Monday, June 23, 2008

What I Learned From Ebay Live

I'll break down this entry into three areas: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

First, the Good:
  • In the vendor section, VeriSign was offering anyone with a paypal account an extra layer of protection for their account: for free. I chose the wallet card. After logging into your account, you will go to a page on paypal that asks you to enter your Verisign security code. And here's the kicker: you press a button on the card and the security code shows up. The next time you log in, you press the button on the card and the code disappears and another shows up. In other words: you're paypal account cannot be hacked into. While this service is not free online, I highly recommend it.
  • I found what I was looking for. The information sessions I attended were helpful and insightful (blogging, law, taxes). One of the sessions inspired me about my ecommerce business model. The majority of the notes I took were either websites or email addresses.
  • There were a lot of classes that offered everything from the basics of ebay to advanced practices. There was never a time slot that did not have something I wanted to attend. It was more about what to give up. In hindsight the one session I wish I had gone was the collectibles roundtable.
  • In more than one session, I was warned about something that can be related to etopps: pricing. A great way to ruin your business selling etopps cards on ebay is lowering your price in reaction to another seller selling the same card 5 cents less than you. How many times have you lowered the price of your etopps in-hand listings based on your competition? What if you offered something else to go along with the in-hand like a free card stand or free shipping or a checklist of other cards you have for sale from the team of the player that the buyer bought? In other words, how do you stand out from the crowd?
Now, the Bad:
  • Before the Keynote Address: this occurred Friday morning at 9AM in a giant room at the convention center. Ebay, a multi-billion dollar company offered measley donuts, coffee and pepsi beverages at tables in the back that felt more like a bone was thrown at those in attendance than breakfast.
  • There was something too corporate about the loud PA system and jumbotron stimulation getting pumped into the room before the 9AM keynote address, like audio/visual coffee.
  • During the Keynote Address there was a suspense in the air about what would be said--correction: I felt suspense. I wanted Lorrie to say whoever is in this room gets a listing fee discount for the rest of the year. That would have been cool. Instead, it was a lot of patting on the back to the community, how the DSRs are working and an extension of the changes that have already taken place. What I realized is ebay is a platform we pay to make money. What you may not realize is you are also paying for the privilege of having so much eyeball traffic. There are now 80 million registered users worldwide.
  • Later that morning, I inquired about a line of people standing in front of one of the many ebay booths. The two head honchos of ebay were doing a meet and greet. Guess who didn't get in this line.
Last, the Ugly:
  • There was a roped-off room that sold ebay merchandise: shirts, caps, ebay live exclusive clothing, backpacks, golf jackets and (my favorite) bobblehead dolls of the comic-book characters created for ebay live that were associated with the ebay live pins given out. It just didn't make sense no matter how many times I walked into this area to buy anything that said ebay on it: why help a multi-billion dollar company advertise?
  • At almost every information session I attended, I heard the theme song from the Batman tv show from the 60s. This audio cue meant another ebay live pin was available that had not been available yet. And every time that song played, there were at least a few people who would rush out to get them while the song disrupted the lecture. In the hallways, I sensed frowns by ebay employees when I politely turned down pins that were handed to me.
  • But the worst pins were the ones offered by a few vendors that had blinking lights on them. Some attendees insisted on wearing these seizure-inducing lapels on their lanyards. When I saw this, I knew this would probably be my last ebay live convention.

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