It seems that no one wants to compete with eBay in the Auction market. Oh, I know there are a load of smaller players like UBid.com and Bidville.com, but the major players all seem to fading to gray.
Remember Amazon Auctions? It never went anywhere and now you can barely find auctions on the Amazon site. Same goes with Yahoo! Auctions. It seems the only large competitor that could even kick at eBay’s heels was the Overstock.Com Auction business.
However, Overstock has made some recent changes. For one, they did away with their “Trusted Seller” program. The Trusted Seller program was a system by which high dollar sellers could provide bonded transactions. I always felt this to be good thing in the mind of the buyer of such high dollar items, but what do I know? Sellers will still be able to bond their transactions; those sellers just won’t be shown with that feature any longer.
Overstock has also overhauled its main page. Now the Auction tab is part of a large group of tabbed items (formerly, there were only 5 large tabs one of which was auctions). It now sits at the far right end. Considering that Western cultures read left to right, that puts auctions at the end of line. Many established sellers are fuming about this, seeing the change as less exposure for the auctions.
Overstock showed poor 3rd quarter financial results and no doubt the company is having to make some changes. The charismatic and often entertaining CEO Patrick Byrne had this to say regarding the auction platform: “…in the two years since it opened, it has not met our expectations” (Source).
This could be part of a ‘back to basics’ move on the part of Overstock. It seems like a lot of companies are refocusing on core components now. For example, eBay recommitted to its core listing format and Yahoo! realized it was spreading its peanut butter too thin. This could be a move by Overstock to get its focus back to fixed price transactions.
Where that will leave the online auction world, time will tell. As of the date of this blog post, the Overstock Auction page comes up on page 2 of Google for the keyword “Online Auctions”. One thing for certain, eBay is still the 800 pound gorilla of online auctions and will likely remain that for 2007.