eBay Opens the Neighborhoods
eBay just announced (see announcement) that it has opened the eBay Neighborhoods. From what I can tell this is eBay's latest attempt to break into the social networking or bookmarking market area. It looks to be a combination of MyBlogLog, MySpace, and every other social networking site, while including links to their guides and listings. This sounds a little familiar. They keep trying these things that might bring more traffic to the site and enhance the users experience, can't blame them for that. What I do see is a trend of adding features that are basically copied taken from other areas of the Internet. Only eBay in his blog post, EBAY Launches Neighborhoods, mentions "It'll be interesting to see if this initiative gets any traction", well it will be interesting ok, but more likely, it will be much to do about nothing. I have watched as eBay added guides (uhmm amazon), blogs (uhmm google), bio (not confused with the aboutMe), guestbook, and added all this to "my world", which includes all these goodies. With all that, I have to stop and mention the highly touted eBay Express, which seemed doomed from the start. At the height of our selling, over 5,000 items listed and 500 closing selling a day, we never once sold an item from eBay Express and I didn't know of anyone else who did either?
Jennyhow on her blog post, eBay Embarks on Social Networking Called Neighborhood, also talks about the similarities to facebook and myspace but has a more favorable view in so much as it might bring "buyers and sellers with similar interests together", and this is probably what eBay was trying for, after-all, they are trying to sell more auction listings by adding this feature, I would guess.
All of these new things have been added, and I guess they really should have been, but eBay was not an entrepreneurial inventor of these things, just a follower of what had already come to pass, and usually come to pass a long time ago in Internet time. We all do that to some extent, but we are also not the largest online auction site in the world, we use the tools that smart entrepreneurs have put out on the market with little or no money and make use of them to the best of our abilities. We do not have billions to throw at our million dollar ideas like eBay could or does.
eBay is different than MySpace or Facebook
They are an auction company, right? They are supposed to be the entrepreneurs (or at least they use to be) and lead the way. More and more they are just following and trying to play catch up with what was the cutting edge. This might be the latest and greatest for eBay, but it has been done before by far smaller companies eBay hasn't gotten around to buying yet.
Perhaps they should try and stick with what they know best. Auctions. This is what they do best. This is what they pioneered and it is what the company should focus on, not all these other "features". I do agree that there is a constant need to stay up to date and continue to develop the site, but to what extent. If it is something that brings in more traffic, great. The guides did this for a short time. They had a good relevancy on Google and were indexed quickly, and anyone that put up a guide received some good traffic, but that to has passed.
I know from a sellers perspective the new things they want to see are simple.
1. LOWER fees. Simple.
that means every times they raise their fees they loose more good sellers. This is becoming like a tax. Keep raising it and we have less to spend on other things, like more listings. Lower it and we will sell more. This doesn't include the fee-sales that go on, that just brings up the listings for that one day or period and dilutes everything else.
2. Better control on fraud
in eBay listings, especially competition from China and Asian countries where obvious counterfeit products are in direct competition with the sellers who obtain their products from good channels. The costs associated with competing like this is incredible. No small company can compete with someone selling product A for $1.00 when good sellers pay $5.00 from their suppliers to buy the "same" product.
3. Better Trust and Safety
that understands the difference between a good seller and what actually is fraud. This is different than the item above. I am referring to eBay's shoot first and ask questions later policy that has been in place for years.
4. Account Security
where sellers don't have to fret every day about their account being shut down because it was just victimized by phishing or all the other pleasantries that go with this issue.
There are of course other bullet points to add here but you get the idea. I am sure the new eBay Neighborhoods are just the start of a great turnaround for the above mentioned bullet points. I haven't checked the forum posts yet but I am just sure that is exactly what they are all saying.
On a more objective point of view, the eBay Neighborhoods do look like they have some good functionality. It ties in all the different aspects of eBay into this forum area by linking to their guides and other searches, although right now coffee lovers are beating out the iPod, go figure. Here is a little of what eBay says the Neighborhoods are or will be.
What are Neighborhoods? Think of Neighborhoods as a gathering place for fans of a certain product, team, artist, and more. They've been created around popular items and searches and are designed for members with a very specific interest in mind.
Within a Neighborhood, you'll find a discussion board dedicated to that topic where you can ask and answer questions, brag about your latest auction win, or discuss what's new. You can upload and share photos related to that topic - and vote on which are best - or check out related listings, reviews, guides and blogs. You can even use our tools to see who else is part of that Neighborhood, or to find other Neighborhoods that might interest you.
We will see. It is always interesting to see how these things play out, perhaps it will bring new traffic to the sellers stores and increase their ASP's and everyone will love it.