What happens on a site visit from eBay VP Rob Hattrell?

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We’ve written about the enthusiasm that the new eBay UK VP, Rob Hattrell has for engaging with sellers on the marketplace and this week I was able to see him in action when he visited Clare Haines and Melissa Burton from Lingerie Outlet Store in Swindon. (You can read more of their story here)

Rob is insanely interested in how businesses selling on eBay operate. He recognises that whilst eBay as a platform is relatively rigid with a set format for selling, the way that eBay retailers run their operations varies wildly from company to company to achieve the same result. It obviously fascinates him, but he also wants to understand the challenges they face and how the back end of a company works up to the point they list on eBay, how listings are managed, and then when the sales come in what processes are used to get the goods out of the door and shipped along with the software solutions they use.

Viewing the strength and diversity of retailers selling on eBay as the marketplace’s strength, Rob had tons of questions for Clare and Melissa ranging on everything from their supplier relationships, how they buy, what drives their buying decisions and how eBay processes impact their stock strategies, to how the warehouse operates and a genuine interest in Lingerie Outlet Store’s imminent move to a new warehouse and what changes they will implement to increase efficiencies.

Rob is no stranger to a warehouse either and has an in depth understanding of how they operate and discussed at lengths the merits of different types or racking and the different shelving materials that can be used, but equally at home discussing the intricacies of how the eBay site works and there’s not a part of the selling process he hasn’t got a grip on.

Rob was keen to emphasise that eBay is a human business. Yes, at the end of the day the aim of the marketplace is to shift product from sellers to buyers, but Rob understands that people’s livelihoods depend on eBay doing the right thing to support their merchants. He not only wants to be out on the ground learning from sellers but wants his team to be doing the same so don’t be surprised if you hear more eBay staff are embracing the idea of site visits to sellers.

Ultimately Rob views visiting eBay sellers as a big dose of reality – How do sellers buy? How do sellers sell? What are the tens of thousands of eBay businesses doing on a daily basis?

Rob has probably visited more eBay businesses in the last six months than I’ve seen in the last ten years. The one thing that stands out for him is that just about every online retailer has different ways of doing things and he wants to understand them all to help drive their future success on eBay.

71 Responses

  1. With eBay sellers getting 7 day bans for sharing contact info it is amazing that an Outlet Store visited by the VP has their telephone number in big bold letters at the very top of every single listing!!!
    Dual standards yet again

  2. (SARCASM) Yes, that’s very constructive Jef! (END SARCASM)

    Even is his photograph was a bit “off” you would judge someone’s personality based on a picture?

    Yes, there is a “tit” here but it’s not Rob.

    This new guy seems to be getting off to a good start. He certainly seems to be taking a genuine interest and is doing the right things.

  3. So why has my business come to a stand still and had to lay people off and close my warehouse. I would love him to come and visit me and ask why after 4 years of successful sales it has fallen off a cliff since March 2017. So sad and shows how media coverage can influence people’s opinions.
    I wonder if Rob would like to have a conversation with me and I wonder what his reaction would be if he knew I went from sending 1.5k in fees to eBay a month to £250. If I’m anything to go by and I clearly am not the only one I would be wondering why he hasn’t paid a visit to a small seller like me. Tamebay needs to cover how so many sellers are going out of business instead of this cover up!

  4. I was selling a luxury brand of which not many competitors everything I sold is unique. I would love to know how I went from 12-16k gross sales and it fall off a cliff in a matter of weeks. No one can explain why and even PayPal are bemused by it. The search engine on eBay is not working correctly!

  5. Hey Rob how about you try to stop the rolling blackouts. I have long periods of sometimes 3 – 5 days with (0) sales & then they start up again as if someone flicked a switch and made my shop work again. eBay are controlling our sales. It is a fact.

  6. I just hope Rob’s master plan is not to turn eBay into a retailer. He’s picking the brains of all these sellers, learning what they sell and how they deal with suppliers.

    I’m still on the fence about him. On the surface what he’s saying sounds good, but until I see change (IE eBay treating sellers as valued partners and not dross) it’s all talk.

  7. All the above points are valid; I wondered if there was a Trade Association for serious ebay retailers ? If there is then Rob and his hierarchy should be meeting and liasing with them, if there is not, maybe there should be, to correlate the problems we all know exist and offer possible solutions from our side – if there is now indeed someone who wants to listen and push ebay forward by supporting its sellers more, we should be assisting him in his quest.

  8. Rob Hattrell is not going to win, is he? trouble is, he understands shifting stuff, but does he understand Ebays’ attitude to Sellers? not yet he doesn’t… I so wish the word insane wasn’t used to describe his enthusiasm… it’s just too often associated with ebay policies.

  9. Rob does not need to understand how we all work and how differently we operate our business.

    He does need to understand how Ebay works (or doesn’t) and fix the “long over due” problems that we all encounter.

  10. I read the above posts with amusement. Stop telling the guy how to do his job.

    I dont think he is doing all this at random – there is obviously a strategy.

    Bottom line – he will do whats best for ebay and guess what? usually whats best for the sellers and whats best for ebay goes hand in hand. Too many cynics on Tamebay.

    Rob is spending time with businesses that are expanding – why would he want to spend time with a business that is diminishing or failing or spend time with sellers telling him how to do his job with nothing but complaints about the platform?

    Oh dear…….I am going to be unpopular again on here.

  11. Imagine if
    doctors only spent time with the healthy
    Or teachers taught only the intelligent onlyl
    All eBay sellers pay fees
    This guys job is to make eBay better ,not listen to applause

  12. What’s with this religious righteousness ,
    Have you met this guy do you know his plans,
    Results are what will convince us not ,indoctrination

  13. Yes your right Alan. I have been nothing but a perfect eBayer 100% positive. I’ve never had any cases opened and had progressed so well. I love eBay and always will do. But why is there always a upside? Surely you must agree that press releases are always there to show a brighter side. Is giving an opinion where things are not so rosey wrong? A sudden drop in sales when things where perfectly ok. No the sudden drop happened when all active content was removed and the penalisation from Google for sites that show irrelevant advertising. Why would it be so much to ask if Rob can visit businesses that are not thriving. At the end of the day if they are doing so well what was the visit for? A pat on the back. If he has so much knowledge surely seeing the smaller sellers is more personable than this.

  14. Alan your sort of manipulating the debate, of course business is about survival of the fit
    Of course ebay are not to blame for business viability
    But were also certain ebay do realise that sellers have problems caused by ebay ,
    Indeed why. employ high flying business executives to manage,
    If everything were perfect

  15. I have copy and pasted this from my post above:

    @Northumbrian – You say ” But were also certain ebay do realise that sellers have problems caused by ebay” – without getting too deep – many of these problems are only perceived as problems by the “bad seller” – they are in fact not problems at all and certainly not ebays problems.

    For example, you only need to look at the many, many, many complaints and posts about ebay making EAN numbers compulsory. There was so much bitterness and animosity against ebay over this. And then you see the announcements over the past day or two and you realise that there was a bigger picture – ebay had a bigger plan and the sellers throwing the mud were just ignorant – they did not know or see or understand the bigger picture. I am sure they feel stupid now – they certainly look stupid to me. Maybe they still dont realise. How could ebay have launched the “price match guarantee ” without the EAN? More innovative things will follow. A perfect example of ebay getting the blame. Often “the problem” is only a perception.

    i do feel that i am not manipulating the debate. I am only looking at it in a positive perspective. I feel this attitude is required to make any success on ebay (or pretty much any other business – at least it certainly helps).

  16. Well we’re really. ,really ,really ,bad sellers
    We don’t have our nose so far up their Arse we can’t see anything wrong

  17. Very true Northumbrian, there is no rhyme nor reason to why my sales took a nose dive but I’m supposed to think it’s what I’m doing wrong. I’m a member of eBays concierge service and I had a lovely ladie helping me. The only way she could help was to promote my items and she did so for free for a month because of the sudden drop. On at 10% so very visible. I sold loads and even though it was free I saw the amount of money to be taken from eBay and there is no way I could do it without making a massive loss. So we all pay shop fees, and seller fees PayPal fees and now VAT added (which is fare enough) and have to pay more for your items to be visible. I didn’t sign up for this but as Alan has said you either like it or lump it…….and Rob is still sitting pretty ensuring the successful sellers get more promotion.

  18. Best part of 20 years we have sold ion eBay ,first few years it was ground breaking,last 5 years it has been back breaking ,
    We have had to slip and slide, duck and dive ,work 3 times as hard to get the same result,
    Market forces ,competition ,
    Have a lot to do with it
    Though eBay don’t help the situation with
    Higher fees , more conditions, complications, and a god awful search engine,
    Still were bad sellers with many tens of thousands of transactions were humble and grateful to eBay ,we know we’re bad and must try harder

  19. Ebay are rubbish, blah, blah, blah…. Ebay do not owe us a living!

    If you do not like the system, go sell somewhere else, the same as their are certain restaurants I would not eat in again.

    Selling on Ebay is risk free, apart from the small “Shop fee” if you sell something you pay a commission. People that are not happy with that could try spending thousands of pounds on Google advertising, Facebook or SEO to promote their own web site where they will be “Fee Free” and only have themselves to blame for a lack of sales.

    My sales chart goes up and down like a roller coaster on a daily basis, this applies to Ebay, Amazon and my own web site. I have said before that I used to see a lot of my Ebay listings pop up on Facebook and other web sites through Google ads, maybe Ebay have cut back on outside advertising, if they have that is their choice.

    I have no idea why Rob is visiting sellers, unless it is to learn what is going wrong with the Ebay site that need fixing.the usage

    Take some really simple problems like when you see the “View order details” in communication with a customer. You click on it and it takes you to the product sales / listing page, NOT to the customer order details.

    There are many small matters such as the above that could easily be fixed, but never are.

    it is no use 1,00’s of people sending him non-constructive emails moaning about their lack of sales. We need one email from somebody he will listen to with a detailed list highlighting some of the problems using the site, from a sellers point of view. At this point we would then be in a position to judge if he is really there to help sellers or not.

  20. First post for months as I can’t get on with the new layout here, but was so incensed by this thread !
    Will those who feel that this ebay executive should only visit thriving businesses and all those who are not thriving only have themselves to blame, please explain how a seller who has had fantastic sales for years with a great turnover, can then within a matter of weeks find sales have ‘fallen off a cliff’ to use a phrase many of those sellers have stated ?
    I agree that no business has a divine right to thrive whether on ebay or your local high street, and a slow decline can be put down to multiple factors, but let’s please focus on the sellers who have seen their sales plummet almost overnight…….. surely some of those should also be visited ?
    Just as we are all businesses of various types and sizes, ebay is also a business, and so should be looking at it’s own failings as well, shouldn’t it ?

  21. @ Alan Paterson

    In what way do you mean legally?

    Has there been a change in law or just Ebay’s rules?

    Personally I am surprised that the seller has copied the image with a watermark across the item, they could easily have copied the image from the brand’s own web site.

  22. So Alan Paterson your one of the privileged eBay glitterati sellers on the concierge program? It all makes sense now……. Unless of course your an eBay employee masquerading as a seller. Your constant smug sycophantic support of eBay is both nauseous and tiresome. The site has abundant technical problems, eBay doesn’t support its sellers and buyer fraud is rife. If Rob Hattrell visited our premises then that’s what he would be told, and furthermore that’s what we would prove right in front of his eyes. Mind you, we have only been on eBay 18 years and our fees are only a few thousand pounds a month……. we clearly aren’t worthy

  23. All images have the watermark of our logo, so I am surprised that a seller would use them.

  24. It’s a struggle to keep up, there are so many sides to the coin.

    @Alan Paterson, whilst it may be against the rules / TOC’s of Ebay to use watermarked images, my experience of Ebay support has not been good, regarding this issue.

    How would it be enforced you ask?

    Simple, take the listing down and issue a warning notice, how hard an it be? This was an obvious breach, yet they asked me to fill out a series of forms before they would take action. – Thankfully, a message to the seller concerned, made them see the light and they changed the offending image.

    @ Ross K I agree with you, there is far too much whining on these forums and very few that put any positive proposals forward.

    But… I do disagree with your idea that Rob needs to spend time working with the people that Ebay is already working for them.

    Why waste time with people that the system is working for? They are happy customers and going about their business enjoying the benefits of selling on Ebay. His job surely must be to make sure that many many more people fit into that criteria?

    Customer support is most needed when we have problems, not when things are going well.

  25. Rather unfortunate posts by Alan Paterson and later by Ross in reply to Ian. It’s as though Ian doesn’t deserve an opinion. If I have unhappy customers on eBay, I try my hardest to make things right. What your suggesting is that Rob doesn’t try hard for struggling eBay businesses- because they don’t matter. See the irony? After all Ian is eBay’s customer.
    Just a thought 🙂
    However I do agree on one point Alan, technical problems go with the territory, I expect them, it’s part of life.

  26. @Alan Paterson, Do you not think Rob should also work on getting some of the issues right?

    Whilst I did agree with Ross about the amount of whining, I really don’t think you can class all the people moaning as bad sellers.

    There are issues and as I said before, I think we need to find a way of putting across the system faults to Rob in a constructive way.

    My experience with support over the image issue was not good. Problems do need to be addressed.

  27. I see your pov Alan, eBay has its good points- it was revolutionary for international business. Ian shouldn’t have been so personal that’s true. But I for one am not a concierge member and I can honestly say it’s so difficult getting any help from eBay when you need it. Perhaps his offish stance was borne out of pure frustration- though personal attacks are wrong and not what this thread should be about. I hope Rob does make a difference and we wish him all the best in his efforts.

  28. Question for Mr Patterson –
    Ebay have not mentioned anything regarding compulsory EAN numbers in the Ebay July highlight Sellers update message.
    Do you think they are going to struggle with a smoth implementation of this policy -.
    ie large numbers of non complient listings being deleted etc?
    Thanks Brian

  29. Thanks for reply Alan.
    Ebay should tread carefully . Taking a ” sledge hammer culling ” approach may cost them & their shareholders ..
    I would imagine a large percentage of Ebay turnover/profits are from the small seller / individuals- who arent familiar with EAN”s- cant find a EAN or are selling items which dont have an EAN number .
    Will they be willing to pay the annual fee to GS1 (leading EAN number supplier) to generate their own numbers?
    Buying EAN numbers on Ebay can be problamatic .!
    Looking at listings on Ebay -lots of sellers are not getting ready for September & are” burying their heads in the sand”.
    Ebays administration of policing correct EAN number could be a challenge for them.them.
    Should be interesting.

  30. I have just listed a grouped / bundled set of products, how would I give that an EAN number?

    Each product is also advertised individually and has its own EAN number?

    I started uploading EAN numbers a long time ago and nearly all my stock has them apart from items I may sell in bundles

  31. At Alan Paterson . Reference my posts above. Can you not stay in a local hotel?

  32. @Alan Paterson

    Thanks, unfortunately asking Ebay does not always give us the correct answer.

    I can understand that if you sell 2x / 3x the same item it could be said the EAN would stay the same, some products we break down and sell individually so I guess they should retain the original EAN but when I have bundled 3 diferent products together with 3 different EAN numbers, that is where there could be a problem.

    Maybe customer support is something Rob could look into improving

  33. Well I am looking forward to seeing Rob at the Linn Academy this year (Sorry for the plug guys, but I am more excited to watch Chris Dawson’s speech 🙂 ) https://www.linnacademy.com/

    I think we all give eBay a lot of stick, some of which they deserve but my argument is that they are trying to keep sellers happy and modernise at the same time, which they seem to be stuck with in regards to forcing product identifiers.

    Unlike Amazon, they are not a retailer themselves and so in the UK it is the main marketplace with real clout (though there are certainly others out there). Positive support is the way to go for eBay and for those whose sales have dropped I have two suggestions:

    1. Are you using product identifiers and variation listings?
    2. If so, contact Jane Bell, eBay Anorak 🙂

  34. I have done all that was advised by my eBay concierge added product identifiers, made prominent free postage. I was also advised to do some auctions.
    I’m also a premium service holder offer 30 day returns and have 100% feedback. Guess what…..I’ve not sold anything in 24 hrs. Nothing I am advised on works……something has happened in the last 4 months for the serious dip. When did Rob join? And why does eBay( a good platform of which I know others preferred to use rather than Amazon ) want to change. I can confirm my eBay fees have dropped from 1.5k a month to this month £64.
    So clearly you don’t sell on eBay?

    Any feedback on how this has happened Charlie or the eBay anorak would be appreciated but all I can do now is shrug ?‍♀️ my shoulders!

  35. we think ebay are over complicating the search and find process
    they have reached critical mass,
    rather than search needing to find a grain of sand in the sahara it now also needs to find a drop of water in the ocean ,and a specific star in the universe
    buyers use ebay for convenience or a bargain they dont want to spend a week trawling thru sub sections and categories,
    ebay needs to divide and specialise before it implodes ,rather than trying to be everything to every buyer,

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