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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 243 - July 26, 2009 - ISSN 1528-6703     2 of 7

eBay Sellers Should Brace for Monday's Major Announcement


By Ina Steiner
EcommerceBytes.com

July 26, 2009
 



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eBay is making a major announcement on Monday, CEO John Donahoe told Wall Street. This the second of two announcements this year that eBay is making that affect sellers - the first announcement was made in April and those changes rolled out in June. The second set of changes, called "SR2," will roll out in about 60 days, prior to the holiday shopping season.

Donahoe gave an inkling to Wall Street analysts about two of the upcoming changes during Wednesday's conference call on second-quarter earnings, and the Wall Street Journal published an article on Saturday outlining a number of changes its sources say are on the way.

AuctionBytes also heard from sources about what changes eBay has been considering, much of which we've reported in AuctionBytes over the past week. Today, we try to put it all together in a "cheat sheet" of what may be coming in Monday's announcement.

Changes to the PowerSeller program are significant and are likely to be the most controversial. The Wall Street Journal described Monday's announcement as "designed to help large vendors sell new goods in greater volumes," and longtime eBay sellers will likely feel that some of those changes disadvantage them. Indeed, eBay may restrict access to Featured First to Top Rated sellers only, and may even do away with other optional features that draw attention to a seller's listing.

The changes to the PowerSeller program appear to be, in effect, a fee increase, given that eBay is reducing discounts for many sellers. In addition, some may perceive certain policies as being unfair to sellers and also possibly requiring them to edit their listings yet again, a process that can be time-intensive.

There are lingering suspicions that eBay ignores or perhaps even manipulates low DSRs and negative feedback ratings for favored sellers and Diamond PowerSellers, resulting in lower fees and better exposure on the site to the detriment of smaller, long-time sellers. Monday's announcement may help fuel those suspicions among some users.

Some sellers will welcome the expansion of multi-variation listings and having more data in the new Search Visibility Report. Other policies may get mixed reviews, such as the new Unpaid Item Process.

Keep in mind that nothing is official until eBay announces it on Monday. The company will be hold a Town Hall meeting on July 29 at 3:30 pm PST to discuss the changes.

Please feel free to comment on the AuctionBytes Blog

eBay SR2 Cheat Sheet of Possible Changes
(7/26/09)

Initiative

Highlight

Purchase Protection Policy - Dispute Resolution eBay will continue to expand the dispute resolution process announced in April that supports its new "Purchase Protection Policy"
(http://pages.ebay.com/purchaseprotection/index.html).
Multi-Variation FP ("Choice Listings") eBay will expand its Multi-variation Fixed Price feature to more categories, which is currently available only in subcategories of Clothing, Shoes & Accessories and Home & Garden
(http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/listing-variations.html).
Top Rated Seller and PowerSeller Program eBay will introduce new PowerSeller requirements and will introduce a "Top-Rated Seller" designation for PowerSellers.
  • eBay will raise the minimum DSR criteria for PowerSellers from 4.5 to 4.6 and introduce a new requirement based on the percentage of low DSR ratings.
  • A new DSR rate calculation based on the percentage of low DSR ratings (1 and 2's) will classify sellers into Underperformer; Valued/Casual; PowerSeller; or Top Rated. Only DSRs from domestic buyers will factor in the Low Score calculation.
  • High volume sellers will be evaluated on a 3-month period, all other sellers will be evaluated on a 12-month period, for DSR calculations - there will be no deduping.
  • eBay will remove PowerSeller branding from buyer-facing pages. Only Top-Rated Sellers will have a badge appear in listings and public pages.
  • Top-Rated Sellers will receive increased exposure in Best Match and receive 20% FVF and 20% Free Shipping discounts.
  • PowerSellers will receive "neutral" exposure in Best Match and will receive 5% FVF and 10% Free Shipping discounts.
  • Valued/Casual sellers will receive "neutral" exposure in Best Match and will receive no discounts. Under-performing sellers will be demoted in Best Match search and will receive no discounts.

http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2009/7/1248058245.html

Seller Responsibility Policy eBay will outline seller responsibilities, here are some of the provisions:
  • eBay will prohibit sellers from making certain kinds of statements in their listings, such as asking buyers for high DSR ratings or saying they are not responsible for the item once it has been placed in the mail.
  • To ensure product availability, sellers may not list out-of-stock items or list an item they are selling outside of eBay.
  • When offering free shipping, no other fees related to shipping, handling, insurance or packaging can be charged.
  • Sellers may not use stock photos for used, refurbished or flawed items.
  • Sellers should use tracking, delivery confirmation or signature confirmation, and if offered to the buyer, sellers must charge only what they cost.
  • Sellers aren't allowed to use profane or offensive language.

http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2009/7/1247938302.html

Insurance Policy (Part of new Seller Responsibilities policy) Sellers will not be allowed to charge a separate fee for insurance, although they still need to make sure their item arrives as described. Sellers may incorporate any insurance fees into an item's price or handling cost.

http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2009/7/1247938302.html

Best Match -

Search Visibility Report

A new Search Visibility Report will show sellers their product rankings and help them compare their results with competing listings by category and by keyword.
  • The Search Visibility Report will display the actual page number and position. Sellers will be able to download CSV files that will include a Best Match Sort Order to help identify under-performing listings.
  • Sellers will be able to see the price range and shipping cost range of all other listings for one of their products, along with the % of sellers who offer free shipping and how many listings for that product are in auction format vs. fixed price. They will also see the % of Top Rated sellers and the percentage of listings that utilized Catalog product details.
  • The report will display Impressions; Unique click-throughs; Click-through rate (an indicator of the listing's appeal in search results); Sales/impressions (the % of search impressions resulting in sales, a score that affects Best Match); and Sales/unique click-throughs - an indicator of an Item page's effectiveness. It will also display the number of watchers.

http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2009/7/1247938302.html

Payment Assist

(UPI claims process)

  • eBay will implement an automatic UPI process for payments for fixed-price items for sellers who accept PayPal or ProPay and use its checkout system. The automatic UPI system would take days, rather than weeks.
  • A manual process would apply to all formats and payment methods, and would have a timeframe of about 2 - 3 weeks.
  • Under the new UPI process, sellers' feedback would not be dinged by non-paying customers. Additionally, eBay would block sellers from filing a UPI claim when the buyer has paid via PayPal or ProPay.

http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2009/7/1248205454.html

eBay Bucks

VIP Program

eBay has a PayPal/eBay Top Buyer program, and eBay will introduce a VIP program at some point in the future as part of its eBay Bucks loyalty program for top buyers to receive special customer service and special offers from eBay and its partners. (eBay executives' compensation include Net Promoter loyalty criteria.)
New View Item page eBay has surveyed users on yet another View Item page redesign, this one limiting sellers to what information can be included and where, see article for details (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y09/m07/i16/s00). This change may not be part of SR2.
Wall Street Journal The Wall Street Journal published an article speculating on Monday's announcement. The newspaper, citing sources familiar with eBay's plans, said the changes are "designed to help large vendors sell new goods in greater volumes" and eBay will:
  • Limit communications between buyers and sellers.
  • Tweak its search algorithm to favor new products.
  • Allow sellers to include more and bigger photos in their listings for free.
  • Do away with features that sellers have used to dress up their listings.
  • Introduce a series of categories to describe an item's condition.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124848769796180885.html

Skip McGrath's Blog Skip McGrath said on his blog that advertising banners that appear at the top of search results will be curtailed beginning later this year, according to a source inside eBay.
http://blog.skipmcgrath.com/public/item/236549
Other Changes eBay will introduce more category-based changes, such as category-based fees, Shipping & Handling maximums, and an expansion of catalog items.

In addition, it seems possible eBay may do away with Store Inventory Format as they have in other countries, such as they announced earlier this month in Australia (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y09/m07/i15/s01), but we have no insight into eBay.com's timetable.

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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