Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Rant?

NO this is not a rant. Hopefully I will come across as more reasoned than irritated. Which I was. Briefly.

When I make a comparative market analysis I find it helps to compare, for example, apples to apples. Comparing a banana to a watermelon tends to result in skewed data.

This is about a new sales venue, I am writing about Bonanzle.com and a review by well known author, e-commerce expert and collector Hillary De Piano, on her blog The Whine Seller. Her hard hitting, condescending, review twisted my knickers in a knot, and quite frankly irritated the heck out of me. Anyone who expects to find a full blown eBay competitor one month after launch out of beta must also believe in the tooth fairy, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Hillary said

Just like any of the new auctions sites, a few people immediately twisted up their panties and decided it was the ultimate eBay killer...Let me kill the suspense for you right off the bat. While there are a few things to like about Bonanzle, it has a very long way to go before it approaches the customization or the usability of eBay.

Hillary clearly did not 'get' what a Bonanza is, she said
"Every seller gets a store (sorry, a “booth”) right from the start with Bonanzle power (Markdown Manager copycat)"

No it is not a markdown manager copycat. It is a cat of a very different color altogether. A Bonanza is a sale event by appointment, you book your Bonanza, indicate what items you would like to include in the sale and the percentage off, and the site takes care of the rest for a very limited period of time. Add to that the live online chat, meet and greet capability (lets get real here eBay doesn't even want you to have their buyer's email) and you have a Bonanza. Its cheezy and might not appeal to such a busy and professional seller but the buyers sure seem to like it. Maybe one should take a little longer than an hour to assess a site before issuing such a stinging 'review'; if credibilty is an issue?

A fairer although not like to like, (because Bonanzle is not auction format) comparison would be to OnlineAuction.com; in business to my certain knowledge since at least January 2005 which is at least 3-3/4 years ago. (45 months) Again not like to like because OLA does not submit feeds to Google or anyplace else and more importantly OLA charges sellers $8 per month to list. OLA also has the Verified Buyer Subscription plan at $4 a month (which I believe turns buyers off the site). Bonanzle does not charge a listing or insertion fee and submits to both Google and Oodle.

Other valid comparisons might be eBid.net, in business since 1999, eight years. eBid has 1,108,419 listings in auction format which can be bought fixed price if the buyer pays a premium. eBid's fairly complex fee structure favors the $49.99 lifetime membership up front subscription. Perhaps Plunderhere in business since around 2004 with (according to PSU) 57,398 listings or BlueJay, totally fee free, has been around since early December 2004 and has 446,883 items are comparables.

With the exception of PlunderHere (under new ownership) I have checked out all of the above and find Bonanzle to be much simpler and quicker to get up and running. More to the point as a seller, I have had buyers on Bonanzle, including buyers off Google Shopping.

The only honest way to compare Bonanzle to eBay in my opinion would be to look at AuctionWeb (eBay) in October of 1995 a month after Pierre launched. I wasn't on eBay back then so I am not qualified to comment as to usability but I can tell you that early in December 1998 3+ years on, eBay had 1,309,481 items listed. Which makes eBay comparable to eCrater at the same age.

Lets look at some traffic comparisons for September 2008. The first month out of beta for Bonanzle.com. Not too shabby for a newborn.

So far as eBay is concerned auction formats are of little benefit unless you have visibility for potential bidders.

Y'all come back!

Related Articles and Links:

eBay Threatens Canadians

A story on AuctionBytes this morning highlights what sounds like a threat from eBay.com to Canadian media sellers. An announcement on eBay.ca dated September 29th from Ira Grossman on eBay's 'Shipping Team' (You gotta love it, they do so much shipping!)

While Canadian sellers are not subject to the shipping limits when listing on eBay.ca, we recognize there will be a competitive impact for Canadian listings appearing in the US marketplace. Since the cost of shipping from Canada is substantially higher than shipping domestically within the US, sellers charging actual shipping costs from Canada using either flat rate or calculated shipping may be negatively impacted in Best Match sort or Total Cost sort on eBay.com as a result of the higher shipping costs. We encourage Canadian sellers to consider strategies to lower their stated shipping costs, or even offer free shipping to the US, if, for example, they can successfully shift some of the cost of shipping into their item price and still remain competitive.

Hmm, ship free or die!

Are you tired of this? In my travels on the internet I found what might be an alternative to the hassle and expense of listing, wondering if you will get paid, packing and shipping and waiting for the DSRs to chop off your head. It looks like a good deal.

Full disclosure I have no financial incentive for recommending this site, no affiliate fees, nada.

Buyback Direct was created to provide consumers a way to sell their unwanted Video Games, DVDs, and CDs, directly online. Today, consumers' choices are to take their no longer wanted entertainment inventory to a local store whose location may not be convenient for them and may not purchase their entire inventory. Their other option is to sell their entertainment inventory online through Amazon®, Half.com®/eBay® or Yahoo!®. These channels are full of product that may not sell. Also, if the consumer wishes to part with 50 CDs, they would have to conduct 50 individual transactions with 50 separate mailings - again, assuming that their entire inventory was purchased. What are your chances of selling your copy and more importantly what is your time worth! BuybackDirect.com offers you the best price along with payment by check or PayPal, and free shipping and insurance!

I talked to one seller who uses the website and he assures me it is on the level.

Y'all come back!

Related Articles and Links:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

That Was The Week That Was

Top blog post for me this week was a 'shock and awe experience' at Genuine Seller which opened my eyes to the eBay disruptive innovation program. I kinda hate to expose my ignorance but seriously, I always thought that was a joke, urban legend, a sick joke but a joke. For this JohnDo is paid millions in salary and stock options?

Runner-UpThe Brews News on seller motivation. Pay close attention to paragraph 2, Margins.

Oh My Gosh! post award would be Sue Bailey's Tamebay post today. Tamebay is generally regarded as pro-eBay and is always informative, so I sincerely hope someone in a position of power at eBay reads this.

Perennial Favorite, the GOOD John - ColderICE of 3rd Power Outlet who dispenses a rich blend of commentary, opinion and plain e-commerce sense with humor on video. This one on DSRs.

Retro Current. This is actually 'That Was The Year That Was', 2006, the single incident that switched on the light and led to my learning to build a functioning website and begin implementing an exit strategy from eBay. This archived blog post from Blogio, the Vendio blog.

The latest eBay UK scandal, which would appear to step right over the bait and switch line, is covered on the Buildaskill Biz Blog.

Also Ran eBayINKblog is full of the exciting NEW Oh! Wait a minute, maybe its not new, ummm, the exciting resurrected Ad Marketplace keywords Pay Per Click program. Ads will appear "near the bottom of the page when a buyer searches for a particular keyword or is browsing in a particular category". This will be a deeply satisfying income stream for eBay as competitors gleefully click each others ads. Didn't work before, will it work this time around?

Enjoy and have a good weekend. Y'all come back!

Related Articles and Links:

Oh Canada Are You Revolting Yet?

A September 26th Press release from Toronto-based Segal Communications:

Beginning October 1, 2008, eBay Canada will offer display advertising opportunities on its popular Web site eBay.ca and Segal Communications has been tapped to promote, develop and sell the advertising. Segal will also manage the web auction site's display advertising and forge relationships between advertisers and eBay.ca.

This partnership further strengthens Segal's reach in the new media marketplace, where it already represents the social networking phenomenon Facebook in Canada.

"Segal is building a dedicated sales team to run the eBay.ca account, and we anticipate an excellent response from the marketplace at the news they can now advertise on one of the Internet's most trafficked sites,"
says Rob Segal, President and CCO of Segal. Bringing significant experience and leading the new team is Jesse Cassaday, who was recently appointed Vice President of On-Line Media Sales.

For further information: eBay - Andrea Stairs, Head of Marketing, (416)969-2309, astairs@ebay.ca; Segal - Rob Segal, (416) 588-8727, rob.segal@segalcommunications.com

I am not a Canadian eBay seller and would not presume to say how I think they feel about this. I do know that Australian sellers are less than thrilled about it and I hear that sellers in France, the UK, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy are not pleased either. eBay could care less so long as they get paid as much as possible and as often as possible.

You are NOT powerless! There are several things you can do:

1: email Rob Segal and Andrea Stairs and share your opinion of advertisements on your listing page. This will not change anything, they know what is best for eBay. You are only a fee paying seller or a nuisance.

2. email the advertisers and share your opinion of advertisements on your listing page. Tell the advertiser that not only will you not purchase anything but you will share your negative opinions vigorously.

3. Click victoriously (if these are pay per click advertisements?) but do not buy.

Y'all come back!

Friday, September 26, 2008

They're Ba-aack!

In accordance with Standard eBay Operating Procedure, on Friday 26th September 2008 at precisely 4.36 pm, on their way out the door, eBay Australia made a quiet announcement regarding the 'trial placement' of advertisements on eBay.com.au.

26 September 2008 | 04:36PM EST

Earlier this week eBay commenced a trial placement of advertisements on the View Item Pages on eBay.com.au. Similar advertisements are already running in a number of markets, including Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, and the UK.

The Australian version of these advertisements went live at approximately 7pm on Monday 22 September and created some discussion among the Community until they were withdrawn the next morning. We apologise for introducing these new placements without letting you know first. We also appreciate the feedback provided and have taken onboard some of the concerns expressed by the Community.

This trial will continue, however the advertisements will be placed lower on the View Item Page and will be clearly marked as a sponsored link. During this trial advertisements will only appear in approximately 10-15% of View Item Pages in the following categories only:

* sport
* movies
* electronics

The eBay team

As you can see the new and improved advertisement placement is above the description.

A quote from a seller on the eBay Australia discussion boards

I've found that clever Google ads at the bottom of search results were actually quoting prices. I recently bought some photography gear that way, all the advertiser did was say eg: "1.6m tripod $20.00 incl shipping". That was targetted right to my search terms, and the price was lower than ANY of the BINs on Ebay.

So I clicked it and bought the items off ebay - 3 in fact. The seller was the online shop of a very large Ebay PS, the items and even the photos were identical. And the P&H was heaps cheaper buying direct, too. Now that I know the name of the online shop, I search on ebay but check prices direct with that company too.

Ebay is crazy to allow this - I mean, the companies advertising are ebay sellers, so all that ebay is doing is PROMOTING off-ebay sales. Considering that they won't allow sellers to do this - how totally dumb is that?

Y'all come back!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

eBay Anonymous

Once again eBay has turned Australian users into guinea pigs with their September 23rd announcement implementing the 'anonymisation' of emails between potential buyers and sellers.

Sue at Tamebay pointed out some potential security risks.

Currently, eBay are not verifying that the email used to reply is the “correct” one - i.e. that it matches up with the eBay account to which the message was sent. This is, they say, a “short grace period”, presumably to allow members to ensure their registered email addresses match the ones their email client uses.

So today I’ve been able to reply to trial messages with emails registered with other eBay accounts, and emails that aren’t linked with any eBay account at all, and in all cases, messages sent from the ‘wrong’ email address still arrive with eBay subject lines suggesting they’ve come from the correct eBay member.

Like Sue I did a little testing with an Australian seller friend, Kevin. My first email arrived in Australia very rapidly. It gave the Kevin my eBay ID, the address for him to reply was a series of letters and numbers @members.ebay.com. My response from him had a similar address. Copies of my query and the reply were sent to my registered eBay address. Neither email appeared in My Messages on My eBay.

I asked a second question using my AOL mail and interestingly the links in my signature went through intact. My friend Kevin responded saying I could contact direct but that email address was stripped out, as expected.

A second question on a different user ID showed that the address 'anonymization' is per query. In other words we both got a different address. Kevin was able to respond directing me to a different eBay listing.

The usual 'coding' used on the boards works in the 'anonymized' messages.

So far it works, sort of. The seller is supposed to have access to the buyer's address when a purchase is made, but Kevin says

the buyer who emailed me on Friday sent it from the auction that she won on the prior Monday, but it came through anonymised (but okay).

What is going to happen when eBay suffers the inevitable glitch?

I really can't figure out why it is needed.
Almost everyone who buys on eBay will have a throwaway freebie address, used only on eBay and one that can easily be changed when the spam burden gets too great.
In what way does this protect the potential buyer?
What are we protecting the buyer from? The evil seller?

Just think. When the evil seller mails the package he will know the buyers address! eBay needs to come up with a fix for that ASAP!

Y'all come back

Related Stories and Links:

The eBay Roadmap to Anonymity

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Security So Good IT Keeps Customers Out

Remember all that promotional hullabaloo about the PayPal electronic security key?

We protect your account with one of the highest levels of online security available.

Now, add an extra layer of security when you log in with the PayPal Security Key. It’s easy, secure, and portable – so you can access your account from just about anywhere.

The PayPal Security Key is available for a special nonrefundable fee of $5 USD (including shipping and handling). There are no monthly service fees or hidden costs. You can order replacements for the same fee.

Here is a link to the June 2007 PayPal press release
The PayPal Security Key is a small electronic token that generates a unique security code approximately every 30 seconds. Members can use this code, along with their user name and password, to sign into both their eBay and PayPal accounts, helping to prevent unauthorized users from accessing them.

As we all know eBay and PayPal, winners of the 2007 "Dubya's Heckova Good Job Award" are truly technological movers and shakers. They will be presented with their award in a White House Ceremony next Monday.

Meanwhile, overworked techs are diligently working to restore access and unlock the doors so the paying customers can get in. Hopefully they can get IT patched up by Monday.

Y'all come back

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Place To Find Everything But The Ordinary

Spunky startup Bonanzle.com brands itself as being the place to “find everything but the ordinary”

Bonanzle.com Best eBay Alternative

In July of 2008, eBay struck a deal with web mega-retailer Buy.com that allows Buy.com to sell millions of books, DVDs, electronics and other items on eBay with a different fee structure from other eBay users.

This move was not welcome by the core eBay community; which helped define eBay in the early days as a sort of “dynamic garage sale.” Those sellers that counted on eBay for their livelihood are now being pushed out by a deal that puts them on an uneven playing field with Buy.com. Many sellers believe this agreement sends a clear message that eBay is no longer interested in the unique items that so many sellers had peddled to build up eBay during its formative days.

For many sellers, the silver lining in this cloud has been the recent move by Kirkland, WA startup Bonanzle to brand itself as a “place to find everything but the ordinary.” Explains founder Bill Harding,

“It is no secret to buyers that Amazon already provides a great way to find and buy newer, mass-produced items. It’s the unique items, the collectibles, the designer clothing and purses, the memorabilia, that neither Amazon, nor eBay, nor anyone else, is catering to. In contrast, at Bonanzle, the small seller with unique items is the only party we cater to. Buyers will recognize Bonanzle as the place to go when they want a unique item, and our sellers will prosper.”

So far, Harding has been right. In the last month alone, Bonanzle has gone from about 5,000 listings to more than 110,000 at the time of this release. This inventory total is comprised primarily of relatively small sellers with unique items. This phenomenon has led marketplace expert Randy Smythe to recently remark in his popular My Blog Utopia!, “You can find eBay’s Soul at Bonanzle.” Smythe goes on to point out that “During eBay's formative years, the site grew as sellers sold their wares to other sellers. It was a real trading community… that changed after they went public… you might say they’ve lost their soul.”

eBay expert, PowerSeller and consultant Scott Pooler recently wrote about Bonanzle on the Trading Assistant Journal

It is more than an alternative to alternatives, Bonanzle is a new animal entirely.

Bonanzle has taken some of the basic concepts of Craigslist (clean design, fast browsing and minimalistic appearance) and the basic concepts of the original eBay marketplace (a socially built marketplace for online commerce, easy to sell and buy, with a graphically pleasing look) and they have trumped both major venues with features that improve the entire concept of selling and buying at an online Bazaar.

Bonanzle sellers, eager to move forward from this new incarnation of eBay, have collectively rolled up their sleeves to help build Bonanzle as their new home. Bonanzle Forums are regularly filled with sellers collaborating on grassroots marketing ideas, including one recent thread that had more than 50 sellers volunteering their personal time and resources to promote Bonanzle. As Bonanzle seller 'cleosgreatdeals' puts it, “The unique item market is what Pierre had in mind for eBay and it worked for many years. When it stopped working for us it was time to move into a new marketplace and learn about promoting.”

Y'all come back

Related Stories and Links:

EBay Deal With Buy.com Angers Auction Site's Sellers – New York Times
"You Can Find eBay's Soul at Bonanzle.com" – My Blog Utopia
Bonanzle - Bodacious eBay Competitor Gives Birth to Fresh Merchandising Format - Trading Assistant Journal

eBay alternative Bonanzle is super simple, list in 60 seconds
Auction Wally
Auctions and Antiques Examiner for Examiner.com

Monday, September 22, 2008

Come Sit By Me

Alice Roosevelt Longworth once said

"If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me."

My kind of gal.

Y'all come back

Sunday, September 21, 2008

That Was The Week That Was

That Was The Week That Was (TW3), was a British lampoon show of the week's happenings from the BBC in the early 60's. This is my News & Blog Roundup Week ending September 20th 2008

Let's start with The Telegraph here

Next we will visit Genuine Seller who has an amusing eBay game for us.

The Brews News has written a thoughtful and motivational article which should be required reading for ALL e-commerce merchants.

We, as sellers, simply must take full responsibility for our own actions. If we cannot be successful selling on “the new eBay” then we simply cannot sit around hoping eBay will change; we ourselves must change and that change may or may not include continuing to sell on eBay.

While you are there read this amusing story about new seller requirements."

eBay is having the normal number of glitches, this one serious enough to qualify for an announcement,

At this time, we are asking sellers NOT to end and relist these items, because we don't know at this point whether the relisted items will index properly. However, we do know that new items will index properly, so if you'd like to end your affected listing and start a new listing from scratch, that will be fine, and it should index into Search properly.

We will update this post when we have more information. In the meantime, please be assured that we will be automatically crediting fees for all impacted listings (whether active or closed) early next week. Thank you for your patience, and we apologize for the frustration this is causing you.

eBay standard operating procedure policy is 'ignore and it will go away'; it is probably safe to assume the indexing glitch is a large and system wide problem.

The eBay Ink Blog has made one post in the last week, on September 16th. I found the previous post September 12th far more interesting, with a fascinating response in the comments by Dennis Goedegebuure one of the eBay Internet Marketing Specialists.

Dennis G
On 09.12.2008 at 9:28 pm Said:

Hi All,

Richard has asked me to respond on your feedback directly here on the Ink blog.

As Richard has outlined in his post, the new pulse has some changes versus the old Pulse. I understand from your comments that you have been using the Pulse page in the past to find keywords in the deeper categories.

The background of this project is complex. The Pulse page might not be the most important page on the site if it comes to buying and selling, it does give our community great insight of what is in high demand in certain categories. Where the majority of the product resources are focused on bringing the new Search to the eBay platform, the Pulse page was actually in danger to get closed down.

Because I see the value of the Pulse for our users and for the Search engine optimization efforts, I decided to take the Pulse page off platform and work with an external developer to come up with an alternative. This has caused a couple of trade offs which have an impact on the way we are able to display the keywords in every category.

As the Pulse page now is off platform, and maintained by non-eBay engineers and me, we are not equipped to make monthly changes with the normal category changes. This is why we are only able to show the keywords within the current Meta categories.

In return we have looked for more information to be displayed in these categories. This comes in the form of the Internet Pulse, where we look at what experts in these categories are writing about, and more popular searches within a category in the form of the new keywords and movers & shakers. I hope you will see the value in the expertise of the external sources we look at.

This new Pulse is a start for the new life of Pulse. We will try new modules on the page, and I thank you for your feedback on the fact that you now miss out on the most popular searches in the deeper categories. I will take this feedback into any of the ideas we are looking at for further development.

Furthermore, I would like to ask you a question. The module of the most watched items is gamed by smart sellers who are getting more exposure to certain types of items. What would you prefer?
- a list of most watched items in any category
- a list of most popular products in any category
- or a list of the items with the most bids in any category

What else would you like on the Pulse page?

Now that I got your attention, I would like to take the opportunity to point you to a couple of SEO tips for eBay sellers that can help you to get higher ranking in the search engines and hence more buyers. [tip#2 link here}

I hope this will help you to drive more traffic to your listings.

Kind regards,

Dennis Goedegebuure

Thanks Mr G for the courtesy of your response. As always with eBay read the comment and note what is not permitted to be said.

Y'all come back

Friday, September 19, 2008

eBay Stumbles Over Own Feet, Again

Earlier this month eBayINKblog posted that eBay had been awarded the 2007 National Medal of Technology and Innovation and that President Bush would be making the presentation at the White House September 29th. My thought at the time, heckova job Dubya.

The big news today is from TechCrrrunch who report StumbleUpon, the web based content discovery service is for sale. eBay bought StumbleUpon in May of last year for $75 million dollars. As seems to be standard, anything eBay buys immediately goes downhill. StumbleUpon has dropped 470 places on the Alexa Ranking global scale in the last three months to a comparatively dismal #1256 last week. Scott Wingo said

Apparently traffic has plummeted from 4.4m users to 1m users since the eBay acquisition - ouch.

Naturally this has nothing to do with the noisy hordes of deranged and disgruntled eBay boycotters, some of whom may have actually gone so far as to delete the StumbleUpon button from their blogs because it belongs to eBay. Na Na Na.

Today eBay had a quickie Town Hall with Stephanie Tilenius, announced yesterday. The usual carefully screened calls on the usual subjects with, of course the usual responses. Sellers again tried to get eBay to change the DSR wording and Uncle Griff, master statistician and data expert stated "nobody gets all 4.0 every time". Knock me down with a feather! Griff you are doing a heckova job.

Finally, on the technological achievement front, nobody can FIND anything on eBay AGAIN because finding is broken, as usual. Move along now folks.

Y'all come back

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How To Pump Up Listing Totals On eBay

In one easy lesson.

At midnight Monday September 15th eBay rolled out the very latest of their changes with the new and improved format Fixed Price 30 day duration (FP30) listings. This roll out uses the familiar eBay formula, loudly announcing much lower Insertion Fees and keeping very quiet about the whomping 'adjustments' to Final Value Fees. A sneaky little tranche change was effected at the same time. See changes here

Apparently unannounced changes and 'improvements' to the New Search Experience (eBays caps) are being implemented simultaneously. "We want a more engaging, dynamic experience that is fundamentally driven by buyers." User response could be described as less than positive.

Your "New Search Experience" sucks, and if I ever have to use it again, I will be through as an eBay buyer!

I am so turned off by your newest 'tweaks' that I have severely curtailed my shopping. You have succeeded in ruining my whole shopping experience! For one thing, the new format is CLUTTERED and MESSY! Anything that takes MORE clicks of the mouse to navigate than before is NOT efficient! I am a browser .... I click on a category and then refine my search by eliminating non-essential and irrelevant searches. I can no longer do that .... I had some categories weeded down to 10-20 pages; new they are expended back to 100 or more pp and I don't have the time or inclination to wade through them all! Ebay is suffering from too many 'improvements'!!

On Tuesday the Medved charts showed approximately 16.2M listings on eBay. Today they are close to 17.2M. As Randy Smythe blogged on the FB30 launch today at My Blog Utpia!
... number seems to be lower than expected -- at least from analysts who have contacted me and asked "why the reluctance from sellers" to adopt the new format ... So why hasn't this new format taken off? ... Many sellers have just moved on. They are sticking with what they know works on eBay and putting all of their energy into other marketplaces or their own websites.

It appears that many FP30 listings are appearing twice. That would certainly puch up the listing numbers for Q4. In the first picture the top and bottom items are duplicates. The second picture shows more. Click to enlarge!

The big question?

Are sellers being billed twice?

Y'all come back

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Splat! Splat! Gossip

On September 14th the Fubarometer showed eBay listings dropping like a stone down a very deep well. On their graph numbers fell from 14.5m to approximately 13m.

This matched the stock price which closed close to a 5 year low.

I like to have more than one source of information so I waited for the Medved figures which have proved trustworthy in the past. This was a wise decision.

Medved shows (in their weekly chart for the week starting September 14th) that listings have dropped over the weekend from a high of about 16.04M to below 15.6M

In other eBay news Scott Pooler posted about Jet Blue, rumored to be eBay's latest Diamond PowerSeller in the making. Apparently Jet Blue was making some serious listing violations. Galvanized by this humiliating news eBay removed all Jet Blue's listing within minutes. Good job Scott!

Scott Wingo posted a speculative opinion piece on his blog eBayStrategies about eBay layoffs. The comments on Scott's blog are even more interesting. Will we see a rambling rebuttal clarification from Uncle Griff on eBayINKblog? Probably not because Scott is a Very Important Person; from his biography we learn

As President and CEO of ChannelAdvisor, Scot Wingo leads the company in its mission to provide retailers and manufacturers with the tools and services they need to successfully utilize consumer marketplaces as a sales channel.

ChannelAdvisor, founded in 1999 was recently in the news itself. At the beginning of the month the company announced it had received an additional $20 million in funding to accelerate its growth; and was cutting about 20% of the workforce in an effort to accelerate its push to profitability.

From the NewObserver
The funding round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) with participation from current ChannelAdvisor investors Advanced Technology Ventures, Kodiak Venture Partners, eBay and Southern Capitol Ventures. Wingo said the new funding will be used for general corporate operations, but no new acquisitions are planned. He expects the company to become profitable next year.

A clue!

To be successful one must have both the credibility and ability to borrow $100 million. After that you can take 10 years to show a profit.

Y'all come back

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nothing but Good Times Ahead

I was e-chatting with an old Evil Empire buddy who had just made her first sale on Bonanzle and barely finished announcing it when she had another sale.

I quoted a favorite fiction character, Sophie Dempsey Tucker "nothing but good times ahead" and my friend immediately responded:

"Happy days are here again,
The skies are turning clear again,
Let us sing a song of cheer again,
Happy days are here again!"

This might seem a pretty goofy way for two middle aged women to be behaving but you have to realize where we are coming from.

For years my day started with checking my email, corresponding with buyers and potential buyers, packing and shipping orders and relisting on eBay. Seven days a week, eleven months of the year. In the evenings, for a change, I was a volunteer on the eBay Answer Center, mainly on the Stores board. Almost all my online friends were eBay, we swapped pictures of babies and grandbabies, my sheep Larry had a fan club for gosh sakes, we sent Christmas cards, it was a community.

All gone. Vanished in a swirl of bitterness and dust.

Randy Smythe wrote on his My Blog Utopia!

Soon after going public, eBay began to change and if you look at the site now you might say they've lost their soul.

It is an excellent and thoughtful post, go read it and leave him a comment.

If you are a small seller who was insulted by being told you had no track record because you were not a PowerSeller, driven out by Best Match and unfinding. Getting to a point where the ceaseless fee increases and micro-management of your business by a bunch of Ivory Tower dwelling MBA's with zero hands on retail experience are driving you into a depression? Sick to death of conflicting messages, bots and Live Helpless? I have a message for you! What once was lost has now been found brothers and sisters!

Come on over to Bonanzle.com I really like it. I have had sales, more sales than any place other than my website since May.

Bill, the CEO says

"We have at least tripled in traffic volume the last two months, and are well on our way to doing it for a third month. At the end of this month, our fourth month since launch, our daily unique visitors are projected to be in the neighborhood of the fifth most visited eBay alternative on the Internet. Except that every one of the other alternatives has been around at least two years longer than us. And our growth is almost entirely grassroots (not to mention our 50k items added in the last 30 days)."

Come on over, check us out it is free to list and FVF are extremely low and guaranteed to remain the same through 2010.

Nothing but Good Times Ahead!

Y'all come back

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Two Way Street

If you look in the right hand navigation bar you will see a Google advertisements frame. Income from this goes to my favorite good works program Kiva.org which has a pro bono advertisement lower down in the nav bar. I wrote about the reasons I like Kiva in this post.

Today's post is an update on our project. Note that our participation in these loans is only a small portion of each loan, usually $25 which is the minimum. We are a part of all the good people from all over the world who participate in Kiva. Making life a two way street by giving an opportunity to someone less advantaged.

Meet Maleyka Jebrayilova who lives in Azerbaijan, clicking on her photo takes you to her profile.

Meet Ninfa, Reategui Cristancho from Peru, clicking on her photo will take you to her profile.

Please meet the newest member of our entrepreneur group Phan Thi Chung from Vietnam, clicking on her picture will take you to her profile.

Three loans in four months looks pretty good to me, thank you so much for making it possible and sharing the love!

Y'all come back

Related Articles & Useful Links:

Give a Man Fish to Eat or a Fishing Pole?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tools of the Trade

My husband and I are fairly active in animal rescue. What this means is if he sees a sick or injured animal or one which has been thrown away, which happens here a lot, he picks it up and brings it home. We also tend to get given old and debilitated horses, some of whom are in such bad condition that the kindest thing to do is give them the gift of peace.

For those animals which are salvegeable, I nurse them back to health, spay or neuter, and place them in a good home if they are adoptable. Quite often they are not adoptable, either because they are feral or have special needs. Then they stay.

Left to right and back to front: 2Q Calf bottle, human baby bottle for bigger puppies, calf nipple, kid or foal nipple, kitten or small puppy, lamb.

We have had horses, orphaned or rejected foals, pigs, chickens, rabbits, orphaned lambs and calves, chicks, geriatric sheep and of course cats and dogs. Nursing, dietary and housing requirements are different for each species.

I have a special freezer which contains milk substitute and colostrum for foals, lambs, calves and kids (the goat kind) kitten and puppy milk comes in cans and lives in my 'hospital' cupboard which also contains electrolytes, naso-gastric feeding tubes in three sizes, hot pads and heat lamps, needles and syringes, sterilizing agents, wound wash and a variety of potions, lotions and ointments.

Some of our animals stories are told here they are child safe stories, nothing sad or gruesome.

Y'all come back

Friday, September 12, 2008

Doo Be Doo Day

Here is where I sit, all cloudy and blitzed

with the Primo bottles lying everywhere

Got a guitar in my hand and a Wesson Oil can

Under my okole for a chair.


It's Aloha Friday, no work till Monday.

Doo be doo, doo doo be, doo be doo be doo be doo!


The cousins all here, drinking up my beer

got keikies running everywhere.

I got some poki on the side while mama's trying to hide

the Miller and the Heineken beer.


OK. You know when you wanna get away, I mean one ting

about Friday ma, da working work is ovah yeah.

Frankly, ya, I feel good man.

I work hard all week long.

I can't wait to get away, you know like down like the beach.

I'm cruise dis weekend yeah, get one hot concert too man,

dat's the most important ting. But main ting too,

is to get enough money fo gas and to go out to da disco.

I like to see all da beautiful chicks Yeah!

So now I gonna jus kinda cruise, take my Bank Americard,

you know adderwise, how can I get money?

Right, plus den my friends always say

eh braddah, you can buy me one drink then.


Kimo and the crew sucking up the brew

pulehu meat smoking on the side

All the surfers are a-droppin'

while the highschool are a-poppin'

down Kaluakaua for a ride.


It's Aloha Friday, no work 'til Monday.

Doo be doo, doo doo be, doo be doo be doo be doo!


Y'all come back

Today's eBay Glitch

Just about every day eBay has a new 'glitch' to surprise and delight their customers.

Today it is the Seller Central discussion board. The board has been down since a few seconds after midnight.

The error message says

500 server error: The url ${requestScope["javax.servlet.error.request_uri"]} had a server error. Sorry for the inconvenience. You can return to the community by clicking

There have been no events worthy of mention on the System Status Board since Scheduled maintenance September 10, 2008 | 11:53AM PST/PT

Situation normal, FUBAR!

Y'all come back

Related Articles & Useful Links:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

eBay PayPal Summoned by RBA

The Reserve Bank of Australia has summoned eBay Australia and PayPal to appear before its Payments System Board which has responsibility for the Bank's payments system policy; to explain why eBay and PayPal should not comply with rules that bind all other payments systems in Australia.

PayPal spokeswoman Kelly Stevens said

“They want to talk to us about surcharging; we don’t have a steering policy and that is in eBay’s area anyway.”

PayPal managing director Andrew Pipolo and eBay vice-president Simon Smith are expected to attend a meeting being scheduled to review alleged anti-competitive behavior. Informed sources say that Pipolo is going to tell the Reserve Bank that PayPal needs more time to grow before being asked to drop its no surcharging rule. This is line of reasoning is unlikely to impress the Payments System Board which is composed of high level banking and finance industry experts, particularly since Pipolo has been bragging "The latest Nielsen report shows that PayPal is now the preferred online payments system, more so than Visa or Mastercard, so our indications are that the PayPal brand is standing up very strongly."

Can't have it both ways Andrew, pick a line and stick to it.

The Reserve Bank, may use its powers to impose an access regime and/or set standards for a particular payment system, it may

* 'designate' a particular payment system as being subject to its regulation. Designation has no other effect; it is simply the first of a number of steps the Bank must take to exercise its powers;
* determine rules for participation in that system, including rules on access for new participants. Since access is inextricably linked to efficiency the Bank works closely with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC);
* set standards for safety and efficiency for that system. These may deal with issues such as technical requirements, procedures, performance benchmarks and pricing;
* direct participants in a designated payment system to comply with a standard or access regime; and
* arbitrate on disputes in that system over matters relating to access, financial safety, competitiveness and systemic risk, if the parties concerned wish.

The RBA's Payment System Reforms as of May 2007 sought to improve efficiency and competition by:

1. more closely aligning the relative prices for different payment services with the relative costs of providing those services;
2. addressing restrictions on merchant behavior that limit competition;
3. liberalising access to payment systems; and
4. improving the transparency of the payments system.

In the Bank’s view, the no-surcharge rule imposed by Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club limited the ability of merchants to put downward pressure on fees by threatening to charge the customer for using a credit card.

Neither MasterCard nor Visa agreed to voluntarily remove their no-surcharge rules for credit cards and, as a result, the Bank imposed Standards requiring the removal of these rules. In contrast, American Express and Diners Club voluntarily agreed to remove their equivalent rules.

The PayPal User Agreement for Australia states in Section 6.4 Seller Discouragement Policy.
You agree that PayPal may suspend your account or otherwise prohibit your use of the PayPal service if you display PayPal as an accepted payment method on your website or eBay listing and subsequently prohibit the use of PayPal, surcharge for the use of PayPal, or otherwise discourage the use of PayPal as a payment mechanism.

The no-steering rule prevented merchants that accepted American Express cards from encouraging customers to use another method of payment (equivalent rules did not exist in the MasterCard, Visa and Diners Club schemes). Again, the Bank saw this rule as inappropriately restricting competition and, after discussions, American Express agreed to remove the rule.

eBay's Accepted Payments Policy for Australia states
It is a condition of eBay supplying the services at the Site that eBay requires all sellers to offer payments through PayPal (with some exceptions set out in the Policy below).

Robert Vandermeer, is a spokesman for The Group, a coalition of eBay users who are opposed to eBay's repeated attempts to force PayPal on buyers and sellers in Australia. He said

After ebay's humiliating defeat in June, when the ACCC moved to block ebay's attempts to make PayPal the only payment option, this next round of discussions with the RBA appears likely to deliver a debilitating blow to ebay's efforts to force PayPal on Australian consumers.

A link to the letter which prompted the RBA to act is appended.

Henrietta says "Attempting to browbeat Aussies is not wise"

Y'all come back

Related Articles & Useful Links:

Reserve Bank of Australia Media Release August 20th 2006

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where In the World Is The King of Spin?

As a war of words breaks out this week between eBay and Auctionbytes I am wondering; where in the world is Usher Lieberman the King of Spin?

Ina Steiner the well liked and highly respected editor of Auctionbytes wrote a post titled eBays Operation Catalog Flies Under the Radar on September 6th. This post produced an effect at eBay very similar to stirring an anthill with a stick.

Uncle Griff immediately bustled in to make a long winded and rambling point by point rebuttal of Ina's article. I am a numbers kind of gal, that is why I am no longer selling on eBay, the numbers don't add up in my favor. Just for fun, here are the numbers in this little drama. Ina wrote 258 words. Uncle Windy took 711 to say very little with at least one prevarication

There are no shortcuts. There are no special dispensations for existing policy compliance given to any eBay seller. All eBay sellers, no matter the size of their business on or off eBay, are held to the same seller standards and for Diamond PowerSeller, the privilege of selling on eBay is tied to even higher standards then the rest of the eBay seller community.
and a lot of obfuscation. As is increasingly the norm for eBay, their 'clarification' represents a 275% 'adjustment' on the back end, in their favor.

Griff then went on to say
"The view among some that eBay is somehow a protected marketplace (”don’t let in my competition!”) . . . is unfortunately, misinformed and has no basis in reality"
This is very strange because John Mc stated on Inkblog just the other week (august 20th) that Google Checkout was in competition with eBay and "So we are not going to allow Google Checkout on eBay" If that is not a protected marketplace, then what is?

Could it be a discriminatory protected marketplace?

I asked a question or three on eBayINKblog today I must be in violation because it appears to have vanished, or possibly a glitch. Maybe I will try again, although it seems pointless.

Richard or Griff, or anyone really, please could you answer the following questions, in the interests of further clarification.
  • Does a Diamond PowerSeller come up through the ranks?
  • That is register, buy, qualify to sell, attain Bronze PowerSeller, Silver, Gold etc.?
  • If not is there a contractual minimum dollar Gross Sales Value per month?
  • Or minimum listing volume requirement

Griff just isn't as smooth at it as Usher is and of course neither of them can hold a candle to Ms Nichola Sharpe who reigns supreme in the art of succinctly saying nowt. (a British word meaning nothing) As David Steiner points out in his response to Griff's 'clarification', it is a classic "non-denial denial". There's a blast from the past for you!

Y'all come back

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hitting the Highway

This post is the latest in an ongoing series about the seller exodus from eBay, related posts are listed below. In May 2007 GogglesandGlasses became the Number 1 Apparel seller on Amazon.com. In my opinion this seller exemplifies the type eBay should bend over backwards to keep but does not want.

Gary is a businessman with employees. He did not join in the February seller boycott or the May seller strike, yet, less than 4 months later he is off eBay.

Meet Gary Richardson, clicking on any picture will take you to his website where he sells goggles and glasses of all kinds.

sells goggles sunglasses

Gary lives in the tiny town of Locust Grove Arkansas and in 2004 worked full-time as an industrial refrigeration technician.

"We started selling on eBay in January 2004. It was purely an accident. We were clearing some items out of our garage and didn't have time to setup a full blown yard sale. So, I decided to try selling some items on eBay and had great success."

Five years and 11,117 transactions later, this top 1000 reviewer (16 reviews) and Gold Powerseller with 99.8% feedback and DSRs of 4.9, 4.9, 4.9, and 4.8 has no listings on eBay. His statement "Goal today = move content and close eBay store...No plans to participate on eBay 4Q at all." caught my attention the other day. This 2005 article reflects an enthusiasm for eBay which has long since evaporated.

In his own words:

"Website, Amazon.com, Neweggmall.com and ecrater.com are all growing. I have decided to not sell on eBay in the 4th quarter. I don't feel like chasing my tail trying to constantly update eBay. I have devoted over 500 man hours to listing changes alone on eBay in 2008. I always told myself that if we put as much time and money into our website as we did eBay we'd have a killer website. Well, we have started doing just that and it's paying off handsomely. As soon as we turned off eBay sales increased. We were our own worst competition, we were paying eBay to compete against ourselves and didn't even realize it. eBay has become a time suck and our least profitable venue."

HOT! Tattoo Shades Vintage Style SunglassesTotally tacky party novelty glasses Sea Striker Sunglasses Reel Deal

"I am convinced that feed files are the future and that Google Base is a sleeping giant with 525 million products available, including about 10 million from eBay. If GB slapped a payment button on every item, eBay would be eBay.toast overnight. A bid button could also be very feasible, after all Google is the worlds largest online auction, not eBay. Google base now has ratings, payment and review systems in place. Most people don't realize that eBay relies heavily on google base for traffic or how widely Google distributes product feeds."

"I'm seeing large long time sellers and very small sellers leave the platform, it seems as if eBay wants these sellers to leave. I think eBay is in for a very disappointing 4th quarter this year. I'm pretty happy about that, because it means we are that much closer to someone pulling their head out of their fourth point of contact and turning this pig around."

Today’s Message is LOUD AND CLEAR, eBay management is failing. I avoided eBay for the first nine years because I thought it was full of thieves and scammers. of course, I didn't realize they were all in San Jose :-)

Y'all come back

Related Stories:

And Another One Bites the Dust