Sunday, February 10, 2008

After eBay, Online Sellers Hope the Auction Format Is Still Alive

EBay, a name that was once synonymous with online auctions, has taken further steps to shed its auction business with dramatic fee increases that seem designed to give an advantage to its largest sellers. The 15 percent discount for most large established eBay sellers is enough to make it impossible for a new seller to compete. And even for the most successful sellers, the handwriting is on the wall: they have to convert to the store format or risk being marginalized and eventually eliminated from the site.

Some sellers are planning a boycott of eBay next week, but others are just leaving for greener pastures. Stories in and CNNMoney describe a mass exodus from eBay to other auction sites — a process that actually began when Yahoo shut down its auction site last year. These are online auction sites that some sellers are moving to:

Each of the competing sites has at least one key advantage that eBay could never match, should it decide to return to the online auction business. Some of the sites have no seller fees, a much lower cost structure, support for swapping, flat monthly fees, Google Checkout support, etc. And after this month they’ll have another advantage that eBay won’t be able to match: shoppers who like the online auction format. After eBay pulls the plug on its auction search interface, which apparently it is ready to do any day now, auction fans will still be able to find the online auction experience on these other sites.