eBay: Don’t you think it looks and feels tired?

eBay has been part of my life since I first worked for the company in July 1999. In all those years, I’ve usually been selling something and certainly buying something each month. My selling goes in fits and starts. And for the first time in ages, over the past few weeks, I’ve been having a clear out and flogging off bits and bobs. I’ve been maintaining an inventory of 30 or so items every week and it’s been a useful reminder of what eBay selling is all about.

Of course, 30 items is a miniscule number of listings compared to many eBay sellers. People who make a living from eBay, and businesses who trade full time, often manage inventories of hundreds of lines and thousands of items. I’m in the nursery by comparison.

It’s a useful excuse for me though and a good impetus for me to make some eBay related posts over the next few days.

Here are some top line observations:

I remain astonished by the vibrancy of eBay. It has so much traffic. I’ve been selling stuff and getting good prices. I get loads of visits and have no complaints about what eBay claims when it calls itself the world’s biggest online marketplace. It is, it really is, a remarkable marketplace to plug in to.

Blimey, the fees have gone up. eBay is expensive. And it’s not just eBay’s fees. It’s PayPal too. More of which in a future post.

Most people on eBay are lovely. But I feel buyers have become more expectant and demanding. That’s fine. But I’m a bloke fitting my eBay selling around other things.

How crap is Turbo Lister? It was never really up to scratch: it’s always been an acceptable utility but it’s not classy, clever or comprehensive. It’s a 20th century app in an iPhone age. The integration, for instance, with eBay’s pre-filled items descriptions is arduous.

PayPal needs a massive shake up. It’s a good service. They handle money impeccably but it’s not a friendly and easy service to use. The help and advice sections are not good at all.

I guess my overall impression is a bit insubstantial. Why does using eBay and PayPal feel a bit like going back in time? I’m no tech snob, I’m not an early adopter. I’ll always value substance over style. But selling on eBay feels unpolished and unexciting.

It’s 2010. Sites like Twitter, software like WordPress and devices like the iPhone make eBay look and feel old. The only really important question is “does that matter?” The more I’ve been using eBay of late leaves me thinking that it really does. They’re at risk of being left behind in what is increasingly a shiny web world.

6 Responses to eBay: Don’t you think it looks and feels tired?

  1. caspar says:

    The eBay website is a monstrous multi-layered cake, with each layer being a geological remnant of some ill-defined need that a single customer might have had at some point in the past.

    Example. the messaging system: it is irretrievably brain-damaged and needs to be put down ASAP.

    Ebay continues to enjoy success because of its monopolistic market position and consumer lock in; it stopped innovating years ago.

  2. Andy says:

    I’m glad it’s not just me thinking buyers are getting more demanding on ebay. Pay at 4pm expecting delivery tomorrow morning by courier – with free P&P of course! :-)

  3. Tired, yes, a heavy machine, yes too, but isn’t this the destiny of all companies when they move away from the entrepreneurial into the corporate? I recruited for ebay from 2002 to 2006, the first two years were exciting, all the people hired were highly creative on top of having a substantial university and business background. Then, the profiles requested moved towards the standardized powerpoint/excel diskjockey and the entrepreneurial spirit was gone, like a balloon without enough helium.

  4. Pingback: eBay: Don’t you think it feels tired? : TameBay : eBay news blog and forum

  5. Rodin says:

    This is a valuable information I plan to revisit your blog in the future. Beside of that I think you add more videos and pictures because it helps visitors.:)

  6. Still Bitter After All These Years says:

    I remember when Turbo Lister was just plain old Mr Lister.

    Marnie, the entrepreneurial spirit left before 2002. I’d pin it on the point Jen Mowat left as UK MD, replaced by Doug McCallum. From then on, if you didn’t have a Stanford MBA, there was no chance.

    I’m sure you hired some wonderful people to work at eBay, I’m just still bitter after all these years.

    Hi Dan! Missed you at the wedding.

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