How many times have you found an item on eBay sold by a merchant that clearly had an ID mirroring their own web stores? For example, you find a widget sold by eBay merchant "WidgetWorld" and type in WidgetWorld.com in your web browser, taking you to their retail site where pricing and selection might be better than on their eBay store.
Evidently, eBay felt the practice was prevalent enough to consider making seller IDs anonymous.
According to a source close to the matter, the concept of anonymizing seller IDs was raised at the same time eBay decided to anonymize buyer IDs, but was tabled at the time. (The accompanying graphic is our rendering of what this might look like.)
eBay could see that visitors would search for items on the site, open listings for items being sold by sellers with IDs matching their off-eBay stores, then leave eBay. The data showed that there was a pattern of cart-abandonment with those merchants, according to the source.
It's not a new concern - long time readers may remember that eBay used to allow sellers to use an email address as a User ID or to add a dot-com to the end of their User IDs, but prohibited those practices
Some at eBay felt that providing buyers with a seller's feedback, TRS and DSRs would give them enough information to purchase from a seller, even if they couldn't see the seller's ID. Plus, there was also a comfort factor with eBay's protection policy ("money back guarantee").
Others were against anonymization, however. Larger brand retailers (think Home Depot and ToysRUs) had been brought on-site with a clear understanding that their brands would be visible on eBay. There was the risk that buyers would actually be less likely to buy due to uncertainty, and once a buyer did pay, the seller's name would be known to the customer anyway.
So is this idea dead and buried?
eBay is always looking at ways of cutting down on off-eBay transactions and boosting conversions. There's new management coming in this year, and sometimes all things old are new again.
How would you feel about having an anonymous eBay seller ID? Would you purchase something from an anonymized eBay merchant?