Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What Have We Gained From The eBay Boycott?

There are two comments on my post yesterday, both from eBay sellers who think the eBay boycott has been unproductive. I respectfully disagree.

The initial boycott which ran from February 18th through February 25th was not expected to result in an immediate reversal of eBay's plans. Far from it! We are realists and know from past experience that communicating with eBay is generally one way. We speak, they ignore. The first boycott was intended to let eBay know that they were about to step over the line. Did we achieve that? Yes. Did eBay believe we meant it? No.

The First Gain was Publicity
Because there was a lot of media attention eBay was forced to respond. The response was predictable, exactly like the parent who's four year old child announces they are going to run away from home. This condescending dismissal galvanized already angry sellers, gaining more negative publicity for eBay.

Then came Networking
From publicity came momentum. More eBay sellers became aware of what was going to happen, were angered by it and joined. In turn they generated more publicity. Groups formed, off the censored eBay boards and networked. Boycott eBay on Delphi was and is probably the most active. One of the benefits of networking was that many alternative venues were found and discussed. Sellers created support threads to help each other with the ins and out of learning new venues, setting up Google Checkout etc. This encouraged sellers to branch out, which led directly to the rapid growth of OnlineAuction.com and eCrater, which together with iOffer were voted as having the best prospects of becoming a viable alternative venue. Etsy registered their 1,000,000th user today one week short of their third birthday.

International Solidarity
The power of networking brought us in contact with sellers from Australia, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the UK. This is amazing. For example US sellers made submissions to the ACCC in Australia so that the ACCC would know that eBay's claims were not universally accepted and that PayPal was problematic in the USA too.

We Prepared & Learned
We learned that we did not ever want to allow another site to achieve the kind of power that WE gave eBay. Other smaller sites than the four mentioned above, also saw growth because sellers quickly realized that there is no 'one site fits all'. We prepared for what we knew was coming in May and that two month hiatus between the initial one week boycott and the May 1st beginning of an open ended boycott gave us time to make a smooth transition with minimal damage.

I personally know one PowerSeller, a good man who is the epitome of anti-boycott and 'nothing will happen to good sellers' sentiment, he has never had a neutral or negative. He made the mistake of believing that eBay was run like a business; that mistake has effectively put him out of business.

Y'all come back


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the compliment! Am I out of business? Time will tell. I am still hopeful I will make sales this month and the next and grow on eBay (especially if the number of watchers is any indication). Am I disillusioned? HELL YES!! Am I still pro eBay? HELL NO!! However, for me, eBay is still the only venue that has the demographic that will buy my things; iOffer and the others have yet to produce any results.

I still feel the boycotts were useless. The media attention has died down dramatically. Although the netwroking you cite has definitely increased, time will tell if it will stay and continue to grow. For many of us, we still need the demographics found on eBay; as one recent post mentioned, "We are tied to it like galley slaves". Personally, I can't wait for Google to open their site so I can move over there.

Anony Mouse

Henrietta said...

I don't think you will find Google to be the answer to your prayers either, judging by the way search and AdWords is run. They are a lot more efficient true, but any large corporation will run right over the small seller and not even notice the bump-bump.