What Happens When eBay Goes Down?

We all know that website downtime often equates to lost profits for a business, but what happens when people use the site that goes down to make money? It causes a domino effect that sets the online community abuzz. That's exactly what happened last week when eBay went down for approximately three hours, leaving sellers in the lurch and frustrating bidders.

Why Is eBay's Downtime So Critical?

People use eBay to buy and sell goods, but it goes beyond that. Many individuals, such as eBay PowerSellers, use eBay to earn a living. A seller who lists items for the purpose of making a profit has different needs than a seller who is cleaning out their closet and listing items to make a few extra dollars. When eBay goes down, bidders cannot bid on items. The fact that most bids occur in the last minutes of an auction means that an eBay outage can equate to a serious profit loss for eBay sellers. If a seller's auctions are ending when the site is down, it means that bidders can't place bids in those last minutes of the auction, and while the winning bidder gets the item for a steal, the seller loses money.

When is Enough Enough?

This latest instance of downtime lasted about three hours. No one really knows how much this cost eBay sellers. While this would be more forgivable if it were a one-time occurrence, it is actually the tenth outage eBay has experienced this year. With so many resources available to minimize website downtime, eBay users are beginning to feel as though the company has been lax in preventing sellers from losses due to downtime. To make matters worse, eBay did not really communicate about the outage or the reasons for it, causing even more disruption in consumer confidence.

Taking Customers' Needs Seriously

While eBay is most definitely the auction giant on the Web, they should not take that position as number one too seriously. If they keep costing their customers money with unexplained outages and downtime, a demand for a competitor will arise and a company will establish itself to meet that demand. When a site's customers rely on that site for profits and sales, the site needs to take the needs of those customers seriously, and that means ensuring the technology is reliable enough to not interfere with customers' profits.