Should eBay Go Retail?

Includes: AMZN, EBAY
by: Scot Wingo

I've often argued that if eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) leaves its roots and becomes essentially a fixed-price mall that competed squarely with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), they may lose the battle. The key is if they can do both - keep the unique and quirky stuff while adding in the fixed-price stuff.

Anthony Mussucci has an article over at Daily Finance, that nails this view better than I have been able to. Here's a snippet which I found very succinctly summarizes what I think most of us in eBay-land feel and worry about:

The more eBay morphs into an online retailer and gets away from its roots as an online auction site, the more likely it's fighting a battle it's going to lose. While it's important to establish trust among sellers and buyers on eBay, trying tocompete with Amazon or Walmart and their online guarantees is a waste of time. Even if eBay can match the services offered by other retailers, why would a buyer chose to shop there?

EBay's strengths are in the variety of old, hard-to-find collectible and discounts on new items. That's why people shop at eBay, and if the company moves too far away from that core identity, it may never rediscover its mojo.

Disclosure - I am long Google and Amazon. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.