Has eBay Rediscovered The Importance of Sellers? Maybe…

After years of basically ignoring seller’s needs eBay seems to be waking up to the fact that sellers have other options and have been using them.

At almost every function I attended at eBay Live the word among sellers is that they are becoming more aggressive in multi-channel selling.  Last night I was at the PESA (Professional eBay Sellers Alliance –the top 500 sellers on eBay) cocktail party and today I had lunch with about 100 of buySAFE’s top sellers.  Virtually every seller I spoke with is also selling on Amazon, a Yahoo Store or their own web site.

I also speak with several Wall Street stock analysts and mutual fund managers on a regular basis.  “Are sellers leaving eBay?” is the single most asked question I get followed by “Are your conversion rates still falling?”

In the past eBay has always paid lip service to sellers.  Though unstated, their attitude has always been:”We will make eBay a great place for buyers and this will attract sellers.” Last night I sensed a change in this attitude.  At the eBay keynote address, Bill Cobb, President of eBay North America, seemed to be going out of his way to reassure sellers that they were important to the platform and announced several initiatives aimed at sellers.  Included in these were a deal with UPS to extend up to 31% discounts to eBay sellers who use UPS, an announcement that there would be no mid-year fee increase and a small reduction in final value fees.  New tools like markdown manager and programs designed to make eBay fun again and steps to attract more buyers were also prominent.

Cobb also announced changes to the PowerSeller program that will make it easier for low value sellers to achieve powerseller status and for seasonal sellers to keep their status.  The PowerSeller lounge was large and had more eBay top managers available and eBay was giving away free PowerSeller mugs that normally sell for $10.

So maybe things are looking up for sellers.  Stay tuned.  I am going to dinner with several eBay execs tonight and maybe I will have some new insights in the morning.

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