We started our company, trading as ElectricGemZ, by selling exclusively on eBay. We offered only new products, sourced from UK manufacturers. We worked at home - just two of us. Four years later we have become well-known as an online retailer.
It’s no longer our biggest market, but we still sell on eBay, and are members of the eBay Seller Council. We also sell on Amazon, Play.com and our own site.
Throughout this time we have always maintained our integrity, still purchase exclusively from major UK manufacturers, and always maintain a very strong focus on customer service. None of this would have been possible without eBay.
Criticising eBay is easy. We do it ourselves all the time, but we also communicate our criticisms to them via the Seller Council. This might be hard to believe, but eBay has integrity too. When infringements are reported to them regarding copyright and other issues they act swiftly and decisively - but only when problems are reported by the rights owners.
So do manufacturers report infringements? Regrettably not – not even when they know about them.
ElectricGemZ has reported infringements on both eBay and Amazon to more than one major manufacturer without success. eBay welcomes manufacturers into their VeRO (rights holders) programme, but currently toy manufacturers are largely conspicuous by their absence.
Customers have become numbers on a screen and it doesn’t matter if someone is obsessed with lowering prices: it’s a sale.
We have told them that selling in bulk to disreputable wholesalers who, in turn, will supply anyone, is damaging to the trade. But a sale is a sale.
That, coupled with a lack of understanding of the online retail world - and the supply of incorrectly weighted assortments, simply feeds the very retailers that cause problems for us all – reputable online retailers included.
A blanket ban on eBay retailers helps no one and will only feed the back bedroom market. We know many manufacturers that will not supply an online only business, but they are more than happy to ship to the many wholesalers out there. They then have no idea – no control – where their stock is going. We could, if we wished, stock products from all major companies simply by sourcing from a wholesaler, but we choose not to.
Manufacturers should not be tarring all online retailers with the same brush; they simply need to do their research and know who they are dealing with. We respect the toy industry and hope that the toy industry respects us. If you are looking for someone to blame for low sales due to fake goods and shoddy trade practices, aim a little more carefully.
It’s not us you should be aiming at. And possibly not eBay either.