|Thu June 19 2008 16:23:54|
Shipping & Feedback Issues Bubble up in Best Match Search Session
By: Julia Wilkinson
The questions about shipping and detailed seller ratings were flying at the Improving Your Visibility in Best Match Search Results session with Lynda Talgo and Jeff King of eBay.
I slid into the jam-packed room and found a space on the floor as the q & a was starting. Estate sale and eBay consignment seller John Saller (eBay Store "buyoldstuff") was at the mike asking questions about what he feels is the subjectivity of shipping and handling dsr's.
He said his feedback rating recently went down from 100% to 99.8%, and he and his wife, Susan, have sold over 10,000 items. He says he charges at the most $2 for handling on top of the actual shipping fee, but everything is included in his item descriptions. If the buyers don't read the description, he feels it's unfair to be dinged in a shipping dsr for a clearly stated shipping and handling fee. He said he thinks the dsr for shipping should be rated based on whether or not the shipping/handling was "as stated."
The next question from a seller was about "Finding 2.0" - will searches include subtitles?
"The intention is not to include the subtitle in title search," said King. But, he said, the subtitle is included in title and description searches. He said they are "moving to item specifics and custom item specifics."
One seller who sells tractor trailer parts made the point that you can't put what he needs in the limited space of a subtitle. Talgo replied it was a "perfect case for item specifics," but the seller came back with the item specifics he needed weren't currently included in eBay Motors.
"We haven't built that system yet, but we're working on it," was the reply.
The next question was an affirmation that the shipping area was one of the biggest concerns on people's minds. "Obviously you can see we're all hyper-sensitive about the shipping issue. The costs of shipping are going up." The seller's question was about "consumer perception about the value of shipping vs. the cost of shipping" and if there would be a change in the algorithm based on an average of shipping costs – presumably for detailed seller ratings (dsr's).
Talgo's response was that "consumer perception was going in the other direction," and sellers are now competing with sources that offer free shipping such as Zappo's.com. She indicated there was data they have such that if a seller charges a lot more for one type of item for shipping than other similar items, that would be reflected in the search results. However, they haven't "settled out what our numbers are."
The next seller wanted to know "when can we see what we're getting rated? I can't see it. All I know is my rating is going down and I want to know why."
Talgo said that although they "initially wanted to make dsr's transparent," and that now they are more concerned with that "sellers have the info they need," but said she was "not sure when" any of that would materialize.
The seller persisted with her questioning, giving an example that "So if the buyer is having a bad day, we just have to lose the money and our percentages is what you're telling me."
"Yes," Talgo said. But she said "all sellers are faced with the same situation" and to "focus on the info you do have...and if you get the random wacko buyer, that's it."
Another point made about feedback changes was made by a different questioner later in the session, who pointed out that "neutrals are the new negs." He said he went from a 99.9 to 99.2 since the new policy has been implemented.
I thought one of the best points was made by the seller about the demise of mutual feedback removal [which in its new incarnation would presumably be one-way feedback removal]. "By removing the mutual feedback removal, what is the incentive for the seller to fix the problem?"
Talgo replied that when mutual fb removal went bye-bye, for "most sellers nothing changed, and for "a few" their feedback dropped 5-8-10%, because they were creating so many bad experiences" [relying on mutual feedback removal to solve problems].
The seller was frustrated that buyers didn't give him a chance to prevent the bad feedback from happening when they don't contact him. "If the buyer doesn't contact me, there's nothing I can do" said the questioner…and "they're not going to come back to eBay."
"I can't tell you the neg rate hasn't gone up" since the changes, said Talgo, but that they "had to do what was right for the marketplace" despite the "edge cases."
There was a feeling of frustration in the air as the session broke up. Saller said he felt the communication was "a little more one-way." He also felt eBay had gotten much more complicated and away from the idea years ago where it was making things easy to sell. Some of these sellers may revisit their concerns in the Town Hall session later in the week, which I think is a venue more set up to field and reply to these kinds of questions.
Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6); Her latest ebook, "Over 500 Books that Sell for $50-$5000 on eBay," is available on her website.