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Tue Mar 4 2008 09:14:11

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay's Jim Ambach presented the keynote address at the IMA conference titled, "Partnering with our sellers to create great buying experiences." eBay has been rolling out radical changes to the site since last year: Detailed Seller Ratings launched in May, change in Seller Non Performance policy ("neutrals = negatives"), limits on brand words, and the slew of changes announced on January 29th, including changes to the way feedback works. eBay has said it is making many of the changes to improve the buying experience. Happy buyers = more sales = happy sellers, according to the formula.

When Jim got into the part of his presentation focusing on Best Match, some sellers in the audience got pretty heated, asking questions and criticizing some aspects of eBay's new policies.

eBay is advantaging sellers with high DSRs in search, and is disadvantaging sellers who:

have a below average S&H DSR in the last 30 days (this will start with 4.2 or lower)

or who have a greater than 5% Buyer Dissatisfaction rate in the last 30 days.

And eBay is giving discounts to PowerSellers with high DSRs (this is a "carrot" as opposed to a "stick").
 
I was sitting next to Skip McGrath, who asked about PowerSellers who sold few items but with high ASPs. If just one seller gives him a 1 rating in DSR, he said, it brings down his score disproportionately to other sellers who may have thousands of buyers in a week versus his 15 or so.

Jim said they are increasing monitoring and action based on seller reporting of buyers violating policy and are looking at their customer service programs internally. He did not get any more specific.

eBay announced on the board yesterday that it was starting to roll out Best Match as the default on searches site-wide and would be disadvantaging sellers with low performance.

Skip told Jim that he's been experimenting with Best Match search (it's been available as a sort option). Skip said one of his products appears on page 1 of search results under the current search system, and would show up on page 7 under Best Match, underneath subpar products. Jim said he'd be interested in hearing more about this from Skip after the presentation.

Skip and I talked about it and thought it could have to do with the way Best Match factors Price and S&H costs into so-called relevancy. Skip said his product is better quality, thus costs more and weighs more. If BM brings up less expensive items that weigh less (thus have cheaper S&H costs), this could present buyers with junk in front of higher-quality items.

Skip also pointed out that once sellers understand Best Match better, it could lead to people gaming the system. (This, like SEO in the search engine world, can have good and bad elements.) Hopefully Skip will update us on his experiences.

Sellers need to look at how their items are showing up in Best Match searches now it is becoming the default. Let us know if you're having a good experience with the new rankings.

IMA is taking place in Las Vegas today and tomorrow. I could see ChannelAdvisor's Scot Wingo tapping away on his laptop during the keynote, you can check his blog for his take on the conference.

 




Comments (18) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: Brian

Tue Mar 4 09:50:21 2008


I don't think Skip's assumption on price and shipping is accurate.  I spoke with one of eBay's architects for the ''best match'' sorting and they assured me their system does NOT score pricing in any way.  The argument made was the dynamic nature of the bidding made it almost impossible to score and then sort listings real time based on a price attribute.  I did not get more details about shipping costs (which are not as dynamic), but it was made very clear that price is NOT a factor in best match.

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: Dee

Tue Mar 4 10:00:23 2008

I checked the Best Match to see how my listings appeared with 4.9 4.9 4.9 4.8 DSR AND 100% feedback Powerseller.

Some of the listings were showing up after sellers with lower DSR'S and feedback ratings.

There was one seller who had a 97.2%  whose auction showed up a full page before mine did and their auction time ended 2 hours after mine did .

The only difference that I noticed between our auctions was that the other auction has a counter on it with a little ad for one of the top 3 credit reporting companies underneath it.

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: scott

Tue Mar 4 10:10:08 2008

I have over 7000 feedback, 99.9 good, 1 neg in the last year(from a non-paying buyer) that ebay refused to remove and my stars are all 4.8 and above YET sellers with ratings of 4.5 and even a 4.2 were ahead of me in best match.

I didnt even do a search, I went to the BUY button up top, chose CDS then chose the category I knew I had things ending soon in

11 items were ahead of me,2 of them actually were ending before mine

9 were ending AFTER me but were ahead of my 2 auctions, ALL of them had stars worse than me and most had feedback less than mine.

So why is best match hurting good sellers when its supposed to hurt the bad sellers?

All I saw last night was a seller with 4.2,4.5,4.6,4.8 ahead of me with their auctions, and the 4.2 was their shipping and handling star(mine is 4.8)

Fair? Dont think so.

scott

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: Charles

Tue Mar 4 10:17:02 2008


I understand eBay disadvantaging low performance sellers ...

so, why did eBay allow the low performance seller to list in the first place?

(ps: as a ten year buyer on eBay I love the disabled search --- best deals in years!)

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: More nonsense from ebay

Tue Mar 4 10:51:57 2008

Happy buyers = more sales = happy sellers, according to the formula.
Fuzzy right wing math. ugh.
Happy sellers > happy buyers therefore sellers that are happy = more sales, more listings. Send ebay back to basic math.

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: Henrietta

Tue Mar 4 12:55:49 2008

POOR POOR Skip!

He has just discovered that the DSR's are deceptively framed and will affect his listing placement in the even more flawed Best Match. Welcome to the eBay the rest of us have been complaining about Skip. I guess we will see more of you at Onlineauction.com.

Have you only now realized that having too many eggs in one basket can have serious consequences?

Is the PS status in jeopardy? One PO'ed customer can put you in a world of pain with the DSRs? Yup, one slip below 4.8 and wave buh-bye to the 15% FVF discount. At your GMV that is gonna hurt. Drop another 3/10th point, (which is easy to do with average 50  sales per month) and you are gone.

POOR POOR thing!

You know what Skip? Give it another few months and you are not going to be able to spot the bad buyers either, the flakes and mentally disturbed who bid on a gazillion auctions and don't pay - because their buyer IDs will be hidden from you in other sellers auctions. You really won't be able to tell much from their feedback, if they have any. You are not going to be able to weed out bidders with a troubled history because they are all perfect. Only sellers are baaaad, wait, aren't you a seller? Oh dear!

Last but not least my friend, you are at high risk from your fellow sellers who weren't exactly thrilled by your snide comments during the boycott.

So sad, too bad.

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: Henrietta

Tue Mar 4 13:13:38 2008

OF COURSE Skip's assumption on price and shipping is inaccurate. Jamie Iannone's announcement March 3rd makes it very clear. Here is what he said.

How Best Match works
Best Match sorts the listings you see based on a concept called ''relevance.'' A particular listing's RELEVANCE IS BASED, IN PART, ON PAST SUCCESSFUL BUYER BEHAVIOR FOR SIMILAR ITEMS. Essentially, buyers 'vote' on relevance every time they search and buy an item, because these activities provide valuable input into the relevance system.

As sales continue to drop each buyers 'vote' on relevance will carry more weight.

Such fun, like sitting in the passenger seat of a school bus filled with screaming kids, careening down a steep hill with no brakes or steering.

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: Gee

Tue Mar 4 14:19:46 2008

Finally, eBay's nonsense is affecting eBay cheerleader Skip McGrath?  Griff's radio show 'expert' on all things eBay?  The gimmick seller of 'make money by selling useless information to unsuspecting buyers' and the 'complete eBay marketing system' or how to sell on eBay without really trying?  Ina, next time sit next to someone else.  He is not the voice of the majority of eBay's sellers and his musings are irrelevant.

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: dimes

Tue Mar 4 20:07:26 2008

No one in eBay management seems to be taking heed of the thousands upon thousands of negative feedback comments about ‘best match’ posted on its own Search board.  

Clearly it’s not what they want to hear, and maybe they have too much invested in this universally disliked search protocol to let common sense prevail.

Allow me to recap some of the main user complaints eBay is ignoring:  

1.  eBay customers have zero interest in getting search results based on what eBay thinks they want to see.  Users want only the results pertinent to their search terms.

2.  Slowing the search function by making users wade through pages of irrelevant results does not improve the “buyer experience”.  There’s a reason no one uses Express.  

3.  Buyers don’t care about minor differences in ‘star’ averages and are not more likely to buy from a seller with a 4.6 than a 4.4, for the same reason they don’t favor a seller with 99.5% feedback over a seller with 99%.  The difference is too small to matter.

4. When search results on eBay are less relevant than the results obtained on google, users leave eBay and search google instead.

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: dave

Wed Mar 5 11:30:01 2008

''No one in eBay management seems to be taking heed of the thousands upon thousands of negative feedback comments about ‘best match’ posted on its own Search board.''

...and why should they? They know best.

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Wed Mar 5 12:42:51 2008

Is there *anybody* left who does not realize that ebay wants ALL individual sellers off the site?

Ebay wants a stable full of companies who will pack, ship, and answer phones 24 hrs a day. They no longer tolerate peopel with day jobs who sell on the side. They no longer provide a pathway from selling off the kitchen table to growing into Powerseller status.

I am guessing here, but I would bet that ebay's ultimate intention is to kick the smalls off, buy out the bigs, and voila-- instant amazon.

Anyone duped into selling in the current environment risks giving away their Corvette for $1.00-- and then getiing a neg anyway. "Didn't drive it here fast enough" :-)

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: dimes

Wed Mar 5 14:04:01 2008

Yes, it's clear that eBay is trying to create a ''selling class'' consisting of professional businesses, and a ''buying class'' of consumers.

Its problem is the crossover in its customer base - most of eBay's sellers are individuals who are also buyers.  Most of the professional ecommerce companies eBay is trying to cultivate are not buyers.

By alienating individual sellers in its efforts to 'professionalize' the selling environment, it risks losing them as buyers - the one thing it can least afford to do.

Apparently the company doesn't understand how to balance its own needs against the needs of the user base.  Instead of embracing the diversity of the selling community and tailoring its site to serve all merchants, it's disenfranchising the very people it needs to retain.  

A perfect example is the mess it made of Express.  No one would have taken issue with eBay if it had set up Express as a venue for ecommerce companies to access the eyeballs of its vast customer base.  That could have been a natural competitor to amazon, and would have been a natural progression destination for customers to develop into ''professional'' sellers.  

Instead, it foolishly created a site that was DOA from day one because it was populated with merchandise from individuals who were already selling those items on eBay.  What a colossal waste of time and money.

Why is eBay so unwilling (or is it unable?) to create separate-but-equal selling environments that would satisfy everyone's needs?

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: steve

Wed Mar 5 14:13:46 2008

I read Scot Wingo's blog on the IMA conference.  If the best answer that Jim Ambach can give (and it was repeated over and over) to questions from sellers is "we're looking at it" or "we'll check into it" or "we're monitoring it" then sellers are in for a rocky ride.  Management doesn't even seem to know what the are implementing, how to answer questions about it and what effect it will have.   This is nothing more than a bad experiment that they are hoping will work.  I am SO GLAD I do not own stock in this company.  The arrogance at management level is unequaled.

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed Mar 5 23:02:24 2008

How many ebay executives does it take with their ebay DoubleSpeak, their Father Knows Best arrogance, and their consummate disregard for the needs and preferences of their customers before every ebay member gets the message?

THEY CARE WHAT YOU THINK! THEY DON'T CARE WHAT YOU NEED! THEY DON"T CARE WHETHER YOU SURVIVE OR NOT (and preferably not! They only care about their Top 200 sellers and rest us be damned - we're "clutter" and we're "noise."

Their doomed to failure business plan is already baked into the cake, but their own hubris won't allow any change, any alteration.

They are incapable of *successful* adaptation to the changing nature of e-commerce because none of them are smart enough to understand how their platform really works. (Or doesn't as the case often is with the programming.)

Ambach should have been booed off the lectern. He and every one of the ebay parasites not only need lessons in humility but in e-business.

Take a long hike, Ambach!

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: Trish

Thu Mar 6 08:43:00 2008

Wow, what happened to Skip's pro-everything-ebay attitude?? Is is now coming back to bite him just a bit?? And, just because HE says HIS products are better than others, doesn't mean they are. I guess he thought that because he's a powerseller, and Mr. Mouth-of-ebay, they would give special consideration to him?? YEAH, THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HE THOUGHT!

So, how does it feel, Skippy, to have your words come back and bite you?? Tell us how wonderful greedbay is in another few months when nobody can find even YOUR items.

Further, please don't whine about ebay's changes in one breath and then praise them in the next...make up your mind, already!

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: arria

Thu Mar 6 11:02:09 2008

PLEASE READ THIS LINK!!!!!! what a pathetic excuse for this company

http://forums.ebay.com/db2/thread.jspa?threadID=2000529
853&tstart=0&mod=1204741957626

eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Thu Mar 6 20:46:57 2008

PLEASE READ THIS LINK!!!!!! what a pathetic excuse for this company

http://forums.ebay.com/db2/thread.jspa?threadID=2000529

853&tstart=0&mod=1204741957626



The specified topic [0] was not found.


What ebay doesn't like just winks out of existence.

This pathetic, whining, sorry corporation is running scared.

Please summarize the content for us so the ideas expressed therein aren't lost forever.


eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote   eBay's Jim Ambach Gives IMA Conference Keynote

by: John S. R.

Sun Mar 9 23:05:18 2008

Ms. Steiner - Thanks for the input from IMA.  I only just got involved in selling on eBay and Amazon in the past 6 weeks. Do you work at eBay?  You have pretty good access.

Anyway, I owned 3 casual dining restaurants and a clothing boutique focused on high end children's clothing in the NY Tri-State area for the better part of the last 10 years.  I have since sold off all three restaurants as the work was brutal and now just have the boutique that my daughter runs.  I use eBay and Amazon as channels.  So far so good.  It beats driving to work every day through the Cross Bronx Expressway!

I appreciate all the comments from people here but I need to say that no one cares about you. Not eBay. Not Amazon.  Not me, frankly.  It's a dog eat dog world and that's the way it should be.  Capitalism is a great privilege.  I think all the fees and stuff may well be more than we all want, but it's up to me to make sure to make a profit no matter what the landlords say.  I like that and I like that we all have that option.  

John in the Bronx.  



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