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ebay Sellers Party On at The Alibaba Party and other news from eBay Live

June 19th, 2008 by Skip McGrath

Well, it’s almost midnight and Karen and I just returned from the ECMTA party hosted by eBay’s arch-nemesis, www.Alibaba.com.

There were about 300 people at the event which was held at the Alhambra Palace –a retro-kitsch Middle Eastern themed restaurant with a Lebanese band and Belly Dancers, tons of free food and booze and about 300 party-till-we-drop eBay PowerSellers.

For those of you who don’t know the history, Alibaba is a wholesale sourcing website that lists thousands of companies outside the US who are looking for eBay and online sellers to buy merchandise from exporters in dozens of foreign countries –mostly in the Far East, but actually from many countries.  Problems started a few years ago when eBay wanted to expand into China, but Alibaba’s parent company was already the big auction site in China and they went head to head. I don’t have space here for all the details and background (which is very interesting if you Google “eBay + Alibaba” but suffice to say there is no love lost between eBay and Alibaba.  Alibaba was set to exhibit at eBay Live in San Jose a few years ago, and right before the show, eBay kicked Alibaba out in favor of their competitor, www.globalsources.com.

So Alibaba –thinking fast, conceived one of the greatest Guerrilla Marketing tactics of all time:  When you got off the airplane at the San Jose Airport, there were dozens of well-dressed nice people saying “Welcome to eBay Live. Here is your free tote bag.”  They were also standing on all the corners leading to the convention center and at all of the bus and metro stops.  The result was that thousands of eBay Live attendees were walking around eBay Live toting the Alibaba signature bright orange tote bags.   And Alibaba took over the Presidential Suite in the hotel across the street from the convention center where they held a free lunch and gave PowerPoint presentations to hundreds of eBay sellers about importing and the Alibaba services each day.

eBay decided to cast their lot with Alibaba’s leading competitor, www.Globalsources.com.  So what is interesting about this story?

Well Alibaba isn’t allowed anywhere near eBay. Tonight’s party was originally sponsored by PESA, The Professional eBay Seller’s Alliance, but at the last moment, the Ecommerce Merchants Trade Association –an offshoot of PESA, suddenly became the sponsor.  And Global Sources –what became of them?  I looked all over the floor at eBay Live for them and they were nowhere to be found.  It seems they didn’t want to support eBay Live this year.  And who is the loser in this story –it’s us, the eBay sellers. Alibaba and Global Sources are both good companies who provide a valuable service to eBay sellers –but neither one of them is in the Solutions Center (trade show floor) at eBay Live.

Importing is a fast growing area of profits for eBay sellers and it would be so cool if sellers could meet with both companies and evaluate them and see for themselves which one they want to work with. It’s such a shame that the sellers who pay the fees that provide the profits to increase the stock options of eBay’s management and employees are the ones that lose.

Other news from eBay Live

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, if you want really up-to-date news from eBay Live, check in with www.auctionbytes.com.  Ina Steiner is blogging much more often and more on top of the news than I am.  But two things came out today that are interesting.

eBay will soon no longer allow third party checkout. So  if you use a service like Vendio (like I do) you can no longer use Vendio’s check out service that exposes your customers to other products you have to sell in your Vendio store (because eBay doesn’t earn fees on those).

The other news is that eBay will announce in the morning that sellers with a 4.9 or above rating (on all 4 levels) will now get a 20% reduction in eBay final value fees.  So that is good news for good sellers. Twenty percent is a pretty substantial fee discount.  It will be interesting to see how many sellers hit the 20% threshold.

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