Firebrands insight: Ebay. A metaphysical mecca no more

A human liver; a mans forehead; someones soul; a baby’s name; Jesus toast. These are just some of the more obscure items that have been up for sale on eBay (the human liver was later removed due to the illegality of selling body parts, even if it is your own). People seem
to be in competition with each other to offer the most extraordinary, bizarre and downright odd items on eBay, either for the money or the online accreditation that ensues.

Interestingly banned items on eBay accrue a lot of interest, such as the human liver. Most recent is the “discontinuing [of] a small number of categories within the larger Metaphysical subcategory”. Translated, that means that eBay is banning people from selling spells and magic. Irrespective of what is and is not allowed to be sold on eBay, it is doing extremely well, both globally, having more than doubled its second-quarter earnings this year compared to last, and on Firebrands where it maintains a reasonable score, only once dipping below the 20s in rank.

eBay’s style on Twitter is somewhat promotional with the occasional conversation startup attempt, however the main emphasis is on directing people to eBay products. The Tweets about eBay from users are very much the same, used as a platform to sell products, linking to eBay to increase contact with potential customers. “Look what I found” seems to be a recurring comment by Tweeters as
a way of enticing people onto their eBay products. Their Facebook is somewhat more engaging with the user, sparking discussion while still promoting products.

The look and feel section takes an interesting stance, depicting videos of Top Rated Sellers, and the benefits it draws in; how to ship products successfully and how best to describe items. It is directed at how to enhance your success on eBay as a seller, rather than the products available on there for the consumer. This means that the majority of video material on the web related to eBay is not consumer facing, a notion reinforced by the eBay YouTube channel videos which are there to offer advice and insight for the seller.

eBay’s key opportunity is to continue with their increased emphasis on instant sales, removing themselves from being solely an online auction room. This encroachment into the territory of amazon is a refreshing burst for customer choice. Exceeding Q2 revenue estimates this year, the increase in instant sales accounted for more than half of global merchandise transactions for the company. Hot on the heels of Amazon, eBay is lacking in one major area; trust. eBay falls short of of the mark when it comes to instilling trust in buyers, something Amazon does not lack. This is no easy feat for eBay to overcome as it takes years to build up a trusting relationship, only time will tell if eBay is able to make the transition and trump amazon as the number one online marketplace.

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