Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun May 4 2014 20:50:25

Can eBay Get the Right Message Across to Foreign Shoppers?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is pushing for cross-border trading on its marketplaces, and one way it hopes to speed up that growth is by making it easier for foreign shoppers to interpret product listings. As with many companies in the Internet age, eBay is relying on algorithms.

eBay is testing an automated translation tool on its product listings, Wired magazine recently reported. But it's chosen what might be considered a strange place to start: on its Russian marketplace. Why might Russia not be the best place to start? Because product delivery is a challenge, and, one presumes, returns may similarly face added challenges compared to other European markets.

The translation tool is now being beta-tested on eBay Russia - basically, it displays the title of each listing in Russian by default, Wired explained. "The tool translates titles into Russian from multiple languages, including English, Spanish, German, and Chinese."

One way eBay engineers will determine if translations are working is "whether something sells or not." Ideally they would follow the transaction beyond initial purchase and take into account complaints and returns. A Russian shopper may think they are buying a red pair of shoes. But if the translation software misleads them and they end up with a black pair, the seller is likely to hear about it.

Sellers benefit when sales increase, but they are also liable when something goes wrong or when customers are unhappy. Take a look at the article in Wired and share your thoughts on eBay's latest push into cross border trade.




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Perminate Link for Can eBay Get the Right Message Across to Foreign Shoppers?   Can eBay Get the Right Message Across to Foreign Shoppers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Sun May 4 21:21:48 2014

Hopefully their universal translator will get " Shipping To USA Only" correct.

That solves all the potential problems for me as we will not sell Internationally under any circumstances.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Sun May 4 21:24:33 2014

''Hopefully their universal translator will get '' Shipping To USA Only'' correct.''

At the very least...

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

Sun May 4 22:49:54 2014

It's ebay itself that makes global shipping a nightmare.

They currently are either overriding your country blocks or allowing international buyers to log onto the US site in order to avoid the blocks.

I've had a certain European country blocked for more than a year now. Twice I've discovered that my shipping preferences were mysteriously reset so that I shipped world wide

In spite of the fact that this country still shows as blocked in my shipping preferences, the last FOUR international orders have come from this country, and one of them was a scammer.

So if and when translated pages are available, I will stop selling internationally unless ebay eliminates all international feedback as long as the seller can verify shipment.

Ebay has conveniently removed the insurance option from International 1st class parcels in its labeling system so we know something bad is soon to come.

The purpose of making international shipping as difficult and expensive as possible for sellers is to force us into the GSP.

As one who's more than passingly familiar with foreign languages and translation, today's state of the art programs would be a nightmare when applied to ebay.

The Greed Machine never sleeps.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon May 5 00:16:06 2014

Ming observes: "Twice I've discovered that my shipping preferences were mysteriously reset so that I shipped world wide."

eBay played that game with me once. Fortunately I caught it before any purchases had taken place, called customer service and got the standard "sorry for the glitch" Bull Ship from a third world Peggy.

That was the reason I edited all my listings and added " Shipping To USA Only" in big red letters on every listing. Plus, twice a week, I check my account settings to make sure eBay did not reset me, and double check Turbo Lister so that I am sure my exclusions are sticking.

It is a sad statement on the state of affairs within eBay that they feel it is necessary to resort to subterfuge in order to coerce sellers into participating in Donahoe's International sales schemes against our will.

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by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 5 00:33:59 2014

Ebay Inc. just knows that the key to their business success is global trade.

But they don't sell anything, so they must somehow force us to sell internationally.

They think if they can only give foreign buyers free shipping, free returns, and can get us to pay for all that they will be successful.

There is no danger ebay inc. will lose money on this, so they are all for it.

They are forcing us to give free global shipping, free returns, and all that.  

We'll lose money on it but that is a secondary concern.  

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by: Cassie This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 5 01:05:15 2014

Currently, Russia is a U.S. sanctioned country due the Ukrainian Pro-Russian separatists. There is a russian version amazon called yulmart ....www.ulmart.ru

They work concentration segments  can ship in 20 minutes to next day their distribution. After U.S.S.R. collapse worked the block nations via global corporation abroad you can't distribute/customs check or didle whatever without extortion payments the Russian Mafia....

eBay & Amazon are dreaming Um..it was amazing doing business there corruption...the multi-billionaire of Yulmart guess why his business efficient... The competition everyone screams eBay & paypal corrupt nope not till you've worked that mess a whole different level!

Revisit movie ''cast away'' if not ruthless the other extreme an average day boss hung over hiding your department and next department guy is plastered on shop floor at 8 am..  
 

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by: marty This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 5 06:15:08 2014

Hopefully they did not hire the same people who Hillary used to incorrectly translate the famous restart button she gave to the Russian counterpart.

I would love to see the translations; they could make a good book of jokes

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon May 5 06:52:19 2014

Every so often I forget to click on ''North America Only'' setting on search. I'm looking at a listing & it just screams ''translation software''.  Some of the reading comes across quite hilarious, and I'm sure the poor seller is trusting the software to be correct and has no idea how it is coming out.  

I can easily turn that scenario around and put myself in that seller's shoes. So, no, listing international with translation software does not appeal to me. Especially with this feedback system.


Shoot, I may give Alaska & Hawaii the ax under the ''defect'' system. Shipping time can be a big issue in those states - many realistic buyers are used to it and have an ''it gets here when it gets here'' attitude. But the few ''want it now'' buyers can throw ''defect'' shipping time darts with deadly accuracy.

After checking ''feedback left for others'' from Hawaiian buyers, I've had to seriously consider dropping those states - they would have the Shipping Time DSR to thank for this.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon May 5 09:34:49 2014

@ Basset.... I have many buyers from Alaska and Hawaii and would hate to lose them.

In the shipping confirmation I send directly to every buyer I include the following:

     "Please note that the estimated delivery dates displayed by eBay are just that - estimates, as sellers we have no control over the estimated delivery dates eBay chooses to display."

      "Delivery dates displayed by eBay do not take into account Federal Holiday closures, high holiday volume, or weather complications which can result in delays in delivery by the Postal Service. We apologize in advance if eBay's estimated delivery display fails to accurately represent the actual date of delivery by the Postal Service."

Perhaps the attempt at establishing realistic buyer expectations in a direct personal email has paid off as I have not had a single complaint or low DSR from the many AK or HI buyers I have had, and I ship out of New Jersey.

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by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 5 10:26:45 2014

Foreign transactions are a pain in the rear, from the "can you fit the large / fragile item into a small flat rate box?", to the "declare it a gift" , also dealing with other countries postal service, lack of tracking, etc etc...... a lot of headaches for sellers, more profit for ebarf due to gouge taken from shipping cost

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by: trader_chris This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 5 11:23:01 2014

Ric - may I ask, what is your primary line of items that you sell on eBay?  And what is the main reason for not wanting to sell internationally?

I have sold on eBay full time for 3+ years now and have offered international shipping for nearly all of that time. Sure, there has been a bit of a learning curve with certain items (i.e. anything over $500 in value gets shipped priority or express mail; countries like China or Russia should shouldn't have anything with 14K / 18K in the customs description; and let people know in advance that first class mail can take 40+ days (in modern times!) to reach them)

I'd say at least 15% to 20% of my business if from international buyers, with sometimes as much as 40%-50% depending on the items. If you're not shipping overseas, you're missing out on a huge shopping segment and letting money sit on your shelves...

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This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Mon May 5 11:50:33 2014

''Twice I've discovered that my shipping preferences were mysteriously reset so that I shipped world wide''

I've been fortunate on that. eBay has only 'opted me in'' to GPS once.

They have been more egregious in changing my buyer preference on PayPal a dozen times.

I have never required my customers to have a PayPal a/c before they can bid/buy.

eBay must have a problem with that because they continually change that preference to 'PayPal account required'.

It's like doing business with the SS - ''You vill require your customers to have a PayPal account und you vill like it.''  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon May 5 12:10:33 2014

trader_chris, not speaking for Ric, but some sellers sell items that are restricted in certain countries. They are simply abiding by laws.

What works for some does not work for all and it is not always about financial returns.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon May 5 12:20:37 2014

Thanks Ric - I had something similar on one of my emails or inserts - but I like your wording better. It covers more contingencies.  I may swipe some of your verbiage!


Isn't it a shame that we must practice ''defensive selling''.

Maybe someone should come up with a course, like the auto safety field has.

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

Mon May 5 13:08:04 2014

I would love to have my “cross border” and “cross oceans” business back, but since last year’s mega increase in international postage rates, there are no international orders.

When I sell an item for $30 and have to charge $10 or more for domestic shipping and receive unhappy comments from US buyers, the Australian buyers have disappeared at the thought of paying more for shipping than the cost of an item.

Now even cost of shipping to the West Coast, has me thinking why bother with West Coast orders where I either eat a substantial cost of shipping or have the unhappy West Coast buyers leave low DSR scores due to the actual shipping charges.

Sounds like “cross border” business will be for very light packages with low shipping charges, or items so expensive that high shipping costs seem in line with the price of the item.

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

Mon May 5 14:19:21 2014

I don't think our shipping preferences make any difference.

Even if you have certain countries or regions blocked or even if you don't sell outside the USA, you'll get international orders.

As I said, I have certain countries blocked and continue to get orders from those countries. The consequences for cancelling the orders are too severe. Buyers who circumvent seller blocks shouldn't be able to ruin a seller.

International buyers who sign on to the US site to avoid blocks should not be able to leave feedback nor should they be covered by Buyer Protection as long as the seller can show proof of shipment.

This is no different than a blocked domestic buyer using an alternate ID to buy.

The time will come when machine translations will be reasonably accurate but they aren't now.

What we can expect from ebafia is to be told it's "cost of doing business" when their translation program causes "defects."

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon May 5 15:48:35 2014

@ trader_chris

I sell new & used items mostly in the Computer & networking category. As Rexford indicates, some items I carry from time to time can not be legally shipped out of the United States.

Rather than have some items that do and some items that do not ship Internationally, I choose to keep it simple and refuse to ship outside the US. Not only do my shipping exclusions apply to every country other than the US, I block PayPal payments not made in US dollars as a backup.

I will not permit eBay's Global Shipping Program to enable a foreign buyer to entrap me into violating Federal Law just so eBay can make more commissions. That headache would be worse than anything eBay can come up with, although to give them credit, eBay certainly manages to give their sellers migraines.

Other items I sell such as power supply transformers, power cords etc... are not compatible with voltages in foreign countries, so, rather than deal with post purchase headaches, I just say no to all non US sales.

As far as I am concerned, eBay makes more than their fair share off my transactions. Between eBay listing fees, eBay listing upgrade fees, eBay final value fees on items, eBay final value fees on shipping, eBay store fees, PayPal commission fees, and PayPal transaction fees - not to mention the fees eBay holds after returns and fees PayPal holds after returns, they do not need to profit from the fees they charge buyers related to the Global Shipping Program on my inventory.

Lastly, I choose not to sell Internationally because eBay wants sellers to. I am long past being sick and tired of eBay's micromanaging / hoop raising or their incessant seller interference which they manage to ratchet up at every opportunity.



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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon May 5 16:11:29 2014

@ Basset (and everyone else)

Here is the shipping confirmation I send to every buyer directly to their email address - not through eBay's system.

Feel free to use as much of it as might help.

Hello _________ ,

Thank you for your purchase and for your instant payment. Your _________  been packed and will be hand delivered for shipping to your ___________  PayPal address first thing tomorrow, ______ , ________ .

Shipping for your order will be via USPS _____________ and will include delivery confirmation service as described in our listing.

The delivery confirmation number for your package is: ­­­­­­­______________

We will set up an email delivery confirmation notice for your order as soon as your package has been scanned through our regional processing center and the delivery confirmation number is live in the USPS system.

Delivery confirmation numbers may, in some cases, take 24 hours or more after drop off before they are updated by the USPS.

Please note that the estimated delivery dates displayed by eBay are just that - estimates, as sellers we have no control over the estimated delivery dates eBay chooses to display.

Delivery dates displayed by eBay do not take into account Federal Holiday closures, high holiday volume, or winter weather complications which can result in delays in delivery by the Postal Service. We apologize in advance if eBay's estimated delivery display fails to accurately represent the actual date of delivery by the Postal Service.

If you have any questions about or problems with your purchase, kindly reply to this email and anticipate a prompt response to address and resolve any concerns.

Once again, thank you for your purchase. We appreciate your business and hope to have the opportunity to service you again soon.

Best Regards,

I have been using this for years now. Despite selling in a category that results in a slightly higher rate of returns due to compatibility issues, almost all of the returns I get are handled directly with the buyer as they can simply reply directly to this email instead of using eBay's system which automatically opens claims unnecessarily.

Additionally, I believe this goes a long way to reset buyer expectations to a level which is much more realistic than anything eBay does to set buyer expectations.


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by: lostinNYC This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 07:12:21 2014

More than half of my sales are to foreign countries with less problems than generated by U.S. sales. For example U.S. buyers have been quick to open ''item not received'' cases, even when the tracking information clearly showed that the item was on its way and only deleyed by a few days. Internationally I had this problem only once in several years.

I don't see the need for more eBay tools such as translation, especially since machine translations miserably fail at very specialized terms. Key is to describe the item very well and that includes detailed metric measurements and many crisp photos. So far, with thousands of sales, no foreign buyer has filed an ''item not as described'' case.
 

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue May 6 12:44:25 2014

Thanks, Ric - Looks like a great job keeping the customer advised on their order. Any normal person should feel very comfortable dealing with you.

I've cut & pasted to word. Currently use something shorter, but  plan to revise and add some of your wording!



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