eBay Live 2008 – Thoughts from Atlanta – John Lawson of 3rdPO.com Speaks Out

John LawsonEBay Live? Simply not the best it could be

By John Lawson of 3rd Power Outlet (www.3rdPO.com)

I stayed home and evidently many others did too!

Let me back that up and rewind a bit… See for those who don’t know me…I wrote a little blog at the end of the last 2 “eBay centric” events prior to this party. You can check them out by going to http://tinyurl.com/59yq8v. 

So I would like to add on to that now that the BIG party is over…literally.

Man, after Catalyst and the PeSA/eCommerce summits the stage was set, eBay made a “killing”.  Lorrie Norrington “nailed the speech”, eBay execs came and stood toe to toe, they said “we are listing”, “good feedback”, “give us a chance”, sound familiar?…err shall I go on?

Why, thank you, I think I shall…

The sellers stood up and demanded clarity on changes on feedback, some could not help but protest the real world impact, while others simply whined (you know I am telling the truth). At the end of it all, we felt that something good was blowing in the wind. I got that “Obama” feeling of change, LMAO. It was an Oprah moment with a new since of purpose.

Fast forward to the approach of eBay Live 2008… everybody kept asking me if I were going? I just did not feel like I wanted to go.

But then they announced, No eBay Live 2009, see ya in 2010…WTH? Huh?

Now I knew I did not want to go at all. I sat at home while one of our developers attended the eBay DevCon, which was FANTASTIC by the way… (I hope they continue that event PLEASE!!!).  As I sat at the PC and watched blogs, and tweets from the participants there in Chicago. I actually felt like I got MORE info here than some who were at eBay Live in person.  This leads me into my comments here.

EBay Live2008 was uncomfortable for me, this was my observation from Atlanta. 

The information was missing, the details were missing and worst of all…the PEOPLE were missing.

I do give eBay some slack, for the economy and gas prices I am sure affected the “painted face” eBay hippies and groupies. But still the pictures were somewhat astonishing to see the empty tables and chairs and the vendor floors half empty. This spoke volumes, along with the luke warm feelings that were reported afterward, made me realize where we all are in 2008 with eBay.

EBay is dealing with the end of the American honeymoon.

They have a hang-over from the shooting star, rise to fame, darling it was earlier in the century. What we build up, is fun as hell to tear down.

First Whitney, then Britney, then eBay?

Well, yeah…you may laugh but I think eBay is really not as Lorrie on Stagewacky as it is reported in the tabloids, LOL. But seriously, I am not so sure this eBay is so down and out.

I am amazed to hear sellers saying “I am not going to sell on eBay anymore”. Sure things are tough, but it is NOT nearly over yet!

Yes the heyday and that meteoric rise, that IS OVER. Now it is time to make your living. Now it is time to see “who the wheat is and who the chaff is”.  Either you are in or you’re out.

Can you roll with it through this? Can your business plan make it? Are you tough enough? Well, you better be or get tougher, cause this is going to be a long road folks. I am here with you and I am NOT going anywhere (unless they make me leave).

EBay has pushed a lot of buttons and I feel the elevator may get stuck.

Sometimes too much change, be it good or bad can still have a negative effect. I believe that could be coming for eBay for a time. So I say this without criticizing the changes right now, I am criticizing the amount of change!

I just feel very uncertain about the ripples and effects such a plethora of change can do to an organization. But in the midst of all the change, they did not even bother to address the most needed change…….CUSTOMER SERVICE!

eBay Live KeynoteFor that, you Mr. Donahue and Ms. Norrington get a big C- for your performance at eBay Live 2008.

You have offered no additional customer service for the buyer or the sellers; you missed a golden opportunity there. And for that…we may sustain some fall-out in customers, sellers and community. I think I won’t be missing eBay 2010, cause there won’t be one…sad, so sad.


John Lawson is a Regular Guest Blogger on the Trading Assistant Journal

His Company 3rdPO.com Can be found on eBay and the World Wide Web.

Thanks John!

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0 Responses to eBay Live 2008 – Thoughts from Atlanta – John Lawson of 3rdPO.com Speaks Out

  1. Henrietta June 27, 2008 at 1:46 am #

    Thanks John for your commentary, always thought provoking. Your mental processes are such that I have to really think your posts through. I find a lot of truths and angles I would never have thought of. I guess I am ‘chaff’ but to me you are a big eBay seller, not a small one.

    This was to be my year to go to eBay Live. This is the 10th anniversary of my involvement with eBay. It is a long and expensive trip. By about May I knew I did not want to go. I wonder how many more there were just like me? I know several who paid to go and abandoned their tickets.

    It is nice to make money but there comes a point when the cost in stress is just too high. Too many changes, too fast, too hostile an environment. It is not even easy to shop on eBay any more.

    This may be childish but some of the pronouncements by spokespeople and executives were so pointedly demeaning that it made it very easy to give them what they so obviously want and leave. As a buyer and a seller, both.

    Now I have a thought for you. Why are you not using the eBay refid link from your website? You would get a 75% FVF store referral credit on any purchases made from that link.

    Best wishes to you

  2. Cliff Aliperti June 27, 2008 at 4:04 am #


    Glad to see another guest post from you over here. I just want to second your entire post and say I loved the line “What we build up, is fun as hell to tear down,” ain’t that true!

    While I agree with Henrietta in viewing you as one of the “big” sellers, while seeing myself as quite a little guy, your opinions are always welcome to me because they often seem to mirror my own…which goes to show that the big guys and the little guys can find common ground!

    The “heyday” that you speak of being over, well, that is the perfect response to the oft repeated mantra of “Auctions are dead.” No, auctions do survive, but yes, it’s not that Wild West eBay packed with constant bidding wars on commonplace items anymore. It’s a marketplace.

    eBay created that frenzy by its mere existence…and it died (the frenzy, that is) for the same reason. The walls of the local marketplace have been broken down long enough that people know what’s worth getting into a bidding war over and they know what can be found easily enough at a set price. Once eBay tore down that wall buyers bought, bought, bought, but that same freedom of the marketplace has now established many rare, hard-to-find items as commonplace and put a more definite price tag on them.

    And yes, the changes are coming a little too fast. I find myself preferring the old dread of wondering when the annual changes would roll around and then dealing with them. You’d catch wind of rumor, worry about it, hear it, deal with it. Right now it’s edit, edit, edit, don’t turn around because here’s another batch of edits you’ve got to make. Do this and that or face the possibility of listings coming down or your account being suspended. Please slow down eBay!

    Thanks again,

  3. Scott Pooler June 27, 2008 at 7:48 am #


    Re: Now I have a thought for you. Why are you not using the eBay refid link from your website? You would get a 75% FVF store referral credit on any purchases made from that link.

    Not that John needs anyone to speak for him… and I hope you do not mind my weighing in here…

    John maintains a separate website and that website has a shopping cart built and maintained in the Channel Advisor multi-channel system. Re-directing buyers landing on an outside website like John’s can be a good strategy for some sellers if they do not have the infrastructure of a system like Channel Advisor or some other stand alone shopping cart to generate eBay fee free sales. ‘

    As you mention, utilizing the eBay Affiliate program and directing buyers back to eBay from a website is a good way to reduce final value fees. John’s system avoids those fees altogether in his outside of eBay operation. In effect he pays 25% less for the sales outside of eBay than those he would have generating by driving people to eBay.

    This of course does not take into account the fees Channel Advisor collects, but I have discussed this with John and in his mind Channel Adviser’s fees are money well spent.

    I just finished discussing setting up the exact system you are referring to for a present client of ours at iBusinessLogic.com.

    I believe we will be moving ahead with a plan to first import live eBay items into a stand alone outside website and then direct traffic back to eBay through the clients outside website to the client’s own items on eBay.

    Any sales generated through this method of traffic generation for eBay will reduce the net final value fees paid by this client (as an eBay affiliate) by 50 – 75%. This client is very enthusiastic about the possibilities of such a system.

    A similar example of this kind of implementation on a smaller scale can be seen at http://favoriteteamwear.com

    The client in my example also does not currently have a “shopping cart” in their website. And they want to avoid the prospect of either paying Channel Advisor fees or running two separate inventory systems. One on eBay, and one off eBay. When the sales level get high enough, we may recommend they explore the opportunities offered by a multi-channel solution.

    I think John is very happy with his current system at Channel Advisor.

    I am sure he will chime in here and thank you for looking out for him. He can use all the help he can get (sic).

    As Always – Thanks so much for your comments!

  4. John June 27, 2008 at 11:10 am #

    Hey guys, thanks for the feedback posts! Henrietta and Cliff, I will tell you right now, that I do not consider myself a “big” seller. I just sell a lot of stuff, but we are still a mom and pop (or pop and pop actually) shop around here. Having said that, there are some things that are important during different phases of your business growth cycle on eBay and you have different needs during the different phases. So with that, I would say we have gotten past the “adolescent” phase in our business but we are far from “legal drinking age” LOL.

    And to answer your question about traffic directing from my web store to eBay. I will have to give you the short answer because it really is a blog post that needs its own space for my full reasoning behind it. But I will give it to you like this…

    It is the same reason why you do NOT see Wal-Mart branded items on the Sam’s Club shelf and vise-versa. Two different marketplaces for two different customers. That is the short and sweet of it honestly. And Scott does make some valid assessments on the topic in his post response.


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