EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 183 - January 21, 2007 - ISSN 1528-6703     1 of 8

From the Editor

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Many of the charts and tools on AuctionBytes are the result of queries from our readers. For example, over the 7+ years we've been publishing, we have received the question, "What's the best day to end an auction?" nearly 62 million times. Well, OK - maybe more like a thousand times, but it seemed like it would make sense to develop a page that included the results from all of our reader surveys, put them together into one interactive page. That's how the Online Auction Calendar was born, and it's one of our most popular pages: http://digbig.com/4qtpr.

Well, another common reader question finally lit a fire under David this week: "When does eBay hold its listing promotions?" Not having a crystal ball, we can't predict the future - but we CAN share eBay's history when it comes to listing promotions. And it makes for some very interesting reading.

We now have a page that will show you the history of listing-day promotions on eBay's US, Canadian, UK, Australian, Irish and German sites since 1999. Not only can you see at a glance when the promotions were held, and click through to some of the original announcement pages, but we also link each date to the Medved Auction Counts charts that show how the promotions affected the number of listings on eBay.com.

We left off some of the minor promos, but we think we have most, if not all of the major ones. One thing that jumps out is how eBay has accelerated the number of listing promotions over the past few years. If you think of any that we may have missed, or have any suggestions - you know how to reach us! Here's a link to the page: (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/pages/ebaypromos)

As promised, eBay announced new initiatives last week at its Ecommerce Forum meeting of top sellers in San Francisco (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y07/m01/i18/s02). Changes to feedback were anticipated, and "Feedback 2.0," as it's called, will roll out in international markets before coming to North America and Germany. In addition, eBay will use a new method to calculate positive feedback ratings, using only the latest 2 years worth of transaction data.

eBay also announced a new "Safe Payment Requirement" that requires new sellers to accept PayPal or a merchant credit card in order to list items on the US and Canadian sites. Last June at eBay's annual conference, sellers had gotten more vocal in their requests for seller verification, and this requirement is a move in that direction.

Protecting buyers from fraud should be job one on ecommerce sites, so it's good eBay is focusing on the problem. But of course, readers of this newsletter know there is also "buyer fraud," as a recent email reminded me. A seller had sent an item to Japan, and everything went smoothly, the buyer and seller exchanged positive feedback. A month later, PayPal filed a chargeback for "unauthorized use of a credit card" (most likely a stolen credit card was used to pay for the item). The seller had to eat the cost ($640 plus the cost of Global Priority Mail shipping to Japan) because PayPal's Seller Protection Plan does not protect sellers when shipping to unconfirmed addresses.

All payment providers have to deal with this issue, and when I checked last August, I found that seller protection on Google Checkout is pretty similar (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y206/m08/abu0172/s02). I thought it bore repeating that sellers need to weigh the risks of various payment methods and international trading against the benefits of increased sales.

Perhaps topmost on eBay users' minds last week was eBay's new Safeguarding Member IDs (SMI) policy (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y07/m01/i16/s01). I had a chance to talk with eBay's head of Trust & Safety Rob Chesnut and eBay North America President Bill Cobb about their perspectives on SMI and other issues - I summarized the interview in a blog entry here: (http://digbig.com/4qtjc).

If you are bidding on items under $200, the SMI policy won't affect you. But once the bidding reaches that level, you will no longer be able to see who you are bidding against. (Sellers will continue to be able see bidders on their auctions, however.)

eBay is set to release fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday. In its post-release conference call, we'll see how specific eBay gets with data about the testing it has done on SMI and bidding behavior up to this point.

We hear a lot these days about multi-channel selling, and I'm continuing to see a demand from small eBay sellers for an easy-to-use, inexpensive solution for creating and hosting their own websites on the Internet. I'll be taking a closer look at some of these solutions to see if it's really as daunting as it might appear at first glance.

We're also continuing our Critique My Site feature, and I hope you will jump in and contribute to the discussion. We have a fantastic case-study this week, and Al Nelson is looking for your advice!

Thanks for reading.


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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