Q1 data is telling us that the eBay changes are….

March 13, 2008

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

Working!  Since mid 2004, eBay datapoints have been painfully and irreversibly slowing.  Listings growth, GMV growth and active buyer growth.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that eBay has started rolling out the changes they announced back in January throughout Q1.

On Feb 20, gallery was set free and the new fees came into effect.

March 3rd, eBay rolled BestMatch as the default search.

The results have been very profound, measurable and positive.  The much covered ‘boycott’ didn’t cause any decrease in listings or buyer activity that we could see (I’m sure I’ll get flamed for saying that, but there it is folks.).

First on Feb 20, conversion rates started a nice climb – especially for those sellers in the media categories that previously couldn’t justify gallery.  By our calculations many media sellers saw conversions increase 2-5%.

Then the media+fixed priced sellers started listing a little bit more.  That saw some increased sales, and then sellers increased listings some more and that cycle is still continuing.

Then on March 3rd when eBay rolled BestMatch we saw an even larger and more across-the-board conversion bump.  We’ve got some sellers seeing a 10-20% increase in conversions.  I haven’t seen anything this dramatically positive on eBay in a LOOOOOONGGGG time.

If you’re still with me, listings are up, conversions are up and that means….. yep, GMV is up nicely and so far it’s continuing its upward path.

As sellers see the results, they will tend to continue to list more (to balance conversions) and if the conversion rates hold, we’ll see even more GMV coming out of the system.

At ChannelAdvisor we provide our customers with lots of real-time data on their sales and other vital stats and it allows them to react quickly so they tend to be ahead of the curve.  As the long-tail of eBay sellers see their eBay bills and start doing the math, they also will start to adjust their listings volume.

The much maligned DSRs are working.  Once BestMatch kicked in, we saw the difference between seller exposure really spread out dramatically. Since the S+H cost DSR is usually the lowest, it’s the one that tends to key seller advantaging/disadvantaging.  When sellers heard the 5%/15% discounts, they did the math and for most it didn’t make sense to change their S+H prices.  But now when sellers see they are losing share/conversions due to poor S+H prices/ratings, sellers are starting to test different communication practices and look for ways to lower S+H fees.  If eBay’s data that buyers don’t like eBay’s S+H, then the focus on S+H prices and practices should be dynamite for the ecosystem.

For the first time in years, I’m starting to see a light at the end of the dark eBay tunnel we’ve been in.  I’m interested to see when these trend plateau’s out and if eBay will turn the crank again on fees, lowering listings and raising FVFs.  Also we still don’t have Finding 2.0 or the feedback changes out yet so there are two other big changes out there waiting to hit the system.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Q1 came out for eBay – particularly on the y/y GMV growth which I think should look pretty good.  I’m also very curious to see if there are any signs of life in the active buyer data that eBay typically reports.

Usually analysts ask if these positive eBay indications mean bad news for Amazon.  We don’t see any slow down there so I don’t think so, it’s not always a zero sum game at the seller GMV level and while eBay is perking up it’s going to take some time for it to have any impact on Amazon’s incredible momentum.

Disclosure: I am long google.
(Note: eBay Strategies is being picked up by Seeking Alpha now so this is required.)