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!

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HIllary DePiano said...

Hey Henrietta,

Thanks for the link and the comments on my post. Incidentally, I rode and taught horseback riding for a good 10 years until those creep shut down my stable (LOOOONG story) so I am a fellow horsewoman myself.

I am sorry if I struck a raw nerve. I know that I lot of people are huge Bonanzle fans and I am not trying to upset anyone. There are plenty of things that I get real passionate about myself so I understand. Like I said in the comments, it's nothing personal. :-) If I don't enjoy Paris Hilton's CD, it's not because she isn't a nice person (which, for all I know, she could be). But I can't let how nice I think she is deep down inside affect how I write my review. All I have to review is the music.

I am sure Bonanzle is filled with wonderful people. But that doesn't change the fact that all I had to review was the site itself. And my point of view on the site was 50/50 as you saw.

I'm not going to re-hash my comments and post since they are there for anyone to see if they care what they think. All I want to say is that I think you and I approach the online selling process in very different ways. While getting "live online chat, meet and greet capability" may be a plus to you, it's unrelated to how I run my business. I think that some people long for the good old days of eBay and community that Bonanzle plays to, days that I couldn't be more glad to see gone.

In the end, I think your analogy is perfect. This is apples and watermelons. Unfortunately, I need apples and this is a watermelon. Can't make cider with it. ;-)

But that doesn't mean they won't make changes in the future that will appeal to me, it just means that they haven't yet.

Like I said, I am trying it out and see what happens. I am definitely willing to give it a chance.

Thanks again for the visit and the link!

Bill said...

You have to admit, she has a point: eBay we ain't. But to me, it's sort of a boring point. Most people visiting a site that launched a couple months ago don't expect every eBay feature with 0 bugs and rough edges. But there are always going to be people with such expectations, and surely more that will visit as we grow older.

Lucky for us, you can look at the traffic and growth patterns for the site and see pretty clearly that people in search of an eBay rehash are a distinct minority right now.

The only part of the review (and subsequent comments by the author) that rubbed me the wrong way was all speculation about how much our feelings must be hurt by such a review. I'm pretty sure she made the remarks out of the intent to be caring, but it sort of reads like Bonanzle is run by a group of touchy toddlers ("I know I am probably going to make someone at Bonanzle cry by saying this"..? puh-leeeze ;))

Anyways, thanks for your work to set the record straight and keep apples compared to apples. You personify the spirit of Bonanzle, and the reason that it doesn't have to ape eBay to be successful in its own right.

Bill Harding

GameGirlz said...

So far, in the many blog posts and reviews I've read about Bonanzle, Hillary De Piano is the only one to actually call Bonanzle an "eBay Killer". Those would be her own words, (e.g. she has suggested that others are deciding it is an ultimate eBay killer, when truthfully, I have yet to see anyone else saying that).

"...it has a very long way to go before it approaches the customization or the usability of eBay."
And thank goodness for that. I hope they never reach it because eBay is making it far too difficult for sellers to list and sell quickly, and making it near impossible for those who are trying it for the first time to have a humanized easy-to-understand transaction.

I wonder if she used it for any more than a day (since she only posted Day 1 observations)? There wasn't very much there about booth options, the listing process, image editing, image cropping, booth options and so on.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you, Henrietta, I've got a booth set up. I'm slowly working on it, because I'm still making fairly good sells on Ebay. But Ebay cannot be trusted; I don't see a future there for me.

More and more, I'm getting used to Bonanzle. I'm a person who as I get older relies more on my heart and gut. No, it's no Ebay. But then again Ebay isn't Ebay anymore.

Anonymous said...

Henrietta are you SURE this lady is a consultant? I can make my own snap judgments but I PAY a consultant for careful fact filled analysis. Her review does not look good for that.

Auction is no longer king. Exposure is the new thing. No exposure = low views = low prices.

In my BM store I price my goods and discount (haggle) if I have to. I can do that on Bonanzle too.


Henrietta said...

Hi Frieda
I think I called her an e-commerce expert and collector. This was taken from her About Me on the blog. I do not know the lady personally.