Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Dec 18 2012 22:25:40

eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is conducting a survey of sellers this month as it tries to understand their motivation in selling online. In addition to questions about where they sell, in which categories, and where they acquired the goods they sell online, eBay asked probing questions about why they sell online and how they feel about selling online.

For example, when eBay asked sellers to rate the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with certain statements about selling online, options included:

I sell online to supplement my household income to help pay for extras or luxuries
I sell online primarily to clear out personal or household items I no longer need or want
Selling is one of my primary sources of income
I make a full time living selling online but don't think of myself as a business
Selling online is my sole source of income
I sell online to supplement my household income to help pay for basic needs

In another example, eBay asked sellers to rate the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with certain statements, such as, "I like the excitement of auctions," "It is important to me that I run my own business," and "Selling online makes me feel like part of a community."

One can picture market researchers putting respondents into certain buckets with associated psychological profiles, perhaps "the gambler" who sells on eBay for the excitement, and then trying to market to those groups using different tactics.

Take a look at the following question and let me know what you think eBay is getting at with these statements.

Please indicate how much you agree with each of the following statements as it applies to your online selling behavior. Please use a scale of 0 to 10, where "0" means "Disagree Completely" and "10" means "Agree Completely."

I worry about selling to buyers outside the US
I like the excitement of auctions
It is important to me that I run my own business
Selling online makes me feel like part of a community
I sell items that are specific to a collection or hobby
I consider the fees associated with selling before deciding where to list my item
I am careful about how and where I choose to sell
If an online channel had a reward program based on how much I sell, I would probably sell more in that channel
Selling is a great way to get rid of things I no longer need/want
I only sell items for extra money when I need it
I avoid selling items that will involve a lot of communication with the buyer(s)
I'm always looking for ways to sell items faster
I enjoy using technology to sell online
I only sell items when I have spare time
Selling online is easy
I enjoy sharing knowledge with potential buyers
I enjoy negotiating with potential buyers
I am always looking for ways to sell more items
I go out of my way to satisfy my buyers
I am willing to pay higher selling fees for added listing site benefits if I get more support from the channel
I'm always looking for ways to increase my profits
I go out of my way to build loyal customers
Selling online is hassle free

You can read more about the survey in Wednesday's EcommerceBytes Newsflash newsletter.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed Dec 19 00:38:54 2012

eBay is looking for the pressure points sellers feel so they can probe, poke and prick sellers even harder in the New Year.

Notice how very few of the questions deal with the sellers relationship with eBay... I guess they already have heard the "noise" of disgust many small sellers feel toward eBay.

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

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

Wed Dec 19 04:46:43 2012

So, after all these years the current bunch of headless turkeys, that are running around in circles in the eBay executive suite, still don't have the faintest idea of what made eBay the great success that it used to be. Could I suggest they consult their chief headless turkey: he supposedly has all the knowledge, not ...

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Dec 19 06:43:41 2012

''I am willing to pay higher selling fees for added listing site benefits if I get more support from the channel''

This is most likely the little nugget that will allow 'em to say: ''Sellers have told us they are willing to pay higher selling fees.....''

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Dec 19 07:43:22 2012

Basset found it! ~ Data from this survey will be used to justify increases in fees... along with the predictable ''you spoke, we listened'' nonsense and the net increased being described as ''our lowest fees ever''.

Reading through the questions and topics, the few times that eBay obliquely addressed any seller concerns & problems, I couldn't help but notice that these items could fall into one category called: ''Problems that eBay has created or made worse over the years''.

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Dec 19 09:01:03 2012

With all of their "big data", how can they not know their seller.

I do think Basset nailed it.  Ebay are known for using the surveys for their benefit.

I can't wait to pay even higher fees for no visibility.

I wouldn't touch this survey with a ten foot pole.  I have learned that eBay do not really want to take advice from their sellers. I feel that they just want to manipulate the data to their advantage.

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Dec 19 09:45:01 2012

-- ''I wouldn't touch this survey with a ten foot pole.''

Same here, Rexford. I grew weary of eBay's polls about a year ago and haven't participated in any of them since then.

Looking back, I'm a bit embarrassed that I held out hope for so long... thinking that maybe, perhaps, if I provided eBay with frank and honest responses they would get a clue.

At the time, I took each poll question at face-value. Over time, I stopped looking at individual questions and instead looked at the entire survey. Also, by paying attention to groups of questions... the topics and themes addressed in those questions... and the choices provided, I was able to put the puzzle pieces together and construct a more realistic view of the purpose for each survey.

Over the months, it was easier to see that these surveys don't exist in a vacuum, and that eBay isn't soliciting general data to come up with some (as of yet) undetermined improvements.

Instead, it became clear to me that the surveys were carefully constructed to GUIDE the respondents into providing the answers that eBay *wanted* in order to justify plans that were ALREADY in motion.

To make a point, an absurd example would be: Q: Which would you prefer? a) A 10% increase in Final Value Fees. b) A 20% increase in Final Value Fees. c) A 5% increase in Final Value Fees.

Survey Says? ~ ''You spoke-we listened. Almost 100% of sellers want a 5% increase in Final Value Fees. Our biggest decrease and lowest fees ever!''

At this point, eBay has completely lost all credibility with me. I'll never trust eBay again. Never! We've all been fooled, used, and betrayed too many times. I'm DONE with giving eBay the benefit of the doubt any more. (Because at this point, I have *NO DOUBTS* about eBay!)

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Dec 19 12:05:35 2012

Jaded Basset that I am: These surveys CAN be a source of amusement.
Just think of them as games:

''Pin the tail on'' the fee increase.

''I spy with my little Eye'' the new carrot for behavior control

''Find the Hidden object'' of increased cost for sellers in the verbiage.

''Clue'' - get one, experienced sellers are not taking this survey at face value.

and so on......

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

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

Wed Dec 19 12:17:43 2012

I don't receive this one, but it remembers in some way one filled long time ago.

Does eBay use this survey for something?  

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

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

Wed Dec 19 14:16:47 2012

Bassett gets it right.

Ebay is attempting to develop seller personality profiles for exploitative purposes.

Though the verbiage has to do with the selling, the hidden purpose of each question reminds me of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (2), and its purpose is gather "marketing" ammunition to devise programs and policies so they can manipulate sellers into behaving in certain ways to increase ebafia's bottom line.

Don't take the survey.

These are manifestly evil people. and I WILL compare The Ho to Hitler. He exterminated hundreds and hundreds of thousands of small businesses and needs to go the way of Mittens.

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

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

Wed Dec 19 14:36:28 2012

All the responses to this survey are required to be in simple Boolean or numeric value terms. No human being will ever see anything but a computerized summary of the results … the whole purpose of which it to calculate the most they can get away with causing the least amount of “noise” from the great unwashed masses …

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

by: Ed This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 19 14:53:25 2012

Why would any one think this has to do with Fee Increases. ebay is already going to get a fee increase didn't you hear that USPS is going to have an increase in January. If this sales tax law that is going to go into effect will also increase the fees for ebay. You don't want to forget the sellers that are being forced into FREE SHIPPING so they don't get killed on the DSR feed back for charging actual shipping. This looks like a another banner year for ebay.
Im not sure we will be one of the lucky sellers that be able to benefit from ebay new changes.

We Love You ebay, do you really care about our plans or do you just want to find out how many seller only sell on ebay  

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

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

Wed Dec 19 14:55:22 2012

I'm devastated I didn't get a survey.
It usually takes me close to an hour to fill them out.

The time spent is trying to see where the questioning is going & then trying to manipulate the result to my needs.

Oh yes, I don't recommend entering extreme 1 or 10 results all the time. The more sophisticated programmes (not if eBay programmers are involve however) will toss out extremes & discount the value of those replies.

In any case, this is just exemplifies that there is nobody at eBay who has the "guts", as in vision, to choose a path for sellers to prosper, but is looking for a "what do they want" answer.

Some of the questions lead me to believe that there will be "buy 2 from this seller & get credit for 30% off the next item" or some hooey like that.

Or sign up for a "diamond light" (make that "diamont lite") programme & we'll fix the search to help your visibility in auctions.

I can't wait. The shoes will be dropping faster than the ones thrown at middle eastern politicians.

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 19 17:51:04 2012

is this a joke? No, it's an eBay survey.

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Dec 19 20:26:31 2012

I got a survey like that a while back.  I thought it was kind of odd and I don't trust the reasoning behind the survey.  I absolutely do not trust that Ebay is asking because they want to better understand it's sellers.  My thoughts are they are trying to find out where else we are selling, where we get our stuff etc so they can somehow step in the middle of it.

So I didn't answer some of the questions truthfully as I was not and am not willing to give certain information.  I just don't trust their motives.

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Dec 19 22:31:46 2012

Marie says: "My thoughts are they are trying to find out where else we are selling, ...."

I was thinking the same thing. That they want to know where the sellers are moving their items to. This strikes me as more evidence that eBay is in desperation mode.

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Dec 19 22:35:49 2012

Jack we certainly agree on this one.  I also think they are trying to locate our suppliers so they can come up with a way to play middle man there too.  Well I can guarantee they will not get that infor directly from me.  And personally I don't think it is in anyones best interest to answer all the questions they are asking.  It could even be to flag our accounts or something in a negative way if they find we are selling elsewhere too.

I'm not into conspiracy theories.  But in this case and think we need to protect ourselves by NOT giving them all the info they are asking for.  They have proven time and time again that we can't trust them.

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

by: Paul W This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 20 02:47:25 2012

eBay wants to know where you are selling to they can buy that venue and scoop you back into the coop.

Like the Borg:  You will be assimilated.  

Perminate Link for eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology   eBay Survey Probes Seller Psychology

This user has validated their user name. by: eBankrupted

Thu Dec 20 02:56:38 2012

Answer your survey carefully because Cassini is listening.. Your troubled responses might shift your search results downward.

When you lose faith in the cult, you've interrupted the plan. Can you progress if the all-knowing search robot judge Cassini knows you are rebelling against your master?

For maximum search exposure results, do what Hitler's subjects did to avoid the ovens. Agree with your all seeing Cassini Robot master and stop complaining, or else..

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Dec 20 09:35:30 2012

Really, we've been over this before.  To compare Ebay to the horrors of Hilter is beyond insulting.  There is absolutley no comparision between what Ebay has done or currently does with the carnage that Hitler inflicted.  I think we can come up with better ways to express how we feel towards Ebay without belittling or disrespecting history.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 20 11:11:35 2012

This survey (like all other eBay surveys) are designed to see how har eBay can push, prod and steal from thier sellers/victims.

They cant just announce a fee increase so its done ''on the sly''. Thats what they are looking for.

Note the questions about paying for listing position(s). eBays using Cassini to make all the big boys get viewed first .. and whats left - aka the scraps - the little people get to fight over via buying page positions. Its as clear as day.

Jeff Bezos should send JD the biggest Christmas gift ever (maybe a jet?) since JD's policies keep sending more and more sellers to Amazon!

eBay asked probing questions about why they sell online and how they feel about selling online.....  eBay knows quite well the (as RIC quotes) ''the noise'' is getting louder. ''The noise'' keeps telling people ''stay away from eBay'' ...

I go to toy shows almost every Sunday and talk to the vendors. I buy stuff from them face to face - AS THEY WILL NOT PUT UP THIER ITEMS ON EBAY - THEY HATE EBAY!

LMAO ''It is important to me that I run my own business'' not with eBay - they are your unasked for business partner  ... every aspect of your business with them is something they want to control and make money from - the listing fees and FVF's are just not enough!

I could go on but dont have time - I gotta make the PO and ship todays Amazon sales (since eBay is dead as a run over squirrel on US95)

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