The end of eBay as we know it
With the addition of features like fixed-price auctions and merchant stores, eBay is looking less and less like the quirky online flea market it started as and more and more like a big box superstore.
As a result, a lot of people are starting to look elsewhere for their rare collectibles--astonishingly, in the same places they could be found 13 years ago, pre-eBay. Places like flea markets, trade shows, and garage sales.
According to this feature in the Guardian, eBay enthusiasts aren't too happy about the company's shift from online auctioneer to instant salesman and claim the company has sold out.
I wonder though, did eBay simply respond to what most web consumers want--instant transaction gratification and Amazon-like shopping power? Is it eBay, or us?
Going, going, gone? Furious fans have accused eBay, the website that brought auctions to the internet, of betrayal. They are upset by a decision to lurch away from the website's original format and instead allow major retailers to list thousands of products at fixed prices.
The trend, they warn, marks the beginning of the end for the online auction - leaving eBay looking less like a car-boot sale and more like a shopping mall.
'Auctions in some categories are already pretty much dead,' said Chris Dawson, an eBay seller from Thatcham, Berkshire, who runs a blog about the site. 'Not many people bid for rechargeable batteries, Gillette razor blades, toothbrushes or even mobile phone handsets or DVDs - the kind of commodity items you pick up in a supermarket. EBay started out for the collectors' market but it's been overtaken by the business market. Buyers have become used to instant sales on the internet, and they expect eBay to be no different.'
Buyers are showing a preference for fixed prices, with the promise of a reputable brand and instant delivery. Fixed-price sales on eBay have grown by 60 per cent over the past six years, eating away at the auction side of the business. They now comprise 43 per cent of the value of all goods sold on the site, up from 39 per cent a year ago. Analysts say that it is only a matter of time before auctions are in the minority.