EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1212 - February 08, 2006     3 of 4

PowerSellers Ready to Jump Aboard the eBay Express

By Brad and Debra Schepp

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Sellers naturally focus on the fee increases eBay mentions when it announces its earnings each January. But something else caught the attention of some of eBay's biggest sellers this past January. The company announced a new service they feel has the potential to be eBay's most important change since Paypal.

Launching this spring, the new eBay service - eBay Express - will be aimed squarely at the many shoppers who want to get on the Internet, buy what they want at a good price, and get off. To help them, eBay Express will be limited to fixed price, commodity-type items such as such as DVDs and jeans–this will not be the place to sell that one-of-kind collectible. Also, eBay Express sellers have to meet fairly stringent guidelines: they must have a Feedback score of at least 100, and 98% positive.

eBay Express will have its own URL (express.ebay.com), but still be part of the eBay marketplace. Your qualifying eBay Store and Fixed Price listings will automatically also show up on eBay Express. AuctionBytes previously described this new service (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y06/m01/i19/s01), so we're not going to get into further specifics here. We did want to share with you what PowerSellers are saying about it though, to help you assess how it should impact your own e-commerce efforts.

First, the applause.

  • eBay Express will be eBay's strongest challenge yet to Amazon (and Walmart.com, etc), and can potentially bring in millions of new shoppers. Many people just want to quickly complete a transaction for a particular item they want to buy. They're not seeking the auction ambience. eBay Express would attract online shoppers who want an "Amazon-like" experience. Despite all the many enhancements over the years (or maybe because of them) new users still find eBay difficult to navigate.
  • eBay Express favors sellers who take their eBay businesses seriously, and discourages less-professional sellers, because of the requirements participating sellers must meet. Obviously this works in a PowerSeller's favor. Lots of the really big sellers, especially, have been looking for ways to further distinguish them from new, unproven sellers.
  • PowerSellers are excited about the opportunity eBay Express will give them to attract more customers to their own eBay Stores, and traditional auctions. Once they have the attention of these buyers, PowerSellers plan to do all they can to make these customers their customers, and not just eBay's. Cross promoting through links to their stores, for example, is just one way PowerSellers plan to aggressively go after this new market.
  • There are no extra fees for listing your items on eBay Express. Actually eBay Express is more of a filtering service, according to PowerSeller Andy Mowery, of debnroo. As long as your items meet the criteria they automatically show up on the new site. That means more exposure at no extra charge.

eBay Express has also raised its shares of concerns and for a full picture of what PowerSellers are saying we're sharing some of those here too.

  • The feedback requirements may not be stringent enough. eBay wants to do all it can to ensure that these new buyers have a good experience. Some PowerSellers feel that to do that eBay needs to make the seller requirements even higher, for example by raising the100 feedback requirement to 500, with 99% positive, not 98%.
  • Fraud may be more of a concern. This still needs to be clarified but for now sellers must agree to ship items to unconfirmed PayPal addresses (or they may choose to opt out of a particular transaction, but doing so means business lost to other sellers who will comply). The concern here is that this policy can attract scammers who have items shipped to an unconfirmed address, and then claim they never received them. As things stand now, sellers who ship to unconfirmed addresses lose any seller protection they may have had through PayPal. They want eBay to protect their sellers here.
  • Some sellers also worry about how their third party auction management systems will be integrated into eBay Express.

The consensus? We feel PowerSeller David Yaskulka of blueberryboutique spoke for many PowerSellers when he told us that once "transactional shoppers get comfortable with eBay Express, many will test the core site. I've been lobbying for a program such as eBay Express for two years. I think it is a phenomenal move."

Brad and Debra Schepp have written about cutting-edge technologies for more than 20 years. Their most recent book is eBay PowerSeller Secrets: Insider Tips from eBay's Most Successful Sellers, published by McGraw-Hill (2004) and available through retailers such as Amazon (http://digbig.com/4frsm). Visit their website at http://www.bradanddeb.com.


About the author:

Brad and Debra Schepp have written about cutting-edge technologies for more than 20 years. Their most recent book is eBay PowerSeller Million Dollar Ideas: Innovative Strategies to Make Your eBay Sales Soar, published by McGraw-Hill. The 2nd edition of eBay PowerSeller Secrets will be published November 27, and be available through retailers such as Amazon. Visit Brad and Deb's website at http://www.bradanddeb.com.


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