From the Editor
By Ina Steiner
In case you missed Thursday's breaking news, we confirmed that eBay is changing its Best Match search algorithm. The news has the same impact on eBay sellers as it has on online merchants when Google makes an algorithm change like Florida or Panda. Some sellers invariably find their product listings buried in search results, and no one quite knows how to best optimize their listings.
The difference of course is that eBay sellers pay fees to get exposure in search results. And as several readers have pointed out, eBay did not notify sellers in advance as it had promised it would do. "eBay has serious credibility issues," one reader wrote, "As I told eBay customer service, I can not justify paying a company the huge fees eBay and PayPal demand then have the company that takes those fees lie to me at almost every opportunity." The seller had recently closed his eBay Store and told me this news confirmed his decision was the correct one.
In addition, it's hard to see how shoppers would prefer the new sort order of auction listings since they rely on time-ending-soonest to identify desirable listings. Some shoppers know they can change the sort order from Best Match to "Time Ending Soonest." However, this presents its own problem - wrote one reader on the EcommerceBytes Blog, when he sorted by time ending soonest, many of the listings displayed on the search results pages were not relevant, or, in his words, "every piece of crap" not related to what he was looking for.
Fallout also continues from Google's decision to charge merchants for exposure. On Thursday, a Google executive said paying for exposure is actually good for merchants. How many readers agree that you would rather pay Google to display your products than have them show up for free?
During its post-earnings conference call with analysts, Google's Senior Vice President of Advertising Susan Wojcicki made the statement in a response to a question from Deutsche Bank Securities' Lloyd Walmsley. In part she said, "we are working really hard with all the merchants to get them all on board, and again we think this is actually really good for both the merchants and the users."
In the case of Google's changes, shoppers too will be affected - they won't see all relevant merchandise in Google Shopping search results, since many small merchants will drop out of the program (the recent EcommerceBytes survey revealed 61% of readers would not participate in Google Shopping's paid advertising program; 34% were undecided).
eBay also announced earnings last week and said its Marketplaces business had its best performance (excluding vehicles) since 2006 - see Thursday's EcommerceBytes Newsflash news story.
Other developing news include Paymate's decision to withdraw from ecommerce and eBay payment processing and a repricing glitch that led to accidental penny-listings on Amazon - every seller's nightmare.
On a lighter note, Julia Wilkinson is kicking off "Antiques Friday" on the AuctionBytes Blog with a post on China and Dinnerware that Sells Well. It's a fun way to end the week, and she'll also be testing to see if collectors feel more comfortable talking on the EcommerceBytes Forums - make yourself at home!
In today's issue, Julia follows up her last piece on Google Shopping / Product Listing Ads with a piece on Microsoft's Bing Shopping engine and addresses the question, is it worth your time to submit your product feed to Bing?
Greg Holden chats with online toy seller Joshua Kluger of Past Generation Toy to find out what's compelling about Amazon Webstore, and Mark O'Neill tackles, Rebranding Your Merchant Name on the Internet. Wrapping up today's issue is Michele Alice's piece on collectible restaurant ware, and Letters to the Editor.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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