eBay is hosting a Town Hall meeting to discuss this week's changes, including Store to Core and fee changes. I'll be live blogging the session. To listen to the event, taking place today from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm Pacific, visit this page and click the big orange button.
eBay will take questions about changes announced in January, which began rolling out on Tuesday. There are two ways to ask questions:
Call in: 888-708-6226 and ask your question on the air.
Send an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for updates.
In attendance at the Town Hall meeting (excuse any spelling errors in people's names):
Todd Lutwak, VP of Seller Experience at eBay
Gary F. Seller Performance
Kelly Koba? Ebay buyer protection
Julie Witt, eBay Motors
Todd giving an update on yesterday's launch of seller changes.
Questions from eBay Users.
John from San Jose: What was last thing Griff bought on eBay?
It was John Donahoe, eBay CEO on the line. Wants to know fashion to wear based on Griff's expertise. He said he had a comment for community members.
"Thanks for joining town hall.....
Went to one of most enjoyable experiences in last year, eBay On Location in Atlanta - 500 small entrepreneurs together....
eBay does care about small seller. The small entrepreneur is heart and soul of eBay....
Increasingly competitive environment....
The number of interesting and creative ways small eBay entrepreneurs are finding to delight buyers and bring ... allow unique buying community items they can't find elsewhere, so I want to say thank you. Hopefully Todd and the others will explain how the changes - hopefully they will make it easier to sell on eBay...."
John from Arizona: (distortion) Improved buyer protection is proving to be lethal to international selling.
Kelly from Buyer Resolutions: Do you specify amount of shipping and handling time in your listing.
John: No, nobody knows.
Kelly: With new buyer protection, we institute some delays before someone can open up a claim... 10 day minimum, and they factor in what the seller has said in the description.
John: Australia is 5 days, Italy can be very long.
Kristina Klausen: Reminder that sellers can turn off certain countries, so sellers can ship to Europe but block Italy, for example.
Griff welcomes suggestions from other listeners when they hear a user with a problem or question.
(Please note this is not a transcript, I'm jotting down the salient points. - Ina)
Comment on the chat room: Yay eBay, love the changes.
Todd Lutwak: Promo started in January w/ pricing for 10 cents for fixed price listings, lots of sellers took advantage of the promotion - got a lot of positive feedback.
John from Arizona returns. He believes eBay should wait the 30 days before deciding a claim - postal service gives shippers 30 days.
John also says: Please get rid of echecks. They are a hindrance to DSRs.
Phil Allen, Sr. Manager for Seller Experience at PayPal: Has heard debate on echecks for a long time - gives buyers flexibility....Some merchants can block echecks off of eBay, should it be re-opened on eBay...open to discussion.
Todd: There is communication (messaging on the site), but it's always a best practice for sellers to communicate with buyers.
Jerri from Colorado: Foreign shipping - agrees with previous caller, John. Has been selling for 12 years on eBay. Foreign buyers making claims and getting refunds from PayPal - there's no way to prove a package arrived with international shipping. I don't sell to international buyers anymore.
Todd: We have a large cross-border trade on eBay. People have figured out best practices to be successful. I don't want to discourage people from cross-border trade.
Kristina: We share feedback with our shipping partners, and welcome sellers sharing feedback.
Email from a seller ("Fearful"): would new seller standards kicking in, I'm afraid I'll be limited by low DSRs. I have to make objection to the buyer's opinion when I have facts that prove I've done what I should (Shipping example.)
Gary from eBay: talks about it as a numbers thing.
Griff sticks up for sellers and says they have a point - if they offer free shipping, why should they be allowed to receive a low DSR for shipping cost?
Todd shoots him down.
Note inserted on 4/1/10: I checked to see exactly what Todd said - I had jotted down "(Todd) says they don't know if the seller charged handling as part of shipping," but he actually said:
"Just because free shipping was offered in the listing, very often, people select other shipping options in checkout and therefore might be reacting to those."
Another caller (Kathryn from ND): Suggestion for giving customs form number to international customers. Also wants to comment on shipping cost and DSR - separate shipping from handling, because she doesn't charge for shipping, but has a handling cost (I think). And she suggests educating new buyers!
She loves the changes, she's never had so much fun in her life. Thank you.
Todd: communication is important. Tell people what your shipping policy is, especially for sellers like the caller who undercharges for shipping.
Keith: Regarding payment holds. You needs to release the funds for shipping for newbies. "Now you guys are wearing dress clothes, but remember the roots of eBay."
Phil from PayPal: Thanks for the question. PayPal uses payment holds... New sellers do tend to have a disproportionate level of claims against them. So it may make sense to have a trial period against them. We're well aware of shipping holds and should be part of the product design.
Griff comment on Keith: Keith is an established seller on eBay. It always amazes me that sellers are concerned about new sellers. It's great he speaks on behalf of sellers he doesn't even know.
Chat room comment read by Lee: Nice to hear John Donahoe say thank you.
MJ from Connecticut: S&H DSRs - not a subjective question. Any plans to change that?
Mike Mafio: We ask every single buyer. There are times when the listing charge is different from what buyers actually have to pay. There is messaging to buyers when they leave DSRs if it's free shipping.
Griff: we hear this a lot - is it set in stone?
Mike: There are very few things set in stone. The team actually looks and listens and evaluates these things throughout the year. It is something that is looked at. We look at internal data, info we receive back is important to measure level of service a seller provides.
Todd: I think we've improved the fairness, moving to a system where you aren't penalized for 4s or 3s, only 1s and 2s.
Email from Tshirt Seller: I sell tshirts and use multi-variation format. For larger sizes, prices are higher, which are shown in Best Match. Buyers would assume the price isi for all sizes of the shirt.
Keith Westcourt on selling team at eBay: We are working on it. There are some complexities (sellers could fool buyers by listing a very low price on one item). It's definitely on our radar. Point out - expanded categories that have multi-variation option.
Lee reads comment from the Chat room: Great to hear people are having success. Signed Joyce.
Seller from Oregon: We started changing expensive store items over to fixed price and had positive sales. We sell internationally, we offered Express Mail and Priority Mail, we discovered we could offer First Class international (we can't print from eBay through PayPal labels)... FC and PM each use a different customs form. Buyer have false sense that First Class shipping number is trackable. The way eBay calls the Customs numbers could be misleading.
Mike asks clarification question. Seller answers.
Mike: don't put that number in their. Put it in your email to buyers.
(And so on....) Mike recommends Endicia.
This seller has a tip for selling internationally, seems to speed things up: Look at Census bureau site under exports: HS numbers, schedule B
Lee reads comment from chat room: Now that store format listing has gone, will eBay submit fixed price listings to Google.
(Great question, I have been getting a lot of questions from sellers saying their items aren't being shown by google anymore. - Ina)
Nick: Internet Marketing Team submits all FP listings to Google on at least a daily basis. However, it's fixed-price listings, not auctions. Google is not required to surface the information - it's up to Google, who knows how they make their decisions. We have weekly meetings with Google.
Email from Herb: What is eBay being done to attract new buyers?
Kelly: (eBay Buyer Protection?) is largest investment to bring new buyers. We are giving 20% discount to TRS sellers.
Question from Chat Room (Susan from Pittsburgh): More on selling protection and shipping.
Kelly: proof of delivery required for seller protection, up to seller to decide if they want to pay for it..
Phil: echoes that.
Dan from California: Small-time/part-time seller, since 1999. You said 100% commitment, I think it's waned toward sellers. Now for question: I have 3 seller accounts dealing with unique items. Under new selling price structure. I don't have enough listings/sales to buy minimum for each of them, but if I combine them, it would make the minimum subscription price worthwhile. (I believe he is speaking about Store subscriptions under the new fee structure. - Ina)
Todd: good time to consider consolidating accounts. And then clearly in the listing, articulate the offer.
Dan: I sell art pottery, sports memorabilia, random crap.
Griff: it is easier to cross-market with one store. And easier to manage.
Dan: I'm not a pro seller. When it's not fun anymore, I go away, which I have done before under other fee changes.
Kristina: we are looking at it, but it's not coming any time soon.
Griff: I think we should look at it.
Not a question, but a comment from Kristina Klausen: Unpaid Item Assistant - rolled out the UPI process widely. You DO need to opt in.
Diane from Sunnyvale (lost line)
Question from Chat room: Sellers can link to USPS to verify shipping costs - can they do it in the description?
Kristina: You could, but we don't recommend. You can use the shipping calculator.
Todd: It would not be my recommendation at all.
Lee reads question from previous question re Payment Holds.
Patty from Miami: What is eBay doing to educate sellers more.
Todd: thanks to Patty for being a great seller on eBay. We engage in as much education as we can. Monthly newsletter - Power Up. Newly designed Seller Hub.
Kristina: Are there particular areas she feels need education. We recognize we've made it more complicated to sell on eBay over the years. We are trying to make it easier.
Griff: we are doing more 2-minute videos.
John from California: What is eBay doing to stop fraudulent new buyers. I sell on eBay for 10 years - full time seller. New buyer used my address to leave positive feedback and low DSRs.
Griff: Email email@example.com and Kelly's team will take care of it.
John: I had to call customer service 6 times over the course of a week.
Chat room comment (Mike in Cincinnati) : Sales are so good I don't have enough time to list,.. Rock on.
Winding down.... comments from eBay staff.
Kristina Klausen: Thanks for calling and for the spirit in which the questions were asked,....
Julie Witt from eBay Motors: The question from the seller with 3 accounts - we are looking at it.
Todd Lutwak: John (Donahoe) started with a thank you, and we don't say it enough. Thanks for embracing the changes and making modifications to your business.
Griff says next Town Hall in April, signs off.