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Mon Mar 12 2012 16:04:21

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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eBay's latest President of Global Marketplaces, Devin Wenig, is about six months into his job, and he gave his thoughts on the eBay marketplaces and various seller-related issues to Ina Steiner in this EcommerceBytes piece today.

I have some thoughts about some key points he made: the availability of data to sellers, and buyers' expectations of free shipping and other services. I'd like to get your opinion as well, and what you would tell Mr. Wenig if you could bend his ear.

One of my big takeaways from the piece is, his ultimate concern is the buyers' experience, though he acknowledges "buyers and sellers need each other"; it's a "fly wheel." Among the things he said that I like to hear as a seller is that eBay's "ability to use data and target it better and to get that information more holistically to our sellers will make them better, make them more profitable and ultimately make our marketplace healthier." 

My first reaction to "availability of data" was to say, "I've got your idea for data availability, right here!" How about giving us more historical pricing information? Currently, eBayers can look up to 60 days of data in certain categories, and from 45 to 90 days in Collectibles categories. But you have to pay to go back a year with a service like Terapeak, and even then you can only look up chunks of 90 continuous days at a time, not one whole year in one fell swoop.

Another concept that kept coming up was buyers' expectations. To paraphrase, online buyers have certain high expectations, and eBay needs to meet those expectations or they'll lose buyers to other sites. (That last part about losing buyers is my inference). For example, Wenig said there's an expectation of free shipping today in the ecommerce world: "If people believe that eBay is as good as the standard on ecommerce exceptions, and you know things like free shipping are absolutely a buyer standard - they believe that is their right and entitlement - whoever created that standard, I won't comment on it, but we know that's the case."

I don't know that I'd agree that free shipping is a "buyer standard." As a buyer myself, I think it's a great incentive, and it's a nice perk, but unless I'm buying from certain companies known for it (such as L.L. Bean or Zappo's), I don't expect it. And frankly, Zappo's, for example, is not known as being low-cost; they're a service-focused company. However,  I certainly don't expect free shipping at the majority of sites where I shop. I don't expect it on
Amazon.com, and I wouldn't unless I have an Amazon.com Prime account, which does not come free: it's $79 per year for free two-day shipping on "millions of items."

Of course, sellers on eBay can choose whether or not to offer free shipping; but Wenig's overall point is unless you subscribe to eBay's requirements to be a Top-Rated Seller, you won't get the eBay badge. But, he says, "out of our 25 million sellers, the overwhelming majority of them won't have the eBay badge and they'll happily sell in the eBay marketplace and they'll profitably make money." So nobody is forcing anyone into free shipping or some of the other TRS requirements. But how important will the eBay badge become to get sales?

When asked if eBay would consider different approaches for incentivizing free shipping, such as sellers asking buyers to order more items in order to qualify for free shipping (e.g.,
if they buy up to $25, the buyer pays for the shipping; if they spend over $25, they get free shipping), Wenig said, "I'm happy to look into that. I don't know what the issues are that are specifically around that. That's a very specific case you're raising and to be honest I'm not cited on it, but I'm happy to look at it."

I do see why eBay is instituting rules and incentives for requiring tracking; I agree buyers like tracking and shipping. However, this one-size-fits all approach does not work with a good deal of the types of items I ship overseas: I like to use first class international, and so usually do my buyers. Domestically, the requirement that sellers now must have tracking information to maintain TRS status even for such lightweight items that they'd ship fine in a first-class envelope with one stamp, means some sellers simply won't be able to keep that TRS badge if they want to keep their profit margins.

And again, the seller will have a choice. The question is, how much will it hurt a former TRS to lose that badge?

Do you agree that the ecommerce standard buyer expectation is now free shipping? How much do you think it will hurt the average eBay seller to lose a TRS badge? If you could tell Devin Wenig about what policies or practices you'd like to see added or changed as a seller, what would they be? Post a comment here!




Comments (49) | Permalink

Readers Comments

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Mar 12 17:15:28 2012

Several things come to mind...

eBay needs to stop trying to apply one size fits all policies on the diverse numbers of sellers in eBay's marketplace. Category specific policies would work better than cookie cutter policies that negatively impact certain groups of sellers. i.e. Clothing sellers should be allowed to have a 7 day return policy and still qualify for TRS. Sellers of small items such as stamps that are just fine shipping as First Class Mail should be able to qualify for TRS without being subjected to the Delivery Confirmation rules.

Account holds should only be imposed on sellers who have proven to have undertaken fraudulent transactions. No other account holds should be imposed without eBay/PayPal contacting the seller first, and then, only after criteria specific issues have been defined to the effected seller.

Review eBay's circular policies which make no sense and remove them. Automatic 5 Stars for communication when no post transaction communication takes place is one that comes to mind.

Allow sellers of all sizes to succeed on a level playing field. Diamond sellers should be required to pay listing fees, the same final value fees and the same PayPal fees as everyone else.

eBay needs to revisit their policy of not crediting sellers when partial refunds are issued for shipping costs. Make it possible for sellers to issue a PayPal credit against shipping charges only so that abuse is avoided and then be fair with sellers.

eBay executives and management should be actively engaged in buying and selling on eBay on their own time, and should be required  qualify as Top Rated Sellers as well. This requirement would enable the decision makers to better understand how their policies impact sellers in the marketplace.

Stop lying to sellers. It is insulting to read that a new fee structure reflects eBay's lowest fees ever when the reality is that the majority of sellers will actually end up paying more in fees than they did before the ficticious lower fees were imposed.

Stop fixing things that are not broken and stop making changes for the sake of making changes.

Stop the Amazonification of eBay. Cloning Amazon has not helped eBay grow sales. Buyers who want the Amazon experience go to Amazon. Sellers know that eBay's GMV increases are primarily due to increased numbers of sellers who include shipping cost in the selling price of their items and that reported transactional increases are a fiction which more accurately reflects the revenue shifting smoke and mirror approach.

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: Scotty This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 12 17:15:39 2012

Simple....as a condition of his employment....he should be a seller on the site and maintain a TRS standing.  That is the only way he will EVER understand what he is involved in.

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Mon Mar 12 18:01:40 2012

I'd tell him to swallow his pride and try to get back his old job at Reuters. There is no future for a thinking person at eBay.

And, good for a laugh, a critique of “The New Way To Pay In-Store” with eBay's PreyPal.
 
http://forums.auctionbytes.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=24
611


eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 12 18:38:02 2012

I have nothing to say to him. If he has eyes he can read all the Internet forums related to eBay and PayPal and make up his own mind. There is a wealth of data from unhappy sellers spilling out all over the place. If any of it mattered to eBay, they would try to make amends.

As far as I am concerned, eBay has decided to take a totally different business direction from what it started out as. And none of it involves small sellers. So that choice has been made.

The sad thing is that in order to get rid of small sellers without looking like they're doing that, they are making the bars higher and higher and imposing impossible demands, cutting into profits, so small sellers drop off of their own volition. And for the most part, the comments are ''don't let the door hit you on the way out. Good riddance.'' It has caused great pain and ruined many lives. It would probably have been more humane to just make an announcement that the business was going in a new direction, and all small sellers would have 6 months to get their affairs in order. But that didn't happen.

I've moved on, as have so many others. My business is growing and I am happy. I treat my customers with friendliness and great care.

I wish Mr. Wenig all the luck in the world, he'll need it. I also wish him great wisdom and the ability to get along with ''different'' types of people.

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: BetterThingsToDo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 12 19:19:44 2012

Take my store and shove it where the sun don't shine on Donut

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 12 20:05:30 2012

This shouldn't surprise anyone. The people that run eBay just aren't too bright.

They want to make eBay into something it's not, and was never meant to be. "Buy it new, buy it on eBay". So you buy something new for full price on eBay? Most eBay buyers want stuff cheap.

If you want free shipping buy a $323 cocktail dress from Nordstrom.com, and you'll get free shipping.

But on eBbay you can buy a computer or networking device that maybe used to cost $3500 or even $5000 for $99. And it weighs 50#. Should you expect free shipping? Well, not at the amount you are saving, no. And buyers *don't*, as Julia mentioned.

Everyone wants
1. Cheap prices
2. Free overnight shipping
3. End to end tracking
4. Generous returns

Most people however are not willing to pay for all that. And it just isn't free. That cocktail dress at Nordstrom? They can afford to give you all that, but you are paying for it. It'd be foolish to think you weren't paying, it can't be free.

What the eBay company is trying to do is take sellers who have made a business giving buyers what they want, cheap prices, and forcing them to give buyers what they are not willing to pay for, which is again, overnight free shipping, generous returns, and end to end tracking. If we did that we'd have to raise the prices and buyers would stop buying. They nearly have stopped now!

I dread to think of all the times I have had buyers want to buy a 60# item from me that I am selling for $199, which is maybe 95% off.

Then they say to quote shipping it overnight, which I dutifully quote them at maybe $300. I can't remember when anyone ever agreed to pay it and I am not in business to make UPS really rich anyway. This is invariably an item I have had listed on eBay for weeks or months. If someone had a critical need they could have ordered it ahead of time. But no.

So eBay wants us to give buyers things they *don't* want to pay for. And do it at our expense. After all, they are simple guys at eBay and they don't realize we would have to add the costs of all this to the prices. It's not free. It'd never free.

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: bouddi This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 12 22:44:23 2012

Devin Wenig needs to seriously reconsider what he is doing ... several times he referred to eBay has a technology company

WRONG

it is a people company ... it's all about people ... two people .... a buyer interacting with a seller

use all the current catch phrases about vertical integration of converging metrics over a demographic spread as much as you like... but it fundamentally comes down to a buyer and a seller doing business

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: used2luv2sell This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 12 23:08:42 2012

Not that I actually believe you care!
You are an American Company, so why are you acting so Un-American and bowing down to the Chinese?  I sell used items & don’t care about your Chinese “friends” who want all our jobs.   (oops, I meant HAVE all our jobs)  Why not sell off the part of Ebay with small sellers as we’d be happy to have a different set of “bosses” making the rules; hopefully some with common sense and morals.  (Who don’t value lying and cheating from their buyers)
Check out the feedback 1-5 system & why your buyers who “don’t want to be educated” (per Ebay), have their “opinions” weighed so heavily on long term proven good sellers accounts.
Try having a little compassion for the small seller and try to actually LISTEN to us and THINK about how Ebay has created such a mess for the small seller.  It seems we can’t do anything right.  There are all types of people who use Ebay for extra income and you are being very snobbish and inconsiderate in your treatment of us.  Stop looking down at people and open your ears and minds and give us the same consideration you are giving those buyers who “don’t want to be educated”, while you demand that sellers be perfect – we honestly try, but we are HUMAN, mistakes happen & then we fix them!  We have had to educate ourselves in many ways in order to run our small part of this business effectively.  While buyers provide the purchasing power, you underestimate the buying power of the sellers you are losing – longtime buyers, not flash in the pan unhappy uneducated buyers.  
I’m amazed anyone would want to jump onto this ship, and we can only assume you’re going to be just another Ebay drone.   Can’t answer the real questions, can’t make decisions, can’t make good changes (or figure out what they might be), just spout the party line.   We don’t need more of that – new face, same old Ebay…..

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Mar 12 23:45:22 2012

I'd ask him how he feels working for one of the most hated companies in the world ?

Or why he could not get a job somewhere else ?




What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: Another Coin This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 12 23:45:46 2012

Ever take one of eBay's surveys?

Are you more of a buyer or seller?

If you answer:
Seller

Survey instantly ends and is another slap in the face.

I have a question for Mr. Wenig. Does eBay make more money from a buyer or does eBay make more money from a seller who is also a buyer?

Who are eBay's customers?

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: Mark T This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Mar 13 07:49:15 2012

Do you realise that Small Sellers are usually also buyers?

I am concerned that you differentiate between the two as if they are two seperate species.

When you drive the small seller away, you drive a buyer away.

And not just any casual buyer, a committed user of the platform.

Everytime you favour a large retailer over swathes of small sellers, you are pushing lots of small committed buyers away from the site.

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

This user has validated their user name. by: silent anarchy

Tue Mar 13 09:03:41 2012

I want a return to pre-2008 ebay. Two way feedback, NO dsr stars, abolish the forced paypal only rule and return money orders as a payment choice. I do miss selling on ebay but i'd rather keep my inventory then have paypal give it away. I used to sell collectables and victorian architectural hardware.  

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser

Tue Mar 13 09:08:35 2012

Just a comment on the delivery confirmation requirement..

1 - If buyer's expect and/or prefer ''free shipping'' (and studies do support this), adding a delivery confirmation requirement, which in some cases triples shipping costs, is counter-productive, isn't it?  

2 - If a seller ships without DC and is still able to maintain the incredibly strict DSR requirements for TRS, then doesn't that mean that buyers are not having any problems?  That is the goal, right?  Excellent service, quantified by DSR's.  Why is ebay second quessing what buyers ''want'' when there is already a mechanism (DSR's) that will surely catch a problem if it exists.

It seems to me that removing TRS status from sellers with near perfect selling records and qualifying DSR's in order to institute a shipping policy that actually runs counter to their stated goals (free shipping) and performance criteria (DSR's), really makes no marketing sense.  

The end result will be far less TRS's in many categories, or TRS's with inflated sales or shipping costs, or even worse, less sellers overall.  

I honestly don't see how this helps ebay.  Yes, it eliminates the 20% discount, but it does it at the cost of artificially inflating prices, which will make ebay less competitive.  

For me personally, it's a lose-lose proposition.  If I ignore the requirement, I lose the 20% discount, which I will pass on to my buyers, resulting in lower sales.  If I institute the requirement, I have to combine items into larger sales (at a higher price), or start charging for shipping, or increase prices significantly.  Also reducing sales.

And all this to fix a ''problem'' that I don't have.  I don't use DC on 75% of my items, and have straight 5.0 DSR's and 100% FB.  Why fix something that ain't broke?

Now that I think of it... this will make my website MUCH more price competitive  , resulting in even more off-ebay sales.  Is that what ebay really wants?  Okay, works for me...

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser

Tue Mar 13 10:16:41 2012

One more thing...for Devin..

Mr. Wenig - I am an ebay TRS seller since 1999 with 5 figure FB, perfect DSR's and FB. 30% of my sales are from returning customers.  

Are you really prepared to tell me that I am not living up to the expectations of my customers and am no longer deserving of my TRS status?  

Shouldn't my buyers be the judge of that?

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: rstpete This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 13 10:30:48 2012

What ebay seems to overlook is that the sellers are their customers.  The buyers are the sellers customers. Their total focus on the buyer harms the entire system.  If they would give half as much focus to helping the seller the other problems would take care of themselves.  Good sellers need protection from system abusers, not punishment.  When ebay over protects the buyer they allow sellers (their prime customer) to be harmed and that is self defeating to the ebay system. Cheaters will always find ways to cheat.  Only the honest suffer from rediculous policies.

My suggestion to ebay's leadership is to study Team Process Management.

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 13 11:31:19 2012

You'll have to please pardon me but ... I dont understand this article. Is anything we say here going to reach this guy or are we just voicing our opinions?

eBay has already spoken. They have already decided the way they want to go forward - nothing any of us say here will change it.

JD spoke in the closed door meeting at CES and described the mall of the future he wants ebay to be, as did Noah Hershmann. They already invited in the PRO Group, they have already tacitly agreed to enforce MAP and Unilateral pricing, and they have given VERO the green light to start harassing sellers who dont conform. (Skullcandy has started this up again with eBays blessing).

SR1 manditory customer returns and money back is part of it. Why should J&R or One Call give money back refunds if smaller sellers do not ''have to''.

We can all discuss what we would like eBay to become - but ''it aint happening''.

Im not ''down on eBay'' - I want eBay to be better - but eBay ''doesnt want me''.

This guy is the President of Global Marketplaces, yet selling overseas on eBay is an outright NIGHTMARE. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare On Elm Street, and Final Destination all together arent as scary as sending off an item FCM to ''civilized EU countries''. Never mind the abusive chargebacks of which there is no seller protection for - but just the shipping issues alone are enough to make your hair fall out!

This guy cant do his job as is - how will he fix any other part of eBay?

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

This user has validated their user name. by: TrentDep

Tue Mar 13 11:57:49 2012

As some have written :  Why fix what 'aint broken?...

Even given the one sided nature of Feedback and DSRs, many of us have maintained 100% positive feedback and 5 stars all the way across...

So - I'm sorry - what part exactly were my previous customers not happy with?...

What part of 2k transactions, never a neutral or negative and 5 starts in all categories are potential customers looking at and thinking : " Hmmm...  I don't know if this is the type of seller I want to do business with "...

Oh wait - perhaps it is that I - after 11 years selling on Ebay, and having held Power Seller and TRS status for as long as they have been around, no longer carry a TRS badge - yeah - that must be it.

The really sad part is this : I have been achieving the new TRS requirements for years - Free Priority Mail, always purchased through Paypal w/ auto upload of tracking... Apparently Ebay really doesn't care that I qualify for Gold PS based on dollar volume - the fact that I missed the item count by a handful was enough to yank my PS and TRS status and relegate me to lower search results ...

I find it disgusting, and very short sighted that Ebay assumes that customers are going to ignore fantastic feedback and TSRs, and look for those sellers - with 98% feedback, that have the TRS badge.  Does it not occur to a customer why Ebay would favor someone with lower feedback?... Yeah - OK - perhaps that seller only screwed up on 200 of his last 10k sales, but that tells me something - they might be just a little too busy to do everything they can to get mine right - whereas someone with 1k sales - and zero negs - clearly will.

For every "bad" seller Ebay manages to bring in line, or bounce off of the site, there are likely a hundred of us great sellers who are leaving...  And for every one of us leaving voluntarily, there are... Exactly how many great sellers beating the door down to jump on board?...

Less attention on attracting uneducated buyers who just want unreasonably inexpensive ( and unique ! ) items shipped overnight for free, and more attention on sellers who offer unique items, at reasonable prices, and have a proven track record of delivering what they promised in a reasonable time frame...

Wow - is that really such a difficult concept?...

What happens when Ebay actually attracts these potential customers, but none of their ~ Chosen Few ~ sellers have anything these people can't buy elsewhere, far cheaper?...

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: Red Ink Diary This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 13 12:42:32 2012

I would tell him not to get too comfortable.

He is working for a man who bragged last January about having run off 75% of the top 100 executives at eBay in the last 45 months. Many of them were highly respected, unlike Mr Donohoe.

As for the rest of it? ''Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.'' Water under the bridge.

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

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

Tue Mar 13 13:32:41 2012

I wouldn't waste my breath.

What needs to be done has been discussed here for the last four years consuming millions of words.

Little has changed for the better, and much has changed for the worse.

Ebafia's corporate culture requires hiring the most arrogant and incompetent management around.

It takes years for these second and third raters to admit they're wrong if ever. See neutral feedback as neutral and the more recent no coomunication is better communication disasters.

The truth is that Wenig and most if not all ebay executives could care less what our segment of their customer base thinks and wouldn't know for what do with the information we would give them in any case.

I mean, really, this guy thinks ebafia is about technology? I bet the Valley is having a good laugh over that comment.

Hasn't Wenig figured out that the ebafia platform is about as stable as the San Andreas fault and is a cobbled together mess?

I suspect Devil Wenig will probably be even worse the The Ho.

What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?   What Would You Tell the Head of eBay Marketplaces?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 13 16:34:09 2012

Let's face it, they are all ruthless, elitist, deceptive bulldozers, casting aside everything in their way on the journey to a mega bottom line. That is what they are supposed to do, right? Please the stockholders, period.

They are trained to not be concerned with human values, humanity or soft emotional values. And I also suspect that shading the truth, using convoluted and deceptive language to confuse people, and possibly even outright lying is part of this type of person.

We are all hoping to see some humanity coming from one of them. It will never happen. No point in dreaming about it or wishing for it.

Unless you are making lots of profit on eBay in spite of everything or enjoy being tortured, you have to move on.

The direction of the company has changed. It's not going back. It couldn't possibly return to its former business model. That model was trashed, stomped on, buried and deader than a doornail.

They are happy with the results of what they have done, and so are the stockholders.

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