Friday, October 31, 2008

My Own Personal Alternative to Ebay for Holiday Shopping

LuLu & LiLy "Showtime"

Yes....this is a blatant ad for my own website...please don't stop reading! I long ago joined the ranks of sellers who started their own website. In fact, I started mine in 1996 and its been running continuously ever since. Now that Ebay has made it so very difficult for small sellers to sell on their site, I've taken my Ebay fee money and put it into my own website. It has a Paypal shopping cart system for convenience. It has a large ACEO section for people who collect hot little artwork gems. LuLu has her own page there for all the fans who collected her chubby little uninhibited self on Ebay. There's a Christmas ACEO page, Miniature Art pages, Large Art pages, Handmade Pendants pages, Magnets, Tatted Lace, instructions, free patterns and supplies! Right now I'm running specials on shipping. Shipping on ACEO's is only 50 cents. I keep my shipping extremely low, I combine shipping and just about everything on the site is negotiable. Free little stocking stuffer gifts go out with each order. Please come and take a peek and refer it to your friends. Help one small seller survive without big brother Ebay ;-)

The sites that make up what I call - a domain name I've had since 1995:

My painting for today is a LuLu ACEO. No...she's not for everyone, but she does have a following of people who love her.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Meg Whitman Founded Amazon???????

When I started on Ebay Whitman was not on board yet. So, how could she have founded the company. John McCain simply told a fib...though he probably got it from Meg and believed it. Pierre Omidyar founded Ebay! We all look up to Pierre but we look down on Whitman. She was a money waster (throwing money into China and giving them free listings - buying Skype, etc.). All we know of Whitman is higher and higher fees more and more arrogant rules. We believe she is also behind Donahoe's plan that is currently destroying Ebay as we know it.

I hear Whitman may run for governor of California. All I can say is...Meg...please, please don't! California is in enough hot water as it is! Have mercy for once!!! Be content to count all the money you made on the backs of the very same small sellers that Donahoe is driving off with his outrageous policies!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ebay vs Amazon - Why Amazon Wins

"Baby Whatchamacallit"

I know I have knocked articles that pit Ebay against Amazon but since there are so many of them I want to give my opinion as to why this comparison just doesn't wash. I've been selling on Ebay since 1998 and loved the free-wheeling fun atmosphere. Done correctly, transactions on Ebay between buyers and sellers should be just as friendly as meeting face to face. In all my 10 years there I've met some exceptional people, some I now count as friends. In the past 9 months, John Donahoe has managed to turn that around - at least for me, and I no longer am planning to sell on Ebay. His sights seem to be firmly set on capturing some of Amazon's share of the market...but with the least amount of work and money as possible. Therein lies the rub. it is. On Ebay, I can buy and be cheated and chances are the seller will get away with it. I go into a transaction as sort of a gamble...will the item be as described?...will the seller refund if I don't like the item or its damaged? the item even going to arrive? Ebay has set up a fancy system with ratings and standings in the listings tied to ratings. All of these only serve to make the sellers angry and the buyers frustrated because they can't find what they want. In fact Ebay's entire system could have boiled down to only two feedback questions: 1) were you pleased with your transaction? 2) would you buy from this seller again? Tying standings in the listings does nothing but penalize the seller from selling, Ebay from making profit on those sales and the buyer from finding what he wants! Donahoe's attempt to usher in big box stores to list on his site just isn't working...and why should it when most have their own sites? There you have a partial example of what is wrong with Ebay. Someday soon I may give more reasons why Ebay will never be another Amazon even if it gives up ALL of its small sellers and powersellers and I'll add a seller's opinion on what I feel needs to be done to make the site "whole" once again.

Back to the situation at hand...none of the above problems are present when buying on Amazon. In fact, I have been buying on Amazon for years (mostly CD's and books from 3rd party sellers there) and had only one incident in all that time. The one problem I had with an Amazon seller brought to light exactly how big the difference is between Ebay and Amazon and why Ebay will never gather ANY of Amazon's market share.

I bought a book on Amazon a year or so ago. It was a book on Rush Limbaugh written by Al Frankin and I thought it would be a fun book to read - nothing more than that. So, I ordered it from one of Amazon's third party sellers. A month later I realized the book had not yet come and so I contacted the seller and asked when he had mailed it. He sent back a nasty reply and said its out of his hands and when it gets here it gets here! Well, that prompted a not too nice reply from me and a virtual email "war" began between me and this seller. I became frustrated enough to check the site to see what I can do about complaining and came across the complaint information. The information said to email them my phone number and they would get right back to me. I thought, "yeah and I'll grow old waiting" (thinking along Ebay lines). I never expected a return phone call....BUT I got one in less than 15 minutes. First words from the Amazon representative "don't worry, the item is guarranteed and if you don't get it we will refund"!!!! Amazing...stupendous...for real???? These are words you will NEVER hear from ebay....NEVER! She filled out the information for a refund for me and said I would get it within two weeks and she would "speak to" the seller about his performance. I hung up feeling absolutely amazed! This Amazon works...and works well! As luck would have it, the book arrived the next day. As the seller had said, he mailed it out the same day I ordered it (yet he could have been nice about it). I sent an email to Amazon telling them to forget about the refund, I had received the book. Case closed. I wonder how the same situation would play out on Ebay :-) Ebay users ALL know the answer to that one and that is one of the reasons WHY Ebay will never be able to transform themselves into another Amazon.

My piece of artwork for today is a closeup of Baby Whatchamacallit from my painting "The Whatchamacallits". Thought it would bring you a smile.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Feeling Nostalgic....Memories

"Autumn Path"

I lived my first 30 or so years in New Jersey, 31 years ago I moved to Southern California. At first it was a novelty ...really only two seasons here, Spring and Summer though the locals like to say we have four seasons, Spring, Summer, Earthquakes and Fires....or something to that effect :-) Long about this time of year I think back to New Jersey and how the leaves would be ablaze on the trees and the mornings and evenings were definitely nippy. Another month and the real cold would start to set in. Then came Thanksgiving and the family would gather together at our parents house. It was always so cold outside and so toasty warm in mom's big kitchen. Then came Winter and Christmas and we'd gather again all bringing our gifts to share. I remember one Christmas Eve a man came delivering something that was ordered from a store. He came into the kitchen and saw us all gathered around the table and a tear fell from his eye. He looked at mom and said "this brings back memories." I had no idea what he was talking I do. My parents are long gone, siblings spread to other states and now, when I realize the weather in New Jersey is changing and the holidays are closing in I can't help but remember and feel nostalgic and to really really miss something that I used to simply take for granted...

My painting for today is Autumn Path. It sold a couple of years ago.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Not About Ebay This Time.....I Promise!

"The Whatchamacallit"

This fellow lived in my bedroom closet for a long time. He only came out at night to play with my cat and he eats only green grapes.

Nope this is about my website. Tomorrow I will start a contest - actually a drawing for either the pictured "Whatchamacallit" painting or another painting of my chosing - probably a small landscape with birch trees. I want everyone who reads this to drop by:

and click on the flashing "Contest" sign. All you have to do then is click on email me and tell me which of the paintings you would like to win. If I draw your email address I will contact you for your address. Contest will run from tomorrow to December 1. Either painting would make a lovely holiday gift so that would be one less gift you'd have to buy.

While you're there, look around. I have ACEO's and some frames that would make excellent gifts and there is a sale price page of paintings, a unicorn page and even LuLu has her own page. In addtion to the artwork there is a selection of handmade bamboo tile pendants that would also make great holiday gifts. What I'm asking is that you shop with me. There's a Paypal shopping cart - or I take checks or moneyorders....I'm easy :-) Every page has an email me link so you can rush off an email to me and I can combine shipping on whatever you like and arrange payment.

So...yes, I know this is an advertisement but I've been good all year. I've been preparing my website full of artwork, pendants and even tatting pattern books and supplies - the least you can do is come and look ;-)

Thanks for putting up with me.

My artwork - which will be a contest piece is called "The Whatchamacallit" Its a 5 X 7" acrylic original painting.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hey Ebay - I See Cracks in Your Armor!

The cats, in their infinite wisdom, decided to capture the moon because they know sooner or later hungry mice will appear."

I read an wall street analysts article this morning. Well, wall street is finally "getting it" and they are clearly beginning to see the dangerous path Ebay has taken and continues down in spite of loss of sellers and buyers! Thought I would post my post here today:

"Its funny but sellers have basically been telling you people all this year that Ebay is headed for disaster. Mr. Donahoe is bent on destroying the business model that made Ebay what it is today. Instead of tweaking and stirring up the excitement that once was, he chose to tear it down, trample sellers, milk them for revenue burden them with almost impossible policies while ushering in big box retailers. He gives these retailers free or extremely low fees because he supplements that loss by squeezing the small seller and powersellers that made the site what it is. These big box companies have low sell-thru rates. I'm convinced that is because 1) they sell mass produced junk that can be found in any mall - without the shipping costs, and 2) sellers who buy on Ebay will NOT buy from them. Would you patronize someone who is taking your job??? Ebay is all but doomed and Mr. Donahoe plods down the same path - his eyes set on Amazon - an impossible dream because he won't spend the money or expend the manpower needed to bring Ebay anywhere near the service Amazon performs effortlessly. Get a grip wall street - you can dicker with the numbers and crunch them as you please. Ebay is dying!"

My painting for today "Cats on the Moon"! an 11 X 14" acrylic, should be dedicated to Mr. Donahoe....a dream, can it be realized?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Getting Tired of Hearing This Particular Ebay Story

How many articles have you read where Ebay is pitted against Amazon and the reason Ebay is falling behind is that they kept their auction model too long when customers wanted a fixed price setting. Bull!! Ebay had Ebay Express and they have fixed price and also buy it now. None of those things excelled like auctions. Ebay began dumbing down its own site as far back as 2004 when it did away with the very popular Going, Going, Gone. Since then it has manipulated search, cluttered its site with ads that actually drive traffic OFF to other sites and strangled its sellers with rules, rules, rules and fees galore! The selling environment for many has become too stressful to bother with and the buying environment for buyers is not much better! Buyers can't seem to find what they want on the flawed Best Match search and often just give up! About the only thing that "progresses" are the fees and rules.

Well, I really would like to hear from people who actually SELL on Ebay and know the ins and outs of ebay... Fact Ebay is killing itself by its own greed. There have been heavy fee raises thru the years (two this year alone - they are NOT decreases as ebay states) that sellers can't offer much in the way of bargains and still make any kind of a profit. Ebay is strangling sellers with fees, with a terribly flawed search called Best Match and in tying their standing in the listings to an also flawed DSR rating system. Most sellers have thrown up their hands and they are leaving. So...what you will eventually have left is just another retailer site with fixed prices - not unlike Amazon but not nearly as well run - also not unlike Walmart, Sears, Target, Best Buy ad naseum...all of whom are online and becoming very active with shoppers who don't want to go to the mall.

The problem with Ebay is it lost its way and it lost its heart, which is the uniqueness and the rarity of items that made it what it is today. They've driven out small sellers in favor of diamond sellers who get free or reduced fees and have dismal sell-thru rates. Buyers are actually complaining that they can no longer find the small sellers they bought from in the past. Ebay needed tweaking - it needed some of the excitement back. Dropping Going, Going, Gone was a foolish move. Cluttering the site with ads that take customers off site is a trade off - they don't care if sellers lose out as long as Ebay gets the revenue THEY need from sellers fees and ads! There seems to be NO solid plan for the future for this company! If there is they sure are keeping it under their hats.

Best Match search was an even worse move since it hides sellers wares who are actually PAYING FEES for the exposure! All the crazy new policies brought down on sellers just this past year also keep driving off good, honest sellers...not the bad sellers - bad sellers will stay until they're physically ousted! Ebay didn't need this "disruptive innovation" that is killing and dumbing it down until nobody cares about it anymore. That's the truth - fewer and fewer buyers and sellers care about it these days. They've become "that crazy company". So...please all you writers who seem to be using the same copy, consult some long time small sellers before you write an article so the story can be told as it really is!

Sorry for the vent but I think I read one too many of those articles.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Remember the Ebay Community...

"The Firedragon Nebula"

It was about 10 years ago or so. I'd sit in the Ebay Cafe handing out advice to newbies who would rush in all excited that they made a sale and "what do I do now?"....or they didn't now how to fill in the listing form...or countless other little problems. We would fuss and fume but help out anyway. There was an almost endless barrage of questions that never seemed to end. Ebay was hot...hotter than any business on the internet. Commercials played all thru the day on radio. They had a pleasant jingle that eludes me now. People were all excited about winning an auction on Ebay or selling something that had been sitting in the closet or attic for years and getting good money for it.

I remember the first item I actually sold on Ebay myself. It was a large decorative wooden spoon and fork - the kind you hang on a wall. I found it in the laundryroom of my apartment house. People left items they didn't want on a table there and if you wanted it you simply took it. I came across this spoon and fork and decided I'd try my hand at selling. Took a picture of it - bungled my way thru the listing form and put it up for auction. The spoon and fork sold for $12.00 and that started my 10year selling career.

Ebay 10+ years ago was a different animal than what we see today. There were outages every other week or so, but we didn't much mind. There was feedback, but you could give feedback to anybody for any reason. Tying feedback to a transaction came about later. Listing pages were plain, with no thumbnail pictures - just lines of what each item was. That was fine too. It was a fun place and an exciting place and highly addictive! Best of all, people who ordinarily didn't have or earn enough money to see them thru now had a way to supplement their income. Ebay became a haven for stay at home moms, out of work people, disabled, retired, even college kids - everyone had a "level playing field" (hear that Mr. Donahoe?). It was a wonderful invention and it was wildly successful.

Long about the same time I started selling on Ebay I was also taking a class in watercolor painting at a local night school. Well, my practice pieces started accumulating and after awhile I decided to see if I could sell them for a few bucks each on Ebay. I was not the end of the watercolor course my teacher said "your paintings are good enough to sell - have you considered selling them?" I told him yes, I have been selling them on Ebay. He looked surprised and asked how many I had sold. I told him honestly...oh...about 40 paintings to date! I thought he was going to pass out! Since that day I believe I have sold well over 2,000 paintings - mostly small but some large ones too right on Ebay! Nowhere else in the world could I have gotten that kind of coverage for my artwork. It was heaven for me. Today, Ebay is home to probably the largest artist community in the world and they are completely ignorant and oblivious to that fact. Like everything else, we are just numbers to them.

When I look at ebay today, it breaks my heart. Most sellers are failing and moving on or quitting the business. Donahoe is intent on destroying Ebay as we know it and just as intent on molding it into something much like Amazon. Ebay management doesn't realize people look at copycats with contempt. The uniqueness, the rareness that was Ebay will soon be gone. Most sellers are hoping that when the present management is finally swept out and a new team takes over that there will at least be enough of ebay left for us to come back and pick up the pieces.

Sorry for rambling...I was just in a nostalgic mood tonight.

Something to shake things up here. Its my space nebula painting (original sold)
called The Firedragon.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Online Sales Are Down For Most

ACEO: Halloween Feast

This is a difficult period for many people. Lots of folks are watching their401K's decline, stocks are in the basement. Some say its a good time to pick up some bargains in stocks...maybe so but for those of us retired or nearing retirement that would be a big no-no. All we can do is try to keep what we have and keep it safe. I was lucky to roll my 401K over a year ago into an IRA. At least its safe even if it isn't making primo money for me.

In the same vein, internet sales are down. The few items I have on Ebay are stagnant with few hits and rolling off without bids. In Ebay's ongoing insanity, they saw fit to lower my standing in their search from "raised" to "standard" thereby kicking a seller when he's down even a seller who has never had a negative and has all 5.0 DSR's. They said I didn't have enough feedback in the past 30 days and failed to take into consideration the 30 items that I paid them to list that rolled off without bids. Its time folks...its more than time to put your Ebay money elsewhere. Even if you use it to advertise a website of your own. Nothing will change in Ebay's corner until their management changes and its like the old saying "it has to get much worse before it gets better."

This is a time when buyers will be looking for bargains. They'll search the web this holiday season because they simply won't have the money they had last year. Its a great time to get traffic to your other venues! I've written about Etsy, Bonanzle, Wigix and others. The problem with these sites lies with US...we go there, we list and we sit and wait for people to find us. We are spoiled by Ebay's past performance and expect the traffic to simply be there. No..WE are the ones who have to reach out to our buyers (past and present) and get them to these sites. I know if they bother to try they will probably stay. Since most of these sites are free to list or near free (Etsy is 20 cents per item for 4 months) we can afford to offer incentives for buyers to come and buy from us. Offer free shipping - offer a bonus gift, etc. Get them to come and see the site and see your offerings. In that way we can build these small sites into viable outlets for our items. Take the plunge and most of all TAKE INTEREST in building traffic.

Another Halloween offering today is an ACEO called Halloween Feast.

(ACEO is Art Cards Editions and Originals, an idea born and nurtured on Ebay. These cards are generally original paintings about the size of a baseball card. Exactly 2 1/2 X 3 1/2")

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

McCain Suggests Meg Whitman for Treasury Secretary!

Halloween Raven

I could not believe my eyes and ears while watching the presidential debate tonight. Good grief - just what someone who is trailing in the polls should do...shoot themselves in the foot! Meg Whitman???? At first I thought well - at least California would be safe from her running for governor - then I realized that Secretary of the Treasury is an even bigger job to screw up like she helped screw up Ebay. She will never be forgotten as the person who groomed John Donahoe and that Donahoe has almost single handedly brought the company to its knees in less than a year with his foolish "disruptive innovation" garbage!! He and Whitman have put thousands of small sellers out of business and they will both be known for that...forever! Among small sellers, ebay is no prize package - no salvation from poverty - instead, among most small sellers, it has become the most hated company on the internet with no end in sight! If McCain kept up on current events he would see that just yesterday Ebay slashed 1,000 jobs and about 600 temp positions and now I hear they will lay off a lot of workers in Germany! Apparently, McCain never bothered to look into what Whitman left on Ebay and, I believe she is still on the payroll!

Well, one thing it did was to convince me that McCain is totally out of touch and following right in Bushes' footsteps with handing out jobs to people who support his campaign....regardless of experience for the job!

That's my rock throwing please :-)

Well, Halloween will be here before we know it. The artwork tonight is a miniature called Halloween Raven.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Watercolor - The Biker - by Patricia Ann Rizzo

"The Biker"

This is actually a watercolor I painted years ago. Its sold so I'm not trying to make a sale...but I am trying to inspire people to pick up a brush and do a little painting. Its a great stress reliever. Incidentally, I'm a retired lady living in Southern California - I paint anything and just about everything and enjoy it so much. give it a try

read more | digg story

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

PeSA Finally Tells it Like It IS!

Released: September 30, 2008

PeSA Official Statement on eBays Marketplace:
Deteriorating eBay Market Conditions Erode Seller Confidence
Members of the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance have been concerned with the vibrancy of the eBay marketplace for the past few years. In the first nine months of 2008, we have observed a substantial deterioration in the value of the marketplace for merchants. Broader e-commerce growth is in the high teens while eBay’s GMV has increased at low single digit rates; a clear sign that eBay is losing wallet share among online shoppers.

We were encouraged with the culture of change that swept through eBay during the past 12 months; however, we believe the flawed execution of change has accelerated the deterioration of the marketplace. Today eBay merchants have an increased level of business uncertainty due to eBay’s poor execution of changes in many areas including seller performance measurement, fees, site search, buyer activity, and seller communication. The result is that merchants are changing their behavior in ways that we believe is not beneficial to the eBay marketplace.

Merchants are pursuing alternate channels for their businesses which are more economical, including launching their own website, participating in other third party channels such as Amazon and Overstock, and even opening brick and mortar stores. Based recent feedback from PeSA members, merchants are focusing on other channels at higher rates than we have ever measured in the past. Prime products that used to find their way to eBay, are now being diverted to these new "premier" channels that are reportedly delivering higher margins with greater certainty and decreased overhead.

Merchants that used to prioritize the eBay channel now regard the marketplace as a venue of last resort used mainly for liquidation of product that doesn’t sell elsewhere. eBay has acknowledged that it may have an undersupply of merchandise on the site, however, they fail to recognize that the supply issue on eBay is a direct result of their relationship with their customers, the sellers. The lack of credible communication from eBay to its sellers about its strategy has resulted in a marketplace of skeptic sellers, which is bad for business. We would like to highlight eBay’s recent move to allow "big box" retailers free access to eBay, at a competitive advantage to its existing seller base, as an example of a decision that exacerbates the situation by threatening the diverse supply of merchandise that shoppers expect on eBay.

As PeSA has stated in its prior position statements, the real issue affecting eBay is buyer activity. We believe that issue still exists. According to eBay’s latest published results, eBay’s annual active user churn rate was close to 40%. eBay has discontinued reporting the data that allowed us to actively monitor the issue, but based upon the flat active user growth, we believe eBay is still seeing poor user activity.

Unfortunately, most of the changes at eBay have been focused on sellers, not buyers. We are proponents for measuring the performance of sellers and rewarding those sellers that provide positive customer experiences. The concept is used in other marketplaces; however, the eBay execution of that concept resulted in a Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) system that is substantially flawed both in its measurement and transparency. We understand that a new system will not be perfect and should be adjusted as experience builds. The real problem is that eBay seems to be building on top of a flawed DSR system that has not been adjusted to reflect true buyer experience.

At PeSA, our position on eBay fees has been that as long as sellers are receiving value, eBay is certainly entitled to share in that value. During the past few years, that economic balance has shifted dramatically to the disadvantage of merchants. In our opinion, eBay still does not recognize that their excessive extraction of value in the form of fees and other monetization techniques has resulted in dramatic underinvestment on improving the marketplace. Declining buyer activity also has a direct result on average selling prices and conversion rates on the platform. Thus the lower margins in conjunction with rising eBay fees, results in eBay taking more value while leaving less for merchants.

In addition, the diversion of traffic off the eBay platform in the form of advertising (run by Yahoo in the US) helps eBay monetize the marketplace, but leaves less buyer traffic for merchants that list on eBay. And, the greater compliance burden of operating on eBay combined with the risk that a merchant business will be shut down with little visibility creates an unworkable environment.

We embrace the effort that eBay has made to adjust fees to better align with the success of merchants. But, again, the implementation of the changes comes across as an effort to increase the take rate on merchants without really investing in the marketplace. While eBay lowered the upfront cost to list on the marketplace, they dramatically increased the fees on the back-end. We were disappointed with this approach and would have preferred that eBay show some commitment to increase value to the marketplace before raising final value fees on its customers.

We argue that the declining economics on the marketplace justified lowering front end fees without an associated increase on the backend. After all, less buyer activity means that the marketplace is not as valuable a channel for a merchant and the cost to list on the marketplace should be less. Unfortunately, eBay does not see it that way and the result is that eBay is placing the burden of all the changes on the marketplace on the backs of its customers, which are its merchants. We continue to experience one step forward on concept and two steps back with execution. We cannot find any other case where a company, with the desire to restructure and improve its business, places the burden squarely on its customer base.

PeSA is focused on promoting professional and successful selling on the eBay marketplace and are actively working with all professional sellers to help them navigate the changes on the marketplace. We believe eBay still needs to better understand its customers and we hope that sharing our views helps highlight the most pressing issues. it is our intention to continue working with sellers and with eBay to effect positive change in the marketplace and will be publishing additional papers with more specific commentary in the near future.