Saturday, July 26, 2008

Seller confidence

The big push on eBay this year is to promote buyer confidence, and it is hard to find fault with that. Unfortunately eBay has chosen to accomplish this goal by heavily publicizing the need to protect innocent buyers from the bad sellers. Predictably this has decreased buyer confidence; after all eBay is constantly telling them it is full of fraud, fakes, crooks and scammers. eBay has fostered adversarial attitudes all round.

eBay's message is that all sellers are bad, some are more bad than others. eBay despises small sellers. Big is best. Small sellers need to be regulated and controlled, big sellers get all the goodies, if they can. Keep that big juicy carrot dangling just out of reach. If small sellers want carrots they need to grow, put more fees in the coffers. This contentious and contemptuous attitude has trickled down from the top echelons of management to pervade the entire corporate structure.

There is no gray on eBay today, eBay is strictly black and white. This is shown very clearly by the Freudian slip in Brain Burke's decision to count neutral feedback as a negative.

There are no bad buyers, eBay's president Lorrie Norrington is so confident of this that she explained step by step how to work the system so no crooked buyer need pay a seller for items received. Not satisfied by this she then stated that 'we' need all the buyers even the bad ones.

All this enthusiastic but clueless proselytization has caused some major problems for eBay today, lack of seller confidence and active seller distrust.Sellers have learned to look for the hidden agenda which is often expressed more loudly by what eBay does not say than by the words which are spoken, or written. I doubt very many sellers look on eBay as a partner anymore, an adversarial and domineering partnership is a guarantee for failure. eBay is more like a bad landlord or the fairytale farmer who killed the goose that laid the golden eggs for short term profit.

Successful sellers are not stupid people. Stupid gets weeded out fairly rapidly in a natural selection process. eBay has either forgotten this basic truth or has chosen to ignore it in the hope that as old sellers leave there will always be new ones coming in the door. To a point this is true, but the new sellers will also find the conditions inimical to profitable trading and they too will leave, for the same reasons the old ones did. As outgo exceeds inflow eBay will have an entirely different set of problems.

Sellers do not want to hear the phrase "we hear you" from eBay executives again, we know you may hear us, but you are not listening. eBay must recognize the need to respect and work with the sellers because we all want the same thing, sales and happy customers. If we can't get IT on eBay we will remake our business plans because life is too short to waste in war with our venue.

Y'all come back


TheBrewsNews said...

This is one of the best blog posts I think you have written thus far. It is right on target.

Anonymous said...

Well of course 'we' need all the buyers even the bad ones, the seller may never get paid and have to pay to relist, but eBay still gets their cut, twice.