In todays webinar the first thing that Scot Wingo and Max Leisten emphasised was that eBay have had to take action to stem the flow of buyers quitting eBay. Pretty much for every new buyer they attracted another would leave if not more. That’s why eBay have taken such radical steps such as no neg/neut feedback for buyers and higher seller standards.
The new eBay management have also seen that buyers like fixed price listings and have embraced them rather than concentrate on auctions.
There were some warnings against breaking policies which appear to be more rigorously enforced than before. This includes search manipulation where they have seen sellers suspended for gaming best match or DSR farming by rotating listings between multiple User IDs.
There is no longer a 15 item limit on identical listings, but it’s suspected eBay can scan items across user ids so simply changing the title or listing identical products on multiple ids is not recommended and could be viewed as search manipulation. However this could work to the advantage of smaller sellers who may gain greater visibility when competing with the larger sellers in their category.
Sellers should also ensure that shipping is included in the eBay postage information section. Not only will this be essential to appear in search, but it’s possible acceptable shipping bands may be introduced at some point in the future.
On listing stategies Max and Scot recommend trying International Listing upgrade on your top selling international items. This may be expanded to include more countries in the future and appears to be working for many sellers.
What were they thinking?
In the “What were they thinking” category Scot highlighted the number of coupons, rebate and Microsoft Live search cashback and that you can use multiple discounts for the same purchase. Perversely none of the coupons are compatible with third party checkouts like ChannelAdvisor causing unhappy customers, although in the future it’s likely third party checkout will be phased out.
The 3rd party checkout redirect is already closed to new applications, but is likely to be discontinued by mid 2009. Although personally I dislike 3rd party checkouts they can have positive benefits for example offering an automatic merchant card facility which can’t currently be handled by eBay checkout.
The choice policy is being discontinued, but there is currently no corresponding way for sellers to list showing what colours/sizes are available, or for buyers to checkout indicating what choice they would like. Sellers will have to manually enter choice information into listings and rely on email communications for buyers to state their chosen options.
Top messages eBay need to hear
If you use a 3rd party checkout email your account manager and tell them why it’s important to you and which functions are essential to your business.
Ask your account manager why 3rd party checkouts can’t handle coupons when eBay are sending out millions of them.
Honest sellers want to see which of their buyers left less than a 5 star DSR, so that they can improve. Inability to see where they could improve is hampering their ability to give customers better service.
eBay need to evaluate messaging on DSRs to buyers to indicate that 4/5 is a failure.
Consider removing neutral feedback altogether – make it postive or negative. Today 100% are counted as negative but Scot believes at least 10% would convert to postives if the neutral option wasn’t available.
Advice for sellers
Be nimble – There will be more changes before the Christmas selling season so be wary when investing in stock.
Be prepared for more large sellers such as Buy.com to come to eBay and consider what would happen if a major competitor arrived in your category.
Continue to experiment with Best Match and use the BayEstimate tool.
My takeaway from this webinar is that, more than ever before, sticking closely to the eBay way of doing things is essential for sellers. 3rd Party Checkout, shipping or returns information in listing text rather than the eBay specified areas and failure to use item specifics are all problematic, either from useability or simply because it will get you lowered in search visibility.