Bye Bye, Biddy

August 12, 2011

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor


I was very saddened to hear that the e-commerce World lost a great contributor and friend in Sue Bailey (aka Biddy) who passed away this week.  Sue was a partner in the UK e-commerce/eBay blog Tamebay with Chris Dawson.  She started as a powerseller and then started working on the blog which took her into all kinds of interesting areas of social media.

A Pint with Biddy…

We’ve been having events in the UK for 4-5 years and before that I attended many of the eBay UK events.  The highlight of every event in the UK is hitting a pub after and hanging out with Chris, Dan and Sue.  As the only American bloke at the table, I could hang pretty well with all the e-commerce talk, and even hold my own (maybe a year or two out of touch) with Torchwood or Dr. Who (Sue was a hard-core Whovian), but have to admit to being totally lost around British politics which the three seem to be argue for 10hr stretches about.

The best thing about having Sue at event is she was one tough cookie.  She would be the first person at the microphone to call an eBay/Google/Amazon/etc. exec out about some policy that clearly didn’t make sense.  Much to the delight of the audience they would frequently be up there stammering and totally flummoxed about how to react because Sue’s question would include a trap they couldn’t possibley extricate themselves from.

In the eBay UK community, Sue was kind of like Jay Senese of 1centcd fame in the US – everyone knows them and as you go to these shows they call them by their sellerID – Biddy in Sue’s case.  I have to admit it took me a while to understand why people were calling the Sue I knew who was a journalist, ‘Biddy’, but I finally had that V8 moment and connected the two.

A Couple of Biddy Highlights

I can think of a ton of adjectives that describe sue: intelligent, well-spoken, passionate, irascible, mighty, resilient and resolute, but at the end of the day that doesn’t paint much of a picture for what she was like.

Fortunately, one of the great things about blogging and writing is it creates an almost indelible mark on the world that can live beyond the author which is the case here.  I thought it would be most appropriate to remember Sue by some of her best writings that stick with me vs. trying to paint a picture with my words:

  • 2007 – eBay push my button – In 2004, sue noticed that when eBay introduced the ‘pay now’ button and there was some text next to it that said ‘continue shopping with this seller’ that the text wasn’t a link (dumb right?)  Sue campaigned for 3 years starting on the PS boards and literally at every chance she could get eBay to listen.  The campaign to get this obvious oversight fixed was called ‘Biddys button’ and in this post Sue announced that eBay had finally gotten around to fixing this oversight.
  • 2006 – Moving right along  – While Sue was frequently frustrated by eBay’s actions, she always kept it ‘real’.  I like this tidbit: “eBay are a business, full stop. They’re trying to make the most money they can, full stop. It’s not about “covering the costs of improvements” any more than it’s about “building community”: it’s about making a profit. Which is what sellers should be focussing on too.
  • 2011 – Should your website have product reviews – Sue made the jump to a multi-channel merhant and shared her insights with the tamebay audience. This is a great post that helps eBay sellers bridge that gap between eBay feedback and website seller reviews.
  • 2008 –  ‘Dear eBay, may I please get on with selling now?‘ and the companion piece What eBay needs to do – In the darkest days of eBay at the end of the Meg regime, things were somewhat falling apart- eBay was announcing changes every month, DSRs were rocking every sellers boat with zero transparency and sellers were getting suspended left and right.

Here’s a good bit from the last story arc that really exemplifies how Sue could take an issue and really boil it down to the brass tacks:

We have more options now. When I started selling on eBay, setting up a website was difficult and expensive: eBay offered many sellers an opportunity to sell online that they couldn’t find any other way. Now, websites are both easy and cheap: why would any seller not have one? Comparison search engines and search marketing tools like Adwords make it easy and cheap to reach buyers. That easy, cheap connection with people who wanted to buy used to be eBay’s unique selling point, but it’s not any more. eBay can’t sit on their laurels forever. Unless they find a new way to reach out to sellers, to convince us that it’s worth persisting with eBay selling, I fear by this time next year, there won’t be many of us left.

Of course in hindsight, eBay has indeed implemented almost all 9 of Biddy’s recommendations in the What eBay needs to do list and has turned the corner from those dark days.

Bye Bye Biddy

My sincere condolences go out to Sue’s friends and family – an important voice in the world of e-commerce is gone and we will sorely miss her voice.

Scot Wingo

CEO, ChannelAdvisor Corp

P.S. if you gave her too much grief, Sue would give you one of these as a little present, which I think she would appreciate me sharing as they say a picture is worth a million words.