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|Wed May 9 2012 22:55:51|
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
Dear Ina, |
Recent blog posts and letters to the editor along with various posts on eBay discussion threads started me thinking...
If I suddenly found myself in a position to make changes at eBay, what changes would I make?
I came up with the following rather long list:
- At the corporate level, embrace the reality that new merchandise can coexist next to vintage, collectible and used goods
- At the corporate level, become sales format agnostic - Auctions can exist side by side with Fixed Prices, encourage buyers and sellers to decide what works best for them.
- Change the corporate culture that considers small and medium sized sellers to be little more than noise. Sellers of all sizes should be valued for the variety of goods they bring to market.
- Work to bring eBay back to being a Venue, not an overlord. Overbearing policies, and eBay's current drive to insert itself deeper into the buyer - seller relationship is not producing any positive results.
- The company would commit to being more transparent. No more fee increases described as “the lowest fees ever”.
- End the practice of inflating eBay GMV by pushing sellers into rolling shipping costs into the selling price. Reported GMV would represent the volume of goods actually paid for as completed sales. Included shipping costs and unpaid items would never be represented as part of Gross Merchandise Volume.
- End the one size fits all mentality as far as policy creation. Recognize that some categories need special consideration such as return policies, and that some categories may require special treatment with regard to listing policies in order to remain healthy and thrive.
- Work to restore eBay's marketplace dominance in categories which have suffered under the one size fits all policy era by revising policies that have hampered growth in specific categories such as antiques and collectibles.
- Rewrite and revise eBay policies into plain English so they are clear, concise, eliminate ambiguous terminology and close loopholes. Policy must be simpler to understand.
- Policy must be black or white in terms of enforcement, and no longer subject to interpretation by Trust and Safety or by customer service agents.
- Rewrite the eBay User Agreement into plain English that is also clear, concise and eliminates ambiguous terminology.
- Reduce all executive compensation packages. Nobody is worth $16 million a year. The growing number of top executives and their outrageous compensation packages are the driver of high fees.
- C Level executive stock awards would be tied to genuine transactional growth, ie; increases in completed sales volume, not Gross Merchandise Value (GMV).
- Require all eBay executives to open selling accounts and complete a minimum of 100 transactions annually - on their own time - so that they enjoy the same experience that the majority of sellers experience. There will be no special handling or treatment of these accounts. Executive accounts would be blocked from being accessed by any corporate Internet access.
- Require that eBay management spend 40 hours annually in customer service assisting buyers and sellers with issues related to their area of responsibility. This will result in management better understanding the challenges buyers and sellers face, and will make the policy creation process more effective over the long term.
- With massive salaries reduced, fees will be reduced - across the board - with the exception of Diamond Sellers....
- Revise the sweetheart fee deals Diamond Sellers were given under the table. Diamonds would pay fees to list as well as final value fees. Fee schedule for Diamonds would be indexed based on actual transactional counts, not dollar sales. Higher fees would apply in cases of high percentages of neutral and negative feedback counts. Diamond Sellers will no longer be able to disappoint thousands of eBay buyers a year and will pay additional fees based on neutral and negative volume.
- The Final Value Fee on shipping would be eliminated. Sellers would be discouraged from inflating shipping costs by the redesign of the listing page and the "shipping included" process detailed below.
- No more interim fee increases. Any future fee increases will be effective on the first of January each year. Sellers will be able to make better and more informed choices regarding their inventory and business planning and utilize the holiday selling season to liquidate inventory if needed.
- Seller facing changes will be rolled out twice annually in January and July to afford sellers the opportunity to better manage inventory and business practices and to allow for timely adjustments.
- System or technical issues effecting the site would be posted on the announcement board. In addition, an alert box would appear when buyers and sellers sign in to their account alerting them that a system or technical issue is ongoing. Visible announcements of system or technical issues will reduce the strain on customer service while increasing buyer and seller satisfaction.
- Rebuild the sense of community that eBay once enjoyed. End the relationship with Live World with regard to moderating discussion boards and restore that functionality back to eBay. eBay will be better informed and make better decisions by being directly involved with the community.
- Restore the Ask Seller Question link back towards the top of the page. The company will no longer hamper, impede or fear communication between buyer and seller.
- Eliminate Unpaid Items. Test an auction listing format which allows sellers to require immediate payment from the winning bidder when the auction closes. Buyers would be advised when placing their bid that if they are the winning bidder, they then preauthorize the payment. Payment will automatically be completed using the buyers available PayPal balance first with any remaining balance due pulled from their funding method or credit card. Buyers would also be given the option to have the entire payment applied to their credit card through on file with PayPal.
- Unpaid item strikes would become visible on buyer's feedback page. Buyers would have the ability to respond to UPI strikes the same way sellers can respond to negative feedback.
- Sellers would be given increased flexibility in blocking buyers with Unpaid Item history.
- Reduce or Eliminate the expense of developing new search methods.
- Retire Best Match as the default search once and for all, and let buyers select the search method they wish to use when they begin their search.
- Eliminate the use of the term "free shipping" . End the charade Buyers know that shipping is not "free".
- Redesign the listing page so that every item appears as "shipping included". Fixed price items display the total of item price plus the cost of the primary shipping option as the selling price of the item. In the case of auctions, the opening bid would be the price the buyer sets plus the calculated primary shipping option cost which would be displayed. This makes every item on eBay "Shipping Included" and would still compel that sellers be competitive with pricing.
- Reconfigure the processes that trigger payment holds. Clearly define the issues that will trigger payment holds. Sellers would be notified by email of the exact reason as to why their payments are being held, and what steps they will have to take to receive their payments. The email will also identify the precise steps the effected seller will have to take in order to be removed from the payment hold process.
- In the event of payment holds, 75% of the shipping cost identified in the listing details will be cleared immediately so that the seller can have access to funds, ship items on a timely basis, and assure buyers are not negatively impacted by the payment hold process.
- Limit the number of accounts an individual may have. Credit or Debit Cards and Social Security number would be required to open an ID. Personal accounts would be limited to one buying ID and two selling ID's per individual per address. Business accounts would be limited to one buying ID and a maximum of 4 selling ID's . In the event of account sanctions for violations, all linked accounts would be effected. In the event of account suspensions, all linked accounts would be suspended. Circumvention of the multiple ID policy would result in a permanent ban of all accounts linked to that address and social security number.
- PayPal would clear eCheck payments in 24 hours. If a buyers eCheck payment does not subsequently clear, the buyer would be hit processing fee. Processing fee for declined Check payments would be $25 or 10% of the transaction value whichever is greater.
- Restore the option for sellers to accept checks and money orders as payments if they so choose and revise peripheral policies such as the Unpaid Item process and Dispute process accordingly.
- Restore the option for sellers to set a 7 Day Return policy in categories such as clothing to eliminate buyer abuses such as wear and return.
- Revise the return policy. Sellers should not be forced to accept returns for certain categories of merchandise such as underwear and swim wear.
- Items that are listed as "For Parts" would be considered a final sale.
- Eliminate the partial refund policy as this amounts to negotiating the price after the sale has been completed.
- Mandate that merchandise must be returned to the seller in order for buyers to receive refunds. No return - no refund period.
- Mandate that delivery confirmation numbers are obtained by buyers for all returns and that refunds are completed within 24 hours of delivery confirmation showing item was delivered.
- Revise the Claims Process and prevent buyers from opening a claim until they have communicated with their seller. Seller would have 48 hours to respond. If the 48 hour window closes without a response, or if buyer - seller communication fails to reach a resolution that both parties can agree to, then the buyer would be able to open a claim.
- In this day of cell phones and digital cameras, buyers would be required to upload photographs of items when filing claims for SNAD. Photographs from the buyer must show the product deficiencies that qualify the item as SNAD. Photographs will be used by the Resolution team to compare to seller listing description and photos and either uphold or deny the buyers claim.
- The resolution process would include messaging regarding the Resolution teams decision in every case to both the buyer and seller. In the event a claim is decided in the buyers favor, the buyer would still have to return the item to the seller with delivery confirmation and the seller would be required to issue refund within 24 hours of DC showing delivery.
- Restore the level playing field between buyer and seller by enabling sellers to leave neutral and negative feedback for buyers. Enable buyers to respond to negative feedback as sellers do. Sellers would have to leave feedback first to minimize the opportunity to use feedback in a retaliatory manner.
- Revise the feedback page. For buyers, unpaid item strikes would be displayed as previously mentioned. Buyers would also have a display of how many resolution claims they have opened and have the opportunity to include a response. Sellers would have a display of how many resolution cases had been opened against them and would be able to include a response.
- New Filters would be enabled to allow sellers to block buyers with high resolution process counts.
- Revise the DSR system. Positive feedback would make leaving less than a 4 star rating impossible. Neutral feedback would make leaving less than 3 stars impossible. In order to leave a 1 or 2 star rating, feedback would have to be negative.
- DSR scores would be transparent to sellers so the DSR program becomes the true tool promised by eBay to help sellers improve performance.
- Revise the Top Rated Seller Program by restoring tiered fee discounts. Discount levels would be at 20%, 10% and 5%.
- Improve the quality and consistency of Customer Service with a goal of one contact resolutions in most cases.. Customer Service supervisory staff would be increased to enable on the spot resolutions of issues. Foreign accents and phone conversations do not offer buyers and sellers a satisfactory experience so we would restore Live Chat Help option to enable clearer communication. Contact Ticket numbers will be attached to every case. Ticket numbers will be given to callers or displayed in chat when at the start of the session in the event follow up contacts are necessary. Chat transcripts will be emailed to sellers before the close of every session.
- Restore the ability of sellers to have store inventory to encourage sellers to bring back hard to find items so that eBay can once again offer a higher SKU diversity and bring more buyers back. Store inventory would have a 60 day listing duration. Items with 60 day listing durations would not appear in general search results unless buyers select an option to include store inventory.
- Revise the re listing process. When sellers re list items from the end of item email, the new listing quantity would be the number of items that remained after sales from the previous listing instead of the initial quantity which was originally listed.. This will afford sellers improved inventory control and help reduce out of stock issues.
- Open a survey thread when policy is being considered for revision which is open to all buyers and sellers for a single response per ID for 30 days. No more secret surveys, no more cherry picking for invitations to take surveys. Cumulative results of all responses will be displayed after each question has been answered by participants so that the process is more transparent.
- Open a special Discussion Thread after changes are implemented to obtain buyer/seller input. Team members from the effected areas would moderate the threads and respond to questions. Board would have posts by topic regarding any changes being shaped well before changes are announced. Topic would remain open for 30 days after changes are implemented for buyer/seller input.
- Sellers will be afforded the choice to opt in to having third party ads placed on their listings. If they opt in, sellers would share in the revenue generated. Sellers would receive fee credit when ads on their listing receive clicks from buyers, and additional credit if a click through directly results in a successful sale.
- Abort plans for eBay to open fulfillment centers - open International package forwarding service centers and encourage sellers to expand their business by opening their listings to International buyers who would have to sign up for the eBay forwarding service. Forwarding service would have an annual fee.
While I believe that these changes would drive down profits in the short term, I strongly believe that in the long term, eBay would regain its place as a strong and vibrant marketplace.
It would be interesting to see your readers reactions, likes and dislikes about the changes proposed here.
Let the debate begin.
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