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Tue June 25 2013 19:54:12

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

By: Brian Cohen

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In what's sure to be a controversial move if implemented, the United Stated Patent and Trademark Office just published eBay patent application 20130159144, "System and Method for Providing Alternative Fulfillment for a Buyer's Unfulfillable Order."

In a nutshell, eBay's system would detect when an item is delayed or lost in transit, would cancel the order, and would offer the buyer the same item from another seller.

The patent appears to give buyers a choice between your typical eBay seller and a Big Box retailer, however, it seems likely that eBay could push buyers towards Big Box retailers. ("Why wait for another eBay seller to ship when you can have it *today*?)

The background of eBay's patent application describes problem orders with shipping exceptions:

"Websites provide a number of publishing, listing, and price-setting mechanisms whereby a publisher (e.g., a seller) may list or publish information concerning items for sale. Once a buyer places an order for an item, the seller fulfills the order by shipping the item to the buyer. However, delays in the shipment of the item can occur and can result in the buyer's frustration. In another scenario, the shipment may get lost. As a result, the buyer reorders the item."

eBay further details the new fulfillment software:

"...The order fulfillment issue detection module detects a fulfillment delay of an item in an order placed in an online marketplace. The alternative fulfillment qualification module determines whether the fulfillment delay qualifies for an alternative fulfillment order. The replacement matching module determines a replacement item for the item. The replacement item order module cancels the order and replaces the order with the alternative fulfillment order for the replacement item..."


The filing includes images (a.k.a. "Block Diagrams") that shows a buyer receiving a shipping delay notice pushed out to their mobile phone. One of the next images illustrates how the buyer can choose between another seller or pick up the item from a local retailer. 

A subsequent image shows the buyer replacing their initial order from fictional eBay Seller "MrAwesomeo" with 6728 feedback with big box retailer Macy's. A QR code receipt is then provided to the buyer to bring with them to Macy's.

This filing should come to no surprise to EcommerceBytes readers who have been following eBay's emerging relationship with big box retailers such as December 2010's "eBay Homepage Drives Holiday Shoppers to Local Retailers" (link), December 2011's "eBay Favors Big-Box Retailers in Holiday Promotions" (link),  and December 2012's "eBay Navigates Big Box Retail Territory with Mobile" (link).

Using history as a guide, December 2013 may turn into a humdinger (humbugger?) of a month for eBay sellers! Do you have any concerns with eBay canceling lost or delayed orders, or would this help protect your feedback/DSRs? Providing your comments below!

P.S. Speaking of Christmas, here is a possible stocking stuffer for you... eBay's own "Computing Device for Custom Golf Club Fitting."

About the Author
Brian Cohen has been an active member of the eBay community since May 1998. He currently trades under the member name Bidofthis.com. His first AuctionBytes article was published in May 2002. Brian can be contacted through his website at BidofThis.com where he always has a "little Bid of This and little Bid of That."




Comments (49) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 20:18:34 2013

And what happens to our misdirected items?

What happens if the buyer makes the re-order from the big box and the package shows up 1 hour later?

WHO pays the return shipping and how will that work?

And, the MOST IMPORTANT question: How much can we sellers take??

MH- PS: Thanks a lot ebay.

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

by: happyharry This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 21:24:47 2013

we ship many International orders almost all arrive at the end or just after ebays estimated delivery guide .....this is a nightmare in the making and just makes us more determined to cut with ebay totally...their ideas are totally anti small/medium sized seller

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Jun 25 22:22:53 2013

eBay has been using search to divert customers to their preferred class of sellers and apparently is not satisfied with the results soooooo...

Now they own a patent to allow them to divert buyers allegedly when items go missing....

It won't be long now before eBay uses their patented program to divert / force buyers to purchase from their designated sellers before the buyer can complete a purchase.

It's only a matter of time before eBay completes the mass extermination of small sellers and purges us from their site.

Be ready to meet your end at the hands of John Donahoe, the time is coming sooner than we all think.

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

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

Tue Jun 25 23:05:45 2013

What ebafia is doings called business interference with a transaction and is illegal in most states.

Ebay has no legal standing in shipping. They aren't the shipper, and they're not the recipient.

Therefore, they have no legal right to interfere with the transaction.

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

by: Henry This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 23:59:19 2013

Once again a ill conceived function in the dwindling marketplace known as eBay. This one is full of building an adversarial relationship between eBay and Sellers and Buyers. Watch for the fireworks.

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

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

Wed Jun 26 00:01:44 2013

Amazing! Glad I don't sell on ebay! I've had more than one buyer write and say the package hasn't gotten here yet where is it? Then I have to go through the bother of checking the DC, emailing them about what is going on, telling them it is out for delivery or whatever (waste of my time)etc.  Then an hour or two later they write that the mailman just brought it. Why do people write about items not arriving before they have gotten that day's mail is something I don't understand. Ebay will make this much worse. Good luck to you ebay diehards.

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 26 00:37:08 2013

This should help Amazon with more sales.  JD is in a rush to sink the ship.

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 26 00:54:48 2013

How much has MACYS etc invested in this little symbiotic relationship?  And wouldn't this be covered under the RICO statutes????

Altho what most NORMAL Americans would think is restraint of trade or interferance is apparently NOT what the court and of course the ALL Powerful Ebay thinks.

And I too can see the day--probably tomorrow----but I am on the East Coast sooooo----when I go to order a widget  from some poor ebay small seller and the program says--That is not the widget you are looking for.

And sends me off to Macys in disguise--or not. Might be right out there in plain sight.

The only--maybe???---people who might benefit from this is if the item is NOT commercialy avail--antiques etc--but that has not stopped ebay from trying to get ME to buy things that have NO relationship to what I was LOOKING for before now has it.  

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

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

Wed Jun 26 00:55:10 2013

LOL ... http://bit.ly/YvxFEg

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 26 01:08:13 2013

BUSINESS INTERFERENCE (good Ming).
So let me get this right. We pay them and they SABATOGE our deal which leads to the loss of our item and $$, and we get negative fb to boot)?
Would not a SMART company fix their existing non-working, 100% glitch filled ''programs'' before they figure out more ways to rip us off- not this company- they do not CARE, as long as the robbery from each insane idea or policy continues, new ways TO STEAL OUR MONEY and MISLEAD US will continue.

To the dear EMPEROR of ebay John Donahoe- After you hijack my deal and the buyer keeps BOTH and NEGS ME, can I please at least have my final value fee back??

Tell me that ebay is a partner and not an enemy?
Tell me that they do not WANT us gone?
I will pump gas for $9 an hour to get out of this place.
MH

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

by: Just My Humble View This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 26 01:53:03 2013

The first thought I had when reading this was: Item Specifics.

eBay encourages sellers to include the UPC and Manufacturer and MPN for items listed. I've avoided including this information, because when I did, other sellers looking for shortcuts, and searching by those numbers, found my items and stole my photos and descriptions.

Now here is another reason NOT to include those numbers. Without them, it seems likely it would make replacing my shipment at least a little more difficult.

My practice has been rather than list (for example) an automotive switch as:
''Manufacturer'' Red Rocker Switch ''Part Number'' 20 Amp 12 Volt DC, I exclude the manufacturer and part number.  I do not include a UPC in the item specifics section, either.

However, I do include a photo of the package (which clearly shows both manufacturer and part number). I have also been including the manufacturer in the item description, which apparently Cassini will be searching. I now need to rethink that.  

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

by: rjrkea This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 26 03:20:29 2013

It sounds like this is a program that eBay if implemented eBay might run on a limited basis or might make optional to sellers on a voluntary basis, at least initially.

What is curious is that they are patenting the process because I actually had a favorable experience on buy.com who seems to have a similar procedure already in place as a backup to their own website's sales.

It appears that they ran out of an item they were selling and transferred a sale to me as their backup. I had no idea they did this and at first, it appeared they were shorting my payment because of a price difference with their site, but after calling I found out I would be reimbursed in full, so I went ahead with the transaction and all went well.

So it would appear that another site does this, in some form, already.

As for it being done on eBay, IMHO the ''big box'' sellers don't necessarily provide a better experience for buyers that I do. So I am not sure buyers will be better off if it's ''big boxes'' that get defaulted to.

If you look at the neutral and negative feedback of a number of large sellers, you will see many aggrieved buyers and on simple points like communication and being out of stock and slow shipping.

Are those really the sellers to whom ebay wants these transactions laterally passed?

Finally, I don't trust the time estimates that these computer programs generate.

I have run into time estimates on my listings on amazon during the holiday season and they are seriously out of whack. They would often put the outside delivery estimate weeks into the future for domestic orders, when the overwhelming number of my deliveries were done within 7 calendar days even though I am in California.

This just seems to be one more way for eBay to undermine the work a seller puts into becoming a Top Rated Seller and takes away the seller's job of handling the buyer in that situation.

So based on that, I have serious cause for concern on how the delivery times above would be calculated and presented.

Here is one that the eBay could do to help get things in order. Currently the PO states on PS Form 5630 [the SCAN Form] that POS ONE scanners [retail clerk scanners] ''are not yet programmed to accept this barcode. MCDC scanners [carrier version] must be used.'' Since this SCAN form is the one eBay generates when using eBay shipping, it would be great if they would put some pressure on the PO to get the front desk scanner programmed so the acceptance info would be updated nightly for those of us that go to the desk to drop off packages and use services. Buyers really like timely information on their orders and getting that might help allay fears  about delayed packages.

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

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

Wed Jun 26 05:53:35 2013

Wow
That is unbelievable.

I am going to publish this thread wherever I can.
Just to make people realise how evil ebay are.

If anyone lists on there in the future they mus be crazy!


eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Jun 26 07:13:30 2013

The reason I started shopping online is to AVOID going to the mall. If an online selling site is going to send me or people like me to the BM stores, then that site becomes an expendable middleman.


I worked at Macy's a long time ago. Customer service CAN be a nightmare position. Imagine dealing face to face with buyers that eBay sent to pick up packages that can't be found, are at another store, wrong item, QR code won't scan, or are located in some ''glitch'' black hole.

Imagine being the seller who ''scooped'' another seller's sale. The second seller will likely be the recipient of FB/DSRs that reflects the ENTIRE  buyer experience.

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jun 26 07:31:01 2013

I'm still waiting on the book 1001 Ways to Run a Seller off of eBay.  It's written already if someone would simply synthesize the content.

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Wed Jun 26 08:26:12 2013

Ebay: the Wal!Mart of online sales.

Or how we took Mom&Pop stores and closed them in favour of the Big Bad Box Diamonds.

The line to the soup kitchen is getting longer - maybe Emperor Ho can use a few more gardeners for the estate.

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 26 10:54:19 2013

Divert sales is just plain wrong.  I don't give a dam if a patent has been filed or not. Wrong is wrong. ''Just a venue''  Since when?? When it was started, then slowly went away from that theory, but they draw that phrase like a gun.
ebay has been giving out ridiculous shipping times. Think maybe this has been in the works all along. I had to start sending the shipping info directly to the buyers(the few that I had) showing the dc number along with estimate times via USPS and state this is by the delivery carrier and not ebay time frame. ebay will state 2 day delivery time frame, then when they see it hasn't been delivered, they go the divert route. It's almost like ebay is telling USPS what the delivery will be - regardless of distance etc..I have had ebay state on the listing del in 2 days going cross country via 1st class mail? USPS says 2-5 working days. Confuses the buyer???? JD wants ''good'' buyer experience so he pulls this crap??. Now it makes sense with the divert sales crap.
Big box on ebay will end when the small sellers are gone.  That is why the 10.00 offer to new sellers. JD wants them to be ''not'' sellers but buyers. So, is he paying for people to ''buy'' ??
I really doubt if JD or any board or top people ever buy anything on ebay. I know they don't sell the way they set things up.
I would really like to know the actual number of buyers and sellers. Not someone who bought something 10 years ago and has since died that are still be counted in the numbers.  In just about any corporation you can manipulate the numbers to meet your requirements by any means, such as number of users are up. When in fact they have x number new accounts in the previous quarter that they just add, however, they may have lost double that number in the same time period. It's all how you perceive the numbers vs your need at the time.  Reminds me of Pres Clinton remark - '' Did not have sex''. It,s all the way ''you'' want it appear to be.

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

by: dans parts This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 26 11:42:38 2013

@Julia -

''would this help protect your feedback/DSRs?''

Who says eBay will provide a mechanism to:

1) keep the original Seller from getting a Neg/low DSR's

2) keep the secondary Seller from getting dinged on same if Buyer takes ''whole transaction'' into context of Feedback (as Basset mentioned above).

I certainly wouldn't trust eBay that far...

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Wed Jun 26 11:43:19 2013

we small business sellers need to form a union. there are more of us. we could also keep the big retailers limited with our own union.

now how do we do this?

eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?   eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Wed Jun 26 13:04:46 2013

Quick Survey Sellers:

Are you using a SKU barcode info for your products in Item Specifics?

Please send me your yes or no to scrappyautoparts@gmail.com

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