Target and Toys R Us posted overall sales declines during the holidays.
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EBay’s own statistics do not suggest a big exodus of sellers. The number of eBay stores at the end of September 2008 was 534,000, up 3% from 520,000 a year earlier, eBay says.
Tilenius says eBay recognizes the importance of attracting and retaining sellers of all kinds. “We thrive when we have multiple types of sellers,” she says.
And, she notes, eBay offers a big advantage to sellers compared with Amazon, in that eBay does not compete with merchants by selling its own goods the way Amazon does.
Whether merchant defections will weaken eBay remains to be seen, along with other details about eBay’s strategy, such as communications with buyers and sellers. For instance, eBay has yet to embark on a major effort to speak directly to a mass consumer audience about how eBay is getting better. An eBay spokesman says the company’s communications strategy includes meetings with customers, hundreds of thousands of e-mails to sellers, onsite marketing, web seminars and public relations work.
The new eBay will no doubt be testing its wings in many ways in the months to come. The new management team has made clear it believes the company can’t stand still. Now they have to prove they have a flight plan that will get eBay where they want it to go.