You'll have to kick it old-school and visit a dealership the next time you plan to buy a vehicle from General Motors. That's because the auto maker is puling the plug on its seven-week experiment of selling new cars in California through eBay, the online auction site.
As reported by The New York Times back in August, the eBay venture was considered a "crucial part of GM's effort to return to profitability after five years of heavy losses." Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president for U.S. sales, said the auctions would be attractive to a customers who wish to skip the whole negotiating process, but GM quickly found the opposite to be true. Vehicles were given a 'Buy-it-Now' price equal to GM's supplier price and potential customers could submit a lower offer. Not surprisingly (except to GM), dealers reported receiving low-ball offers. Welcome to eBay.
Had the program succeeded, eBay said it would try to expand it nationally and was open to working with other auto makers. But with GM dealers saying the online marketplace didn't boost sales, eBay may have a tough time drumming up interest from others.
Yahoo’s financial woes have not been hidden from anybody. The blighted internet giant is ready to do anything to raise funds. It does not even mind small amounts of cash dribbling into its famishing coffers. It has now stooped to abject levels associated with cybersquatters.
It isn’t a princely sum by any drug-induced stretch of imagination. A premium domain like that should have fetched in the millions of dollars. That actually explains Yahoo’s dismal state. Yahoo should trade premium domains for some business acumen and not greenbacks in the future. Wonder what Yahoo.com will fetch?
What a difference a year makes, particularly for Ebay, who received considerable flack from its membership over a series of new policies introduced. At one point, users had become so incensed over the policy changes, which included increased listing fees and alterations to the feedback system, that sellers united for a week long boycott. By some estimates, auction listings dropped by 13 percent during the boycott.
But that's old news, and this week the auction site beat Wall Street expectations on earnings and revenue, which analysts attribute to cost cuts and continued growth in both its Skype and Paypal ventures. Year-to-year Paypal revenue spiked 11 percent, with Skype doing even better and reporting a 21 percent increase. News of the better than expected earnings sent shares of Ebay up over 8 percent today.
Not all the numbers were as favorable, however, with Ebay posting a first-quarter net profit of $357 million, or 28 cents per share, down from $460 million, or 34 cents per share a year prior. Revenue was down 8 percent to $2.02 billion, but still above the $1.95 billion expected.
Blighted electronic retail chain Circuit City is in discussions with several interested buyers, the company’s CEO Jim Marcum revealed to its employees in a letter. He also informed them about the likely course of action for Circuit City, which has filed a motion with the Bankruptcy Court seeking permission “for a process that formally puts the company up for sale.”
Marcum wrote that parleys with interested buyers have been focused on a “going concern” transaction, whereby the buyer will not dismantle Circuit City’s business, but just reorganize it. If the company fails to secure a sales agreement by the 16th, it will have to be liquidated. He asked employees to stay focused on the job at hand and work hard.
Online auction/shopping websites have been around for a long time. However, the proverbially long reach of the law hasn’t been observed when it comes to online stores for all these years. The absence of stern laws has fostered an illegitimate industry that has proved to be very profitable for thieves and charlatans galore, besides being less perilous then drug trade and other illegal businesses.
But online sellers dealing in stolen goods might soon be stymied by three new legislations, the E-fencing Enforcement Act, Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008 and Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008. These bills are intended to combat Organized Retail Crime (ORC). There are numerous online sellers that are comfortably selling huge volumes of stolen goods – stolen directly from retailers – through popular websites like eBay.
If these bills get a nod from lawmakers, online stores and resellers will be required to disclose the contact information of any seller with annual earnings in excess of $12K to any competent party (retailer) that makes a request for such info. This will allow retailers to catch unscrupulous sellers red-handed. The proposed legislations will also put the onus of scrutinizing sellers on online stores. The National Retail Federation has placed its support behind the bills. What about you? Share your thoughts.
Between raising the fee scale to censoring sellers from leaving anything less than positive feedback, Ebay has found itself under an increasing amount of scrutiny this past year. The online auction site is also finding that e-tailers are starting to offer more competitive pricing, a move Ebay believes is responsible for driving potential customers away from its auction format as buyers look for instant gratification.
"Buying online has changed," said Scot Wingo, chief executive of the market research firm ChannelAdvisor. "Retail sites no longer make customers choose between convenience and price."
To win customers back and prevent others from leaving, Ebay will once again change its fee structure, this time to the advantage of sellers looking to unload goods at a set price. Starting in mid-September, sellers will pay just 35 cents to list a fixed price "Buy It Now" auction, representing a 70 percent reduction in upfront fees.
While the new pricing scale might not be met with a warm welcome by sellers who prefer the auction format, Ebay is quick to note that "sellers can still choose to list items in Ebay's auction-style-format, which, with a low start price, remains the most cost-effective way to offer many kids of items."