Low quality eBay offers to be suppressed with AI

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Bad offers actually undermine confidence in the platform says eBay‘s Bob Kupbens. Offers such as save a dollar on a $500 item aren’t good eBay offers. At the end of the day says Bob, you want to see offers that are going to drive conversion.

The problem with showing bad offers is that buyers see them, realise they’re not an attractive proposition, and start to subconsciously ignore the red offer flash on all listings. That hurts sellers who have genuine offers on their listings.

eBay haven’t given much of a definition of what a bad offer is, bar the dollar off a $500 item, but most sellers will know if they’re just playing the game hoping for visibility or if they have a genuine offer that will attract buyers. Bob said that eBay are starting to suppress poor quality offers but that the bar for determining what a poor offer is has been set really low.

Don’t expect it to stay low however, eBay are putting machine learning onto the case and as it gathers data artificial intelligence will automatically determine what’s a good offer and what’s a rubbish offer. With billions of listings and sale each year, it won’t take long before artificial intelligence can make fine judgement calls on offers so expect to see fewer but for the ones that remain to be good.

The aim for eBay is to show offers that drive value for buyers. They’ve already been testing offer placement – higher or lower on the item page – and are likely to continue to test and iterate which is probably why this hasn’t been made an official announcement yet. eBay run so many A-B tests they can’t announce them all and if they did it could lead to sellers trying to game the system making the tests results useless anyway.

The net takeaway is that if you’re putting offers on your listings, make sure they are genuine offers that would attract you to make a purchase. It’s actually in your own interest as if buyers are turned off by your offers you’ll get views without sales and if your offers are the prompt buyers need to purchase then you’ll get sales and we know that eBay Best Match loves listings that convert and give them higher placement in search results.

7 Responses

  1. To qualify for Premium Service you need to include shipping in the price of the item but for low value items this doesn’t work well. To resolve this problem I often see a lot of sellers using stuff like “buy 2, get 10% off” to offer a de facto shipping discount.

    We’ve considered doing so ourselves but I imagine such low value offers will probably now be recognised as low quality and get penalised, so what’s the point?

  2. Well, I suppose Kupbens had to come out with an Ebay bullshit statement to balance out the seller-friendly one about the site glitches.

    There is absolutely no EVIDENCE that bad offers undermine confidence in Ebay. It’s bollocks.

    Sellers are savy enough to know when an offer doesn’t add up. Supermarket have doing this for years, but do we stop shopping there? No. We just check whether its a worthwhile offer or not.

    More control freakery from Ebay. Using phrases like “suppress” is exactly what the EU is looking at in its belated investigation into abuse by Amazon, Ebay et al.

    Let market forces prevail and let customers decide.

    In fact, if you allowed your site to do that overall, Mr Kupbens, you wouldn’t be trailing Amazon by several laps.

  3. The aim for eBay is to show offers that drive value for buyers. ‘

    Surely the aim for eBay should be to drive SALES for SELLERS. Isn’t that the game here?

    If one seller is selling an item for £1 less than another and it’s highlighted to the buyer, then that’s surely going to help. Why would you want to pay more?

    Check out what happens on the High Street:


    Would the £25 off on orders over £350 from Hughes as above be supressed on eBay? How about the £5 off on £50, or the £50 off over £650? When it’s a competitive market and the prices are so close, and you’re selling high-value items as we do, then a couple of quid is all it takes to clinch the sale over your competitor.

  4. I had thought the hiding of our ‘buy 3+ get 10% off’ was a glitch, seeing how it had done well last month and other sellers were still visibly doing the same offer this month. But no, having spoken with “they who know best” it was deliberate on their part, to hide the offer details, but still very kindly give buyers the discount at checkout, should they unwittingly buy 3+ items.

    One such order from overnight came to a bit over £100, so the buyer got £10 off. Would you turn your nose up at a tenner? No? Me neither, but ebay would. Seems they have finally lost the plot.

    Cancelled the promotions, as of course, there is no point promoting something with a discount if no-one knows they’re going to get a discount.

    Meanwhile on Amazon Business, they’re encouraging offers of % off and fixed price breaks for quantities. Ebay? The other direction. No one likes “small” sales! You can’t make it up. The one time you’d want them to copy Amazon and they’re off doing their own stupid thing.

  5. …and meanwhile in the ebay seller hub:

    “Print your postage labels in bulk at great rates. Say goodbye to handwritten labels and get 5% off selected Post Office over-the-counter rates”

    If a seller was to offer a 5% discount, it would be suppressed by ebay AI, as low a quality offer!

  6. The only thing that needs to be surpressed is the LOW QUALITY EBAY MANAGEMENT. FACT.


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