eBay sellers highlight supply problems

The latest eBay Online Business Index reveals almost 80% of Australia’s largest eBay sellers have experienced difficulties with manufacturers and suppliers.


The 2011 report was compiled using survey responses from 357 of eBay’s top sellers, whose annual turnover ranges from $43,700 to more than $2.8 million.


One of the findings from the report was that respondents have experienced pressure or restrictions from suppliers and/or manufacturers who do not wish to fall out of favour with traditional retailers.


According to the report, 78% of respondents have experienced difficulties of some kind, either occasionally or frequently from manufacturers and suppliers.


The report reveals that 35% have faced issues with manufacturers and suppliers attempting to prevent them from selling goods on the internet or on particular websites.


A total of 28% have faced issues with manufacturers and suppliers telling them they can only sell their products online if they meet certain conditions.


A quarter of respondents have faced issues with manufacturers or suppliers requiring them to sell their products at a particular price online.


Finally, 22% have experienced unexplained problems with suppliers, which they suspect are due to selling their products online.


The statistics are in contrast to respondents’ general outlook for eBay, with 69% saying they are optimistic about the business outlook for the coming year; a slight increase over 2010.


Online businesses also expect to increase staff from an average of 4.4 paid employees to an average of six over the next 12 months.


According to Deborah Sharkey, eBay managing director for Australia and New Zealand, one of the main reasons Australians buy online from overseas-based sellers is because many products are not offered online locally.


“Consumers have a robust appetite for domestic goods and for purchasing online,” Sharkey says.


“Restrictive practices by manufacturers and wholesalers… mean that local businesses are unable to offer the full range of goods their customers want and that needs to change.”


In addition to restrictive trade practices, survey respondents identified a swag of other barriers to growth, including postage costs and access to credit or finance.


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy believes the National Broadband Network will alleviate some of the pressure on eCommerce.


“The Government is committed to ensuring all Australians have access to high speed broadband through the National Broadband Network so that all Australians have the opportunity to participate as both buyers and sellers,” Conroy said in a statement.


Meanwhile, eBay recently announced a fee cut for its US site, causing confusion for Australian sellers who operate under a different fee regime at eBay.com.au.


The fee cut raises the question of whether some Australian sellers who use eBay.com, and not eBay.com.au, may unknowingly be paying higher trading fees.


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