Major eBay changes announced today (7/27/09) Part I/III

July 27, 2009

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

This is part I of a III part ‘eBay Strategies’ series detailing and reacting to eBay’s second round of 2009 changes announced today (aka the Summer release or what they call SR2 internally@eBay).

  • Part I (you are here) covers the search and seller efficiency changes.
  • Part II covers the eTRS – which is here (**NOW LIVE**)
  • Part III looks at the Summer changes package and offers some thoughts/analysis and lives here.

ChannelAdvisor is also hosting a webinar on August 4th (next
Tuesday) at 2pm ET where we will detail the changes and go through some
tips on how to start preparing for the changes now.  We’ll also
highlight some strategies on how to take advantage of the changes
before the holidays.

Be sure to register for the eBay changes webinar here (it’s the top webinar, or click here to go directly to registration).

These changes are set to roll out in the Sept/Oct time frame (9/22-10/1 to be specific) and are best examined  in three chunks:

  1. Search enhancements (my personal favourite)
  2. Seller efficiencies
  3. The new eBay Top Rated Sellers (eTRS in eBay-speak) program.

In this post, I’ll cover the first two (search+seler).  The eTRS is complex enough and a big enough change that I’ll cover it in it’s own post – part II.  Finally, we’ll review the whole package and look at it from both a buyer+seller perspective in part III.

Search enhancements

I’ve been criticizing eBay on the search system for, oh, about 5-8 years now and this release includes the best (positive) changes to search that I’ve seen over that period.  While it seems BestMatch is here to stay, eBay is least making an effort to fix some of the most egregiously broken parts of the system.  The changes include:

  • Seller performance aspect of BestMatchNOW DOMESTIC ONLY – (this is a big one we’ve been very vocal on) – For the ‘seller performance component of BM, they now will look at domestic only – this was buried in the release, but one of the top improvements IMO.  We’ve had many sellers stop selling internationally due to this issue so it will be great to see them come back to the table and see CBT improve.
  • Recent Sales (RS)- they are tweaking this to go from the pure $ sales to the ratio of sales/impressions.  This will help prevent the ‘starving’ off of newer products and some other nasty tricks some sellers have implemented to take advantage of the recent sales system that exists today (more on this on the webinar).
  • Auctions with BIN – Auctions with BIN now have to have at least a 10% ‘lift’ between the auction start and BIN – this one is going to cause some major strategy changes so we’ll be digging into in in-depth on the webinar.
  • Fix for ‘New’ FP30 and single quantity listings – These listings will be given more exposure.  Tied into the recent sales changes, they are going to give new listings and quantity one a boost in results.  Again, this solves the starvation problem that has been going on since they implemented recent sales.
  • Product pages – The amazonification of eBay (where
    appropriate) continues and eBay will be rolling out more product
    pages.  There’s also an unusual ‘community catalogueueue’ program that we’ll
    go into in more detail in the webinar. (There is an opt-out which is
    good.)
  • Good bye spam! aka – eliminating featured plus, border, and basically ‘search junk‘ – I’ve long argued that many of the ‘upgrades’ that eBay has in search are at best distractions and at worst subjugate the relevancy of the search engine. While there are plenty of sellers that use these the ‘right’ way, there are unfortunately spammy sellers that love to buy featured+bold+neon+flash to highlight their wacky offers and negatively impact the buying experience.  I love this change as it will eliminate some really bad search experiences.  Whatever eBay loses in upgrade fees they should easily makeup for in FVFs.  I look forward to not having to see search results like this where the first page of items is a rainbow of crap.

Ipod_search

Seller efficiencies

The next chunk of changes are designed to improve the efficiency of sellers.

  • Speeding up UPIs – eBay is cutting the resolution time in half.  This is a great start to shorting a process that should really not exist at all.
  • eBay dispute resolution – looks like they are expanding this program
  • Anonymization of emails – eBay is finally, finally getting rid of the YELLOW BUTTON – this thing has been a disaster for the last 4 years and causing terrible customer service for both sellers and buyers over the years.  This one should have been fixed 3+ years ago, but at least they are finally getting to it.
  • Tracking numbers – this is live already and causing a material DECREASE in emails to sellers already.  (Yes ChannelAdvisor already supports it – Booyow!)
  • Country black listing – you can get more granular on countries you will/won’t do business with.  Today you have the granularity of, say, Europe.  Post changes, you will have country-level management.  Every eBay seller knows that Italian buyers are terrible to deal with so you can finally blacklist those guys vs. all of EU.  Ciao Italian buyers!
  • Search visibility tool – I haven’t seen this one yet, so I’m
    reserving comment, but they are evidently going to give a tool that
    evaluates how your items are doing in search results.

Here’s a screen shot that eBay provided of the search visibility tool:Visibility_tool

It’s a little hard to read, but it looks promising as it appears to show all of the data seller’s have been dying to see:

  • Free shipping boost – hmmm
  • Sales/impressions – the replacement for recent sales
  • Seller performance rating (see part II)
  • Impressions for a listing
  • Rank within

The only negative I see is this seems designed to look at a single listing which if you have 20k listings, could be somewhat painful.  It’s also clearly designed to push more free shipping.

One observation – this is starting to look at LOT like paid-search/AdWords.  Hmmm.

Part II coming soon – eTRS

SeekingAlpha Disclosure – I am long Amazon and Google. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor