Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
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by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Mar 20 2013 18:30:49

eBay Holds Spring Seller Release Town Hall Meeting

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is holding a Town Hall meeting, which we are live blogging. The topic is eBay's spring Seller Release in which eBay made a variety of announcements about upcoming changes including new fees and policies.

Stay tuned as we live blog it and find out what questions sellers have for eBay!

The broadcast went dead for us for a few minutes, not sure if it was global or just on my end, as it picked up with moderator Griff in mid-sentence.

Griff says they will answer all questions regarding Spring Release, not all softball questions.

Introduces panel:
Michael Jones, VP of Bus Dev
Chris Payne, Senior VP No America
Jay Janssen, VP of Managed Markets
Brian Hsu, Senior Director, Pricing & Monetization Pricing

Chris Payne: Reduced friction - making it free to sell on eBay. This completes this evolution. Second goal: make it less complicated, easier to understand fees.

Also - mobile selling flow.

MJ, Jay and Brian talk about what the spring seller release means (MJ: sellers are heart and soul of eBay).

Jay said eBay SR1 helps with UPI (Unpaid Items, aka deadbeat buyers). He said expect more changes with regard to UPI

Caller named Jason: Who does the new fee change benefit? He sees a 55% increase in FVF fees. He doesn't care if he has to spend $2 to list items if he can sell it, he cares about the commission fees going up. What's the point of having a Store, he asks.

eBay's Brian Hsu: Not everyone will see a fee decrease. Especially higher ASP (Average Selling Price) items. Advice: be in the right Store tier, duration discount. (Those are upfront costs, seller is asking about backend costs.)

eBay's Griff: Likes the fee simplification. "At least I know" what my fees will be. (Really? Sellers prefer higher fees to a bit of complexity?)

Next caller also calls this a 55% fee increase for him. "I sell items where I make $15, you guys make $30."

"I don't have pricing power on some of this stuff," he said.

Caller said he will be able to keep listing fees the same by bumping up store level, but FVFs is 50% price increase.

Brian Hsu: Seller has to see for themselves how the fees impact them, offers to help the seller offline.

Caller named Daniel: Base is pretty agitated, seasoned sellers not newbies. Those people are the backbone of eBay, you don't want to lose those people. People who are professional sellers, listings fees aren't a big deal, they know how to market their stuff. For newbies, it's a benefit to them.

Daniel's questions: Why is this not revenue neutral? Maybe eBay needs a lot more money? Some categories pay higher fees than others? Shouldn't everybody who sells on eBay be the same?

Brian Hsu: We realize sellers make different amounts on different items. We've brought down pricing in electronics where margins are razor thin.

I think this is Jay Jenssen speaking: We don't want sellers to leave the platform,... Also, don't forget eTRS discounts (Top Rated Sellers)

Chris Payne: Most sellers are winners or neutral. Unfortunately we're hearing from some sellers today who believe they're losers. Simplification of fees will help in the aggregate.

(Please keep in mind these are rough notes, not a transcript.)


Question from the eBay boards: New Business Policy - will you be opted in automatically?

Paula from eBay: It is available to small amount of sellers in U.S. while they work out the kinks. Opening up in int'l sites in the next month or so. Right now that is not the case that you are opted in, you can opt in right now, and opt out again. We're working on functionality.

Caller named Ken: If buyer hits Buy It Now, is the item still for sale? That will be a problem.

eBay's Jarrod Jodoin, Product Manager of Checkout and another eBayer named Frederick: Sellers should encourage buyers to use the eBay Shopping Cart. Add all items to cart at once and checkout.

Ken: I have to custom combine the shipping every time due to types of items we sell.

Jarrod: With shipping discount, you can set up profiles - one for heavy items. He acknowledges they do not overlap.

Ken: I weigh them - that's how it is w/ everyone on eBay Motors Parts and Accessories. And some people take a few days. They regularly take 2 - 3 days to pay? Did you guys think this through.

Jarrod: We did think this through. If you offer items difficult to combine, you can instruct your buyers to use request total from seller in shopping cart. The item is committed (even Griff didn't know that).

Ken: Regarding updates,.... You're swimming in a bunch of problems right now.

Griff asks for clarification...

Jarrod: Request total from seller is always for one seller, we're working on making that more visible.

Technical difficulties at eBay Town Hall broadcast, stay tuned,..

They're back after about a 5-minute outage, the meeting continued even though no one could hear it - someone is talking, no context since they came in midstream.


Someone from eBay is speaking: eBay should let sellers choose the format.

New caller: Wife and I grew on eBay from one-offs to commodities. Thank the team for making it easier and better - the simplification. It was very difficult to figure out fees, he said. He appreciates simplified fees.

I'm a little surprised about all the animosity from other sellers toward the changes. I'd like to grow our business to an Anchor Store level. I'm excited about the challenge from Premium to Anchor. But I'm confused about the math, he said. What is the magic number to having active listings to get to the Anchore Store.

Brian Hsu: Your comments are why we are making the change. We have a handy tool help you figure out - fee illustrator.

Griff: I had made some assumptions - he sells full time on eBay. I need street cred, he joked. I thought I should move to a premium store - he said he realized he's not ready for a premium store.

A lot of chatter among eBay panelists right now about how eBay employees sell on eBay,....

Caller named Travis: Hearing you guys get beat up on pricing. for us it's okay. We do $2 million, 13,000 listings.

Re seller protection - who do we contact to appeal those we feel that are unfair.

Rich Matsuura, Director, Seller Protections: Go through customer service organization. He walks him through it. You can find phone number to appeal.

MJ: Get customer info and he'll take care of Travis.

Seller named Ed: are you concerned w/ all free listings it will flood eBay w/ so many listings it will hurt sales.

Chris Payne: my former job was working on search, we've worked on bringing right inventory to the top. One thing gives us confidence is that we've been running mini-promos ovre the last 2 years. That has the effect of flooding the site with inventory, some converts/some doesn't. We're getting better at it. W/ tools we're providing sellers, inclduing mobile, helping sellers put inventory on that will convert.

NOTE: If eBay Town Hall staff are reading this, are you aware of a glitch on the site? See Ecommerce EKG report.

Caller named John: Thanks for taking care of UPI. I liste 1300 items a month, it will be a bit of a fee increase, but where else can I market to the world 24/7. Good job to everyone at eBay.

eBay Radio's Lee: Thanks, and do you have a question?

Seller violations re dupe listings are killing me, but I'll work it out.

MJ: 42% of GMV was provided by Top Rated Sellers, year over year sales was up 20% for TRS sellers.

Caller named Martin: 600 listings/month, wishes there was an eBay Store tier between Premium and Anchor.

Some back and forth about selling strategy, using eBay fee illustrator

Another question from Martin: UPI - I'm glad you're changing it. If I have one item and buyer buys it but don't pay for it - will it be gone if someone else comes along and buys it and pays for it?

Frederick: First buyer - never actually buys it - we're removing the commit step.

Mike:
More questions about the new process of buying commitment.

Christopher: We're removing the commit to buy button, so the first person who clicks on buy, they actually have to buy it. If they choose not to buy it, there's no order, item remains in inventory. There will be no limbo state.

Mike: I think this will help alot, as long as it doesn't hurt the impulse buyer.

Griff:
There are enough buyers who will pay today.

Email question from Karen: question about immediate payment for best offers

Louis Olsen: Immediate payment does not apply to best offers. Because the buyer isn't there when the seller accepts the best offer. Right now, the seller accepting the offer makes the transaction. However, eBay is testing a new kind of best offer in the effort to reduce Unpaid Items.

The test is: when the seller accepts a Best Offer,the item does not come off the site and remains for sale. We're testing in 3 categories in the spring (jewelry and watches; art; computers and tablets), and will expand to all categories in the fall.

Closing remarks from panel (Chris Payne, Michael Jones, Jay Janssen).

MJ brought up enforcement of previously announced picture standards. He wants to remind everyone we sold a lot of product last year via mobile - images are very important to the mobile experience.

And, the Town Hall Meeting is over.




Comments (41) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: TFG

Wed Mar 20 19:39:40 2013

Is there a link where I can hear it live?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Wed Mar 20 19:44:29 2013

eBay Radio link:

http://groups.ebay.com/forum/Ebay-Radio-Broadcasts/Welcom
e/1278

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This user has validated their user name. by: TFG

Wed Mar 20 19:45:15 2013

Thanks Ina!

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

Wed Mar 20 23:38:11 2013

Amazing how many ebafia tools regularly call into the Town Halls.

The majority of ebafia sellers will see some pretty hefty fee increases. Some won't.

Surely no one that reads ecommercebytes could be so naive and deluded that they believe most sellers will either see no change or decreases in fees.

These changes have gone way too far, and many sellers will be moving their most expensive inventory elsewhere and ebafia is going to be left out of the FVF fee loop altogether as buyers and sellers take transactions off ebay.

Just as USPS is going to see a dip in revenues from their exorbitant IFCP rate increase, ebafia is going to lose a lot of FVF revenue on many high end items remaining on the site.

This seller release should create as much seller anger as the 2008 changes did.

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

Wed Mar 20 23:46:38 2013

"First buyer - never actually buys it - we're removing the commit step."

Well, that's clear as mud. So what does the "buy" button mean if it doesn't make you the "buyer"?

"I'm kind of interested in this item"? Isn't that what a shopping cart is for? And how can you commit to pay by check or echeck?

Dare I presume they will explain the new procedures to the buyers?

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

Wed Mar 20 23:51:23 2013

@Ming, If I understand these changes, they favor the low ASP seller, who will have a decrease or small increase, depending on store level and number of listings. The biggest increase is for the high ASP seller, who will have fvf increases up to 150% for the high end items.

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

Wed Mar 20 23:58:05 2013

this is going to be a mess for several different reasons. i can already see it. here's one scenario: a buyer buys and pays for one item. buys another item later then doesn't pay right away.  someone else buys it and then he  gets mad when its no longer in his cart and leaves  bad feedback on the one he bought and paid for and can for almost any reason.

another doozy is the new removal of buyer's feedback policy if they lose a case. That one is going to be fun to watch.

Ebay's m.o. continues... 'we take whatever is broke and break it even more.'  

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by: nsc This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Mar 21 00:22:48 2013

It depends if they make the system understandable or not. On Amazon, I put things I'm interested in in my shopping car, as a handy way to bookmark them. I understand that I have not bought these items, and that they may get sold out unless I buy them and check out. I get that. But ebay has spent 15 years telling buyers "that buy button is a contract". The right way to make the change would be force use of the shopping cart. Watch ebay screw it up.

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

Thu Mar 21 00:27:17 2013

"eBay's Jarrod Jodoin, Product Manager of Checkout and another eBayer named Frederick: Sellers should encourage buyers to use the eBay Shopping Cart. Add all items to cart at once and checkout."

What, I need to train the buyers to use the ebay Shopping Cart? Gee, on Amazon the buyers don't need extra training to use the Shopping Cart -- they just use the Shopping Cart! Can't ebay develop any software that just works?

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Thu Mar 21 01:03:54 2013

Ebay doesn't know the word ''simple'' maybe simpleminded. You can always tell the callers who are on the ebay payroll. Making everything one size fits all across the board just opens up a bigger can of worms.

Forget about repeat buyers and multi-purchase sales since the buyers won't be too happy about having items taken out from under them to other buyers. Also having the buyer place things in their shopping cart DOES NOT mean it is theirs especially several days later when they go to pay. This needs to be cleared up and everyone including CSRs and sellers all on the same page.

Forget about listing high ticket items on ebay unless you love to give ebay 9% or 10% plus all the other fees. This wouldn't be so terrible IF ebay gave all sellers 24/7 full exposure and sell-thru was not so abysmal. Of course sellers save on FVFs anyway since the majority of sellers' items don't sell.

I still would like to know who buys high end items, other than more iphones and Coach bags, on ebay by mobile? ipads maybe?

I can also see more sellers losing their 20% TRS discount when their feedback ratings and DSRs get hit by these unhappy buyers. Will ebay let the buyers know the item isn't really theirs, you know the same way ebay stated the buyers don't want to be educated?

One more question: since ebay will be raking in money hand over fist, will ebay START advertising to bring in more buyers and what else will they do to increase sellers' sell-thru?

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by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 21 03:17:23 2013


I'm still confused about how the shopping cart works with multiple purchases. My postcard business depends upon Buyers often buying more than one postcard at a time to save on Shipping.

So, say a Buyer wants to buy four postcards, with BIN. Apparently, as the Buyer picks them out, they go into his cart. The four postcards are now sitting in the cart and he requests an invoice with Combined Shipping.

However, I am away from home for several hours and don't see his request.

Can other Buyers come along and buy any of those four postcards and pay immediately? If the postcards aren't removed from inventory until they are paid for, this seems possible.

Then the Buyer waiting for that invoice gets mad at me, because I didn't send him an invoice quickly enough and he lost out on one or more postcards.

I listened to the Griff show today, but it still wasn't clear what happens when a Buyer has the items in his shopping cart, and is waiting for an invoice.

(Some of those Ebay people on the radio sounded like 14 year olds, with every sentence lilting up at the end. Kind of distracting, and not very professional. I guess JD likes them young, and easily controlled.)

Also, if Buyers are going to have to pay for items one at a time, that sure increases what PayPal makes off each transaction. That minimum $.30 adds up. Four postcards paid for separately will be at least $1.20 in fees, instead of when they are combined for the $.30 + 2.9%.

Ebay made all this free listings, increasing store subscriptions, and messing with FVF, so that it is very confusing and Sellers can't really get a grip on how it will effect them. It is like a math equation, where you have to plug in several variables to get the answer. And, of course our businesses fluctuate, so what you calculate today, might not be the same in a couple of months.

I know, if you want to play in Ebay's sandbox, you have to play by their rules. Trouble is, their one size rules, does not fit all Sellers. I think my little postcard business is about to get buried.  

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by: bb6 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 21 03:43:20 2013

I didn't see anything about the Fee % on shipping fees. Is that going to be the same?

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

Thu Mar 21 04:29:18 2013

@bb6, ebay's description of fvfs is that they are owed on the price + shipping, so we can assume the new rates affect both.

@Ebay's Slow Death, they said something about committing to be and/or requesting a total that was not very clear, but they said the item couldn't be sold to another buyer after that point. I can only suppose that it is some kind of checkout process. When in doubt, expect them to imitate Amazon.

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by: bb6 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 21 04:36:31 2013

@Ebay's Slow Death - "I'm still confused about how the shopping cart works with multiple purchases. My postcard business depends upon Buyers often buying more than one postcard at a time to save on Shipping. I think my little postcard business is about to get buried."

I'm curious of the response on this too. I set up combined shipping discount settings a few years back for all my items and they work for some people, but I still get new buyers and others that would rather email me and ask for a combined invoice even though if they just went into their recent purchases they would see that the shipping prices are already combined.

So you may want to look into setting up the combined shipping discounts option and also put a note in the description telling the buyers about it. I'm not sure how computer savy postcard collectors are but if you have repeat business they should catch on after you tell them about it. Hopefully that solves some of your combined shipping issues.

Another thing is I have my mobile phone on me at all times so if I'm away from a computer I can at least send someone the combined invoice when asked. It doesn't exactly help when you are in a place where you can't use your phone though.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Mar 21 07:49:02 2013

I find that Griff creature to be the most annoying character on eBay. If you looked up the word smug in the dictionary surely there is a photo of him.

We've been on eBay a long time.  We know that there is no such thing as a fee decrease.  Always throwing the sellers under the bus for the shareholders and someone has to pay for Donnie's HUGELY RIDICULOUS bonus increase.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Thu Mar 21 08:08:49 2013

All the money eBay has and they still refuse to hire professionals to do the broadcasts. Instead of getting their cables from eBay they ought to go to RadioShack. LOL

Uncle Grief is the only thing interesting about eBay anymore. It is a shame that in this 21st Century we can't watch UG because there is no video.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 21 08:38:01 2013

''Not sold until paid for via eBay'' is going to irritate buyers and sellers both. Sellers have lost the ability to serve individual customers with more time, lay away, or payment by check or money order. Buyer who ''power buy'' will HATE having to stop and pay through every time they buy an item. Right now, I can buy 20 items in half an hour, commit on each, and then when lunch hour is over, pay up. Immediate payment should remain an option and not be forced onto sellers or buyers.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 21 08:40:13 2013

PS I am far more worried about losing sales than paying higher fees.

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 21 08:57:11 2013

A another way to have sellers take hits in feedback and dsr. I really think that is the main objective for these changes other than increase profits which they need so much ( you can only cook the books so much ). Increase neg feedback, low dsr - no more discount, unhappy seller, seller leaves. Ebay accomplished what it set out for. Get rid of more sellers and pick up extra money for doing that.
I think they either do not have people that know how to do a shopping cart or (most likely) have it engineered to screw things up on purpose.
Somehow the ''preferred'' diamond sellers are protected with all this.  

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by: bluegrass This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 21 09:39:26 2013

The most incredulous statement made by ebay was at the start of the town hall meeting when they said their ''top goal was to reinvigorate selling''.  Unbelievable.  For auction sellers selling mid-high priced items it will decimate their business...certainly anything but invigorate it.  My business model is completely ruined with these changes.  I will be forced to abandon ebay or find another outlet to sell.  It is simply unbelievable that they would seek to destroy this segment of their business...most who have been faithfully making ebay lots of money for years.  I pray that some ebay brass/techs would jump ship and start a competing auction site because the time is ripe for a competitor to rise.  They would make a mint from ebay if they could pull it off.  This is the problem you get when there is no credible competition in the online auction world.  

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