What made eBay fun and interesting were all the weird things you could find there that you couldn't find on sites like Amazon. Now every time I try to go searching for something on eBay I have to wade through all the shady sellers who have packed it with thousands of items that are better bought elsewhere.
My wife has been selling new Women's clothes on Ebay for many years, and has seen this all first-hand. Her life these days is nothing but stress, as she has to go through and change thousands of listings for the latest boondoggle. Her income has been decreasing steadily over the years and it's almost too much to bear now.
If Ebay keeps trying to be Amazon, they are doomed to fail.
Ebay auctions were also just fun and new for me back in the day. For various reasons, I just sort of grew out of it and, if I actually need something, I'll just buy it off Amazon or whoever rather than trying to chase down a bargain that may or may not actually be one.
You really do not get speciality items from Amazon. For example old photographic gear.
The key to eBay, IMO, is setting up good searches and email alerts.
My most recent peeve is that its virtually impossible to order searches by cost anymore. Every hole-in-the-wall Chinese seller has figured out that you can do a multi-select on your listing and just stick in a random item with a $0.99 price as one of the selections. This makes it appear as a $0.99 item in the search results. The real product then has to be selected before you can see the real price.
Literally every product is $0.99 from friendship bracelets to jet-skis with no way to sort them. You just have to click each one to discover what it really costs.
I mostly use Aliexpress now for that sort of thing; It's just easier and works better.
And don't even think about selling an Apple product or you will learn quickly about the "brick scam" that's been going on so long and is so well know, ebay is basically complicit in it at this point.
Yes, I'm ranting but: I used to use ebay a great deal. Now I don't. They are richly earning their irrelevance.
Another recent misstep on eBay's part has been to prohibit links to offsite information in listings. So if you're selling anything that requires an informed buyer -- from electronic parts and equipment to the aforementioned jet skis -- your ability to communicate that information has just been removed, or at least made artificially awkward.
It's as if eBay can't decide what kind of company they want to be. A back-alley venue for scams and junk? A storefront for cut-rate Chinese clones of popular gadgets? A place where the latest luxury goods from Guccci and Sorny are always on display? Or a legitimate online marketplace that encourages honest transactions between informed buyers and sellers?
Now, not only did they become the world's sketchy back-alley, they're not even very good at it.
Indeed, i feel it has a bit of an edge over Amazon in selling slightly odd, not entirely mass-produced things. For example, a while ago, i wanted to grow a couple of plants from cuttings. Just two. To do that, i needed a couple of millilitres of rooting hormone and a couple of peat pellets. No manufacturer packages those things in such small quantities. xxlbigdaves-hydro does, though. He buys big packs of rooting hormone and peat pellets, splits them up, and sells a tiny quantity of both, together. He even throws in a razor blade. Ideal.
More recently, i wanted a very particular make of lipstick for a halloween costume. I could buy a single 2.5 ml tube of it on eBay. On Amazon, you can either buy a big tube, or packs of several 2.5 ml tubes. That's a lot more lipstick than i'm likely to get through in my life.
I'm in the UK, and maybe the sellers here are better than in the US, or Amazon is worse. It probably matters that i am the last surviving human without Prime, so Amazon has a higher marginal cost for me than for the typical Hackernews. And i confess that i use eBay partly out of sheer bloody-minded desire not to see Amazon take over the entire universe.
It is disappointing though that they're focusing on new items, and not trying to find ways of improving the situation for buying or selling used items. For instance, perhaps you could have projects to figure out what most customers look for in images, and encourage sellers to provide good coverage, or to pick up images not properly focused on the product. Think of how many pictures eBay must have of any particular laptop model, and when buyers browse, what images they pause on, and where they zoom; it really must be an unparalleled dataset. There are a lot of listings, even for expensive items, where the pictures are just insufficient. And even with filtering and categorization, you could more intelligently encourage sellers to answer categorization questions that meet seller desires, that can be picked up through analysis of how people browse or search for listings. If you could say to a seller "not putting in RAM for a laptop cuts your audience by 18%", and gameify the process of improving the listing, I imagine you could make a lot of progress. Or perhaps using known dimensions of objects or their packaging to provide an simplified, streamlined marketplace for shipping options.
Essentially, they probably feel that second hand sales are a niche market, so they can't continue explosive growth without moving into standard retail. It's the downside of the continual fast growth mindset. They could really cultivate their market, and grow the company by growing the market, by incrementally improving the buyer and seller experience for 2nd hand items. Shifting focus away from that has big risks, not just rewards.
They talk about Etsy, they talk about amazon, they talk about aliexpress - and then they say they want to focus more on new goods. From where I come from moving out of the niche you dominate and increasing your competing surface area (retail of new goods is, uh, crowded) is an asinine move.
As to “millennials haven’t even heard of eBay” - what utter tosh. I and many, many others I know have used eBay since our teens, and I’m now in my 30’s. I’ve just furnished an entire house, from floors to fittings to fridge to furniture through eBay.
Either way, if they honestly think they’ll succeed by trying to compete with amazon and Ali on their own turf, they’re deluded, and signing up for an express train to insolvency depot, where buyers loiter offering shady deferred stock deals for sick companies to harvest for corporate organs.
They’d do far more for their brand by making the feedback system actually useful again.
Oh, and their API is a world of hatefulness. Built an end to end integration for an ecommerce platform - stuff of nightmares. 2000+ page PDF API guide. Zero consistency in communications. Count from zero, count from one, can’t count here. Single shared sandbox for the universe. No support. Spontaneous deprecation. Never again.
I've had far less problems with eBay than I have with Amazon. I mostly buy used items on actual auctions. Occasionally a buy it now used item, but rarely new stuff. Perhaps its because I'm a long time user of eBay (1997 IIRC) that I've internalized a consistent process that works. Amazon was great when Amazon was the only seller, but when the opened it up to third party sellers and that turned into questionable and counterfeit items, I don't generally go back.
Sure with Amazon, my shipper's items are all mingled together, but if I get shipped a lemon, I don't even have to worry about it being taken care of because Amazon handles that extra-mile beautifully. Ebay is borderline scams and china reseller junk most of the time. One thing that Ebay has cornered the market on, however, are items being sold for parts.
Once a particular item can be sufficiently categorized, it gets its own marketplace, like what's happened with cell phones.
It happens to Craiglist all the time. E.g.
Rooms for rent --> Airbnb.
Craft products --> Etsy.
My last sale (of macbook) on Ebay was to somebody clearly trying to scam me. But they were not good at it. I knew they were trying to scam me but I also knew ebay protects the seller as long as you can prove the package went to the address from the payment and the weights and sizes for the package made sense. "Not really who we are anymore"... meaning a trustworthy place to sell junk?
At least these days you can somewhat restrict buyers (can't have zero feedback, more than 2 unpaid item reports...)
Most users will pay more to buy-it-now rather than deal with auctions.
And I can target a price at the top 10% of the market (easy to do when I'm selling a small number of items, harder when someone is selling 10000)
There's talk about embedding Ebay listings into it... they'll have to tread carefully.
I wonder how much time and money was spent for Ebay to realize the obvious: that young people like (and have always liked) being different.
Even if you go the their "structured" iPhone 6 page it barely gets any better:
They've done not much more than strong-arm their user base on both sides in one form or another for years.
Sorry, they're nothing but a ghost of the Internet past to this little clicker.
A far as buy it now, that is a "wish" price for collectable stuff we buy. Everyone knows the real bidding starts with 2 minutes left in the auction.
Where else is there? When craigslist could search every city - that was the closest.
The risk of fraud is too high and I have zero confidence in ebay to resolve the issue if I were to buy or sell an item and something went wrong. None of this is based on actual experience just a feeling and other peoples experiences - and I think that may also be why people are moving away from ebay, a lack of trust.
To make the process more efficient for both and to increase demand for goods, I imagine that there could be pre-processing services provided to both sellers and buyers, which take photos of groupings of goods and use ML to provide likely metadata about each good and assemble thumbnail photos of each good. They could then be posted to a central "marketplace" area that is accessible to buyers.