Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Has eBay had its day?

My eyes were opened this morning to the troubles that eBay seems to be in. I strongly suggest that you read down all the comments. There's some interesting stuff there.

I've used eBay since 2003 for occasional purchases and selling. I even managed to sell two vehicles, notably Bertha, my lovely camper van, which Len and I used to support our son George and his friends on his bike ride from John O'Groats to Lands' End last year.

I've been fortunate in my experiences, other than buying a fourth-hand car which was little more than a wreck. That appeared as a classified ad and I should have gone to inspect it beforehand. So that was my fault.

I'm not in the market for buying branded goods, other than for photography. If I look on eBay, the search invariably takes me to shops located in Hong Kong which promise to deliver goods free of custom duty. I tried it once, and got stung by the customs charge. So I don't buy from eBay shops anymore if I can help it.

I think it pays to keep checking the listings for the real second hand bargain. There's no point on clicking on just anything in the listings. And ALWAYS read the small print and the description in detail.

Having said that, a friend and I are considering setting up an ecommerce store and thought that it might be a good idea to use an eBay shops as a taster. I went to a seminar about selling on eBay, but quickly decided that the cost of 'renting' the store space far outweighed the highly inconvenient methods of listing and the rather tacky image that most shops have.

If I were looking for something a bit more exclusive, I would not personally go to look on eBay. I would, however, look on Amazon. I buy a lot from Amazon, in the way of books, classical music CDs, photography accessories and kitchen equipment when it's on special offer.

I still would not put my ecommerce offerings on Amazon. I want to present an exclusive image for that.

So what's the problem with eBay? Website traffic is plummeting apparently. People are scared off by fraudulent tales and experiences. Did they really expect to buy a Gucci, or Armani or Nike for next to nothing?

You're mostly locked into PayPal for payment. Not everyone wants a PayPal account although in my experience, you can still use a credit card when going through the payment process. For large payments, I specify BACS.

Just maybe, the novelty of online auctions is wearing off? You might have thought that eBay would be a destination of choice in lean economic times, but somehow the concept of eBay being a source of things cheap and cheerful has gone.

My own impression is that eBay has been trying to reorientate the perception of its image, with one that's more up-market. Is that what its potential customers want?

What should eBay actually be?

See figures for eBay web traffic in the USA.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feeling like an Android

Is it really September since I last posted? My eco-button tells me that I've saved £18 since I installed it.

I gave one to Len for our 35th wedding anniversary, but his laptop powers down automatically so he handed it on to our son George, who's attached it to his mega computer - used essentially for playing WoW.

Naturally, George forgets to press the button, so periodically, I peep into his room when he's out and bang the button for him.

Yes, the Google Android phone has been released. I'd love to try it, but I really can't justify £40 a month, when I already have another mobile contract and 3 broadband as well.

Besides, with arthritis in my hands, my little Advent computer is much more convenient to use. I never have got used to texting, preferring to use my Skype account to send SMS instead. Not only mostly cheaper, but I find it much, much easier to use the Qwerty keyboard.

With luck, the monthly cost will come down and I shall be able to try out Google's new phone.

I've been attending lots of workshops about online marketing, pay per click, SEO and selling online in October. The result? I'm changing my business focus.

Must dash. The toad-in-the-hole will be burning for supper.