On the internet, reputation is everything. Buyers want to know that merchants are trustworthy, and merchants want to demonstrate their trustworthiness. If someone’s had bad service, it’s easy for them to disseminate their bad opinion to anyone who cares to Google it. So it’s not surprising that online retailers who’ve begun their career on eBay often ask how they can port their reputation between venues: most frequently, they want to show their eBay feedback on their website.
A while back, we covered a widget that did just that: Auctionfb’s eBay feedback display shows your total and your percentage, and displays it’s daily ‘last checked’ date. Great idea, don’t you think? Not quite. While visiting another auction site recently, I spotted a seller using just this widget, so I clicked it. eBay say he’s NARU. But the widget gives no indication of that: just the total, 100%, and today’s date. Is this intentional, or a glitch? I asked Auctionfb for comment, but they haven’t come back to me. I just hope no one’s relying on this tool as a real indicator of seller reliability.
The user agreement currently says:
you agree that you shall not market or export your eBay feedback rating in any venue other than an eBay website. We do not allow you to import feedback from other websites to eBay because such feedback does not reflect your reputation within the eBay community.
which would make me question the legality of Auctionfb’s widget anyway.
But this “feedback is only for eBay” attitude also makes me think eBay are missing a big trick. “Feedback” is, after all, practically synonymous with “eBay”. It would be easy for them to become the de facto supplier of reputation across the entire internet: all they would need to do would be to allow sellers to allow their buyers to leave feedback for non-eBay transactions. It’d be a pretty easy job to add “leave me feedback on eBay” to my websites – and I’d do it like a shot. Leaving it on eBay, after all, assures other buyers that I’m not just deleting any bad comments: it preserves the integrity of the system. And really, with their current emphasis on social networks and Web 2.0 and off-site eBaying, you’d have thought this was something they’d have already done.
In fact, there’s a hint that they’re thinking about it, not for eBay, but for PayPal. Scot Wingo notes that Meg hinted at a reputation system for PayPal, and he’s right that this would be a great move for them, to tie merchants to the PayPal system more strongly.
I’m not convinced that PayPal’s quite the right place for this. It is, after all, a *payment* system, and I think that most buyers would view that as the end of the transaction; they want to know about reputation at the beginning. Tying that in with eBay itself would only help to make the eBay brand more prevalent across the net, and of course would give sellers an incentive to stick with them, if only for the sake of their reputation.
What do you think? Is this something you’d like to see eBay do? Or would you prefer to keep all your trading venues seperate?