Archive for January, 2008

Reasonable Shipping on eBay

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

One of the changes that eBay just announced is that you won’t be able to be (or stay) a PowerSeller if you have DSRs under 4.5. Many sellers I know who have low DSRs tend to have them for shipping. So let’s take a look at what could be going on here.

  • When people leave DSRs for shipping, they are told that a score of 5 means VERY REASONABLE and 4 is REASONABLE. Both are good! Both imply happy people. So what’s wrong with 4?
  • Reasonable is a subjective word. The same item with the same shipping sold to two different people could get a 5 for very reasonable or a 1.
  • Someone saying that shipping was unreasonable doesn’t mean it was. I know of plenty of sellers who sell rare, fragile, collectible, expensive, and other items. eBay wants the seller to be good, and ship carefully. You even learn in Griff’s Basics of eBay Selling to use brand new packaging and not reuse any packaging. So it’s important to understand that eBay sellers HAVE to pack amazingly. For some, that means double-boxing… extra peanuts… airbags… extra tape… If the item requires that, sellers should use that, and buyers should pay for the materials and time. End of story. That’s REASONABLE. Unreasonable is throwing a fragile item into a padded envelope.
  • I think that in general, I’d leave lots of 4s for good sellers. I’d reserve 5 for a really amazing seller who wows me. But since 4 out of 5 is good, I’d think I were leaving someone a good rating. In essence, I’d be helping someone lose their PowerSeller status, and I’d never know that.

So now great sellers might lose their PS status because their shipping DSR might be 4.3. That’s an 86 out of 100 on a test, and that’s not a bad score. You would pass that class. :) But it means that if these sellers lose their status because of these DSRs and the perception people make up about what’s reasonable and what’s not, then it means that the % of positive feedback comments didn’t mean much. It almost seems easy to have 98% positive feedback with how DSRs are going for many sellers.

I’ve been asking for years for the PowerSeller program to be redefined. I wanted that changed, and I wanted standards raised. In a sense, I still do. But when I see some of my clients about to lose their status, and some of the sellers who were at the eCommerce Forum in danger of losing their PS status, I’m not sure that this change is the right change. I want change. Please bring change! But let’s make sure that this is a change that strengthens good sellers and removes bad sellers. I’m just not convinced, and I’m afraid of who’s going to go extinct because of this.

Maybe if you’re not disadvantaged in search until your DSRs are 4.2, maybe that’s a better threshhold? It’s still an 84 on a test, which is not so bad. But if that’s the line eBay is drawing for Best Match disadvantage, maybe it should be the same line for PowerSeller status, at least on the shipping DSR. I’d still want to see high standards for item as described as that’s darn important!

And this is something I think sellers can help too. If shipping pricing is about expecting shipping to cost or be something, then a seller does have a chance to communicate more about the shipping in the listing. The trade-off is to not get too wordy or grumpy, but you CAN use images of how you pack and some to-the-point bullets about your packing to set up expectations.

PS: My client with feedback of over 30,000, 100% positive, and DSRs that are awesome except for shipping (4.3) suggested a 10-star scale so that eBay can decide, for example, that the threshhold is 8 or 8.5. At least with that, someone like me who doesn’t like to give perfect ratings unless the shipping were AMAZING and exceeded expectations can still give great sellers a 9, which would be GOOD for them. Now, the 4 I might give hurts them.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

The eBay Feedback System IS Broken

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

The changes eBay are looking to make to Feedback prove that it is broken. And we know it’s broken because:

  • If buyers are afraid to speak their minds about their seller out of fear of what that seller can do, then feedback is not honest. The comments future buyers would need to see won’t be there.
  • If sellers aren’t reviewing buyer feedback while they’re bidders, and then cancelling bids from people they feel have too many negatives as a buyer, then leaving feedback for buyers is meaningless.

Look at Amazon. That’s a marketplace many people like, and many sellers are happy on which to sell. You can’t leave feedback for buyers, and somehow, life goes on. :) Sales happen, people get things, it flows. Maybe that can happen on eBay, but here are the differences:

  • Amazon doesn’t put the buyer and seller directly in touch. When I buy a book from some other seller, I’m not given a way to contact him directly. That means that as a buyer, I have no chance to be the jerk who demands crazy stuff from him. Without that power, I’m just going to not leave feedback or I will rate the seller, but I won’t have had the chance to imagine my own power in there.
  • Too much power for buyers on eBay. I think that any imbalance of power can lead to dishonesty, extortion, or just badness. If sellers can’t speak their minds, then you have an imbalance of power.

I want to see Feedback changed. I agree that it’s broken. I’m not sure how to fix it. I’m not sure this will work. It works on Amazon, but that’s without connecting a buyer directly to a seller.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Doing The New eBay Math

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

With eBay fees changing, I wanted to look at some other scenarios based on real data. For the purpose of this math fun, let’s assume that these sellers use Gallery on everything, and their items are all in the Core. I know many of our clients use Gallery religiously, but often don’t bother with the pack of upgrades. I’m also doing a 30-day Terapeak for real clients of ours to use real numbers without naming names. :)

Seller #1: 1640 listings, 45% sell-through, $5.03 ASP, $1.35 avg starting price
Insertion fees go from $656 to $574.
Not paying 35 cents for a gallery image on 1640 items saves $574.
FVF on 738 listings selling for an average of $5.03 goes from $194.89 to $324.81.
How it washes out: This seller saves $526.08 each month. So even a seller with an relatively low ASP and nice conversion rate can still save on fees each month.

Seller #2: 230 listings, 18.26% sell-through, $439.16 ASP, $40.35 avg starting price
Insertion fees go from $276 to $230.
Not paying 35 cents for a gallery image on 230 items saves $80.50
FVF on 42 listings selling for an average of $439.16 goes from $620.34 to $700.98.
How it washes out: This seller saves $45.86 each month. Not a huge savings, but it’s savings! :)

Seller #3: 5374 listings, 31.95% sell-through, $47.87 ASP, $42.62 avg starting price
Insertion fees go from $6448.80 to $5374.
Not paying 35 cents for a gallery image on 5374 items saves $1880.90.
FVF on 1717 listings selling for an average of $47.87 goes from $3519.85 to $5133.83.
How it washes out: This seller saves $1341.72 each month.

Seller #4: 197 listings, 99.49% sell-through, $5.28 ASP, $20.53 avg starting price. This looks weird, but this is what Terapeak said, so for the sake of our math example, let’s run with it! :)
Insertion fees go from $118.12 to $108.35.
Not paying 35 cents for a gallery image on 197 items saves $68.95.
FVF on 194 listings selling for an average of $5.28 goes from $53.78 to $89.63.
How it washes out: This seller saves $42.87 each month. I was really worried about this guy as I thought his fees might go up, but this is the math.

From the math I’ve seen, I think that the sellers hit the hardest are those using the feature upgrades pack that included gallery. I am not a fan of that pack as I’m not a fan of bold or border. Highlight can only be good when other people who might come up near you in search results AREN’T using it. If you were spending that much on feature upgrades, you don’t save the 35 cents.

These numbers are also without the potential discounts eBay is offering to PowerSellers. Some will get 5% off FVFs and some will get 15% off FVFs. So our sample sellers here, who happen to be PowerSellers, will see even more fee savings.

I am not saying that nobody will be negatively affected by this fee change. I am sure people will be negatively affected. But from some of my own math and knowing how my clients tend to list and use listing upgrades, I think that most sellers will see a fee decrease, especially if they qualify for the PowerSeller discounts.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Rebranding Gone Wild!

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Marketworks, bought by ChannelAdvisor, is becoming Marketplace Advisor.

ChannelAdvisor Merchant, which is a system many of our clients like, will become Marketplace Advisor Premium.

I like CA, and you’ll catch me at at least one of their conferences in April, but I am reminded of a Kids In The Hall sketch I often invoke. It’s where a garage band called The Armada decides to change its name. They change it to, "Rod Torfulson’s Armada featuring Herman Menderchuk," leaving out the name of the guy who is the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter. I love that sketch.

And I often think of it when I see things rebranded as longer things that may not really anchor themselves well in the minds of users and potential users. The band as The Armada was fine. Marketplace Advisor and it’s cousin, Marketplace Advisor Premium, are a mouthful and a half. They sound more like a contractual obligation someone promised someone rather than a really great, catchy name.

We’re working on rebranding The As Was Conference to something shorter, more memorable, and more POW. I wouldn’t make it longer. :)

Sorry, guys.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

eBay eCommerce Forum Announcements

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Hi. It’s Debbie from As Was, live blogging from the eBay eCommerce Forum.

New CEO John Donahoe gave the fist speech. They said these changes are for the USA, so if you’re not selling on eBay.com, check your regional site to see what the changes rea.

eBay is changing the fee structure. Effective 20 Feb 2008 in the USA, insertion fees are being reduced in the Core and Store. Gallery images will be free. FVF will go up. They say that mathematically, people should see their fees go down, and with lower insertion fees, sellers now have less risk when listing items.

John says they’re rewarding great sellers because eBay wants great sellres, large and small. PowerSellers, based on their level of "buyer satisfaction," will receive up to 15% off their FVF. Starting in March, sellers with more "customer satisfaction" as measured by the DSRs (Detailed Seller Ratings), wlil be given favourable positions in search results. eBay’s stats show that a disappointed buyer won’t just stop buying from that seller… they might completely leave eBay, which hurts the opportunity for good sellers to sell to that person.

Starting in July, PowerSeller standards will be raised, which I’ve been calling for for years. Sellers will need to meet minimum DSR scores. I wasn’t calling for that, but I’m for raising standards. :)

John says they’re going to be revamping Feedback. John says that Feedback is a big turn-off to buyers, who are afraid of retaliatory negatives. The system will be changed to try to improve buyer trust.

John closed by stressing how sellers and eBay need to work together to improve the buyer experiences.

———————————————————————————–

Then Bill Cobb came and gave more details.

Insertion fees are going down 5 cents to 80 cents depending upon the tier.

FVF are going well up. 8.75%, 3.50%, and 1.50%. That first tier is a BIG jump, bu that’s only for the first $25. That means $2.19 of the first $25 instead of $1.31. I’m commenting to say that people shouldn’t be too scared as that’s only just another 88 cents. That’ll hit the lower ASP people more of course, but it is only 88 cents.

Featured Plus will be cut to $9.95 in some situations as it’ll have tiered pricing.

eBay calculates buyer disatisfaction from things like leaving neutral or negative, and a 1 or 2 rating in any of the DSRs.

More than 5% "dissatisfied" buyers in 30 days will flag a seller as not so great. Those people will see their items disadvantaged in search results.eBay will require the sellers who dissatisfy people to offer "safe" payments via PayPal or major credit card. These are designed to improve buyer trust.

The PS bar will be raised starting in July. Starting in July, you’ll need to have at least 4.5 on each DSR in a 12-month period to quality for/remain a PowerSeller.

Sellers who meet or exceed eBay standards will be rewarded through discounts, better payment protectoin, and greater exposure for listings in search.

PS Fee discounts: starting in April, 4.6 or higher on all DSRs will get 5% off on FVF. 4.8 and above on DSRs will get 15% off FVFs. Bill said that as of current stats, over 60% of current PSers would get these discounts. He joked that this is his retirement gift to sellers.

You won’t need to have shipped to a confirmed address to get Seller Protection. Any address to which you ship, even gift or work locations, will quality.

The $5K limit on claims will become unlimited for PowerSellers.

Right now PayPal only gives protection to sellers in certain countries. It will soon be offered to ALL countries that allow PayPal payments.

Since Best Match was rolled out, shoppers are converting more to buyers. Starting in March, it’ll be THE default way site-wide. High DSRs over the last 30 days will be given an advantage in search results. Search results will still favour items ending sooner, but eBay wants to highlight the better sellers since they think that’ll improve buyer satisfaction overall. That’s part of the whole Finding 2.0 thing. Other changes have to do with connecting shoppers more closely to what they are looking for.

New Feedback tool starting in May… a Seller Dashboard that’ll show PS status, billing status, FVF discount qualification, policy violations and risks, and buyer satisfaction measures (feedback, DSRs, and complaints). eBay hopes that sellers can use this to manage customer satisfaction. You’ll know how you stand at eBay since it’s similar to how eBay (internally) sees you.

Today, the biggest issue with Feedback is that buyers are afraid to leave honest feedback because of the threat of relatiation. The final straw for many buyers is getting a negative. Feedback is a two-way street, but eBay has a stat that retaliatory negs are way up, and sellers are 8x as likely to leave retaliatory negs than a buyer is. We need to regain buyer confidence on eBay so they’ll bid and buy more. eBay worked with Pierre on bold changes…

Starting in May, sellres may only leave positive feedback for buyers. WHAT?! They will remove a fb when the buyer doesn’t respond to the UPI. They wlil remove fb when someone is NARU, even retroactively. They will not allow buyers to leave neutral or neg within 3 days of the item ending. They wil reduce the number of days from 90 to 60 for buyers to leave you feedback. These are to help sellers avoid getting negatives.

Your % will be based on the last 12 months though the score will be lifetime. You will get credit for repeat business from 1 buyer/seller per week.

Bill says he knows not everybody will love all of these, but he feels the "overall package" of these changes is strong.

———————————————————————————–

Well, we know sellers have a lot of questions and issues. How will they be found? Once they are found, how can they better convert shoppers into buyers? How can they use strategies to decrease fees, and how can they improve their shipping? Better and cheaper shipping will help those DSRs. Well, this is my plug for my company, As Was http://www.aswas.com as well as our upcoming conference, http://www.aswasconference.com. We’re all about getting the sellers the help they need to grow and be more prfitable no matter what changes eBay might make. If you want to keep selling on eBay, and especially if you want to grow, you have to evolve with the changes and be proactive.

I’m just saying. :)


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Googling Us Tells You…

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

This weekend, I was in a discussion with someone who wanted to find out more about my company. They wanted more than what I had to say about which, which is GREAT. I wish more people did more digging! They even wanted something outside of the eBay website. Again, great. Please research companies before doing business with them!

They said they Googled us and didn’t find much other than eBay pages, our blogs, our website, our eBay workshops, some radio interviews, and that was mostly it. I forgot to ask them what they THOUGHT they’d find, but I get the feeling they expected to find all kinds of nasty things people would be putting on the internet.

But you won’t find that. And not because I had it removed. :)

I make sure that my whole team treats every client we have like they are make or break our reputation. We try to go above and beyond where appropriate, and we try to make people feel like we always have time for them. People like that! OK, we’re not perfect and sometimes a relationship goes sour, but luckily it’s rare. I would say we’re mostly quite successful in making people happy.

So you’re more likely to find a discussion forum saying we’re nice people :) or we helped people or maybe they’re fans of our workshops and classes. But if you Google us or me by name, you’re just not going to find the typical vinegar and complaints that you might find about other companies.

Do your homework! Always research companies. See if you can find out if they used to operate under another name. Look for the CEO’s name or your sales person’s name. Dig dig dig! Hopefully, you’ll find that you’re considering doing business with someone great. If they’re not great, hopefully you’ll find things online that will help you save your time and money, and make a better choice.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

It’s Not Christmas

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Hey, Yahoo! Music. It’s not Christmas. It’s nearly February. Please stop playing me Xmas songs and saying they’re popular on Yahoo! Music. I’m not sure who, after 3 solid months of Xmas music, is still choosing these and making them popular.

I also said the big NO NEVER to any Holiday music. You should know that’s my stored preference and not be playing me Xmas songs.

Thank YOU.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Meg Whitman Resigning; Fee Announcement Coming

Friday, January 25th, 2008

The word’s out about Meg resigning, and what does this mean for eBay. This makes me think of a comedy bit I heard on XM Radio the other day. A comedian was talking about the dumb opinion polls in USA Today. He mentioned one on "do you think there will be a terrorist attack at the Olympics." The results were something like 74% said not likely, 23% said likey, and 3% didn’t know. The joke in the bit was that NOBODY knows. It’s opinions, and you just don’t know.

I think the same about Meg resigning. I like a lot of where the company went in the last 10 years, but I have no idea what’s coming next. Most of us don’t! It’s kinda like the next president. We don’t know what’s coming next. We all just hope that the country and life get better. :)

Now how about fees. Well the word is that fees will be reduced. I’m for that in every situation except one. By reducing some of the fees, I think eBay has the potential to attract more of those people who attend seminars or watch infomercials, and then feel that they should be putting a whole catalogue of 25,000 drop shipped items onto eBay. They’ll be making money from their pool rafts with no work! Wow! I think that any fee reduction has the potential to attract those people back to the site, yet it’s my theory that it’s those people putting thousands of items on eBay are what drove eBay to raise Store fees a year or so ago.

So I do want fees lowered, but I do want to find some way to let people signing up for those "systems" to know that they mostly don’t work. I don’t want lower eBay fees to draw those people to the site to post thousands of things that thousands of other sellers are already struggling to sell and little to no margins. :(

Good luck, Meg!


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

My Mirapex Prediction

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I have blogged before about Mirapex. http://aswas.typepad.com/hall_of_fame/2007/08/mirapex-is-the-.html It looks like it’s becomng popular to talk about… I’m hearing people everywhere going bonkers over the side effects, specifically the idea that taking it may cause more gambling or sex urges.

Evidently, it’s given for restless legs syndrome as well as to Parkinsons patients. ?!?!?

My prediction is that it will get another name and be prescribed to women who claim their sex drives are waning. If the drug increases urges, I bet that the women who hate their husbands but feel a responsibility to desire them more will want some pill they can take.

Enter Mirapex under some other name with commercials showing somber women with no idea what to do about their lackluster sex life.

Mark my words!


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

How to Sleep When You Can’t Breathe

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

I’m going to give some of my personal pseudo-medical advice today given that I’m sick and working from bed. Hello.

I have a cold and can’t breathe through my nose. Those of you who’ve experienced that know that you’re in for a crappy night of mouth breathing. That always dries my throat and wakes me in pain. But I found a way to fix it. Seriously!

Go buy baby oil gel. That’s what it’s call. Not baby oil. Not aloe vera gel. "Baby oil gel." It’s often found in the baby care aisle. I get mine in Target. Get the ones without any smells so that it’s as plain as can be. Baby oil gel is similar to vaseline but not so thick. It’s not so moisturising, but it sure stays on a while like vaseline. Maybe vaseline would work with this idea too but I haven’t tried it.

You take a bit of the baby oil gel and wipe it on the roof of your mouth, as far back as you can go without causing yourself to throw up. :) If you can get it back there up top, that’s great. That’s the part that dries out the most for me.

Now, you can mouth breathe and it won’t dry out because the incoming air is hitting the layer of baby oil gel. As you swallow, it’ll wear away, but I’ll wake up and put a bit more on, and get back to sleep.

I know it’s weird, but it works for me. Obviously, baby oil gel is not for eating, so you’ll want to swallow it as little as possible!


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr