It used to be that eBay was the darling of the dotcoms, banking on odd auctions and a great concept. eBay's unique feedback system, the opportunities to grab astounding bargains and the excitement of watching bids escalate made eBay different from all the other buying and selling going on. Of the big dotcoms, Amazon was offering goods for sale, but eBay offered the world’s sellers at your fingertips. eBay capitalised, acquiring PayPal and Skype, among other website purchases.
But ten years later, online shopping is slick and simple, and eBay is now looking a little ordinary. It looks more like the marketplace it wants to be. Buying from stores, rather than going through the bidding process, using "buy it now", gives a sinking feeling that there are no bargains left to be had. That feeling is heightened by the overall importance of shopping rather than bidding. There are more and more brand-name retailers and ordinary businesses using eBay as a shop front. Auctions are now 60% of eBay transactions, down from 80% just a couple of years ago.
Buying with PayPal now seems almost mandatory these days and even the ACCC recommends documenting each step of the purchase process to help avoid scams and counterfeits. Something is broken.
Recent changes mean that even the vital trust engendered by the feedback system now resembles an average shop: to the outside observer watching eBay, the customer is always right. Sellers are unhappy and buyers aren’t coming back as frequently as they used to, as our reader's letters illustrate. Does eBay have a plan to retain buyers and provide an experience to set it apart from online retailers or has it lost its way?
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This Feature appeared in the April, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing