Just because they're paranoid… : what I would do with eBay, part 2

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I’m going to make this one brief, because I hold out a small hope that eBay might read it. It’s something that could be sorted almost immediately. It would cost nothing. And it would make the site a 100% more pleasant place to be.

Ebay needs to quit their corporate paranoia. We’ve seen this for fifteen years or more in the ways they’ve sought to interrupt buyer/seller communication. We’ve seen My Messages become more and more useless – to the point now where if you request a reminder of your eBay ID, that doesn’t go to your email address, just to My Messages – where you can’t see it until you sign in. How pointless. What a ridiculously closed system it has become.

We saw it too with Skype – that I still maintain could have been a great purchase for eBay if they’d made it the basis of an integrated communication system. But they didn’t. They spent $2.6 billion on it, and then for months told sellers they couldn’t include their Skype ID in their listings. Again, pointless.

Most especially, eBay need to consider that they have information which would be amazingly useful to sellers, and that sellers should be given that information.

We saw this with Adcommerce, which was running for close to a year before we even got a beta version of conversion data. Only eBay could think that their customers would be daft enough to buy advertising for which they had no measure of success. Their closed-lippedness about how the EPN affiliate scheme pays out is another case in point.

But nowhere have we seen this more clearly illustrated than with the free postage issue.

eBay have at least the virtue of consistency with this policy (until now) – that they’ve insisted that “buyers like free postage”. And they’re basing this on *something*. More than one ex-employee has mentioned to me that eBay are “obsessive” about collecting statistics, and there is surely a huge collection of data relating to postage prices on eBay, sell-through rates, where the pain points are, and exactly how much free postage makes it more likely that a buyer will buy.

Where is this information? And why do we not have it too?

All eBay need to do is post some blog or forum posts saying “look, isn’t this interesting, the sell-through rate on free postage items is double what it is on paid-for postage items, oh and by the way, we’ll give you this FVF incentive if you list with free postage”, and sellers would be queuing up to list with free postage. They didn’t need to get sellers’ backs up. But they chose to, because their secrecy level is set somewhere around Kremlin 1955, and no one seems able to break that.

Break that secrecy barrier, and we’ll all work better together.

Because that’s how it should be: if buyers and sellers are working together to achieve successful sales, then sellers and eBay management should also be working together to extract every last possible penny from our buyers. Data would help us do that. Better communication all round would help us do that. Let’s have it, please.

Have I finished? You bet your little cotton socks I haven’t finished. Part three coming up shortly….

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