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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1736 - February 27, 2008 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 2

eBay Responds to Concerns over View-Item Page Testing

By Ina Steiner
February 27, 2008

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AuctionBytes reported last week that eBay was testing a new View Item page, news that generated 150 comments on the related AuctionBytes Blog post. eBay, which had not previously announced the test, responded over the weekend with a post on its own blog, which carried an interview with Subha Shetty and Scott Loper of eBay's Buyer team.

eBay acknowledged that a "tiny fraction" of eBay visitors are being directed to the new page. The testing will go on for several months. The company said that features currently seen in testing may not appear in the final version, while eBay may introduce additional features not seen in current testing.

The interview with Shetty and Loper addressed several issues, including two of major concerns from users, which follow. Note that the full interview is archived on the eBay Chatter blog from February 22, 2008.

Question: Some items viewed through the new item page contain a red warning message in the Meet the Seller section indicating the Seller has a low Detailed Seller Rating (DSR rating.) What is the purpose? This is especially confusing when the Seller has 4 stars.

Answer: The purpose of the message is to indicate to buyers when the seller has a very low DSR score compared to all other eBay sellers. This happens a small percentage of the time, and only the lowest performing sellers are flagged. Some sellers may notice they get flagged when their DSR shows 4.1 out of 5, for example. This is because a 4.1 score is actually very low compared to other sellers.

We've seen the comments from members, and we realize this may seem counter-intuitive based on how the stars are represented when a buyer leaves feedback (e.g. Shipping time, 4 = “quickly”). However, it’s important to note this is a relative ranking. The overall goal is to reduce the number of bad buying experiences, the bulk of which are caused by sellers with the lowest DSRs.

Question: Why are items from other sellers being promoted on a seller's listing? Can sellers opt out of this?

Answer: There's a lot of confusion and concern about this on the forums, so we're glad to get the chance to clarify. There are two separate issues here:

1) Currently, on closed items that have already ended, we do show two rows of similar items from other sellers. We do not show these two rows on active listings, though -some people have been a bit confused about this. Actually, this is similar to the merchandising we do today on completed listings.

2) There's a new "Related Items tab," and from there, we do show similar items from the item's seller and other sellers. We use logic to determine which items to show based on a number of variables. Having a wider selection to choose from means a higher chance of showing relevant items, and consequently a better buying experience.

Currently, there is no ability to opt-out in the test. This type of merchandising is something online shoppers have come to expect, although we understand this is a critical area and we need to do it carefully. Sellers should keep in mind that their items are also appearing on other sellers' listings, so everyone is getting an increase in potential exposure.


Original AuctionBytes article:

AuctionBytes Blog post with reader comments:

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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