Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Fri Oct 13 2017 22:41:21

eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

By: Ina Steiner

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On Tuesday we reported that eBay was adding Make an Offer "haggling" to sellers' auction listings with no warning or explanation of why dynamic auctions would need such a feature. Two days later it apologized to sellers in an email it sent to those who were impacted:

"You may have noticed that a Best Offer option was recently added to some of your auction listings created between October 8 and 10. This feature was added to your listings in error. We apologize for the error. We are working to remove the Best Offer feature from your active listings and plan to do so by end of day, Friday, October 13.

"In the meantime, if you wish to avoid receiving offers on affected listings, you can revise your active listings to auto-decline all best offers below your starting price. This will ensure that you will not receive any Best Offer requests for this listing period. However, if your item automatically relists, the Best Offer option will appear on the relisted item. You can revise a listing's auto-decline amount by going to Manage Offer settings on the listing's item page.

"We apologize for any confusion this issue may have caused, and we thank you for selling on eBay."

As we had written, a major concern was that the feature signaled that the starting price of auctions sporting the Make an Offer feature was too high in eBay's determination, which could be devastating to sellers hoping for higher bids, not lowball offers. See the details here.

eBay didn't respond to or acknowledge our request for clarification, sending a further signal about the level of importance it places on providing clear information to sellers. 

eBay moderators did go into several discussion boards where sellers were discussing the issue. On Thursday morning, moderator trinton@ebay wrote:

"I wanted to step in and provide an update on this topic. We have identified an issue where the Best Offer option was incorrectly added to some auction listings that were created between October 8th and 10th. We are actively working on a fix for the impacted listings. We have identified affected sellers and will email them with further instructions. We will be testing this feature with a small number of lower-volume consumer sellers in the coming weeks."

Questions continued, and on Friday, trinton@eBay posted, "Hi, happy to clear up our intentions for this feature. While testing will be performed to gauge the overall impact and changes may occur, the current setup is that if a bid is received on an Auction, the Best Offer option would no longer be available. If there is a Best Offer pending and a bid is received, the Best Offer would automatically be declined. The Best Offer is only intended to be an additional option and would not interfere with the bidding process."

A seller wrote, "So I'm confused as usual. Is this an error that was made on some listings. or is this something that eBay is testing. or both an error and something eBay is testing for future implementation." 

Trinton@ebay replied, "Sorry for the confusion! The error was that this feature was applied to a larger audience than intended and earlier than was planned. This will be a feature that we test in the near future, but with a smaller group of sellers to start."

The whole kerfuffle led to passionate discussions about auction selling strategies and whether adding "Best Offer" to auction format listings any made sense. "I've been so outraged about how this happened......it's driven any idea of whether or not I like the idea/think it could work," noted one seller.

Another pointed out, "The purpose of an auction is for the price to go up. The purpose of best offer is for the price to go down."

It's one thing to gripe about a lack of communication or to disagree about a feature. But when eBay disrupts listings, it can cost sellers money and the goodwill of their customers. 

The fact that eBay didn't automatically credit sellers fees for the listings that were impacted by its error speaks volumes about the current state of its leadership and their attitude towards customers.

Comments (68) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Oct 15 10:17:14 2017

@Rexford

Why would eBay do that?

I sell a LOW risk item.

Very few returns if any, very few complaints if any.

Most of my customers are PROFESSIONAL aircraft mechanics

They don't have time to play games!

They have aircraft to get back into the air for people like you to fly on.

PS: I choose to SPECIALIZE in tools instead of trying to sell trinkets, clothes or cheap chinese electronics. . .

I LOVE MY JOB (at least I keep telling myself that ~ LOL)

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 15 12:36:05 2017

Tool ... you are ONLY successful - because you have virtually NO competition.

While you scoff at sellers of other items - know that its THOSE items - their existence and sales that keep most of the economy growing.

If you had another 10 competitors - you'de be out of business, in 5 minutes.

Those of us who do sell other items - the problem ISNT with the items - its with eBay and how it treats us as sellers.

Again its the mall comparison. If you had a mall with 30 stores...

Of course you need 3-5 anchor stores - Macys, Toys R Us, Pennys, Sears .... and then you have 26 more spaces to fill. THOSE SPACES are the rest of us sellers on eBay.

Would you as mall owner put up signs saying "dont buy from the other 26 stores they are more ... expensive, dont give you 60 day returns, etc? If you DID - those store would leave (you cant put that kind of BS in a lease btw). You need rent from the other 26 - you cant hide them, you cant belittle them, you cant tell them what brands to carry, you cant decide that YOU know whats real or fake and raid their stores, you cant tell them what payment methods to take, and you cant decide what their returns policies should be. Those ARENT your concern or business - unless you are partners with them.

Thats NOT however the case with eBay. eBay who ISNT your partner decides for itself what it wants YOUR POLICIES to be. At what point does eBay become your partner? how much control over what YOU DO should they have?

Imagine if you got your mary jane farm creme and someone from a state where its still illegal tell you that you cant have it! You would yell and scream right?  CA (in their dopiness) says its ok - so why does someone from Michigan (just a random example) get to tell YOU what to do. The INVERSE works with CA and its smog regulations btw,

The other point and most important ... 1) why do it during 4q? and OH YEH - why didnt eBay make an announcement ? Where is their responsibilities to their sellers?   (if 420 became legal and you had a whole farm full and then in the middle of the night it became ILLEGAL again - wouldnt you say that you deserve a notice before the state comes and burns it all down? Dont you expect that courtesy? so why not eBay sellers?

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Oct 15 12:54:31 2017

@pace

"If you had another 10 competitors - you'de be out of business, in 5 minutes."

When I came to eBay as a seller in 2000 there were about 100 aircraft tool sellers on eBay.

Today that number is over 5,000, maybe even as high as 10,000

10 more tool sellers wouldn't even be noticed. . .

That's like saying if 100 new headphone sellers came to eBay you would be out of business. . .Stop being so SILLY or I'll start to think you're smoking pot! ~ LOL

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Oct 15 13:10:35 2017

@pace

If you're so smart with wisdom & connections how come you haven't built a site to compete with eBay?

It's easy to sit back and complain, how about REALLY doing something about it?

I think that only fear (of failing) is holding you back!

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

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

Sun Oct 15 20:19:05 2017

This latest insult is but another in a nine year long series of ebafia decisions that clearly demonstrate their complete and total disregard for their customers' businesses and their success and profitability.

This, IMO, is what we should be discussing rather than the red herring arguments our resident pothead continually interjects.

Ebafia management essentially has two business model choices:

1. Make the platform simple and easy for both sellers and buyers to use, create a systemic environment that fairly protects buyers from dishonest sellers and protect sellers from dishonest buyers, and provide a policy and customer service framework that enables businesses and hobby sellers to succeed.

2. Extract as much 'wallet' as possible from sellers by any means necessary including committing theft, aiding and abetting fraud, and intentionally deceiving sellers with falsehoods in order to achieve short term gain. Eliminate/reduce as many ebafia liabilities as possible even though they know it may and probably will have long term negative financial consequences. Invest in technologies that impress the impressionable but that are unwanted and unneeded by their customers. Don't invest in improving the functionality of the site to make it more relevant and faster to use -- this costs money better spent on mechanisms to take more money out of sellers' pockets.

Ebafia, of course, has chosen the second business model.

It is a guaranteed prescription for failure.

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 15 20:32:56 2017

Ming we are in the process of failure for a long while now, the platform is being corrupted by sponsored listings, Seller Hub an interface designed to sell promoted listings, stores and value added services to sellers the don't want to buy, and the folly of forcing sellers into Seller Hub, something they do not want or need.

This ruins the performance of the current eBay script they use to run the website in a giant way, it also ruins the attitude of sellers, they just don't want to put in the work when they are working on a sub standard platform that is always changing for the worse, and they certainly don't want to invest money in the platform when there is little to no ROI.

eBay should have been investing in traffic like Walmart did in their blockbuster deal and partnership with Google, instead we get goofy ads on filling your cart with color that was a massive failure.

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 15 21:14:11 2017

Today that number is over 5,000 .... right .. of course.

"If you're so smart with wisdom & connections how come you haven't built a site to compete with eBay?" - sure just lend me the millions ur making off your crop and I will :)

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Oct 15 23:37:36 2017

The local bearded wonder (Justin Turner) puts the lid on tonight's game against the Cubs!

GO DODGERS!

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Oct 16 06:42:38 2017

Toolguy says "Why would eBay do that?"

Have you not been watching the changes that eBay have been implementing slowly but surely over the years?  The ever increasing emphasis on commodities, Chinese manufactured goods, big box retailer items, new items, items that now require UPC codes.  You've mentioned many times that Amazon is not for you, but the marketplace you love so dearly uses Amazon's playbook for their "growth" and wants TO BE Amazon (dare to dream).  Gated categories could be (and likely will be) a thing of the future and if they gate the category that you sell in you will be toast.

So do continue to keep all of your eggs in one basket tool.  Your "why would eBay do that to me" mentality may get you in the end.

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 16 10:44:31 2017

Here is reality on the current management of eBay under Devin...

  https://seekingalpha.com/article/4113640-ebays-best-days-behind

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 16 10:47:19 2017

... "reverse auction" feature where bidders make best offers & seller accepts best of best offer... however, that would only be a suitable if buy now best offer was not already an option... the theory on auctions is start low, bidders bid up to what they want to pay... this would cripple auctions, as no bidder who place a bid... funny that w/ low traffic, sellers are advised to start at lowest they can accept... yet, apparently, eBay thinks either the price isn't low enough, or, the newbie doesn't know how to price their items.

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 16 10:51:58 2017

More from the above linked article....

GMV isn't ballooning like it used to

To tack on to the acquisition disappointments, StubHub - which provides about 5% of its GMV and has driven strong growth for eBay since the company acquired it for $310 million in 2007 - is seeing declining GMV.

eBay reported Q2 GMV for StubHub of $1.0 billion, down 5% y/y, citing "a softer U.S. events landscape compared to last year." The revenue growth StubHub did provide was due mostly to Ticketbis, the international ticketing company eBay acquired in 2016.

What investors want to see is an uptick in both organic growth and the core eBay business, and this isn't happening. eBay's core Marketplace platform saw total GMV of $20.5 billion in Q2, up only 3% y/y. Furthermore, the website's user growth isn't accelerating too quickly either - the company added 2 million users in Q2 to expand its global active buyer base to 171 million, or only a 1% quarter/quarter growth.


Margins declining

In times of slow revenue growth, what we'd expect from a well-managed company is that it begins to harvest cash and improve margins to maximize profits. Technology investors can forgive margin deterioration or outright losses if they are accompanied by strong top-line growth, but when growth is flat, investors want to see profit expansion.

eBay's operating income has largely held flat in the past five years, as has its revenue. During this time, operating margins have contracted slightly - from a high of 30% in 2013 to just 26% in 2015 and 2016.



4% might not sound like a lot, but on $9 billion of revenues, 4% translates to $360 million, or nearly one full quarter of GAAP net profit for eBay.

Making matters worse, margin deterioration has continued into 2017. Q2 saw 330 bps of margin deterioration, with operating margin of only 20.5% compared to 23.8% in 2Q16. Operating income itself fell 10% y/y to $478 million, down from $531 million in 2Q16, erasing all of the benefits of some (though not stellar) top-line growth.

To explain this erosion of margins, the company primarily cites in its 10-Q "increased costs from acquired businesses" and "expansion of our Marketplace customer support offerings" have driven gross margins down by 2%. The remainder of the margin decline owed to an increase in general and administrative costs, primarily to support acquisition integration - surely, a sign of ineffective management during times of flat growth.

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 16 11:14:41 2017

http://www.nasdaq.com/article/ebay-earnings-preview-what-to-watch-cm85
9939

 Walmart is making deals with Google and grew at 60% while Devin is depending on 'Fill your cart with Color' ads that no one watches as eBay growth grinds to a halt.

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Oct 16 12:45:23 2017

@toolguy
I did a search recently where items would not come up if the words were ordered differently.  Think like "marvel legends wolverine" vs "wolverine marvel legends" (no quotes in actual search).  When you figure many non-English languages put adjectives _after- nouns, or that a search may be cumulatively filtering, relying on word order matches (unless specifically denoted with quotes) is not helpful.

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 16 13:30:26 2017

September was a new record for eBay sales (or lack of sales), I went three plus weeks without booking a sale on eBay.

October started off with a few eBay sales, but now into a second week of no eBay sales.  

The eBay apology is nice, but no sales is no sales.

I heartily agree with Mr. Pace306: ''Malls don't hide stores from shoppers. They don't say ''don't buy from Macy's they only have a 30 day return policy ''

They also don't tell the store what payment methods to use or tell them what brands to carry.''

Mall managements (successful ones at least) take the rent money and stand out of the way.

As my eBay fees have dropped from a monthly high of $500 a few years back to now a few bucks a month (and this must be true of hundreds of thousands of eBay sellers) eBay must be losing a lot of bucks from small sellers.  Hard to justify those 7 figure bonuses for the top management...

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Oct 16 13:37:36 2017

@RKTOYS

I've seen the same myself and I wasn't impressed

Stopped and made me think that's for sure. . . .

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Oct 16 13:39:44 2017

@Toledo Maude

My worst week this year!

Sept. 8th - Sept. 14th

I normally sell $1200 a week, last week was only $450

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Mon Oct 16 13:42:47 2017

While On The Subject Of eBay Attempting To Plump Their Abysmal Quarterly Results Before The Next Financial Report...........

Just noticed this- in Selling Manager Pro, when a buyer paid for shipping the mailing price was not counted as part of your gross sales total.

Seller Hub includes the cost of shipping PAID FOR BY THE BUYER as gross income for statistical purposes. This has to be wrong in so many ways. So will this (shipping cost) be included on our 1099-K statement as taxable income??

@Marie:
You are an accountant, what do you think about this????

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 16 16:30:58 2017

the issue is that eBay is SLOWLY running out of games - ie ways to cheat the system and show growth quarter after quarter.

Kissing the butts of manufacturers ala Skullcandy DIDNT work. They made a VERO deal to rid eBay of small sellers, opened a platinum store, harvested all the emails then booked. Lots of $$ upfront, nothing long term.

Kissing the butts of large retailers ala Macys DIDNT work. They opened a platinum store, harvested all the emails then booked. Lots of $$ upfront, nothing long term. Even eBays hidding thier feedback numbers didnt help.

Kissing the butts of large self styled distributors DIDNT work. They opened a platinum store, harvested new business sellers then booked. Lots of $$ upfront, nothing long term.

All these things plus the obstinate bull headed ideas - concentrating on returns, blocking sellers from leaving negatives, letting buyers rip off sellers - none of these things helped.

Seeking Alpha is FINALLY getting the idea - the right idea of why eBay isnt growing.

eBay refuses to work with smaller sellers - they wont call them, offer them a rep, offer them better terms, they wont do ANYTHING - so where will the growth come from?

eBay stock rises a few cents here and there because its SAFE, nothing exciting, nothing revolutionary ... nothing.

eBay isnt going OOB - not anytime soon or even at all (forseeable future) ... but theres NO GROWTH.

Perminate Link for eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue   eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 16 17:32:36 2017

Let's all get real here, Devin talks a good talk about 'velocity and moving boxes' at eBay open but he does not have a clue on how to attract real buyers to  eBay or what is really needed, new customers.

Walmart does not have their own 'smart speaker' like Amazon does, but they cut a major deal with Google to get traffic to their site from the Google speaker and the search engine.

In the mean time eBay sellers sit around  on their hands waiting in vain for inventory turns while Devin continues to tell them to buy stores and promoted listings so they can appeal to his imaginary customers.

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