little changed since the end of 2003.
One reason, said Whitman, is that investors are worried about slowing growth in larger markets including the U.S. and Germany. First-quarter auction revenue rose 23 percent, less than half its rate three years ago.
``Shoppers are not using EBay as often and as confidently as they used to,'' said Jonathan Garriss, executive director of the Secaucus, New Jersey-based Professional EBay Sellers Alliance. ``Buyers have a tough time finding what they want. If you're looking for an Apple iPod, you're going to get 5,000 search results, and most will be accessories.''
To address this, EBay last year imposed higher fees to reduce the number of fixed-price listings because buyers couldn't find the items. The goal was to increase the number of completed sales, boosting revenue for the company and its sellers, Whitman said.
Merchants on EBay can offer items that are sold through auctions or a more traditional store format, similar to most other retailers.
The move was successful, though Whitman acknowledged more changes need to be made. EBay said last month it temporarily will cut selling fees for its cheapest items and freeze fixed- price transaction prices.
``The community is very vocal,'' Whitman said from the EBay Live conference in Boston. ``They have never been shy, even from the earliest days of this company.''
Founder Pierre Omidyar started the auction site in September 1995. Whitman joined the company in early 1998 from Hasbro Inc.
Nine of 10 auction visitors go to EBay, according to data from Nielsen/Net Ratings. The company has expanded to 26 countries and now receives about half its revenue from overseas.
Acquisitions, including online payment service PayPal Inc. and the Internet telephone company Skype Technologies SA, have allowed EBay to diversify away from auctions. The company, through an investment in online classified site Craigslist and the acquisition of ticket seller StubHub earlier this year, is also looking at different ways to bring buyers and sellers together.
Good Morning FFC ~ you're doing a good job of making him sweat, otherwise he wouldn't be taking the time. I don't like the threatening tone at all. Should you let someone know about this, like FBI or whoever?
Good Morning.. :)
The IP was spoofed but i think the poster is Romanian.. Romania was ranking 5th in server traffic so i blocked the whole country out. Guess that is what pizzed them off.
Similar post on my guest book a while back. http://www.ebaymotorssucks.com/gb/guestbook.php
I ain't afraid of some loud mouth scammer, if anyone comes over here looking for trouble they will be staring down the barrel of a sawed off 12 gauge!
Hi Cr2, ~ I might relist something a year or two later if I think it has potential but not anytime within a close proximity to the original listing. I've got other stuff that hasn't failed yet so I don't give an unsold the chance to bite me twice.
You are right that some things sell the second time around. I've been amazed at the prices some unsold items get on a relist. I've also seen things relisted numerous times and never sell. If I get emails inquiring about when I will relist something, then I would do it sooner.
Please don't think I am a prude about my merchandise :) I sell in batches and just in this group of listings everything is top end. My middle range item is okay for another time but it didn't fit well with everything else I have for sale right now. I was up until 1AM last night worrying about it ~ isn't that silly? I couldn't get to sleep until I pulled that listing down.
I do like the 2nd ID idea and have thought about it for some art that I am doing. If I end up trying to sell any of it I will want to use another ID for that. Now that I think about it, I don't know why I wouldn't want to mix the art with the "other stuff" on the same ID. But I don't like my cooked spinach to touch my mashed potatoes either lol!
I promise you I would not have used that example if I thought anyone here would take it personally. Seed packs in lots can go for a lot more than individual packages. That would be a strategy around the clutter problem. Get the final value over the low end and it ceases to be clutter.
Gotta run now, really ~ have a nice afternoon!
ah, you mention seeds....someone was selling those in quite large volume (ie. lots of packs of seeds in separate auctions) I believe and was very upset by fee increases awhile back. That person took great offense to people calling her stuff clutter.
...anyway, I think it is better to just let the market decide. If the revenue suffers because of it, so be it, because if you force things on people, eventually it will suffer anyway.
<<then get rid of that insertion level>>
Hi S_W, they may do that. Right now the 99 cent insertion level is good for one thing, to stimulate interest in auctions that will surely end higher. I think you may be looking into the future accurately. I can see it coming.
That's understandable W'Cats but why keep the .99 insertion level? I understand some items will go way over that but many go for .99 cents or just a bit more. If that's their definition of clutter, then get rid of that insertion level and force sellers to go with the 9.99 level or more. That would make more sense given that scenario.