EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1710 - January 22, 2008     2 of 3

Sellers Buzzing about eBay's 'Best Match'

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eBay sellers and Wall Street analysts are on edge this week, waiting for the company's release of fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday and for more news on expected fee changes. But also top of mind is what changes eBay will make to its search technology.

eBay has promised a better finding experience on its site. As it continues to tinker and test, users are trying to determine whether the changes will be improvements or whether they might actually hurt their sales. One blogger's analysis of eBay's Best Match - a sort option that some believe will become the default order for search results - is causing much speculation around the eBay-sphere.

Doug Feiring of AuctionInsights points out that since Best Match uses an algorithm to determine the order in which listings will be shown in search results, sellers will be able to "optimize" their listings to show up higher in search results (http://www.auctioninsights.info/decoding-ebays-best-match.html). This is similar to the concept of search engine optimization (SEO) in which websites try to improve their rankings on Google and Yahoo and around which an entire industry has sprung up to help webmasters gain better exposure for their sites.

While Best Match may provide opportunities for sellers to optimize their listings, one PowerSeller-turned-blogger points out it may also provide opportunities for less-than-stellar sellers to manipulate eBay search (http://rksmythe.blogspot.com/2008/01/ebay-sellers-already-gaming-best-match.html).

As the Wall Street Journal pointed out this week, eBay's auction business contributes about 70 percent of the company's revenue. eBay's promises to improve search and the shopping experience are key, the author writes: "The growth of the auction business has been slowing for years, so eBay's problems have never materialized as sudden crisis. Instead, it's been more like air being let out of a balloon." (A paid subscription is required to access Wall Street Journal articles http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120071102019702333.html.)

Sellers are eager to hear more from eBay about the changes they are seeing on the site. Until then, expect more fear, uncertainty and doubt.


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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