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Store Sellers Biggest Losers In eBay Deals

eBay's store sellers are one of the company's most important assets. They help create the eBay marketplace, bring in a huge chunk of the auctioneer's revenues, and are its most loyal users. (Indeed, they may sell items on eBay for a living.) So it would behoove eBay to treat them well, but that's not what's happening. At the beginning of last year, eBay raised final-value fees for store inventory, a move that caused an uproar in the storefront community. Then eBay tried to appease them by promising more visibility, services to help manage products, and higher referral fees. Finally, eBay allowed listings of store owners to appear in its search results, a massively popular move among storefront sellers. But that benefit was taken away a few months later, followed by another price hike. Were these changes good for eBay? It would appear so. At the end of the second quarter, eBay had 255,000 store sellers in the U.S., which is equivalent to its worldwide total at the beginning of 2005. However, the recent ad deals forged by eBay with Yahoo in the U.S. and Google outside the U.S. are the latest example of eBay leaving its core seller base in the dust. Not only have sellers lost the privilege of having their stores show up in eBay search results, now they have to pay for that visibility. Worse, Yahoo and Google's sponsored results present the opportunity for buyers to find a better or more relevant deal away from eBay altogether. According to MarketWatch: "Google and Yahoo advertisements aren't designed to keep buyers on eBay's marketplace. They're designed to send the audience out onto the Web."

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