Is eBay Dying? Why My eBay Sales Are Down
It’s no secret that a lot of eBay sellers are complaining of slow sales and thing just not being the way they used to be on eBay. We have found ourselves in that camp too; sales slowed way down and we’re wondering if eBay is dying.
So, is eBay dying? The answer to that can’t be a definitive yes or no… it’s really in the eye of the beholder. However, if you look at eBay’s popularity as a marketplace there has been a definite switch from eBay to other places such as Amazon and Poshmark. Many long time eBay sellers have moved some, if not all, of their inventory to other platforms that provide better seller services.
If you look at eBay’s popularity according to Google Trends for the last 5 years, there is definitely a downward slope that doesn’t look too good.
The question we are left to ask ourselves is “why”.
Why are eBay sales down? Why are sellers leaving eBay? Is eBay dying?
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5 Reasons Why Sales Are Down & We Suspect eBay is Dying
While it’s true that eBay seems to be making money and they’ve increased revenue for the past three years, there is definitely a feeling of unrest among a lot of sellers. This is all speculation, but the increase in revenue and presence of unhappy sellers can easily be explained with just a few observations.
Cheap Chinese Products
We’ve been selling men’s neck ties for the last 4 or 5 years and even in just that one category, we can tell a difference in sales after the influx of Chinese listings. A tie that we used to be able to sell for around $30 is only going for about $15 now and most of our ties have to be listed around $9.99 to even have a chance at selling. Almost not even worth our time. Here is an example of what I’m talking about.
All Ties on eBay – 656,169
This is the total number of ties available on eBay in all categories active on eBay at the time of this post being written.
All US Only Ties on eBay – 478,934
This is the total number of ties available on eBay located in the US ONLY for all categories at the time of this post. This means that 27% of all neck ties on eBay come from China.
Here are the stats for United States neck ties from Jan 2018 to Jan 2019
Here are the stats for China neck ties from Jan 2018 to Jan 2019
A lot of people might think, “What’s the big deal? It’s only a 27% and there are still a ton of sales available to US sellers!”
Unfortunately, eBay has become the place where people go to “get a better deal”. Therefore, when buyers are looking for the lowest price on something, they’re going to change the dropdown to display “Price + shipping: lowest first”.
In the example here, of the 8 items shown, 5 of them are being sold from China.
Another issue with the Chinese items is they sell for ridiculously low prices and free shipping.
That’s why in the stats above, the average selling price for the United States based ties is $14.50 and the China ties average is $3.47. How do sellers compete with that!
And this is just one category that we have noticed a big change in. Who knows how many categories are effected by the influx of Chinese sellers who are offering items at such low prices that it’s hard to compete with them.
Buyer Focused, Not Seller Focused
eBay has become increasingly more and more buyer focused and many times the seller get’s stuck with the consequences. I remember when bidding on something on eBay used to be a binding contract. Sellers couldn’t just return things without communication with the seller.
Here is an example… we sold two neck ties to someone and they returned both of them. eBay automatically accepted the return and had them ship the item back before notifying us. Now, we completely understand that sometimes the item doesn’t work out the way you thought it would, but it’s the principal behind the whole thing.
Why can’t sellers deal with returns and make their own determination? It’s completely understandable that many buyers have had bad experiences with sellers who wouldn’t honor a return policy, but it doesn’t work out very well for people who like to handle returns their own way.
Automatic returns are just one issue… there are plenty of other complaints that you only need to spend a few minutes researching Facebook to read about.
With the rise of various YouTube Channels, TV shows, blogs, and Facebook Groups over the last few years, there are a lot more people selling on eBay. With the rise of new sellers come inexperience which leads to driving prices down and bad buyer experiences.
Too many sellers on eBay also lead to too many items for sale. Over saturation is bad for pricing and also leaves buyers with too many options to make a decision. When there are so many of the same thing available, it takes too long for people to make a decision on which one to buy and the inevitably leave without buying anything. We live in a fast paces society that wants what they’re looking for “right now”. They don’t want to have to compare and think about the options… they want to buy what they’re looking for and get it as quick as possible. Hence the existence of Amazon and Amazon Prime, which leads me into my next point.
When you look at everything Amazon offers their buyers, it’s not too difficult to figure out why buyers on eBay are leaving and sticking with Amazon.
We’ll admit it. We are eBay sellers and we’ve been doing for over 15 years, but do we go straight to eBay when we need something? Nope. We head over to Amazon and if they don’t have the item or the cost is higher than we think it should be, then we got to eBay and see if we can get it cheaper. See what I mean? Even us eBay sellers have the mentality that eBay is the place to get stuff for a better deal.
Then you have Amazon Prime. Who doesn’t want to pay $112 per year and have free 2-day shipping on most items whenever you make a purchase. In addition, get free movies and TV shows on Prime Video in addition to a whole bunch of other Prime perks. The Amazon Prime membership program was genius and who can compete with that?
If we as eBay sellers find ourselves gravitating to Amazon before eBay, why do we think our buyers are much different. And when they do come to eBay, we better be selling that stuff cheaper than Amazon or they’ll go right back and take advantage of their free 2-day shipping!
Keeping Up with the Jones’
Unfortuantly, over the years, we feel that eBay lost who they started out as being because they wanted to keep up with the Jones’ (aka Amazon).
eBay originally started as an auction-only website that connected buyers with sellers through this new thing called “the internet”. Transactions were made via money orders through the mail. Buyers agreed to a binding contract when the bid on an item, indicating that they were required to pay for the item if they won the auction.
Are we saying eBay needs to go back to money orders and auctions-only? No, there have been excellent technological advances that have made buying and selling on eBa easier than ever, but in the process of all that, I think they forgot how they started.
Things were so much simple when eBay started. There were no “automatic returns” (heck, most sellers didn’t even have a return policy). If you didn’t like what you bought, tough… you should have looked at the pictures and read the description better.
Additionally, there are some advantages to the auction-only method. You don’t have to worry about China driving the prices down because if you make everyone start their auctions at $0.99, the market will determine the prices and what they’re willing to pay.
All we’re saying is, instead of trying to compete with Amazon and other online retailers, why wouldn’t they just keep doing what they’re good at by running an auction-site and advancing that further and further technologically.