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The end of eBay as we know it?

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Over the last ten years entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes have flooded onto eBay, primarily because it allowed them to sell items to a far greater audience than could be reached through their own website.

The added bonus was that customers enjoyed jousting with rival bidders to secure coveted products, thereby inflating the sale price. But today two increasingly influential factors have come into play which means the days online auctions could be numbered.

The first, and most worrying for ecommerce entrepreneurs, is that blue chip retailers have muscled in. Noting the ease at which they can clear end of line stock on eBay, big fish like Tesco, Argos and Littlewoods are using eBay like a factory outlet.

They want to do this quickly and efficiently, so fixed price sales are their sales weapon of choice. This has had the effect of swamping smaller firms who must fight harder for customer eyeballs.

The second factor is that people are getting over the novelty auction-based shopping. As this story in the Daily Mail suggests, it’s incredibly annoying when you’re gazumped on price by a shadowy rival just as the auction closes.

So are online auctions out of favour? Well, no, actually. While the number of fixed-price sales has rocketed in recent years, auction sales have grown too – just at a slower rate.

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