eBay: The Doldrum Years

Can anything put the wind back in eBay’s sails? The once-iconic auction site is making cosmetic changes to its fee structure and moving away from the auction model to emphasize more fixed-price listings. But it’s hard to get excited these days about eBay. It seems that the Web has moved on and eBay is stuck in still waters.

Don’t get me wrong. eBay is still a massive site and a cash machine. But once you reach 238 million visitors worldwide (comScore) and 26.4 billion pageviews a month, it’s hard to know where to go from there. Maybe that is why pageviews are actually down 15 percent year-over-year, and the stock is down 26 percent.

This is not about fixed price versus auctions. The main challenge eBay faces is that it is becoming easier and easier to find things to buy on the Web simply by searching for what you want on Google. During the early days of the Web, people needed a few big e-commerce sites they could trust and that could organize everything that was for sale online. That need was filled by Amazon and eBay.

But now people are comfortable trawling the Net for the best bargains, and eBay is no longerteh first place they go. Partly that is because eBay has done such a good job creating a semi-professional class of online sellers, that it is harder and harder to actually find bargains there. So online shoppers are going elsewhere.

Can eBay do anything to regain its lost momentum? Give them your suggestions in comments.

(Photo by Cindy Funk).