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eBay Takes Steps To Reinvigorate Its Auctions
engine




msg:3370920
 11:00 am on Jun 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

At eBay, subtle change is about to become a thing of the past. Under pressure from analysts and investors to jump-start growth in its core auctions business, eBay is making a series of upgrades intended to make the site more friendly to buyers. In so doing, it may have to endure a torrent of criticism from more than 700,000 sellers who rely on eBay for their livelihoods and who have firm ideas of their own about how best to serve buyers.

“We have to make sure our old users stay with us, but we’re going to be more bold around product changes than we’ve been in the past,” Ms. Whitman said in an interview last week in Boston at eBay Live, an annual conference for the site’s sellers. “I think people expect more from eBay.”

eBay Takes Steps To Reinvigorate Its Auctions [nytimes.com]

 

trinorthlighting




msg:3370967
 12:18 pm on Jun 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Plain and simple, they need to lower their fees. If they did that sellers would come back.

maximillianos




msg:3370969
 12:23 pm on Jun 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was talking to some family members yesterday about this exact topic. I knew a few folks that were heavy e-bay users and I was asking how their selling was going... They said they hadn't been doing much selling since ebay raised their fees...

Interesting to see it popup here the next day... What kind of fee raise took place? Must have been a big one...

trinorthlighting




msg:3370994
 12:50 pm on Jun 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Lets see, we auctioned off some very old and dusty inventory on a 99 cent auction last month and it cost me 9% of the total price in fees. The item goes for $100 so ebay/paypal was getting close to $9 a transaction.

The same item (Different Color, same price), we purchased adwords advertisements for, by the time we crunced all the PPC costs till we moved the inventory, Adwords cost us around 3% per transaction.

bwnbwn




msg:3371036
 1:38 pm on Jun 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

My wife was as well a power seller but when the rates went up she did an cost analyst and found out she was working below min wage and ebay was making all the money so she quit.

centime




msg:3371063
 2:03 pm on Jun 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I tried ebay as my first serious attempt to make money online, an same everyone else here, I could never sell fast enough to keep the listing fees at bay,

Any, boy was it hard work :)

Mind you , it was a good learning experience

Essex_boy




msg:3371109
 2:53 pm on Jun 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Its very hard work and very expensive, I wouldnt recommend it and would suggest people put teh effort in to an ecommerce site.

There in lies their problem

farmboy




msg:3371154
 3:29 pm on Jun 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

1. Increased fees
2. Buyers/sellers who seem to be irrational
3. Inefficient feedback system
4. Fraud

All of the above are obstacles for eBay.

But I think the third-party automated bid sniping services don't get nearly the credit (blame) they deserve for dampening the user experience.

venrooy




msg:3371436
 8:29 pm on Jun 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Their problems go way deeper than just fees. First - you have paypal (owned by ebay) freezing a plethora of seller accounts. Many for no good or legal reason. Then you have ebay's VERO program, what a joke. Where anyone with half a brain - and no moral scruples - can shut down their competition with a simple fax.

I started selling software on ebay 5 yrs ago - software that I created myself. I quickly became a Gold power seller, with a feedback of over 99.7%. My product started selling so fast, that paypal became suspicious, and froze my account - asking me to provide documentation on my product that I didn't have (because it's software - a virtual product). So my funds - approximately $5,000 at the time remained frozen for about 6 months.

Then in the mean time I had 2 separate competitors take software from me, and started selling it on ebay themselves. And on top of that, they both joined the VERO program, and started filing complaints against me saying that I was selling their stolen work. At the time I had no idea that you could file a counter-notice against these complaints. (Ebay does not mention counter-notices anywhere on their website) So I did not know what to do. My emails and calls went unanswered, and eventually their VERO complaints got me banned from ebay. Eventually through research I found out about filing a counter notice, but according to ebay was too late because I had too many complaints against me.

That long rant to say that there are many many sellers out there that have gone through a similar experience as mine - and many worse. And many of us sellers bring along thousands of customers.

Ebay has been digging their own grave for a long time now. They have been using many different kinds of shovels and picks. But now it sounds like they are breaking out the Backhoe.

WeaselyOne




msg:3371488
 9:02 pm on Jun 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was never a serious seller on ebay but just getting rid of stuff I no longer wanted around the house used to make sense on ebay. Now with the fee raises I stop and think pretty hard about whether it's really worth it.

jsinger




msg:3371644
 12:45 am on Jun 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

2. Buyers/sellers who seem to be irrational

Ebay is more rational if you view it as a new type of casino: No one makes much money, but a few "users" return again and again seeking some big payoffs. Very appealing to a cerain niche.

jcoronella




msg:3371729
 3:04 am on Jun 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

eBay's problem is not too few sellers, it's not enough buyers. Hence, there is no motivation to lower fees.

note:
>> upgrades intended to make the site more friendly to buyers.

HRoth




msg:3372060
 11:50 am on Jun 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

No offense to people who sell there, but IME the irrational people at ebay seem to be the sellers. I have seen people selling items on ebay that they very obviously tarted up to make look like antiques. For instance, a Cremora jar being sold as an antique drugstore bottle. I have seen MANY claiming that some hideous craft kit they got at JoAnn Fabrics was "primitive art" and they were selling it in the antiques category. I have seen people marketing to drug seekers by selling old apothecary bottles supposedly containing opium or heroin. One was starting the bids at $70 on a modern reagent bottle of sugar water he implied was morphine and that he admitted he had pasted a morphine label on. I have bought things that when they arrived, they reeked of cigarette smoke, from sellers who put their business forward as "smoke-free." I bid on what was supposed to be a unique antique print, and when I lost the bidding, within 7 seconds the seller contacted me asking me if I wanted another copy of the print for the same price. Many ebay sellers seem to want to say they are merchants but they don't want to actually behave like merchants.

But you know, I don't think ebay cares about things like that. They have just seen sellers dropping them because they got too greedy with their fees, and now they are sorry and crying "We've changed!" Right.

As for the Vero program, ebayers are second only to myspace in taking my text without my permission and hotlinking to my pictures. I always give people a chance to respond to me personally before contacting ebay, but invariably they refuse to respond to emails and I have to send a Vero notice; then they get all upset and whiney when ebay yanks their item. I have found people selling my website as a book they wrote on ebay. Last week I found someone who had turned a very large page of mine into an ebay buying guide.

yosmc




msg:3372102
 12:29 pm on Jun 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Interesting. In my mind, eBay has been favoring the sellers over the buyers way too long. Just an example: You buy an item for $1, and then it turns out that they charge $10 for shipping and handling (or $9 just for handling if you pick up the item personally). Sure, eBay says you have to check all the conditions in advance, but under European consumer rights this would never fly (not sure about other countries). Basically means that everyone who is used to a decent consumer legislation unsuspectedly enters a Wild West scenario at eBay, with the company looking the other way as long as they can cash in on the seller fees. And if you ever have a problem that's not covered by one of their canned messages, you need to tweak you problem to fit the reply, because you can always ask for a differnt canned message, but that's all you'll ever get.

So yes, in my mind if eBay want to clean up their act, they need to do something for buyers - but running a modern, consumer-friendly business would probably go a much longer way than adding fancy tools that nobody has ever missed or asked for.

lammert




msg:3372122
 1:05 pm on Jun 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just as most other large-scale on-line mediums like email, search engines and PPC ad-programs, eBay has become the victim of people who have discovered an on-line service and are stretching and squeezing it to get every possible dollar out of it.

When I started using eBay--both as a seller and buyer--the auction site was a place to find treasures, difficult to find items at reasonable prices. With the introduction of their power seller programs, it is now the playgarden of wannabe on-line shop owners who don't have the knowledge or funding to start their own site and of clowns trying to sell illegal copies of all types of items for just their own profit.

I have abandonned eBay a few years ago just because of this. It is not fun any more to scroll through the long item listings finding 10 or more times the same item of the same seller with different ending times and most of the time only stuff you can buy in every shop or other e-shop. No treasures anymore :(

The only way eBay can stop this is by booting a large number of sellers from their system because of a non-fit business model--just as Google has done a few weeks ago with AdSense arbitrageurs--but I doubt they will do that as those sellers generate a large part of their income.

Matt Probert




msg:3372199
 2:41 pm on Jun 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

eBay? Hahahaa! I know I am not alone in avoiding that network of phishers, conmen and losers. The term 'user friendly' seems alien to eBay, the sooner they shut down the better for honest. decent, buyers and sellers.

Matt

born2drv




msg:3372284
 4:03 pm on Jun 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sounds like selling on ebay is pretty tough :) I don't sell 1 thing there but I do buy a lot.

Here's what ticks me off:

Products Mis-Categorized --- I hate searching for a nokia n95 cell phone in the cell phones category and getting 50 pages for batteries and car chargers instead. If you can't figure out that a battery or a phone charger goes in the cell phone accessories sub-category instead after being warned a few times you need to be banned from ebay!

99% Fake Feedback --- some sellers out there sell pure crap, and then when they get a neg feedback they of course talk the buyer into removing it, artificially showing a very high feedback rating. So they can play the numbers game, sell say diamond rings with garbage quality diamonds, hope only 30% notice, and of that 30% only 10% complain and work to make sure that 10% never submits a negative feedback. This is wrong and pure deception.

Poor Picture Browsing --- when ebay introduced the gallery browse method it was a step in the right direction but not good enough. I want to see bigger clearer pictures when I browse.

Filtered Browsing - I'd also like to see better types of browsing methods and filters, to permanently be able to "ban" certain sellers you know that list 50,000 items of all pure junk. And ebay should automatically do some quality control to see which sellers are getting banned the most from it's users and why.... mis-categorized products? obvious fraud? poor picture quality? deceptive descriptions? There are so many users browsing ebay looking for honest sellers of legit products that we could easily "productrank" the items ourselves to eliminate the junk being listed.

Correct me if I'm wrong but ebay increased it's fees in order to balance supply/demand... there were too many listings, mostly of junk. If they eliminate the junk they can reduce listing fees while increasing quality and thus have the same supply/demand but a better searching experience for users and more profitable for the honest and legit sellers.

sun818




msg:3372545
 7:22 pm on Jun 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

eBay's attempt to control listing quality by fees has failed miserably. eBay started off as an auction site so their item sorting is based by default on time listed or ending time. The thrill of auctions are gone (what windorphins?) fixed priced listings are the new thing. What they need is to go back to a fee structure from five years ago and quickly transition to a search engine that reward sellers for providing stuff buyers want. Some search factors eBay should consider:

high sell-through percentage rate

High sell-through rate is a strong indicator that the seller is offering in-demand items and s/he should be rewarded for that. Many eBay users complained about duplicate overpriced items from data feeds. Favoring high sell-through rate means sellers that use data feeds are pushed down in the rankings.

high positive feedback ratio

All things being equal, I rather deal with a seller with 100% positive feedback ratio rather 97% ratio. This would kick in after the seller has reach 100 feedback.

distance relative to buyer

I rather buy from someone one state away rather than 10 states away.

Paypal

Favor sellers that accept Paypal.

This all goes against a "level playing field", but that mantra is keeping poor sellers and stuff no one wants online. The factors I mentioned above would work better than continuing to raise fees. I hope the summer relief of eBay fees is a indicator that fees will be permanently reduced.

gibbergibber




msg:3372737
 10:05 pm on Jun 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Everyone here is coming up with specific problems, but all of them stem from one root cause: ebay has no direct competitors.

Sure, if you're a power seller you could set up an ecommerce site but most members aren't, and besides an ecommerce site isn't the same thing as an auction.

If you want to buy or sell something very specialised without wanting to make a living from it, there simply isn't anywhere else to go except ebay. There was a "strike" by ebay members a few months ago to protest against fees, but what difference could that have possibly made? The only way to hurt ebay is to use a rival, but no one on the ebay forums could come up with any real rivals.

Ebay's global strategy is to simply buy up any rivals they find, and this has to be stopped if there's to be any real competition in the online auction world.

Imagine if all online retail had to go through amazon.com: that's exactly what the online auction world is like with ebay.

HRoth




msg:3372747
 10:15 pm on Jun 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

"When I started using eBay--both as a seller and buyer--the auction site was a place to find treasures, difficult to find items at reasonable prices. With the introduction of their power seller programs, it is now the playgarden of wannabe on-line shop owners who don't have the knowledge or funding to start their own site and of clowns trying to sell illegal copies of all types of items for just their own profit."

Is this ever true. I still root around ebay looking for vintage stuff for a good price in categories no one has "discovered" yet, and I do find junk that I want. But with ebay, I have to use more negative terms to find anything worth looking at than with any other search I use.

It is too bad. I really liked it when it was more of a flea market.

sun818




msg:3372935
 1:53 am on Jun 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

> searching for a nokia n95 cell phone in the cell
> phones category and getting 50 pages for batteries
> and car chargers instead

Looks like eBay is beta testing their new search algorithm:

[pages.ebay.com...]
This happens because the system automatically interprets the buyer’s query and excludes items that aren’t relevant. For example, when a buyer is looking for an “iPod Nano” they probably don’t want to see iPod cases right away!

The site for beta testing is: [playground.ebay.com...]

ccDan




msg:3372958
 2:16 am on Jun 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

sun818 wrote: Favor sellers that accept Paypal.

As a buyer, I would like the option to more easily omit sellers that don't accept PayPal. You can do it through the advanced search, but I would like something easier, maybe something like tabs where they have "All Items," "Auctions," and "Buy It Now." Maybe they could add "Listed with PayPal" or something.

If you're a keen buyer, you could probably make some money buying things that aren't PayPal listed, and reselling them, offering PayPal as a payment option.

A money order is too costly and too much an inconvenience to go and get. And, mailing a check takes too long. So, in auctions I have been interested in anyway, if they don't offer PayPal, they don't sell for as much as a similar item that does offer PayPal, if they sell at all.

Another nice option would be the ability to filter out sellers that don't offer shipping. I recently saw something I would have liked, but the seller did not offer shipping options. You had to pick it up or make your own shipping arrangements. It was listed and relisted and relisted, with the seller lowering his price each time. I bet if he had taken the time to make shipping arrangements and list a shipping/handling fee, he might have sold it.

lammert wrote: ...it is now the playgarden of wannabe on-line shop owners who don't have the knowledge or funding to start their own site...

Good point. A real shop owner would have a variety of payment options and make things relatively easy for the customer to make a purchase. If I have to get a money order or make my own shipping arrangements, I am far less likely to buy than from someone who will take PayPal and tell me how much it's going to cost to get the item at my door and in my hands.

HRoth wrote: Is this ever true. I still root around ebay looking for vintage stuff for a good price in categories no one has "discovered" yet, and I do find junk that I want. But with ebay, I have to use more negative terms to find anything worth looking at than with any other search I use.

I frequently browse rather than search (or use a broad search) because you can still sometimes find good deals if you can find a seller that doesn't know what they have or the right category to have listed it.

ccDan




msg:3372987
 2:45 am on Jun 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

yosmc writes: Interesting. In my mind, eBay has been favoring the sellers over the buyers way too long. Just an example: You buy an item for $1, and then it turns out that they charge $10 for shipping and handling (or $9 just for handling if you pick up the item personally). Sure, eBay says you have to check all the conditions in advance, but under European consumer rights this would never fly (not sure about other countries). Basically means that everyone who is used to a decent consumer legislation unsuspectedly enters a Wild West scenario at eBay, with the company looking the other way as long as they can cash in on the seller fees.

I'm sorry, but if the seller lists their conditions and the buyer neglects to read them, it's hardly the Wild, Wild West. Maybe the buyer will pay closer attention in the future. Perhaps that's the best way for them to learn the lesson. There is too much dumbing-down of stuff these days. I have found that people will generally meet the bar you set for them, so if you keep them low, you will attract the lowest common denominator.

lammert writes: The only way eBay can stop this is by booting a large number of sellers from their system because of a non-fit business model--just as Google has done a few weeks ago with AdSense arbitrageurs--but I doubt they will do that as those sellers generate a large part of their income.

Maybe do away with Buy It Now? Ebay is an auction site, no?

Irregardless, I think one of the problems with sellers these days is that they have their financial expectations far too high. Minimum (or hidden reserve) bids are frequently too high. I've seen the same items listed over and over and over again, at the same price, and not selling. Sometimes they will cut the price and announce it's a sale. Still it does not sell.

If you have an item that you keep listing at the same price over and over again, and there are no takers, perhaps it's because it's not worth your minimum bid. Perhaps sellers think that they are going to be able to clean their attics out and buy themselves a McMansion with the proceeds? More than likely, the stuff is only worth a new paint job on their home's exterior, but they're still going to try for that McMansion!

Ebay's own success has probably been a contributing factor to its apparent decline. People read stories of people making a living, or getting rich, off of Ebay and figure they can do the same with the junk in their attic.

Too bad their junk isn't worth all that much. It's like that roadshow you see on TV. They only show the people who wind up with big ticket items; what you don't see are the dozens (hundreds even?) of people who find out their junk is junk. People watch the show and think they must have something valuable in their attic too.

Not everyone is lucky enough to find an original copy of the Declaration of Independence behind an old painting they've had stored in their attic for years!

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:3373233
 8:54 am on Jun 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry, but if the seller lists their conditions and the buyer neglects to read them, it's hardly the Wild, Wild West.

Sorry, I believe that you are wrong.

You would not get away with this deceptive practise anywhere else. Excessive postal charges are used by some sellers who claim no reserve when in fact the postal charge is the reserve. This practise should be stamped out because it is confusing to many people. I make my own protest by looking at an item's postal charge first. If this is excessive I don't bid, it's as simple as that.

HRoth




msg:3373417
 12:46 pm on Jun 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ebay does have a rule against excessive shipping, and you can report a seller who is doing that with ebay's pulldown menu of various offenses. I recently reported someone who was listing a cheap item and asking $28 shipping when it would cost about a dollar to mail.

vincevincevince




msg:3373425
 12:54 pm on Jun 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Here're what I believe eBay needs to do to get things more reliable again:

  • Make buy-it-now much less attractive by increasing charges and fees - eBay should be about auctions not set-price-sales
  • All shipping fees must be available up-front (including international fees, if seller ships internationally)
  • Fixed return policy for all items and all sellers - no 'as is' or 'unchecked' items
  • A cancelled winning bid should leave the second-highest bidder just above the bid of the third-higest bidder - as if that winning bidder had never been there.
  • ccDan




    msg:3373489
     2:03 pm on Jun 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

    You would not get away with this deceptive practise anywhere else. Excessive postal charges are used by some sellers who claim no reserve when in fact the postal charge is the reserve. This practise should be stamped out because it is confusing to many people. I make my own protest by looking at an item's postal charge first. If this is excessive I don't bid, it's as simple as that.

    How is it deceptive if you are able to look up the shipping cost before you buy?

    I avoid overpriced shipping too. But, that doesn't make it the "Wild West" if they are clearly posting their charges before you buy.

    Now, if they say they charge $10, and then they add additional fees on top of that after the auction ends, then you have reason to cry foul. But, if they list the full charges beforehand, people shouldn't go hiding and whining behind some "deceptive practices" claim because they couldn't be bothered to check into things beforehand.

    ccDan




    msg:3373493
     2:09 pm on Jun 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Ebay does have a rule against excessive shipping, and you can report a seller who is doing that with ebay's pulldown menu of various offenses. I recently reported someone who was listing a cheap item and asking $28 shipping when it would cost about a dollar to mail.

    If you find that excessive, don't buy from that seller. Easy as that.

    Something may cost $1 to mail, but what about the packaging materials? And, I'm not aware of any product that will package itself for shipping.

    It takes time and materials to prepare and package an item for shipping.

    Whether the seller "hides" those charges in the price of the item or in the shipping, you are going to be paying for them either way.

    So, read the terms beforehand, and if the final price of the item would be too high for you, don't bid. As BeeDeeDubbleU said, it's as simple as that!

    ccDan




    msg:3373501
     2:17 pm on Jun 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

    A cancelled winning bid should leave the second-highest bidder just above the bid of the third-higest bidder - as if that winning bidder had never been there.

    That might be seller-friendly, but not necessarily buyer-friendly.

    For example, you bid on a computer. Someone else outbids you and wins the auction.

    So, you bid on another computer and win.

    Some time later, you find out the winning bid of the first auction was cancelled, so now you're the winner.

    Right now, if you lose an auction, you're off the hook. You can go and bid on a similar or same item from another seller.

    If that situation changes, you'll pretty much have to wait until the other auction is finalized before you can feel secure in bidding on another auction for the same item.

    The end result is that there is that you pretty much end up in limbo on every auction you lose, which would pretty much discourage people from bidding.

    That's something that could drive buyers away from Ebay, as well as invite more abuse by unscrupulous sellers.

    steve40




    msg:3373578
     3:15 pm on Jun 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

    I stopped using EBAY for the following reasons

    As a seller to compete you had to start using unscrupulous tactics or not be able to compete and Selling fees increased to much

    As a buyer if I am looking for a Toyota Camry I expect to be able to find a car quickly not wade through tons of crap stuff like mats, cup holders, wheel trims etc. etc.

    My own view is Ebay should have been brave enough to have cleaned up their act 2 years ago and seperated out the buy now / online shopping and online auctions , I suspect many would have been happy to have used both sections for different needs , but they thought they could make more money with quicker impact by using their core product Online Auctions to push people to buy now shopping

    If you have ever read any of the get rich ebooks for Ebay it is easy to spot how the user experience has been downgraded and they will need to clean house of unscrupulous sellers at the same time as making major changes to better the user experience

    steve

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