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Fri Oct 26 2007 15:24:15

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

By: Ina Steiner

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In answering a question about eBay's long-held "level playing field" philosophy, Bill Cobb opened the door to volume-pricing for large sellers. The needs of eBay's largest sellers, business sellers, are real, Bill said. "We are looking at things we've never looked at before, but the notion of equal opportunity has to stay with us forever more." Bill said eBay has probably overused the term level playing field.

The question arose at eBay's monthly Town Hall meeting held on Friday broadcast over Internet radio. eBay buyers and sellers submitted questions via email and called in to the broadcast over the phone. eBay also had some "Voices" program members in the audience who asked questions.

Bill Cobb said he had talked to eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and that Pierre said he never intended for the term level playing field to indicate the site would never offer volume discounts. Bill said it was more about the small person being able to compete with large corporations (I'm paraphrasing). eBay's current management has changed the company so far from Pierre's original vision - as outlined in the book, "The Perfect Store" - that one wonders what Pierre would say if confronted by users today. While not involved in daily operations, as Chairman of eBay's Board of Directors he is responsible for oversight of the company.

Other topics covered during the Town Hall event included recent changes on the marketplace, such as 1-click bidding; Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs); PayPal fees; shipping; eBay's new Price Plus Shipping sort feature; eBay Giving Works; Blackthorne usability issues; and Bid Assistant.

One eBay member asked why eBay deletes items when it cancels a listing. (I have heard there is a way for eBay to bring them back, but they don't generally do it for people.) Bill Cobb said it was not something eBay is proud of, and it is a top priority to fix it so sellers can make listings compliant and get them back up on the site. He said eBay would change this in 2008, hopefully early in the year.

Matt Halprin said eBay is trying to get more of a spread in DSR, though they are happy that the scores are high. I know this messaging worries sellers who feel eBay will try to get buyers to give lower scores in DSR and then punish sellers. In 2008, eBay will use DSRs in Seller Non performance, PowersSeller eligibility, or search visibility, but "we'll be cautious," Matt said. (Note to readers: if you receive messaging from eBay on how to leave DSRs for sellers, let me know - I think it would be irresponsible to encourage or even hint to buyers to leave low ratings.)

eBay said next year, it would introduce "master accounts." Just as parent/child accounts may exist on PayPal, eBay will do something similar in 2008, but executives could not give concrete details and dates. I'm not sure exactly what this means, but if sellers can link their accounts but have those relationships be invisible to other users, it might help eBay fight fraud. It could also help give sellers more leverage in PowerSeller eligibility, for example. Naturally it could have some potential pitfalls as well.

eBay said it is using Item Specifics on some Title searches to give better results sets. I've heard complaints about this from buyers doing searches and not getting back what they wanted - and not understanding why. I have not seen much explanation from eBay on this, let's hope they figure it out before rolling it out in full force.

eBay said the reason for replacing the old Andale counters that had been on its site was because they had problems scaling to the amount of traffic. It was actually slowing down the performance of the View Item page, they said. I bet Andale (which was subsequently acquired by Vendio) would argue the point. What really goes on between eBay and its developers would make a fascinating book, in my opinion.

At some point eBay will make the archive available on this page.




Comments (15) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: Randy Smythe

Fri Oct 26 15:49:59 2007

Isn't it amazing what happens when there is a little competition. Amazon must be gaining ground very fast. If Amazon continues to open up new categories look for more discounting and deals for sellers.

This is a good deal for sellers as they can now decide which marketplace to place which product. There are distinct advantages to each marketplace.

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: sunk818

Fri Oct 26 16:38:21 2007

Any details on what a seller volume discount would entail? I could see eBay giving a discount at the end of the month on a tiered system.

XXX spent = XXX % discount.

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: Randy T

Fri Oct 26 17:37:56 2007

This is amazing news, with many details to be fleshed out....but my hunch is the volume discounts will be limited to seller listings in the CORE tranche. I think its very unlikely this is something that will effect sellers relying on the Store inventory catagories. Small margin, high volume commodity sellers shouldn't celebrate yet...

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: Two Bits

Fri Oct 26 19:14:17 2007

Some Mega-Sellers pushing the largest volumes through the site are often trashing up the site with high multiples of every item variation, essentially crowding out the marketplace and gaming the system.  Search results "weighted" to the largest Sellers (the ones who'll rapidly generate statistical "teflon" DSRs) further harms the search experience.  The goal of getting -good- product into core is indeed met with lower insertion fees - but across the broad spectrum of Sellers, not through limited grants to Mega-Sellers.

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: Keith

Fri Oct 26 19:14:26 2007

I was the on who asked about item specifics i.e. the new user defined item specifics.  While vague, they answer was that they will be using these keywords sometime in the future.  
My concern is that there is no database of keywords to choose from.  To choose your own may result in 0 search results.

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: anonymous

Sat Oct 27 01:16:41 2007

of course it will -- because people are idiots. Choose appropriate IS, be found. Search for appropriate keywords, find something. Otherwise, its just iodiocy at its finest.

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: Pheebay Jim

Sat Oct 27 02:07:00 2007

"Some Mega-Sellers pushing the largest volumes through the site are often trashing up the site with high multiples of every item variation, essentially crowding out the marketplace and gaming the system."

I agree entirely with two bits on this. These items are often overpriced and/or have excessive postage costs.

It would seem eBay are trying to pump up listing counts again to please shareholders. I guess improving the buyer's experience can wait for another year!

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: Biggbill

Sat Oct 27 07:44:17 2007

I can't wait to see the PESA folks claim credit for this......
BWAHAHAHAHAHA

Maybe they can now raise their dues....

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: Judy

Sun Oct 28 06:12:05 2007

Interesting that at the same time Ebay talks of bedding giant sized sellers, it mentions using DSR as a herding tool.  Some of the big volume sellers produce more bad experiences for customers in a week than I've produced in 10 years of selling on Ebay, but I have no expectation they'll be herded into better performance with whatever DSR tricks Ebay comes up with.  Such sellers will keep on keeping on and only small volume sellers will suffer the consequences of Ebay's DSR manipulations.  How long before Ebay penalizes sellers who don't accept Paypal?  Who don't use Ebay's photo hosting?  Who don't offer 100% money-back returns for any reason?  

Has the playing field suddenly become hilly so as to pave the way for Ebay to offer tiered service levels?  Some sellers will appear high in the search engine while mice will eat the inventory of sellers that don't conduct their businesses precisely as Ebay dictates.  This isn't about the best interests of the trading community; it's more of Ebay worrying about Wall Street.  The foggier they can make the matter of listings-vs-profits, the harder it will be for the Street to decipher the numbers and notice that sales on Ebay suck.

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: todd

Sun Oct 28 11:14:07 2007

Watch...the discount will be the same as the Powerseller Heath benifit ..Watch it will be 00000000000000.01 discount

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: Townes

Sun Oct 28 14:52:24 2007

Ebay isn't your old high school buddy, they aren't your friend (or your enemy)! They are one of the worlds largest multi-national corporations, just like Wal-Mart, McDonalds, or Exxon. Small sellers should be mad about these ebay changes but they need to view ebay in the proper light of context....these changes have been in  slow build for years now, its the same way, historically, that all big businesses start ''small'' and then grow to global prominence. Sheesh, Wal-Mart pretends to be your buddy, too! Us small ebay sellers are about to lose big time, but we can't take it personally, that isn't a good business strategy. Its time to just be realistic and move on for alot of us.

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: Alex

Tue Oct 30 10:32:02 2007

eBay has pushed the ''image'' of community for years, but other than the member to  member boards - it lacks any substance in the real world.

This is just more of the same ''us against them attitude'' that they display so blatantly to their customers. (The sellers, and especially the smaller ones.)

As with most of the ''improvements'' announced lately, it is designed to push out the little guy & benefit the big sellers - many of whom are causing problems by the truckload.

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: Alexia

Thu Nov 1 09:53:41 2007

Pheebay Jim is right. When I meet people and they say "I haven't been on eBay in years, " I always ask them why. It's always because there's too much new, cheap, Made-In-China stuff in there. It's impossible to browse. And the concept of "auction" is just dead. They might as well retire that word.

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: t_e_v

Fri Nov 2 07:24:06 2007

In answering a question about eBay's long-held "level playing field" philosophy, Bill Cobb opened the door to volume-pricing for large sellers.



From October 11-12 ''the nail in the coffin'' blog entry

AND,

I believe they got one more nail left and the sellers will see it no later than March '08.
A new ''enhanced'' insertion fee structure that will further (lol) level the playing field.
Expect to see one something like ''More is less, less is MORE''
The More you list the less your fees. The less you list the MORE your fees.
TPTB have stated that they/she wants to get rid of the less productive sellers, and if your not a Power Seller, you prolly fit in this catagory, in ebay's mindset.

This poster has seen the rise and is now witnessing the fall of ebay. Too bad ebay can't see the sowing saplings, for reaping the redwoods. There will be more to hurt the small-time seller in the future.

eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts   eBay Opens Door to Seller Volume Discounts

by: Chris

Fri Jan 18 19:14:07 2008

I believe eBay has gotten to big to fast and it was the small time seller that build eBay but now the made it to the top, the little seller don't count anymore, which most of them give better service then a lot of the Power sellers just look at the feedback rating on them. eBay needs to take a few steps backwards & do some searching how they made it this far before the step on the ones that got them going. But remember the saying goes , the bigger they are the harder they fall. And I'm sure there are many sellers that agree with me on this post.



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