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Online Retailer 2009 in Sydney – the State of Online Retail in Australia

I just got back from Online Retailer in Sydney. It was the first event of it’s type in Australia, attracting over 2500 attendees and a good number of exhibitors.

I had opportunity to talk to many of the attendees, catch up with many other online retailers and also interviewed people like Armand , VP of Global Sales at Verisign and Jeff and Bobby Beaver, founders of www.zazzle.com.

What I really wanted to find out was the level of interest in online retailer from some of the bigger bricks and mortar retailers (did they attend?), and the opinions form exhibitors as to the mix of attendees there.

What I discovered was interesting,  and exciting for the industry.

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eBay Australia Pricing Changes – a Positive Move!

eBay this morning released some news regarding their upcoming pricing chances.  In summary, no changes will be made to auction fees but store fees and insertion/final value fees will change.

Also, store listings will again appear in core search (mixed in with auction listings) using Bestmatch, eBay’s search algorithm in use in various ways around the world.

eBay’s pricing change information is here : Changes to stores and search on eBay.com.au

and they have a nice section for sellers on what is changing, and how to change with it here : The Big News

Also, PeSA Australia released a statement about these changes this morning, and I have included it below :

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Want to grow your eBay business?

Want to grow your eBay business?

Then consider attending this years PeSA event in Sydney, called ‘Survive & Thrive’.

PeSA is the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance and the Australian arm is holding this year’s seller event in Sydney. Last years was a great success with hundreds otf attendees, and I think this years will be even bigger.

Tickets are $199 for attendance, and includes access to exhibitors to help you improve your business, and also speakers, workshops and more.

Last year I ran some one on one sessions with sellers (and I think we might do it this year too). It was great to meet smaller sellers looking to grow!

From the www.pesa-events.com.au site :

The agenda is taking shape and bookings are now open for the 2009 PeSA Summit.

Register to attend today and take advantage of our earlybird price of only $199 for the FULL two day Summit.

Check last year’s feedback if you want to know if this will be worthwhile to your business. And see what exhibitors you’ll be able to vist.

Ill be up there, exhibiting our ReadytoShip shipping automation product, so if you go to the event, be sure to say hello!

eBay 2.0. Or is it all too late?

It has been a little while since I read Scot Wingo’s blog, and he had a great post recently that I took the time to read and digest.

It was his own roadmap on how he thinks eBay should change in order to survive.

For those who don’t know, Scot is founder of ChannelAdvisor (software that we use in our ecommerce business). He has some great industry experience, knowledge and insight.

For eBay sellers and those interested in eBay, Amazon and the online retail space you might be interested in his ideas :

“Episode IV – A New Hope (for eBay) -or- How to Fix eBay? -or- Introducing eBay 2.0”

PeSA Australia Summit Wrap-up

Back on deck at work this morning, following up a few people that I met at the Pesa Summit over the last few days.

It was great to meet some readers of my blog, and talk to a lot of sellers. After my panel session on Business Automation my 15 min one on one blocks with sellers were booked out very quickly. I had lots of sellers ask advice on their websites, listings and business and it was great to see so much enthusiasm.

As Jonathon Garriss pointed out during one of the sessions, he doesnt know it all and neither do I. But it is great to chare experience and we always learn.

Every time I catch up with some of my peer sellers we always learn things too. You will never hear of Paul from DealsDirect.com.au visiting a conference like this and walking away saying he didn’t learn something to go back to his business and implement, for example. I learnt a lot too.

Day two of the summit had some great material. I was particularly fascinated by Tom O’Toole (of Beechworth Bakery fame). He is a very energetic and passionate speaker!

Other sessions included copywriting and headline skills which was very interesting. Direct marketing has a lot of common ground with eBay listings and advertisements. A lot to learn.

I also had a lot of people ask about our new product ReadytoShip which was great, and also got some great feedback on some other areas that sellers find frustrating and time consuming that we are working on fixing. But I will post more about that shortly!

PeSA Australia Summit Day 1

I just got home from the PeSA Australia summit, Navigating Success for Change.

A good turnout with close to 300 signups,s to the Flemington staff were kept busy with coffee and snacks during breaks.

Keynote this morning was from Jonathan Garriss (of Gotham City Online) who has flown in from the US and talked about current opportunity in eCommerce. He had some interesting facts to get everyone motivated and keep things in perspective. eCommerce is growing at 15% pa, traditional commerce is +/-3% pa.

There is a massive and more importantly growing marketplace to find opportunity in.

The ‘Navigating Change for Success’ tagline for the event was followed up with some discussion on change and opportunity. Jonathon is always a good speaker, with some great sites, technology and processes in his business that give him some good credibility.

Some of us more experienced eBay sellers also got the chance to spend some one on one time with sellers and talk about their ebay listings, stores and strategies which was interesting. I had quite a range of sellers talk to me today, from very small turnover sellers to quite large ones.

The attitude today was very positive. Simon Smith did ask that no one yell at him, and it sounds like he got his wish.

The 2 panels today were Business Automation (with Your truly, John from JJ entertainment, and Anthony of AuctionBlox), and the Top Seller panel (with Shaun from Selby Acoustics, Shayne from i-soldit.com.au and Jonathon of Dinosaur Deals).

I love the chance to talk to sellers about their business. It seems that there are som many sellers out there wanting to grow that perhaps don’t even know what parts of their businesses can be improved with better tools and processes.

I think the panels were the highlight from today, based on feedback that I got. It is a great opportunity for sellers to ask questions to people who have travelled the road before them. Jonathon, Shayne and Shaun did a great job talking about some of their own businesses, challenges and strategies and answering questions.

Some brief highlights of the day

  • Simon Smith did state that they had a ‘deep regret’ about how the Paypal changes were implemented.
  • Effectively a promise that eBay Australia management would be far more active in discussing potential upcoming changes in Australia (with sellersand buyers) that are already occurring in eBay US
  • One on one sessions. Great chance to talk to sellers looking for some advice. Jonathon Garriss had quite a crowd (but he loves it:) !
  • Simon announces today that the interstitial prior to leaving a neg (advising buyers that sellers can’t leave retaliatory feedback) was being removed today.
  • Great networking opportunities with lots of other likeminded sellers.

A big day. Definitely time for some sleep.

eBay to Phase Out 3rd Party Checkout

eBay annouced that it is to phase out 3rd party checkout.

This is a move that will impact many thousands of (usually large) eBay sellers.

It will affect us, as we use ChannelAdvisor, as do many larger sellers. ChannelAdvisor’s main markets are US and UK, and they have some very big eBay sellers using their systems.

For us, ChannelAdvisor offers the ability to:

  • manage inventory and SKUS
  • manage listings/ads templates
  • automatically schedule and maintain ads in eBay (and soon, Trading Post)
  • capture customers
  • upsell on checkout
  • sell into other channels like Shopping.com, Getprice
  • have an online store

I was thinking about how the eBay decision to remove 3rd party checkout would affect us.

We don’t get too many upsells in checkout (where a customer can add another item to their sale on the way through payment) so there will be little impact there.

One thing it will stop is the ability to capture customers from eBay. We offer newsletter signup on the way through checkout (which can be incentivised if you like), and also promote the ability to visit our online store to buy from a wider range of items. eBay customers are not easy to convert. They tend to like shopping on eBay, and buying at auction.

Both of these things, although not contributing greatly immediately, offer some long term benefit as you grow a customer base. And you can pick up eBay customers in your mailing list and get them to buy direct. Many sellers do it, and if you aren’t you should be.

All this decision does is provide us even more incentive to grow our business outside of eBay, in more cost effective sales channels. We have received some sales from Tradingpost.com.au auctions already, and although the turnover is slow there at the moment the cost of sale is very appealing.

The ACCC proposes to revoke immunity for eBay’s PayPal only policy

This afternoon the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, an independent statutory authority formed in 1995 to administer the Trade Practices Act 1974 and other acts in Australia, issued a press release regarding it’s intent toward the pending PayPal only policy change from eBay.com.au.

The press release says:

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a draft notice proposing to revoke a notification* lodged by eBay International A.G. on 11 April 2008. Under the notification, eBay proposes to mandate the use of PayPal for almost all transactions on the eBay site.

“The ACCC is concerned that the notified conduct will allow eBay to use its market power in the supply of online marketplaces to substantially lessen competition in the market in which PayPal operates,” ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today.

“PayPal currently competes with a range of other providers to supply online payment services to users of online marketplaces. If the notified conduct is allowed to go ahead, there will be no competition for the supply of such services to buyers and sellers using eBay.

“Given eBay’s position as Australia’s leading online marketplace, the notified conduct will substantially reduce competition to supply online payment services to users of online marketplaces more generally.

“The ACCC acknowledges that having PayPal as the only payment provider has the potential to deliver some benefits to users, such as increased buyer protection insurance in certain circumstances. However, the ACCC believes that consumers are in the best position to decide which payment method is most suitable for them. And if they were to click for info, they’d know that there is a cornucopia of other payment options.

“The notified conduct denies them that choice. Accordingly, the ACCC considers that these benefits do not outweigh the anti-competitive effects of the conduct,” Mr Samuel said.

eBay proposes to implement the conduct in two stages. From 21 May 2008, all sellers on eBay were required to offer PayPal as one of their accepted payment methods. The second stage of the conduct is due to commence on 17 June 2008, with the requirement that all transactions on eBay must be paid for using PayPal or cash on pickup.

“In light of the serious competition concerns raised in the draft notice and the significant concerns raised by interested parties, I have asked eBay to delay implementation of the second stage of the conduct until a final decision is made by the ACCC,” Mr Samuel said.

eBay and interested parties now have time to lodge submissions in response to the draft notice, before the ACCC decides whether to issue a final notice revoking the notification.

So, big news for eBay buyers and sellers in Australia today. This doesn’t put the nail in the coffin just yet though, it’s a stall for more time to make a better informed decision. The ACCC will take a little more time and listen to both sides of the story in a little more detail.

As it stands though, I think it is likely the ACCC will bloke eBay’s policy change plans.

Trading Post Auctions – Initial Feedback

Trading Post launched their auctions 2 days ago now. Since then I have spoken to lots of sellers, from small to very large. What do they think fo Tradingpost Auctions so far? Will they list?

There are a number of Powersellers already listing hundreds of products. I haven’t heard of many sales yet, but there is some promise. We have manually listed a few items to test the water as well, and have received a good number of visits, watchers and bids too.

At the moment though, it is a bit of a painful process as TradingPosts’s TraderPro application is still being tweaked to work properly. (more…)

Sensis’ Tradingpost Launches Auction Site To Compete With eBay!

This morning tradingpost.com.au has become the newest Australian auction site, to compete head on with eBay Australia.

Tradingpost.com.au (owned by Sensis) is a strong brand name with Australians and been around for many years as a classifieds print publication, and for some time now a website too.

I have never much liked the tradingpost.com.au search and display results (the whole site needed a pretty major rework to be honest) and they have certainly done that now!

The tradingpost auctions site has been a long time in the making, obviously. So, what can we see from this site change this morning?

Fees

In summary,

  • free to list!
  • bold titles $1.95
  • Short desc (shown in search) 50c

Free listings (quantity of listings will be limited by previous month’s sales) will be a big draw card for sellers. Apparently the Traderpro application from trading post will accept turbo lister data (although at the moment it isn’t working too well).

More feed details here.

First Impressions

The site is good rework from the ‘old’ tradingpost, with a lighter look and an interface that isn’t quite as clumsy. It still takes a few too many clicks to see ‘listings’, but that might change.

Search seems to be improved a little.

There are very few auctions yet, this will take some time, and the site is extremely slow (probably getting quite a lot of curious traffic today!) so they will need to work on that before the ‘official’ launch.

Will it work?

Only time will tell. Tradingpost claim 2 million visitors per month, but are not known for auctions or as a place to buy from larger sellers (tradingpost has always been home of the single classified listing from individual sellers, with a strong focus on used vehicles).

What I do know is Sensis has planned a large advertising budget for this site, and with the current sentiments of eBay sellers due to eBay Australia’s PayPal only decision and other feedback changes there could be a large influx of listings from businesses keen to spread their eggs around.

But will there be enough buyers? Lets hope so.

In other news, eBay announced recently that starting yesterday they are offering half price insertion fees for 10 days

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