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Tue Aug 7 2007 16:15:31

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

By: Ina Steiner

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Sunday's editorial in AuctionBytes-Update discussed some of the changes coming to the eBay site in terms of its search technology. Best Match, which brings back search results by seller quality instead of strictly by relevance, is currently being tested in France as the default sort - instead of Time: Ending Soonest.

While I think eBay changes will be painful - and some readers say they don't like what's coming - not everyone thinks these changes are negative.

Bear Stearns analyst Bob Peck mentioned Best Match in reports on eBay published Monday. In one report, he said, "We applaud eBay for continuously taking initiates to refine its search experiences to drive buyer demand. While it's unclear exactly what's in the formula, we believe that one of the major components is seller history / reputation. This would be part of the significant and necessary changes we have been noting that eBay needed to make to rejuvenate the platform."

Peck also said, "We believe that exposing searchers to the best quality sellers is good for the platform in that it lowers fraud and bad experiences. We think the result could therefore be more buyer activities, which would drive ASPs, conversions, and ultimately listings."

Having read some of the eBay discussion boards about the AuctionBytes editorial, I know that many sellers are concerned about the possibility of Best Match becoming the default sort on search results. Some fear it will place an undue burden on smaller sellers. Others are skeptical that eBay's technology will really work effectively given eBay Express and the new Playground demo, which some say do a poor job of bringing back relevant searches.

It's not surprising to me that analysts are bullish on eBay changes while many sellers are bearish. We often find that what analysts think is good for eBay's stock price is often detrimental to what is good for the seller. If you're an eBay seller and want to make an argument for or against eBay's changes to search, make your case.




Comments (25) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Jeff S

Tue Aug 7 18:17:59 2007

I agree Ina.  This transition may one of the most difficult to date.  But what would a holiday season on eBay be without a big surprise to disrupt the sales process?  It would be like Thanksgiving without the turkey!  Bring it on Cobbs, I'm ready for ya.

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Patricia

Tue Aug 7 23:35:14 2007

This is no different from any other major change ebay has made to date...this one is openly geared toward the powersellers and high volume sellers by pushing them ahead of the little guy.  I guess PeSA really scared them with their recent statement.  The small seller, as usual gets pushed to the back of the bus with little or no service for their fees.  Coming right before the holiday season is ebay's way.  Low blow everyone when they are at their busiest...they won't have time to complain so much!  The only good part is with each disillusionment ebay sellers leave and many don't return.  They either stop selling online - or - more importantly  they begin to support smaller online sites or build their own sites.  These sites gain a bit more strength and a bit more power each and every time ebay shoots itself in the foot (and its been doing a LOT of that lately).  I now do not know of a seller who sells exclusively on ebay anymore...and all I can say is that's a good thing!  I am hoping the day will come when ebay does what it should have been doing all along.  Get mean and lean - clean up the rampant fraud and stop protecting shill bidders with that silly hidden bidder routine just to keep their precious second chance offers.  Then ADVERTISE - not dumb meaningless ''IT'' commercials but heartfelt sincere ones aimed to getting buyer confidence and letting them know the site is safe to shop on.  Finally, get with the sellers and, instead of blatantly milking them for revenue, try helping them to sell - that way they get the revenue they need, the sellers are happy and in turn they will make the buyers (their customers) happy.  I'm afraid this will never even be thought of under the present management - I hope for a change, because until that happens I will continue to watch the water swirl around and down the toilet!

As for analysts thoughts on ebay?  I wouldn't give a plug nickel for any of them because they have no idea how ebay operates or what it takes to sell an item on that site.  They still haven't even realized the harsh blow ebay's stock has taken over the years - and it has never recovered!  Perhaps the stockholders should be advising the analysts?  

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Harley

Tue Aug 7 23:36:22 2007

Those Analyst don't know what they are talking about. Best Matchups are a waste of manpower and technology. I don't see how best matchups are going to rejuvinate ebay. Here is my best match www.megorjeff.com

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: TekGems

Wed Aug 8 12:18:44 2007

Search quality needs to improve as more unwanted products are listed on eBay. Time listed is just not a good measure of quality. eBay tried to maintain quality by raising listing fees but I think eBay realizes it backfired on them.

Best Match is their next attempt which I think can be successful if they also implement:

1) permanent lowering of listing & final value fees (FVF)
2) Inclusion of Store results (by ''good'' sellers)

By ''good'' seller, I mean the following:

1) High sell-through rate of products

A high sell through rate means a seller is only offering product that eBay buyers want. This addresses the issue of catalog sellers that have low sell through rate cluttering the listing on eBay. Just push the poor performers to the back.

2) High positive feedback rate (99.0% of better)

Especially with volume sellers, high positive feedback rate is indicative of customer service levels. Volume sellers below 99.0%, in my opinion, sell poor quality products and/or do not provide good customer service.

3) High feedback 2.0 stars. I think anything above 4 whole stars is a good measure of quality.

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Robert George

Thu Aug 9 08:34:32 2007

I've been selling for two years.  Have 100% feedback, and 4.7 to 4.8-5.0 on the stars rating.  But I only have about 256 Positive Feedbacks, about 280 overall feedbacks, zero negative of course.  My point.  Even though I'm an excellent seller I think the Best Match would hurt sellers like myself and only benefit large and corporate sellers.  Resulting in driving me and many others like me out of the market.
trustblue127

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Steve

Thu Aug 9 08:44:37 2007

" While it's unclear exactly what's in the formula..."

Doesn't this say it all?

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Pat Pitcher

Thu Aug 9 09:34:10 2007

Once again ebay is only focusing on what might be good for one part of the site - where sellers list new goods for sale.

I possibly might appreciate this new type of search if I were looking for a new DVD or book -MAYBE, but it is absolutely not what I want when hunting for treasures in antiques and collectables.

There are 2 distinct ebays - something that Meg could never seem to grasp. The part that sells new stuff that you can find anywhere and the other part which is like a giant antique/junque shop. Sellers in each have their own specific needs and unless the site is split into 3 areas - ebay motors, everything new and antiques and collectables, none of the ''fixes'' or ''improvements'' will be just right for anybody.

The small time sellers, antique dealers and pickers used to be the backbone of the site - we paid the bills for ebay and it was on our backs that all the expansions, acquisitions etc were done. We now make up a very small percentage of the revenue and our opinions are not important.

Ebay wants everything standardized with item specifics, shipping costs etc which I read will be factored in to the best match - this works fine for new items but not for the rest.

If I'm forced to include a shipping cost in order to place on the first or second pages of search results and my item will mail to New York for $14.00, Oklahoma for $18 and California for $22 - guess which amount I'll include  in the listing???? Some buyers will pay more than necessary. I know, I can state that  the shipping will be adjusted blah, blah blah......but we all know that most buyers don't read our terms.

No analyst or ebay mouth piece should be allowed to make any comment on the expected effect of any change to the site or new policy unless they first go to an auction, estate sale, charity shop etc, come home with 50 items and then list them all and complete the transactions. Buying 50 bags of tube socks from a liquidation centre doesn't count :)

Best match will only benefit some and be a great diservice to many of us. Oh well, we should be used to that by now :(

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Peter Leeflang

Thu Aug 9 10:10:54 2007

"Best Match' is again another form of transaction interference by Ebay. Again there is no CHOICE, neither for buyers nor for sellers.

Ebay management is becoming increasingly paternalistic, denying both buyers and sellers the benefit of their own independent minds. Instead they are telling us what is best for us.

Where is the original highly succesful laissez-faire mind-you-own-business Ebay.....?

I want it back.

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Kirk

Thu Aug 9 10:33:52 2007

Isn't it all just like watching a train wreck in slow motion ?

Kirk

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Judi Burgess

Thu Aug 9 12:05:23 2007

BEST MATCH will hurt Sellers who are using the 3rd party software solutions that are RECOMMENDED by eBay.  We offer calculated shipping rates where they Buyer pays the cost of shipping with no hidden markups and they KNOW their shipping cost BEFORE bidding.  BUT--when searching ebay, our auctions show up as SHIPPING COSTS UNSPECIFIED because we use a 3rd party solution with a shipping calculator embedded into the listing.  Our warehouse is barcoded within our 3rd party solution (that we found on EBAY) which makes it difficult to just drop our software.  It sounds like we will be relegated to the back with the sellers who do not specify their shipping charges and those who charge $15.99 to ship a 99 cent item using first class mail.
If this is what eBay is planning, then it will likely cause a problem for many PowerSellers who use 3rd party software and put the smaller sellers who use the ebay turbolister and SYI forms up higher.
Why does ebay continually push new ideas on us and then change it to be a negative for our businesses?
We may be a powerseller, but we are a SMALL business and anything that causes a software change is a BIG cost to us.

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Joe Cortese

Thu Aug 9 12:56:30 2007

Hello Patricia,

Since you mentioned PESA in your comment, (second from top), I thought I would respond to some of your excellent points and observations.

Your Quote: ''I guess PeSA really scared them with their recent statement.  The small seller, as usual gets pushed to the back of the bus with little or no service for their fees.''

The position paper we published recently speaks to several of the points you raise. The statements we made in that paper referred to the general health and well being of the marketplace as a whole. We believe that includes the health and well being of all sellers, large and small.

If a seller is a good seller he/she makes a positive contribution. Bad sellers, no matter how large or small are subsidized by good sellers. We feel eBay should advantage and reward all good sellers regardless of size. We feel there is a right formula for that process if eBay is willing to work to find it with PESA and the ECMTA.

The ECMTA, (www.ecmta.org), is PESA's sister trade organization established for all sellers, regardless of size, on all eCommerce marketplaces, including Amazon, Google, etc.

It's no secret that PESA has provided analysts and the media with unique insights into eBay marketplace issues from the top seller's perspective. Analysts like Bob Peck and many others have been using PESA for the past 2 1/2 years to look under eBay's hood to understand what makes its engine tick. What they found is that seller profitability, on all levels, along with broader issues such as trust, site architecture, etc, are directly linked to long term growth and stability. They found that listing fees alone do not make a marketplace viable. eBay must reinvest in its good seller base and support them for the long term.

As PESA crystalized the collective voice of top eBay sellers to bring about what we feel have been some rather significant improvements, the ECMTA will consolidate the collective voice of all sellers, regardless of size on all marketplaces. ECMTA is now working to do for all sellers what PESA has achieved for top sellers. So that in the near future you Patricia will be able to say, ''that ECMTA really scared them...''. your voice will be a collective voice that will change things. How? PESA and ECMTA have joint discussion forums, joint summits twice a year, joint benefits, partners and alliances that will give all sellers a say in their business.

Ultimately, that's really what we all want; to have a say in our business, to have the tools and resources to do a good job and remain profitable.

Regards,

Joe Cortese
Founder/Chairman
PESA
Professional eBay Sellers Alliance

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: grumpy3b

Thu Aug 9 15:23:36 2007

I really miss the ''Quitting eBay'' cd sellers!!

Amazing isn't it??  It has been YEARS since we read the phrase ''Level Playing Field''...''small sellers compete on equal footing''...''eBay Community''...

That is no longer the way eBay wants the market place to work.  

The crux of the whole problem has been as eBay has expanded into countries like China with HUGE VERO issues and fraud rates.  The knock-off and out-right fraudulent listings on the site since eBay added China into the mix is to the point of laughable.

In one way I like the whole idea of ''Best Match'' if, and only if, it's not used as a default or in all categories.  Sellers in Antiques and Collectibles will get CRUSHED by the sheer volume of listings for reproductions within these areas of selling.

Remember it was those very areas that built the whole business.  Being a ''large volume'' seller in these areas is never an indication of either quality or service.  In fact the best sellers are usually smaller with higher sell through as well as a fairly high average selling price.

I would hope eBay managed to steal some talent away from Google/Yahoo to help make this work in a broad spectrum fashion and relative to the categories.

No matter it's going to be yet ANOTHER BUMPY ride this fall season.  Thanks to the electron gawds my busy season is from mid-january to mid-may.

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Violette

Thu Aug 9 16:06:51 2007

Pat Pitcher Has it right.  There is a huge difference in those sellers who offer unique/vintage items and those who sell large volume of new goods.  eBay seems to be focusing on things that are best for those sellers and ignoring the sellers who made eBay what it is.  eBay's "cache'" has always been that it is a place you can find that odd item you're looking for.  It seems lately, though, that all they want to do is become another Amazon.  

I have no problem with a best-match search capability, but I'm concerned about the good sellers of unique items being crowded out by high-volume purveyors of crap.  High-volume and Powerseller status does not necessarily equal "good seller."  All they could have to do is use a few keywords and knock out sellers of genuine vintage merchandise with listings for reproductions.  I've never thought that splitting out the antique/collectibles area was a good idea, but now I'm considering it.  

My own sell-through has dropped precipitously during the past year or so and I'm worried that it will only get worse.  If people have to wade through pages of reproductions or unrelated junk to get to those listings for genuine vintage merchandise, are they going to take the extra time and effort to do so?  Unlikely.  There are too many things competing for user's time these days, too many distractions.  Statistics have already shown that users are spending less time on eBay, so unless the "best match" works better than I'm expecting, I'm afraid smaller sellers like myself are going to be finally run out of town.  There's only so many insults to the wallet that one can take before it becomes an exercise in futility to even bother listing anything.  I'll be watching carefully... and hopefully.

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: t_e_v

Fri Aug 10 06:12:44 2007

Thanks Ina, for a place to spout-off  about the state of ebay.
Sorry to say but the state of the site is not good right now concerning ebay.
Live search/finding 1% ? tests, overly broad seller policy changes with no appeals process, along with Bowing down to the obvious tactics of the Pesa group just goes to show the point. Money does talk, and losing a large group of (HVS)high volume sellers would be a big hit to the bottom line, but the site wasn't started with HVS. In the beginning, Pez dispensers and odd/vintage items. Now you find more B&M commidities.            
 JMO, Pesa setting up another group (lol) for the smaller-time sellers says alot for them too (lol). Looks like this may have been part of an agreement to keep the Pesa group onboard, (help us monitor the small-timers and keep them doing busy work so they don't organize on their own and we'll help you become more prominent sitewide.)  
It is truly sad that the real stockholders of this company, don't SEE past the doublespeak of ebay execs. and the, ahem, unbiased analysts.
1 question for all stockholders and stakeholders to ponder...When was the last time you read a majority of the  analysts's render a bearish opinion concerning ebay?
In closing, IF, ebay would place the commidities brokers on ebay express, which should have been done last year at the onset of that disaster, maybe the core could get back to what made ebay EBAY.
t_e_v          

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Joe Cortese

Fri Aug 10 11:39:01 2007

Hello t_e_v,

I think it's important to remember that it is PESA that has been instrumental in bringing about a transparent awareness of the issues that impact the marketplace and it is PESA that has provided a fundamental understanding of the elements that drive the marketplace to the outside world. Until PESA opened eBay's doors to the outside world, eBay was essentially a closed shop. The challenges that all sellers, regardless of size, faced were mute to the world. Aanalysts and the media knew only what they were told, because there was nowhere they could go to see things for themselves.

How and when did this status quo change?

Ever since our first Summit in New York City, Wall Street firms such as Merril Lynch, Prudential, Bear Stearns, Fidelity, Cantor Fitzgerald, Lehman Brothers, UBS and many others have taken an active role in a strong relationship with PESA. They have participated in keynote addresses, given presentations, expertized panels and networked closely with our members at instutional investor meetings.

These PESA events, especially the meetings hosted by some of these firms to introduce some of their top institutional investors directly to the sellers who face these issues has been the catalyst that has brought about this much needed awareness and a great deal of much needed positive change in the eBay marketplace. Positive change that will ultimately benefit everyone emmensly, eBay, buyers, sellers and stockholders - for the long term.

Through PESA, stockholders are finally beginning to understand the issues enough to help us in bringing about some positive change; positive change, to the extent that we start seeing blogs such as this one entitled, ''Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay''. Bob Peck published this opinion and distributed it to his investor subscriber list because of the awareness PESA provided of the issues surrounding site clutter, search return irrelevancy and non-performing sellers.

eBay has a lot of work to do to streamilne and rationalize vertical site components such as 'true auction', 'Fixed price', etc.

Through ECMTA, stockholders will finally begin to understand all the issues that all sellers face. Auction sellers, Fixed Price sellers, Collectibles sellers, Commodity sellers, low volume sellers, high volume sellers, professional sellers, casual sellers. We all help drive the marketplace, but we don't do it alone and we cannot do it without a voice. The outside world is quite eager to hear everyone's perspective, including buyers, etc and understand the entire picture, not just one or two segments.

Future PESA/ECMTA events will bring all sellers together which will bring all issues together, which bring about even greater positive change.

Regards,

Joe Cortese
Founder/Chairman
PESA
Professional eBay Sellers Alliance

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Joe Cortese

Fri Aug 10 13:58:55 2007

Just to follow up, I'd like to share an additional thought. I want to remain cautious not to overwhelm this thread with my passion for this subject now that it has been made. This is an important subject, in fact one that I believe is critical to the eBay marketplace. I hope this vital discussion remains active. It's my job to find points of view that are different to mine, it's my job to find those that dis-agree with me. On that basis, I'm hoping that anyone who cares about improving the eBay marketplace will make a strong contribution here.

So what is a good seller? If each of us were given the choice to -decide- what a good seller is, what measures would we take to define and enable a good seller whether collectibles, commodity or other?

I think we all have a very special opportunity to use forums such as this one; and, such as the joint PESA/ECMTA discussion forum, which is open to everyone, to help influence the way eBay makes changes.

If we use these forums and events such as the PESA/ECMTA Summits then I think we all have an opportunity to ask ourselves what each of us thinks a good seller is? More importantly, we all then have an opportunity to do something about it. I believe that those of us who do not actively contribute to causing positive change give up their right to blaming those that do make serious contributions that effect change.

It's clear that buyer demand has become a serious issue. As a Collectibles seller myself, I share the emotional investment that many collectibles/antiques sellers have made in their business lifestyle choices to sell on eBay. I support the theory that eBay redefined eCommerce with online auctions. Like many collectibles sellers, I'd like to feel that I also played a role in building that early excitment that was once eBay.

But I'm convinced that the marketplce can only be revitalized and that excitement can only be recaptured, regardless of what collectibles sellers think or commodity sellers think, as long as they each make that vital contribution, as long as we each of of us express our opinions, as long as we each of us take action with a view to establishing that all important collective voice. That collective voice is the key that opens all doors. please add yours.

I hope to see you all on this forum and the PESA/ECMTA discussion boards and at our next event rubbing shoulders with these analysts and telling them first hand we eBay needs to do to rejuvinate the marketplace.

Regards,

Joe Cortese
Founder/Chairman
PESA
Professional eBay Sellers Alliance

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Bill Hamilton

Mon Aug 13 09:57:14 2007

The problem with Best Match can be stated simply and in a straightforward manner. It can't work.

eBay's Best Match is not primarily based on seller history and reputation. There simply is not enough objectively measurable criteria to differentiate the sellers to the degree necessary to base the search results on. If that were truly the intent of Best Match then it is a doomed effort.

Let me state in the interest of disclosure that on all of my selling accounts, some of which have been active since 1997 I have %100 feedback, top stars, no customer complaints with eBay nor with PayPal. We have high-volume sales on one account, which is bonded (with never a claim) and has been featured by BuySafe and eBay's MissionFish charity organization. I would be favored by any objectively quantifiable measures so I have no axe to grind with this issue. Yet still I have to be strongly skeptical of this Best Match.

If it is not based on quantifiable measures of seller history and reputation, then Best Match necessarily will differentiate sellers based on some other undisclosed factors. That's where the problem lies.  "Best Match" should be what the buyer is looking for, and not an arbitrary ranking of sellers based on unknown factors. It simply won't work, and can only be harmful to the marketplace.

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Alex

Mon Aug 13 21:45:12 2007

''Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay''

Really ? Now THAT would be something new....

I have been on eBay since 2000. Maybe my memory is just bad, but I can't seem to remember ANYTHING they ever changed not getting worse instead of better. So this will be a first, I guess...

Trouble is, these analysts don't really know much about how eBay actually works.



Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Ron Chase

Thu Aug 16 01:34:27 2007

One of the biggest problems with eBay is not having enough unique merchandise. They may have more listings today, but I would guess the number of unique listings is no where near it was when listings were .10. I used to post a minimum of 100 items per week, all unique. No that same listing is .40, I just don't post anymore.
A lot of people talk about eBay catering to the highest volume sellers, well that may be a goldmine today, but for how long? How many of those highest volume sellers are in business today? I cant remember all the names, but I think the top 5 sellers are gone. I am sure that was a big loss of revenue for eBay, especially while they were catering to them all of the little guys found somewhere else to post.
Maybe the cure all is Internet Speedway, I hear the radio commercial every day, I can sell on eBay, without every having to see or handle what I am selling. Thats what eBay needs, 1000 more sellers peddling the same crap that is not selling, and clogging up the search results. eBay I want to spend money on what I want, not sort through the pages of junk to get there.
Maybe this is where all of the extra cost to eBay is coming from, more servers to store all of those catalog auctions. Maybe a policy of no drop shipping catalog merchants; will clear the clutter and lower eBay's costs.

If anyone at eBay is reading this, figure out a way to lower your listing price and I have 10,000 unique items for sale. Will post 100-200 per week, every week for two years. Bring back enough sellers like this and you got a good start at creating an environment to attract and keep new buyers.

If anyone is interested at eBay respond, and I will give you my account name with over 2,000 feedback and not one sale for the last 4-5 years because of policy changes.

Ron
a former power seller
(of unique items)

I

Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay   Analyst Believes Best Match Will Rejuvenate eBay

by: Glenn Corning

Fri Aug 24 22:42:00 2007

Best match will also annoy some of those looking for certain items. Imagine looking for a CD titled The Ethereal Mirror. Best Match will show you mirrors. To find what you were actually looking for, the search will have tobe limited to music.

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