Friday, January 2, 2015

The Big Question

I'm looking for a little insight and some answers. As we start a new year in e-commerce, I am reflecting back on 2014 and 2013 and all of the changes that have taken place. I have never worked so hard to promote my business as I did in 2014, only to see my numbers of sales drop drastically. Much of that is due to the decline in eBay sales. My Etsy sales are showing very good growth and OKL was a very good place to sell in 2014. Who knows what will happen in 2015...the jury is still out with 11 Main, shopify stores are not the answer and my stand alone website is still being finished. My webmaster has done her part, now I have to list, and list and list. Here's what I have so far...

With all of this I can honestly say that I am working too many freaking hours. Much of this is promoting, promoting and more promoting. I pin, tweet, keep, stumble upon, tumbl, post on Facebook, post to wanelo, make treasuries, heart this and heart that,  post and like, comment and post, heart, blitz, post on two blogs, and heart some more. I have so many sales venues that I don't know what is where and when something sells, I have to hurry and delete it from my other stores before it sells again. But, having those venues helps to find the customers. 

Used to be we found great finds, took photos, wrote listings on one platform and shipped orders, lots and lots of orders. No one had time for social networking because we were too busy selling product. What in the hell happened?

Sales and views started to slip and then Pinterest came along, and it was magic!!! We pinned and they found us and bought! We worked hard to take beautiful photos and it worked. We met new people and sold product. It was great...while it lasted. 

Today, Pinterest has changed their search engine. They have gone to the "intuitive" engine that chooses to display in the once random feed to what it thinks the viewer wants to see. Google has done this, as has etsy and ebay. It has KILLED sales for vendors. 

Here is an example of how it used to work and how it works now. 

When I wanted to search "Pearl Ring" on ebay in the past, it would show me all 114,000 pearl rings with the most recent listed first. Then they went to "best match" that narrowed it down to 80,000 rings. Then, they changed it again, and they show all of the pearl rings in my zip code and some random state like Texas. Now I am seeing 172 rings. Now they changed it again and when I search "pearl ring" I see only rings from stores that pay to advertise on ebay and rings that are listing at auction with a .99 starting price. The rest of the pearl rings? Hidden. Not shown. 

This is why they are losing money, sellers and buyers and dying a slow e-commerce death. eBay used to be a place to find rare things, wonderful vintage finds-now it's a turning into a nightmare, especially for the seller. 

Google has done the same thing. In the past when I searched "pearl ring" on google ebay listings, etsy listings, pinterest boards, google+ postings all came up with great listings of pearl rings. 

Now, it is 100% paid advertising. Etsy and ebay are general searches for pearl rings and pinterest is the same yahoo shopping is 5 pages back. The little guy is ignored and hidden. 

Before, If I searched "Navajo Turquoise Ring" I was all over google. My photos were all over images, everywhere. Now, I am gone and it is all those who pay google the big money. 

SEO is changing fast. It appears that you have to pay to play now. 

But, on the other hand, I have been told that paying does not return that much in sales. 

So the big question is: "What do I need to do to have my product seen by customers?" 

I want to scream this!!! Just tell me what to do and I will do it!

We, the sellers of vintage as well as others are all asking ourselves that big question. This new breed of search engine is killing small business. It sucks for the customer as well because they have a limited choice of vendors to choose from. How will customers find the special thing that they are looking for now? Tell me how? How can we help them find it? Not everyone wants Chinese mass-produced stuff. 

Finding a really good guru of SEO may help. but how does one know who's good and who isn't?

What will happen in 2015? What will happen when paypal and eBay split? Will someone buy eBay and fix it, or is it a sinking ship that has the same fate as Blackberry? 

What can we all do to save our businesses and keep providing great finds for our customers? 

All I know is that I am working harder than I have ever worked in my life. I'm tired of sitting in my office at this desk, I am tired of hearting, liking and commenting. 
If you have any comments, ideas, information, insight or inspiration-Please comment.

Until then, I'm outta here for a while. 

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