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Thu July 4 2013 19:31:33

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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eBay has launched a new eBay Best Offer Beta, testing out a new way for buyers to make offers to sellers. I've always liked the "Best Offer" feature, and have made many sales that way. But although eBay is touting the new system as beneficial to both buyers and sellers, I wondered what others think of it.

Some sellers who list in the few categories where the Best Offer Beta is being tried out - Computers, Tablets, and Networking; Jewelry & Watches; and Art - say it is not an improvement over the old way for sellers, though it may be better for buyers. Others point out it may not be great for some buyers either because at least for now they're unaware of the extra step of needing to  "commit" to the offer.

"I recently accepted the count-offer...and the auction ENDED with NO payment made," wrote on eBayer on the New-Beta-Best board on the Seller Central Forum. "I thought the whole purpose of the NEW B-O system was to make sure buyers PAY...now, I am still waiting for payment...in the meantime, the auction already ENDED!!! Who knows, I could've sold it to another buyer with "Buy It Now."

"A high percentage of "impulse" purchases will fail by delaying a Buyer's actual commitment to purchase by allowing them yet another decision point (are you REALLY sure that you want to buy this? Are you SURE????), wrote another. "Buyers can go around "fishing" for an undefined time limit (days, weeks, months?) without any true commitment while the seller stays on the hook."

Sellers also say that if buyers were unaware of the new extra step of "committing" to an offer, offers would expire. And that wouldn't be good for either of them. "In addition to the loss of impulse buyers, many serious buyer-accepted offers were lost too because they might have not responded in time to "commit"...a lot of buyers were not even aware this new update," said one seller. "I had at least 2 buyers who had overlooked the extra (necessary) steps (and) only found out later after I specifically send ebay messages to alert them about my accepted best offers."

He advised sellers should look at their items with most watchers, "and you might be surprised at how many expired [not committed] auto-accepted offers. I was so depressed to find three expired auto-accepted best offers [amount to over $2000]; who know how many more I have missed since the new update."
 
But an eBayer named "Black*Max" pointed out that there were benefits to the new system. "The good thing is buyers can make offers to more than one seller, then only pay for the best one. The old way the sellers that made the sale would never have received the offer." He added that sellers "have long been able to hold more than one offer at a time on the table," and now buyers can do the same thing.
 
The thinking was more buyers would use Best Offer "if they are not held hostage for 48 hrs while a seller waits for better offers."

I was unaware that sellers were "holding hostage" buyers. As a seller, I have always looked at it as, either this offer is reasonable or acceptable to me, or it isn't. There may have been times when I took a day or so to get back to the offer-maker, but I almost always accepted, declined, or countered. The main thing I worry about with this new Best Offer system is it's adding another layer of complication to the whole offer-acceptance process, an extra step which may munge up the sale for various reasons.

What do you think of the new Best Offer, either as a seller or a buyer? Do you like being able to extend multiple offers on, say, a pair of shoes of a certain brand or size, and wait to see which seller accepts it? Have you tried out the new Best Offer system?  Post a comment here!




Comments (17) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Jul 4 19:58:41 2013

I'm not sure I understand most of the complaints I hear about this.  The seller isn't ''on the hook''.  They accept the offer and the buyer has a non-binding commitment to buy it at that price.  When the buyer pays, it only then becomes a purchase.  So in the case where the seller complains that the auction ended but they might have made a sale otherwise, no you wouldn't.  In the old system your auction would have ended and then the buyer didn't pay leaving you on the hook and possibly losing you a sale.  Here you simply got no buyer but that best offer didn't block anyone from bidding or pull stock from the shelves.

The only real problem with this system (and was mentioned in the article) is the extra step.  The more steps you add a process the more complicated it gets.  A better solution might be to go through the payment process when submitting the offer and then if accepted it is immediately paid for right then.  I'm sure many buyers would be put off by that as well though.  And it would make multiple purchases impossible.

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

This user has validated their user name. by: WOODJUNGLE! ON EBAY

Thu Jul 4 20:05:06 2013

Ebay's practice is to break what is not broken.  BIN now was fine before and of course, they are in the process of breaking it.

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Jul 4 22:00:04 2013

BIN was not fine.  Back in 2007 I was selling iPhones and had someone put a best offer for my asking price.  I was dumb and accepted even though I had immediate payment required enabled. The buyer didn't pay.

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 5 01:17:34 2013

Ebay delibertly sets out to make things SOOO much more complex than needed--usually just for sellers but in this case for BOTH buyers and sellers alike.

I have had SEVERAL "Best Offers" in the past few weeks since I decided to test this myself and with ONE exception I have NOT been paid for ANY of the offers.  I have ACCEPTED or had them AUTO ACCEPTED and still--NO PAYMENTS.  The bidders claim they "Didn't KNOW they had to PAY"  or one allegedly had a sudden family emergency and contacted me several SECONDs after she made an insulting (one third the asking price;  which was already 90% OFF the retail!)  offer--then she went right on buying--and presumably PAYING--for OTHER items (at least they were not the same things as I was selling!)  

When I called her out on that one I was told that "You need to not be so angry and Jesus will make your life better".  Ummm--really?  

I don't think I was--angry--so much as annoyed that she LIED to me and then bold faced went and bought MORE ITEMS.  And tried to get ME to feel--what--guilty?  For--what exactly?

On other ones I just have not gotten paid at all--no emails no contacts nada.  

I kinda like the idea of the auto-accept/reject--but surely ebay COULD add on the PAY IMMED feature to these.

And make it EASIER to do so--and make it firmly understood that a WINNING BID IS A BUY.

Oh sorry I musta slipped off into dreamland for a sec there.  

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jul 5 03:32:37 2013

I've always thought that Make an Offer is a great idea!

The seller does not have to accept it.

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 5 12:16:51 2013

We use best offer on most items, we rarely do auctions anymore.  They are too unstructured.

With BIN and best offer we remain in control.  Buyers hate that.  Remember all the bitching and moaning about reserves?  

When ebay jacked up the price of reserves that changed the face of ebay at that time, we could no longer use auctions and control the minimum price except by listing the starting price at the least we were willing to accept.  Buyers didn't like that even though they were often willing to go higher than that starting price.  So they stopped bidding, instead they bid on the same item priced cheaper, sometimes it went high enough, but it almost never would today.

Auctions were play.  It was a game, trying to get a bargain. Then reality set in and people would bid in a frenzy up to where it was no longer a good price.  

Sometimes items would go higher, I had things sell on ebay for more than you could just buy it at Walmart. It was nuts.  

Without reserves those items could not be sold that way that day on ebay, because it was too risky for the seller. They should bring back reserves!  That will get the actions going, ebay is so slow now.

As to best offers, some people lowball everything, we normally just ignore lowball best offers, let them expire.  Some offer $350 on a $400 item and we accept it.

We have some text in our listings that talks about how much might be acceptable in a best offer, we'd never list something on ebay for $400 we were willing to sell for $50.  That would be nuts.  Why would anyone do that?

But maybe a $400 item for $350 might be OK, especially if it's been listed a couple weeks.  

If it's been unsold longer maybe $300 might be OK.

We do have some goofballs making $20 offers on a $300 item.  We'd scrap it before we'd sell it for that on ebay. Then there are items with free shipping, naturally the offer has to cover the *free* shipping, if it doesn't I sometimes respond and say ''I can't go that low with free shipping.''

I think the new best offer is an improvement, because you gotta put your money where your mouth is.

Making offers you don't follow through on and the item can't sell to someone else who actually will perform is the problem.  

I think ebay did this one OK.  

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: flatlandsagain This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 5 14:37:22 2013

Best Offer seems often misunderstood by buyers, they can get upset when their offer is simply ''what they can afford'' not ''what the item is worth'' and it gets rejected.  

All this new development does is to make the buying process more complicated. In reality, how many different sellers are going to allow this process on exactly the same item - is it really a big benefit to buyers?  

Why not spend the cost of development on fee reductions or better customer service?

I agree with Steevo, auctions are becoming a less reliable way of selling something, especially if it's unusual. There isn't the same volume of buyers as a few years ago, or maybe there's just too many sellers.  

Perhaps ebay are experimenting with the Buy It Now model to replace the auction concept. In any case, if you're selling more on Buy It Now why use ebay at all. Set up your own website and sell through that, using ebay as just another source of traffic.

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

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

Fri Jul 5 16:31:18 2013

The problem is, if the ''offer'' is non-binding the buyer has a free opportunity to see our bottom line price with NO REPERCUSSIONS.
If a buyer makes an OFFER, it must be BINDING IF WE ACCEPT.
I will not accept any offers or add it as an option if it is not binding- end of story- ebay can screw around with it all they want but I will not offer it.
BUSINESS INTERFERENCE.
RESTRICTION OF TRADE.
Oh, ebay is JUST A VENUE, right?!

MH

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Nolle

Fri Jul 5 16:54:11 2013

this is all just plain stupid.  K.I.S.S. always prevails.

forget ''fun'' auctions, forget ''make an offer'' (yeah, that tells me you will take less than what you are asking...duhhhh).

just do some legwork, just set a fair price, fixed price, immediate payment. you will get the $$ you want, no dead beats.  simple transaction.  

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 5 22:45:21 2013

This feature is still in flux. 2 weeks ago, I was warned that I had to pay in order to secure an item. This week, I was able to 'commit' to an 'accepted' offer without payment-- just like the old days. I think eBay realized that immediate payment would interfere with combined shipping. Here's the exact text of the e-mail notifications:

6/18 ''Remember, this item isn’t reserved for you because it’s included in the NEW! Best Offer Beta . Until you pay for it, someone else could buy the item. To make it yours, please pay now.''

7/2 ''Remember, this item isn't reserved for you because it's included in the NEW! Best Offer Beta . Until you commit to buy it, someone else could buy the item. To make it yours, commit to buy it.''  

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 5 23:01:15 2013

@NullApps

You're describing how the feature was announced and initially implemented. That's not how it works now. Here's the current flow:

1) Buyer submits offer
2) Seller accepts offer
3) Buyer 'commits' to offer
4) Item is removed from seller's inventory
5) Buyer pays at their leisure

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: elancep This user has validated their user name.
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Sat Jul 6 18:08:16 2013

I think this actually will lead to more sales as most eBay buyers are price driven. For those sellers that find it inconvenient to message and haggle with buyers who may not purchase they can always disable the feature and stick with BIN.

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: nsc This user has validated their user name.
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Sun Jul 7 00:12:08 2013

I think ebay has managed to confuse the buyers. I have seen an increase in the number of buyers who offer to buy something in a message without buying it; they ask me to send them an invoice. But I can't do that without their email, which they would have to sneak past the ebay message censor. So usually I just tell them to buy the item. But I sense a growing confusion on the subject.

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: Henry This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 8 11:28:25 2013

Another absurd idea from eBay. The last thing a buyer needs is a distraction - Ads on listings - now best offer showing other options - ridiculous.

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: unbelievablefinds This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Jul 9 19:51:08 2013

The new best offer is an absolute failure and hands down the worst idea ebay has come up with. I have a large, diverse inventory and art has always been my top selling category until the best offer beta started. Since the switch, I have watched a consistent decline in sales in that category.

I've heard nothing but complaints from buyers about the new format, not a single one likes it, especially repeat customers. Not only does it create more steps for the buyer, which goes against the core principles of commerce, but it has also caused my shipping costs to increase (due to top rated seller requirements and buyer confusion on the process) and it made a simple process confusing for buyers. You do not make it more difficult for a buyer to make a purchase, but ebay has done just that.

It has also created more work for sellers. I now message every buyer when I accept an offer because the majority of them have no idea that they have to accept my accepting their offer (sounds stupid, but that is exactly what ebay has done). If I don't do that, the accepted offer expires every time.

I have seen that some posts think it's a good idea. That just tells me those people have not had to deal with the new format. If you're a high volume seller, it is a royal pain to have to contact customers every time you accept an offer. It's added, unnecessary work for everyone and is costing sellers revenue. As for suggesting that sellers switch to only BIN is rather ignorant. I've done both and best offer blows BIN in sales conversions out of the water, there is no comparison, best offer dominates BIN in sales conversions.

Ebay needs to get rid of this train wreck called best offer beta.  

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: flatlandsagain This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 4 17:25:11 2013

I just bought something for collection from the seller using the new style best offer. As I'm collecting I could pay cash, but the new system means I MUST pay by PayPal - the goods are not mine until I pay. For most deals PayPal is fine but having no other option - even though the seller allows collection - seems like we have lost something. And Ebay gets some more fees.

eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?   eBay's New Best Offer: Better for Buyers or Sellers?

by: shoplucky This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 28 16:36:09 2013

I'm a long time eBay user.
We've had an account with eBay since 2002. The correct title for this article should be "eBay's New Best Offer: WORSE for Buyers or Sellers?".
Let me tell you something. On paper the eBay executives probably felt they were doing the right thing. Implementing something so complicated to run smoothly and without bugs is a different story. eBay single-handedly destroyed their Best-Offer system. Their sales of under $1000 have increased, but in over $1000 it has dipped dramatically. There are bugs such as sellers not getting their offers and buyers not getting their notices that the seller has accepted their offers. There is/was a bug when someone makes an offer on an item and it finally goes through as a sale, the buyer gets an invoice FOR THE FULL AMOUNT.
They presented this to all the eBay users almost overnight. Buyers and sellers didn't see this coming. They also present it as a BETA program so they can sort of get away with having bugs. But I have to say that in a BETA program you have the option to OPT OUT and use the old working format. I didn't ask to be a guinea pig. I'm losing major sales because of this, and eBay is losing major final value fees. Maybe that's why they raised the fees to compensate for the lost revenue. Someone messed up, BIG TIME.  



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