Scot Wingo's inside info from eBay Live!

No primary category set

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.

eBay policy

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.

The links policy will be enforced more rigorously than before and the recommendation is to remove all links. As eBay are about to route all communications through My Messages it’s recommended as you remove web links that you consider removing both email and telephone numbers to save future changes (It’s safe to insert them in the Business Seller Information, Returns Policy or Payment Instructions sections as they can be edited in bulk). At the same time sellers using active content (Flash, Javascript etc) consider back up plans as eBay have stated they will move from a banned list to an approved list for code in auction. This may block certain gallery type applications in the future.

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.

Listing strategy

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.

11 Responses

  1. Be nimble – There will be more changes before the Christmas selling season so be wary when investing in stock

    Surely after the events at Ebay Live Ebay will refrain from making Sellers jump through more hoops.

  2. I don’t think there’ll be many more hoops to jump through, but I’m betting heavily there’ll be some pricing changes to come in the early Autumn.

    The other thing that could affect sellers is new search, best match and International visibility which could influence the stock profile sellers might want to hold.

  3. ebay are still placing all the blame for buyers leaving firmly at the seller’s doors. So ebay have played no part whatsoever in upsetting buyers? Not even one? Where is their evidence that it’s all seller’s faults?
    The fact that there is actually excellent competition out there plays no part in the buyers departure?
    The fact that the USA and the UK (and many other countries) are facing rising costs and less disposable income has no bearing on fewer sales on the ebay platform?
    Tunnel vision? Just a tad.

  4. I’d be interested to see how often the search reuslts page is the last one that a viewer sees before leaving the site. If more potential buyers are leaving before they even view an item description eBay should pay more attention to how the search is working.

    I strongly suspect that the new search is deterring more buyers than the occasional retaliatory neg, or item not received claim – it will affect everyone, not just the unlucky ones who encounter the occasional bad seller.

  5. Some of the changes that have happened I will agree needed doing. But, as time goes on the more I’m convinced that a lot of the changes eBay are making are nothing more than knee-jerk reactions. Either that or dreamed up after a lunch time drinking session in the pub.by some bright spark who wants to impress their boss with another great idea for ebay. 😀

    Half the time I really get the feeling eBay haven’t got a clue what their doing or which direction they want to head in. If they’re confused how the hell are sellers supposed to make sense of anything.

  6. Anyone see a correlation between the sellers leaving Ebay and the buyers leaving Ebay?

    Could this be the same group of people?

    Drive off the small sellers and you drive of hobby sellers.

    These hobby sellers are buyers.

    So in effect you remove the community aspect.

    I find it incredibly interesting, that the link has not been made between the two groups.

    Sellers are buyers and a bad seller experience (due to poor customer support from Ebay), means that seller takes their buying with them when they leave for pastures new.

    Ebay is built on the success of small sellers.

    If they leave, Ebay is over in my opinion.

    This is the key problem we feel, and the reason we are stretching our wings after 5 years on Ebay and about £40,000 to £50,000 in fees paid.

    Mark

  7. Mark Classic: It’s an aside really, but at eBay Live I was quite surprised by the number of people I spoke to who were ‘starting out on eBay’. And, frankly, spreading your wings and looking elsewhere is to be applauded. ;o)

    For me this line is the most telling: “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.”

    I’d add, speculatively, that this bigger player may well also enjoy preferential terms or at least be able to perform well enought for three months to start enjoying discounts etc.

  8. “There will be more changes”

    so ebay live has come and gone and no buggers any the wiser!
    the rumour mill churns on,

  9. Does anyone know what ebays policies of amount of ebay sellers who that use 1 PC? and what checks they say they will be carrying out?
    I had a message from ebay saying that they will be checking my PC and I may be required to phone them.

  10. Blue, if you only ever list from one PC, there’s nothing to worry about. It’s basically to make sure that no one has stolen your account and is listing on it from elsewhere. There’s more info in this post.

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