eBay Reports Changes Are Having Positive Effects
By Ina Steiner
eBay is starting to see the benefits of the changes announced in January, according to Stephanie Tilenius, Senior Vice President and General Manager of eBay North America. The percentage of PowerSellers who qualify for fee discounts based on high performing DSRs (ratings received by buyers) have increased since the announcements.
She also revealed that eBay will make an announcement around fee changes before the holidays. "We want to be the most price competitive marketplace on the web," she said, adding that the price changes rolling out are for small sellers.
After it was made public earlier this year that eBay had made a special deal with Buy.com, eBay heard from sellers who asked how they could get access to the same Buy.com deal, Tilenius said. That's how the Diamond level PowerSeller tier came into being, which was announced Thursday morning. Sellers with DSRs of 4.8 or higher and who have $500,000 in monthly sales (or 50,000 items sold/month) are eligible to negotiate with eBay over pricing and eBay's expectations about terms (such as shipping and handling fees and return policies offered to buyers).
eBay also made other announcements on Thursday, adding another tier to discounts tied to DSRs, expanded buyer and seller protection, and the phasing out of third-party checkout. eBay also announced a move that will benefit some lower-volume sellers. Currently, sellers must have a minimum of 10 DSRs to be eligible to be advantaged in Best Match. eBay is lowering it to 3 DSRs (http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2008/6/1213896146.html).
When asked what she meant when she said earlier this year that eBay would not be the same site in a year, and it was moving toward a retail experience, Tilenius said she meant making it easier to shop on eBay. She used two examples, saying in the media category, they will use a catalog system. And in the clothing category, when a shopper searches for a particular purple blazer, "We'll show the blazer, not the listings." She said eBay wants to show a higher relevancy and precision in what they are showing shoppers.
She said eBay definitely wants the small seller, saying they make eBay what it is. As for why some sellers may be unsettled by all the changes announced this year by eBay, Tilenius said change is hard. Asked about sellers who seemed happy with some changes but feeling unhappy about factors that are out of their control - such as the risk of encountering a bad buyer, or the shipping DSRs - Tilenius said worrying about things that are out of their control is a significant part of it, but she said the facts are startling: 70 percent of DSRs are 5, she said.
eBay is seeing some sellers go from a 4.2 DSR to a 4.8 DSR in a few months, she said. "It is possible. The first month of data suggests that with combined negatives and neutrals, we're not seeing an increase.
"We are seeing an increase in leaving feedback," she said. "Seventy-six percent of the time that buyers leave feedback, they leave DSRs. We're seeing a higher quality of feedback."
Asked if Unpaid Item claims had increased since the no-negative feedback policy went into a month ago, she said "UPI rates have not gone up." One way to avoid UPIs is to use Instant Pay with PayPal, she said. (PayPal is a subsidiary of eBay.)
Tilenius said eBay Live attendees should come to the Friday morning session on Feedback - as far as Mutual Feedback Withdrawal, it appears it's back on the table, and eBay wants to hear feedback from attendees.
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 email@example.com.
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