Dec 25, 2009

Holiday Greetings!

We are just now finishing unwrapping (no action figures for us), and we wanted to wish everyone a great holiday season and best wishes for the upcoming year. In addition, to make sure we cover all the sci-fi holiday bases,

May The Force Be With You
Live Long and Prosper
Make It So
I'll Be Back (for the holidays - adding that part in)
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Up, Up, and Away
Holy Fruitcake!

We look forward to more fun and adventure in the New Year!

Dec 13, 2009

Singing the eBay Blues

Having been present in one form or fashion on eBay since Feb. 2000, I have seen the changes the little auction board has gone through on its way to becoming an internet sensation.  However, like many others, I am wondering if eBay is coming to the end of its string.  Beset by new competition, the economy, and its own management philosophies, eBay appears to be fluctuating between trying to keep ahead of the competition to falling upon its own second hand collectible sword.

Ebay effectively destroyed a large amount of the price ceiling in the collectible world.  Rare toys, comics, and other collectibles were suddenly not quite so rare.  Chase figures and variants no longer commanded a premium until the current waves had cleared shelves, and in most cases, the core collector group had already acquired the item.  Collectibles became more about the "new hotness" instead of sustained value.  Flipping became much more common and pronounced with values crashing (and sometimes hard) once supplies normalized (thank you Walmart and Target).  Ebay values became the unofficial price guide for a lot of things.

However, over the last two years, things have changed.   The amount of collectibles being sold on eBay has markedly decreased.   Searches for Bowen busts, original comic art (not commissions by unknowns), and certain action figure lines turn up significantly less numbers than before.  The reasons for this have been debated by those far more knowing than I, but the bottom line is that the volume is not where it was.  Couple this with the departure of numerous sellers for other venues (a whole other topic for debate), and the end result is less product being offered by less knowledgable and capable people.

Ebay is not helping itself in this field either.  If I cannot find, then I cannot buy!  And Best Match does not help me find.  Newly listed and ending soonest helps me find and prioritize my purchasing.  Sorry to say, however much you guys paid for that program, you need a refund.  Then, changes in the search where figures now returns listings with the "figure" in them.  Don't assume that the "s" is on there by accident!  If I type "figures", I want auctions with multiple items in them!  For "busts", I am looking for high end collectibles, not see through bras!  (although that might be something for a later business)

Unlike numerous other sellers, I agreed with the no negative feedback against the buyer change.  If you offer quality items, prices, and shipping, then your scores will reflect it.  There will be buyers who will abuse the system or just be stupid, but if you are producing enough sales volume, you can overcome these issues out of your control through sheer mathematical volume as well as your other positive reviews.  However, they then decide to start arbitrating resolutions themselves.   This might seem good, but the policies being implemented are truly inane.  If a seller shorts me figures in a lot or sends damaged product, I can't get a refund just for the missing or damaged product.  I have to send the other product back to the customer, get proof of return, and then get my refund. choice is to return the product that I do want OR accept being ripped off/losing money.  That makes no sense and makes me wary of future purchases, esp. from newer sellers.

So, if I have to be more cautious with newer sellers, then they will get fewer possible sales for lower prices and then....they will go away as well.   Supply keeps dropping, some prices will go up, but also the significance of eBay keeps dropping.  Right now, I have two open complaints in the same month due to being shorted on one lot and not even receiving the other.  I do not remember any time in my nine years ever having two complaints within three months much less one month.  I have been making more purchases over CL in the past six months than eBay which is also a first.

I went away from eBay a long time ago as a viable long term sales channel.  I am now considering moving away from them as a primary sourcing channel.   I am sure I am not the only business with similar considerations, and ultimately, where we end up - the collectible and small business class - that will be the next big thing.

"It's the politics of the auction's the eBay Bluuuuuues! (with apologies to Glenn Frey)