Nick Carr asks today, "Is eBay a fad?" Nick's source of inspiration is a BusinessWeek article noting that more and more sales on eBay are through fixed-price sales, rather than auctions.
"If I really want something I'm not going to goof around [in auctions] for a small savings," says Dave Dribin, a 34-year-old Chicago resident who used to bid on eBay items, but now only buys retail.
I think the larger problem is that the "savings" have been somewhat nonexistent for some time. It used to be that you could find deals on eBay. Today, those are fewer and farther between as eBay has become a haven for "real" merchants rather than Aunt Louise selling her handmade doilies.
This, coupled with the amount of effort that goes into eBay's auctions - first you have to dig through the site to find what you want, and then you have to sit around waiting for the auction to close, only to be outbid by software set up to win the auction in the final few seconds - make eBay a raw deal.
I personally feel like the right model will be one where sellers find buyers, not buyers finding sellers.
Think about it. I list what I want, and what I'm willing to pay for it, and let that information seep out into the ether. Someone, somewhere wants to sell me a similar product. Let them find me. It's their job to sell, not my job to buy. Provided that one could create a safe environment where I could entertain offers for my business, such that I wouldn't be deluged by spam, I'd be all for a system like this.
But not eBay. While it wasn't necessarily a fad, it was an idea that required too much effort and inspired too little trust to be successful once the web grew up and became more efficient at connecting sellers with buyers. We're still a ways from that dream, but eBay is proving too stale to keep up.