I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but I’ve only just got wind of the recently ended eBay seller’s strike.
Personally, I think that the emphasis on the strike having had minimal impact is rather irrelevant. eBay seems to have lost the plot somewhere. WebProNews writes:
We think they may see the protesting sellers as a less-profitable nuisance eBay would not mind seeing depart, especially if they plan to be more friendly to higher volume sellers.
Here’s what some people are saying about the company (taken from Youtube):
“Boycott greedbay – Feb 18 – Forever!”
“eBay is Big Brother”
“..they don’t seem appreciative of their customer”
“eBay is the biggest screw job on the planet lately”
“It’s about time people see FeeBay as what they really are”
Some might argue that these protesters are by and large made up of small sellers, and as such won’t affect eBay’s bottomline (at the end of the strike, 3rd party statistics indicated that eBay’s listings were down 13% to 13 million items, although eBay has denied the dip)
Although eBay seems unfazed by the strike, here’s why I think it should care:
1) It is not the first strike against eBay, but it has been the biggest, mostly thanks to the use of social media like youtube, myspace, Delphi Forums (about 1300 messages posted) and Facebook (although the Facebook group was considerably less successful).
Can eBay afford to have another, bigger strike? Already protesters appear to be continuing the strike till March 9th. Josh Catone at ReadWriteWeb thinks that the power of social networks cannot be underestimated. Can eBay afford to ignore the power of the people?
2) Ignoring the long tail is just not a smart strategy, especially when the success of your business depends on it. Sure, these strikers may be small, but what happens if (and when) they all jump ship? Isn’t it much smarter to make these individual, small sellers happy and keep them as customers? And when eBay’s latest policy changes seem to favour its powersellers, doesn’t it necessarily mean that buyers’ needs are ignored as well? There’s an imbalance in the equation somewhere, and I doubt even a mega corporation like eBay can sustain such an imbalance.
3) eBay competitors (such as Amazon) only stand to gain as unhappy customers look out for better alternatives, and in some cases disgruntled sellers and buyers are considering striking out on their own.
What does eBay think about this? According to this USAToday report, eBay does not plan to alter or revise the unpopular policies, nor does it seem willing to address the concerns of protesters.
In this Web 2.0 age, this kind of response just won’t cut it anymore. No company has immunity from the collective voice of the people anymore. Judging from the comments that I cited above, I do believe that eBay has lost the people’s trust.
Valerie Lennert, unofficial spokesperson for the strike has this to say (taken from Fortune Small Business):
“There are a lot of people who are really upset, and if we choose to go somewhere else as a group, there won’t be an eBay anymore. We don’t think eBay understands that. They think they’re invincible, and they don’t seem to listen to what we need. Even if listings don’t go down, we’re reached the main goal: to let them know how upset we are. I’m pretty sure they know that at this point.”
This might just be the start of a revolution.
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