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The Need to Adapt as an eBay Seller

April 3, 2011

A little less than three weeks ago, eBay released an announcement about some upcoming changes for sellers that would be phased in over the coming months.  A quick review of online forums and blog show me that reaction to the changes from eBay sellers is far from positive.

Rightly so in some instances, there would appear to be a growing perception amongst sellers that eBay is so focussed on the buyer’s experience that they have all but ignored how to improve the experience of sellers.  Changes to the fee structures related to eBay stores and the removal of any sort of protection for sellers against dishonest buyers are the main gripes. 

As a result, whenever I see a “Seller Update” from eBay, my immediate reaction is negative, without having even read what they have to say.  

A big reason for this is that when eBay made their changes in 2010 I saw an absolutely massive increase in my fees despite the fact that on the surface the announcement was written to sound like I would see the opposite. 

Admittedly, part of this was my own fault as I had not yet learned to look beyond the rosy outlook eBay provides in their announcements to determine the actual effects the changes would have on my “business” for myself.  I took their word for it when the announcement said the changes would benefit sellers in the long-run, so I continued going about doing things the way I always had. 

Big mistake.

Even after I made the necessary changes to make selling on eBay worth my while again, I still saw a substantial increase in my fees with little evidence that eBay’s changes helped increase my sales as they claimed they would.

The situation outlined above taught me a couple of important lessons for operating my “business” on eBay. 

First, I learned not to trust a word of what I read in the announcements themselves and to do some further digging to determine the actual effects of the upcoming changes.  eBay has an uncanny way of making it sound as though everything they are doing is in the best interest of their sellers.  In reality, everything they are doing is in the best interest of eBay and its shareholders and if they tell you anything different they are not telling the truth.

Secondly, I learned that you can minimize the impacts of the changes by simply adapting to what is an ever-changing business environment. 

This was likely the more important of the two lessons for me.  Since I operate my “business” on a very part-time basis to fund my hobby of collecting sports cards and memorabilia, I will be the first to admit that I do not know nearly enough about how to run a business as efficiently as possible.

One thing I do know, however, is that doing things in a certain way simply because that is the way you have always done them is a sure-fire way to watch your business fail.  Business environments change rapidly and this makes adaptation absolutely essential in order to ensure success.

Sometimes the need to adapt is something that you notice over time and can make changes to on a gradual basis.  In other instances, change is forced upon you, and you need to find a way to adapt in very short order.  For my “business”, eBay’s changes often fall in the latter of those two categories, and March’s announcements are no exception.

This time around though, I am not nearly as unhappy about what the changes will mean to my “business”.  While there will certainly be a negative impact to my bottom line (a fee increase is a fee increase after all), a preliminary look at the changes shows me that in most cases the impact is decidedly minimal if I take the time to do a few small things that will benefit my “business” as a whole. 

In the rare instances that the impact is major, then a major change will also be needed, but there’s a positive to be found there as well.  Essentially it tells me that a certain aspect of my “business” is no longer viable, which means it will be necessary to eliminate. 

While this may seem like a bad thing, what it also tells me is that it is very likely that aspect of my “business” was only barely viable in the first place, and eliminating it was both an inevitability and in the best interests of my overall operation.

Change can be difficult to accept and deal with, particularly when you feel that it is forced on you.  eBay’s changes will always feel as though they are being forced on a seller when you consider that most are blindsided by what they will soon be forced to deal with.

By making some changes of your own, and adapting to your surroundings, continued success is as close as you choose to make it.

I for one am not a person who simply throws in the towel when the going gets tough, and I know that I can get through this latest curveball that has been thrown my way by simply adapting to the new realities of the business environment I choose to operate it.  In the long-term, I know that I will be better for it.

Let me know what you think about the latest changes introduced by eBay and what you plan to do about them. Get in touch by e-mail at bb_bros[at]hotmail[dot]com, on Twitter (@bb_bros) or Facebook, or by posting a comment in this article.

Until Wednesday, all the best in your collecting pursuits!

Ryan

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