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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2855 - July 25, 2012 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 3

eBay's Latest Round of Changes Aimed at Improving the Marketplace

By Ina Steiner
July 25, 2012

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eBay said some of the provisions of its Fall Seller Update were designed to deliver a fair and trusted marketplace and make it less frustrating for shoppers. The company announced the second of two "seller releases" of 2012 on Tuesday, and sellers took to blogs and discussion boards to ask questions and explain how the changes would impact their eBay sales activities.

One key part of the eBay Fall Seller Update was the addition of seller protections, but sellers wanted to know why eBay was waiting until next year to institute the new policy.

Beginning in February, buyers must contact sellers first before opening a case. And where eBay currently counts any opened case against a seller's performance rating, the revised policy would only count cases that were not found in the seller's favor.

When asked why eBay was waiting until February to enact the new seller protections, eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff explained the spirit of the update. "Buyer and sellers tell us they want a fair and trusted marketplace. And, we're delivering that with updates like additional seller protections. We are giving customers an advance look at these updates before they take effect, and ensuring we build in time to get the change right, giving both buyers and sellers ample time to adapt."

Sellers were mixed about another policy change that takes effect on October 1st of this year. eBay will charge sellers a fee to end an auction-style listing early if it has received a bid. eBay will waive the fee the first time a seller ends a listing early each calendar year. eBay explained the change, stating, "Ending Auction-style listings early reduces buyer confidence in eBay and makes them less likely to purchase from eBay sellers in the future."

Some sellers agreed that the new policy would reduce buyer frustration, others said eBay should not interfere in how they manage their listings, and some said eBay should not be making money off of seller mistakes.

When asked how eBay derived at giving sellers only one chance to make a mistake, Hoff said, "Buyers tell us it's frustrating when auctions are removed. Ending Auction-style listings early reduces buyer confidence in eBay and makes them less likely to purchase from eBay sellers in the future."

With every change, sellers measure the impact policies have on traditional eBay sellers versus large retailers and brands. EcommerceBytes asked Hoff, about the feeling among some sellers that eBay is favoring large sellers over small sellers, and commodity items over unique/scarce items.

"eBay is revitalized and more relevant than ever," she said. "eBay Inc. just reported the best quarterly earnings in six years, and our metrics show that buyers are choosing eBay as a shopping destination whether online or increasingly, through mobile devices."

Hoff continued, "The investments we're making in technologies, advertising and the overall health of the eBay marketplace benefit sellers of all sizes, from casual everyday sellers to small businesses to larger merchants. Every seller brings unique inventory that buyers want, and data shows that the sellers providing the best customer experiences on the site no matter what size they are are driving a disproportionate share of eBay's global sales, and growing faster than ecommerce."

EcommerceBytes will be speaking to eBay Vice President of Merchant Development Michael Jones this week to get an update on how the Fall Update is being received by sellers.

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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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