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Sun Mar 15 2009 15:38:28

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

By: Ina Steiner

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Time and again I hear sellers talk about the challenges of selling overseas: high shipping costs, unreliable postal systems (Italy is frequently mentioned), liability if one doesn't pay the high costs for tracking/proof of delivery, and longer transit times. These are the realities of doing business, but eBay has raised the stakes by tying DSR feedback ratings (where buyers rate sellers on postage costs and delivery time) to exposure, discounts and seller performance.

I'm hearing some sellers just give up on selling internationally. I suspect this decision varies greatly by category and price of the items sellers are selling. Some things are just easier and less risky to ship abroad, or have enough profit margin built-in that allow sellers to send them expedited.

I was reminded of the problems with international trade when I read this discussion board thread. A seller reported that a buyer gave him a negative rating because he filled out the USPS customs form honestly rather than lying on the form. The seller says eBay will not remove the negative feedback despite the fact that the buyer was punishing the seller for following the law.

Last year, eBay took away sellers' ability to leave negative feedback. Now eBay must take responsibility for keeping buyers honest, because sellers no longer have any leverage in transactions. eBay has passed on some excellent opportunities to work with third parties on marketplace safety (BuySafe, Fair Outcomes).

I write from a U.S. centric point of view, but the challenges of cross-border trading can be made even more difficult for international sellers wanting to list on eBay.com. This post on the BuildaSkill blog explains some of those challenges.

It's impossible to say how much money eBay is leaving on the table because it fails to differentiate DSR ratings for the domestic business a seller does versus his or her international business. Are there other ways eBay could facilitate cross-border trade?




Comments (45) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: Clay

Sun Mar 15 15:56:01 2009

Shows how eBay follows their own rules in regards to their sellers. They say that it is against the law to circumvent customs fees, yet they allow a negative feedback to remain for just the seller not complying with breaking the law. Let the explain that one to their shareholders.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: Karma

Sun Mar 15 16:03:34 2009

I am one of the 1000000 sellers that stopped selling Internationally since they had the "bright" DSR idea.
I know I lose alot of money and so does ebay.
Ebay ACTIVLY discourages International trading so I believe that there is much more going on then they tell us (what else is new???)

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: TekGems

Sun Mar 15 16:04:44 2009

Ina, who really cares? Buyer can leave negative feedback for any reason. If sellers can't hang because they think their DSR will get dinged, that is more customers for me to ship internationally to. You should eBay is building a DSR dashboard where you can compare DSR from domestic versus international if you want. Some sellers are thinking about setting up a separate ID and allow international on that ID.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

This user has validated their user name. by: Bob

Sun Mar 15 16:27:05 2009

eBay should have lobbied the USPS to leave slower/cheaper modes of shipping services.  With no economy anymore, the number of products that can be shipped is drastically lowered.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

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

Sun Mar 15 18:00:26 2009

Of course, ebay (and sellers) are losing millions of dollars every year in international sales! And FRAUD! Duh!

This, of course, is happening because ebay is run by arrogant, overeducated cretins who've been so focused on marketplace disruption that all else fell off their radar.

Some suggestions which probably make too much sense for ebay to adopt:

1. Ebay should require insurance on both domestic and international orders which helps prevent some types of buyer fraud and will reduce PayPal chargebacks. Ebay must then educate buyers that it is ebay requiring the insurance not the seller.

2. Remove shipping related stars from internatioal feedback.

3. Require ALL buyers to list the specific reason(s) why they left a neutral or a negative.

4. Ebay MUST adopt more realistic definitions of feedback extortion and specific problem associated with international trading such as the customs form issue.

5. Finally both Ebay and PayPal MUST recognize that USPS has restrictions on what type of products can be shipped International Express Mail with insurance. Some products legally sold on ebay and legal everyplace in the world can NOT be insured through USPS.

Similarly ebay/PayPal MUST recognize that third party insurors are becoming increasingly restrictive about the countries they'll insure on an individual parcel shipment basis.

Both the major third party insurors have $20.00 monthly minimums. My international business dropped so drastically and suddenly that I unsubscribed from my third party insuror because I could no longer make their $20.00 minimum, and the the list of countries I can now obtain insurance for is extremely limited.

The remedy is to list all countries and let sellers include or exclude those they can't get insurance for instead of forcing sellers to self-insure or lose the sale and risk negative feedback.

It's inattention to details like these that's causing ebay to bleed out one drop of blood at a time.

The problems and challenges associated with international trade have been with us for years but were massively compounded when ebay disrupted the blance of power between buyer and seller without developing a leverage mechanism for sellers.

The Ho has been too busy this part year transforming ebay into a schizophrenic entity with attention deficit disorder to take the time to learn about ebay's micro environments.

In addition to substantially fewer sellers now, more and more refuse to ship internationally because of the obstacles ebay and PayPal have erected.

Death to ebay corp. in 2009.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

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

Sun Mar 15 18:34:39 2009

6. Ebay MUST understand that the worldwide web is exactly that and ditch the 40 cent fee for UK visibility as well as any fees ebay charges internaitonal sellers for US site visibility if any.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: eBuyer Feedback

Sun Mar 15 18:37:49 2009

Italy might be a large source of delayed or lost items in the post but I've yet to have a single INR from someone over there.  I suspect the Italians know how bad their postal system is.  Unlike people in certain ''other'' countries.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: Dman

Sun Mar 15 18:59:48 2009

I state right in my auctions that I do not ship to Italy and I also state that Mexican bidders must pay for insurance. These were my biggest problem areas until I started getting tougher on who I shipped to.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: Kal

Sun Mar 15 19:37:27 2009

I used to ship ''worldwide'' all the time. Did it for 10 years, until 1) the postaal service took away surface mode, and 2) the DSR system. I stopped shipping internationally. I get a large amount of emails to the effect of ''I am in [insert country here], will you PLEASE allow me to bid?''

So who looses here? I think the answer is simple:
1) I loose
2) eBay Looses

eBay is run by a bunch of MORONS who cannot ''see outside the box''.

I've said enough.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: ebay seller n buyer

Sun Mar 15 19:43:07 2009

I have been seller overseas for over 9 years now. Ship probably 3-4 items a week. Never have had a problem. Nothing lost or damaged.

All you sellers who are obsessed with DSR's you can send me your buyers anytime. Haven't look at my feedback in  months. I don't give any either. Why bother.

You people need to quit whinning about something you have no control over.

Ebay will do exactly as they please. If you don't like it go somewhere else. But please quit whinning.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: Kathy

Sun Mar 15 21:04:21 2009

@@@ebay seller n buyer

You may think you are ''so smart'' and you don't give a damn about your feedback. Woo Hoo, you don't look at it. I'm happy for you.

Well, I'll tell you what smarty, some of us are still small sellers, and a SINGLE negative feedback, or a SINGLE ''1'' on a DSR can PUT US OUT OF BUSINESS with an AUTOMATIC SUSPENSION controlled by a heartless computer program. Did you give that any thought before making your stupid statement? No, I doubt you did.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: EventHorizon1984

Sun Mar 15 21:16:22 2009

Many sellers have excellent control over their International transactions.

Sell International on your websites, and don't on eBay.

Either you run your business, or let eBay run your business.


http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/ma
r2009/tc20090311_318128.htm
EBay
Outlines Three-Year Revival Plan
''Donahoe pointed out that e-commerce is just 6% of real-world retail.''

http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/mar200
9/tc2009038_874618.htm
EBay's
Big Plans for PayPal
''roughly 50% of the world still using cash or checks for their purchases''
''in the U.S., where PayPal is strongest, its share of online payments is just 12%. That proportion is in the single digits in Europe''


“Please don't lie to me, unless you're absolutely sure I'll never find out the truth.”
Ashleigh Brilliant

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Sun Mar 15 21:24:56 2009

I would NEVER sell internationally on ebay, never did, and never will! But on GoAntiques, I have no problem with selling to Canada, and I will stick with that, based on what my postal workers have told me. I was told, that shipments that go out of the USA, are in the control of the other country. That country is not accountable for loss or proof of delivery.They told me that Canada was pretty good about delivering, but other countries were not, and advised me to not sell to any country other than Canada.

On ebay, the buyer has the upper hand with that set-up. On GoAntiques, the policies are clear for the buyer and the seller are both protected because of that. Both buyer and seller understand that there is risk, and try the best they can to purchase good delivery methods. I don't mind kicking in a few extra dollars for shipping when I don't have to pay so much in selling fees.

GoAntiques trusts their sellers that's why they don't have to control their every move.


I gave up having lots of big photos and pretty templates to have a safer selling venue.It was a smart move!

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: ebay=penny stock

Sun Mar 15 22:52:33 2009

@Kathy

Event Horizon1984 said it best.

You either run your business or Ebay runs it for you.

If you are so worried about DSR's you need to go somewhere else to sell before you give yourself ulcers.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: Ooops I'm Naru'd Again

Sun Mar 15 23:50:37 2009

@ o.c.d collectibles

Yeah we Canadians are pretty trusting folks. Our border guards don't even carry guns eh?  

The skip on my curling team told me  we've got some problem with Post Office Pierre over there near Calgary.  So don't send anything that way!

Apparently he's been burning packages to keep warm in his igloo.  Don't know if there's much truth in that...but apparently they're sending the Mounties out on their dog sleds to see if they can smarten old Pierre up.  

Gonna be hard though with 9 m (28 feet) snow drifts to go through...mighty hard....We only get three hours of light this time of year, but I'll try to keep you posted if I hear any news next month.


Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

This user has validated their user name. by: Mercy the Mingless

Mon Mar 16 01:56:17 2009

Post Donahoe Ebay offers a smorgasbord of WTF? moments.  

Giving the same DSR weight to international shipping as domestic shipping is one of them.  How can anyone in their right mind compare and equate the two?

There is a reason ebay's president Lorrie Norrington (ebay seller westie0721) ONLY ships to the US in her current auctions.  All ebay sellers know what that reason is.

Note that Lorrie Norrington, westie0721, who is telling ALL ebay sellers how to sell on ebay does not have the minimum number of seller DSR's for them to show in her Feedback profile.  She has not received 10 Detailed Sellers Ratings. Maybe she needs to list a warehouse.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: Merc the Pingless

Mon Mar 16 02:56:43 2009

I agree with the a couple of the posters above; DSRs: stop obsessing over it. Be better than your competition and you will win.

If one bad DSR puts you out of business, there is something fundamentally flawed with your business. Sounds more like a hobby to me actually. Open a website and market it; it's not that hard, especially if you have a market niche.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: Frusterated

Mon Mar 16 04:15:22 2009

One huge thing that eBay could do would be to add an International First Class shipping option to Paypal shipping.  I waste so much time standing in line to ship international items because those make up 50-60% of my business.  Since I ship small items (1-2 oz), the other international shipping options are way too expensive.

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: open eyes

Mon Mar 16 04:41:19 2009

ebay is going down their list and just crossed off a couple hundred thousand more sellers.

NEXT!

Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity   Cross Border Trade May Be eBay's Lost Opportunity

by: Jude

Mon Mar 16 06:17:58 2009

As a Platinum Powerseller I quit because of DSR's....the international business was my largest sales...but the DSR's killed me for all the reasons you mentioned in your well written artice.

eBay doesn't stand a chance in these hard economic times with their current continued loss of sellers, buyers and Powersellers.

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