Thursday, July 17, 2008

eBay Doldrums

Slate has a good article on eBay's doldrums.

I have never been a big fan of eBay, or online auctions in general. I have found that it is waaayy too inconvenient for the buyer. Too much time and energy invested in figuring out what to buy and then waiting to see if your bid wins, which it often doesn't.

Part of the problem is that eBay's auctions do not closely enough mirror bricks and mortar auctions, where both the buyer and seller are under time pressure. In eBay's case, time works against the buyer. If you are trying to buy some item, like a $40 used MP3 player, and you lose a couple of auctions, you have now spent a week (elapsed time) trying to buy an item. It's just not worth it. There is the "Buy It Now" option, but in my experience, the prices people set for those are ridiculous--you could buy the item new, at a store, for the Buy It Now price.

I have an idea for solving this problem, by blending aspects of Buy It Now into the auction process, in order to make the element of time work more like a real auction. The seller would set a "win it now" price, but that price would be hidden from bidders (but once set, not changeable by the seller). The way it would work is that the highest bid exceeding your hidden "win it now" price would be accepted, after one hour of no subsequent bids, as the winning bid.

No comments:

Post a Comment