eBay Bans Pre-sales of the Apple iPhone and eBay Express Finally Getting Marketplace Traction

Just like the Playstation 3, eBay’s banned pre-sales and enforcing heavy restrictions on Apple iPhone eBay sales after the launch on June 29th.
Every time there is a new hot electronic gadget, we see pre-sales on eBay. It happened with XBox 360, Playstation 3, and all the other “hot” items. eBay clamped down on these sellers then, and they’ve done it again. The Apple iPhone is scheduled for U.S. release on June 29th, but it’s already become a hot item. The problem with pre-sales is that the seller may not actually be able to get their hands on the item. Then there are buyers who have paid and can’t receive their items. Fraud is higher with pre-sale items, particularly hot electronics. Because of this eBay has banned all pre-sales of the Apple iPhone.
After the launch (June 29th) sales will be allowed, but only under the following conditions:

  • A photograph of the actual item (i.e. not stock) must be included.
  • Within the photograph must be a picture of the sellers User ID. Watermarks are not allowed. This basically means you write your User ID on a piece of paper and place it in front of the item before you photograph it.
  • PayPal must be the only accepted payment method.

Suprizingly, eBay is not requiring the photograph of the receipt as they did for Playstation 3 sales around Christmas, but this may change.
The banning of iPhone pre-sales hasn’t deterred all sellers though. They may not be able to sell the actual phone, but they are selling all the accessories that go with it. Right now there are over 300 auctions with “iPhone” in the title.
eBay Express Finally Gets Marketplace Traction
eBay Express was supposed to get new buyers onto eBay. That’s not really how it’s worked out. Most buyers on eBay Express are already eBay.com buyers, but looking for BIN items from experienced sellers. Now, on it’s one year anniversary, eBay Express has changed focus. In today’s announcement, eBay refered to eBay Express as “THE place for buyers who want that great eBay deal and who at times prefer fixed-price items.” That shows eBay’s changed diection slightly since there is no mention of  “attract[ing] new buyers to eBay who prefer a more convenience-oriented shopping experience” ( per Bill Cobb’s original statement in April 2006).
Still, finding a way to entice existing eBay buyers to buy the higher priced new items is an achievement. Here are some statistics from eBay Express:

  • An item of clothing is sold every 67 seconds
  • A piece of jewelry is sold every 2.3 minutes
  • A DVD every 4 minutes
  • 9 out of 10 buyers have told eBay that they love the shopping experience that eBay Express offers.

To add to this, eBay Express has a few new features:

  • “More convenient shopping features, such as the ability to search for wish lists, see your recently viewed items on the eBay Express home page, and send notes to sellers during the Check Out process.
  • More merchandising exposure for sellers, such as the new ‘Added-to-Cart’ page. Once a buyer adds your item to their cart, we showcase more of your merchandise to them, highlighting shipping discounts where offered, as well as related items.
  • More integration with eBay.com, including a new section in My eBay with your eBay Express shopping cart details and a handy link to eBay Express from the eBay.com navigation header.
  • Inclusion of Half.com listings for Half.com sellers who opt in.” (source: eBay Announcement June 8, 2007).

It looks like eBay Express is gaining marketplace traction. The site design is excellent, and the features are improving. Now eBay has shifted focus to existing eBay users, I think it will become more popular.

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