Will eBay Create a Perfect World for Online Sellers?

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Includes: AABA, AMZN
by: Randy Smythe

I've looked at eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) ProStores over the years, all 9 versions of it and it just seems eBay doesn't get it. ProStores should be the natural migration path for eBay Sellers; in fact Pro Stores should replace the eBay Stores/Shops platform completely.

In a Perfect World:

  • eBay would integrate ProStores into the eBay.com platform by allowing ProStores owners to post on eBay.com from their ProStores. ProStores would be the central hub for the sellers inventory and they would post CORE items and SIF items from their ProStore.They are doing something similar to this right now, by allowing store owners to convert SIF (Store Inventory Format) items to core. I can't imagine it is that difficult to add this functionality to ProStores.
  • eBay would allow sellers to link back to their ProStores from their CORE listings and allow them to actually create and maximize a brand and grow repeat customers. I'm even okay with only allowing them to link to a ProStore and not to a competing website. (Baby steps, folks).
  • The eBay Store Search would present items found in all ProStores. SIF format would be renamed PIF (ProStore Inventory Format) and allow sellers if they chose, to pay the reduced insertion fee for less visibility on the .com platform.

    Right now, an eBay Store seller lists only the amount of inventory in their eBay store that they can afford and any return business that they get still costs them 12% on every sale.

    In a perfect world ProStore owners would maintain 100% of their inventory in their ProStore and develop a listing strategy that would use CORE listings for high traffic, high conversion items; PIF listings for items that moved regularly but more slowly; "Long Tail" items would be available in the ProStore at the current minimal ProStore FVF.
  • eBay and Yahoo (YHOO) would work out a program for ProStore sellers to use CPC (Cost Per Click) ads on the many eBay properties, including the growing Classifieds network. eBay and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) would develop the same program for International ProStore sellers.
  • Right now ProStores automatically submits your product catalog to Google Product Search [free]. They also provide tools to do this with three major comparison shopping engines [CSEs]: Shopping.com®, Yahoo! Shopping®, and Shopzilla®.

eBay's new management team has already broken one "sacred wall" with the announcement of category based pricing in media and it is clear to me that they want to make eBay.com a shopping portal, rather than strictly a shopping destination. So why not break another “sacred wall” and give sellers the ability to actually grow and build an online brand?

In my scenario, eBay would be able to maintain their fee structure in each of their advertising venues (e.g CORE, PIF, Shopping.com, Sponsored Ads, Classifieds, etc.) and they would give ProStore sellers the ability to maximize their advertising dollars by building a brand and developing long-term relationships with their customers.

Once the ProStore seller has done business with a customer, it is up to them to work diligently to get them to return to their ProStore, where there is a minimal FVF and a fixed hosting fee.
This gives ProStore sellers a huge advantage over any other webstore platforms (e.g Yahoo Stores, Amazon WebStore (NASDAQ:AMZN), eCrater, Volusion, etc.) and sellers can finally gain a little control over their marketing expenses and their business.

Most eBay sellers do not want to leave eBay, they just want to sell products and they are willing to pay eBay for the traffic, they just want to control their business.

eBay management has the ability to make this happen right now and keep competition at bay. Will they do it? Only time will tell if this management team has the guts to create a “Perfect World” for online sellers.

Just my 12%.