Archive for April, 2008

Claim It Now

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

I boarded a flight to ChannelAdvisor’s Catalyst event. The flight attendant came on to announce that a jacket was found in the gate area of the airport, and someone missing a jacket should please come up to get it.

Nobody moved.

The flight attendant said, "Claim it now, or find it later on eBay."

We all laughed. But I think it’s true. There are people who sell the unclaimed lost and found on eBay. So did you lose a jacket before boarding a Continental flight a few weeks ago? Check eBay.

Did anybody find the hat I lost in the DC airport after the eCommerce Forum? I had that hat for nearly 20 years, and am still sad. Lost and found said nobody turned it in, so I guess someone found it, and decided they loved it as much as I did. Odd how someone can find a hat and decide it’s theirs. It says "Horney Toad Activewear" and is yellow, green, and purple fleece.


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Msss Kel’s Place Nominated for Best In Stores 2008

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Well, out of around 30,000 eBay Stores that entered for Best In Stores 2008, 16 were chosen. 4 each are finalists in 4 categories.

We are beyond proud to tell you that our very own Msss Kel’s Place is nominated for Best Simple Store. And you know what, it is. It has great branding and personality. You know what she does. You can easily find what you want. It matches her listings fantastically. And you’re unlikely to forget it. Don’t your wish your eBay Store were that powerful?

Well, hire us. :)

So to all the companies and designers who say that they are the best Stores designer on the planet, or their "Advanced" eBay Stores are the best in their area code, I didn’t notice any of your Stores listing among the 16 finalists. You may want to update your websites. :)

I hope Msss Kel wins because to us, it really is the Best eBay Store and one of the best listing designs we’ve ever done. I hope you will take the time to follow the link we dropped into her Store, and vote for her as Best Simple Store. Not because I’m telling you to do it, but because it is. :)

Thanks!


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Who Wants This Job?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I remember an old Saturday Night Live sketch where Weekend Update anchor Norm MacDonald said the list was out, and the worst job of the year was assistant crack whore. I think that right now, this may be a job not too many people are dying to get into. This will put your photo on the dart board of many a seller and blogger. :)

I didn’t make this up. eBay really has this listed on Monster.com as I type this.

Sr. Product Manager, Best Match

The
Finding Product Management team is responsible for one of eBay’s most
important and exciting product areas, eBay’s search and browse
platform. This Sr. Product Manager position reports to the Sr. Manager
for Best Match and is a key contributor to the 20+ person Finding Team.

The
Best Match team is responsible for developing systems and processes
that create eBay’s relevance sort algorithm. We are looking for a
motivated individual to drive several product opportunities in this
area.

A Sr. Product Manager is responsible for writing
requirements and planning long-term product strategy. This individual
will gain exposure to many areas of the company and will be responsible
for developing and executing product and marketing plans to drive the
adoption of these products.

Responsibilities include:
– Partner with cross functional leaders to create and execute product plans for the improving Best Match on eBay.
– Own key business and product metrics and drive major improvement through product development and product marketing.
– Optimize existing search and browse systems.
– Competitive analysis.
– Become an internal and external advocate for eBay search technologies.
– Work closely with a team of product managers, designers, developers, and analysts to document product requirements.

Qualifications:
– Strong background and understanding of search technology and/or ecommerce marketplaces.
– Experience guiding the development of highly intuitive user interfaces for complex web or software experiences.
– Strength in data analysis and interpretation.
– Proven product and project planning capabilities.
– Highly organized with acute attention to detail.
– Excellent written and verbal communication skills.


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Like Search Engine Spamming in the 1990s

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Remember spamming search engine spiders and bots in the 1990s? Well, we were in business back then, so we do. :) We never did it, but we remember it.

Clients would ask us to put SEX over and over in the meta tags. We didn’t. We tried to explain that someone actually looking for sex might find themselves completely uninterested in filters and pumps for zoos and aquariums. Or they’d ask us to put in other words they thought people searched for like "Madonna." OK, you might show up in search results, but those may not be quality leads.

The opposite seems true of the latest spamming of a system. eBay sellers are discovering ways to mess with Best Match. Best Match orders eBay search results through a mysterious algorithm that not everybody understands, but words in your title are part of it. It works better than saying "Sex" in the meta tags for a non-sex site because by showing you at the top of eBay results, you could be more likely to be the seller who makes the sale.

ChannelAdvisor reports on this here, so we wanted to give them credit for a well-explained example.

How do we feel about this? I think it’ll go away soon in that I’m sure eBay can eventually rewrite the algorithm to tell the difference between a title where NEW appears once or appears more than once, and decide that saying a word more doesn’t make it a better match.


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Too Much Info from Meetup.com

Monday, April 14th, 2008

I am looking at getting a small travel trailer that I can tow with my SUV. I went to see if Meetup.com has any RV meetups in town. No they don’t, but one person was signed up to say that she was interested in an RV meetup group when it started. She was allowed to post a comment with her "I’m waiting for this group to be formed" choice, and this is what she wrote (I removed the URL).

"There is already a polyamory group here in Tucson.  See [URL removed]
Perhaps, via meetup though, we can reach more poly or poly interested folks."

Um, this is the Recreational Vehicle meetup. Not the orgy meetup. I am not sure why she posted that for the RV meetup, but I think that I will not join her in waiting for an RV meetup. I’m scared that it wouldn’t stay on topic.


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Isn’t There Enough Pie For Everybody?

Friday, April 11th, 2008

I’ve noticed lately that there are some companies who seem to think they compete with us. OK, they are out there, and when I see their work, I tend to feel like we don’t compete. It’s something totally different done differently with a different approach. That makes it not compete in my opinion. If I really want a Coca Cola, a glass of soy milk probably won’t do. :) Or better said, if you really want the top cut of organic beef, the tiny McDonalds burger probably will not satisfy!

So I tend to think there is enough pie for everybody. If you want to design for eBay sellers, and you’re at least reasonably good at what you do, there’s a piece of pie for you. :) The last statistic I heard was that 1.3 million sellers make a full-time or part-time living on eBay. That’s my target audience.

My target audience is over 1.3 million people. That’s not bad! That’s a big pie from which a lot of pieces can be cut. Enough pie for everybody, right?

I’m not sure. I have found that some of these pseudo-competitors seem to want our piece of the pie, whatever it is in each moment. I’ve watched them write up ads that use the wording we use in ads, but the ad is for their design. I’ve watched them rebrand their company and start using a logo that looks bloody well like our logo. I’ve watched them stand near our exhibit area so they can hear what we say to people, and then while we’re talking to potential clients, they literally pull these people away so they can talk to them. That just make you look weird if not desperate since the ones who are right for us aren’t going to hire you anyway. They want what we do, and you don’t do what we do.

I guess people want to be As Was. That’s nice. But as Seth Godin says, decide what your world is so that you can be the best in your world. The companies who think they compete with us will not be the best in our world, which means that they should concentrate on the piece of the pie who really wants them, and go be those customers’ best choice. We’re the best choice for our piece of the pie, and if they want us, they are unlikely to want you even if you’re faster and cheaper. We’re offering something that may cost more and take more time, but is worth it.

I think we should each identify our key piece of pie and go after it. I think everything would go so much better for some of these struggling pseudo-competitors if they were cool with the piece of the pie that fits them.


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My 10 Minutes Lasted 10 Minutes

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

I spoke on a panel at ChannelAdvisor’s event last week. Now, I’m used to people coming up afterwards to say they loved our work or liked what I said. :)

But people came up to me and said something I was surprised to hear.

They were glad that I only took the amount of time that was alotted to me for my presentation. And they loved my presentation. It’s not like they were glad I only took 10 minutes because I stunk. They were glad that I took 10 minutes because it was respectful to the flow of the session.

The audience was aware that we each got 10 minutes. I shaved my presentation down. I hacked away at it over and over. I took out things I wish I could have shown everybody so that it would be 10 minutes long.

The other two speakers ran well over. Evidently, 10 minutes to them was a general guideline or a nice idea. :) This meant that the session ran over and we had very little time for questions.

I was really pleased that people in the audience cared. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only one who obeys rules, and I suffer because I don’t take my alotted 10 minutes and do a 20 minute presentation. :) I’m glad that people cared.

Next time you have a presentation, please stick to your alotted time. The audience notices.


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The TSA Is Not Paying Attention

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

I’ve been doing a lot of flying lately. The TSA claims up and down that you can’t bring this, that, and the other thing on board. Here is a list of things I’ve recently brought in my carry on AND made it through security without anybody asking me about anything.

  • Half a litre of water in a Camelback pouch in the front outside pocket of my backpack.
  • A small thing of hand sanitizer that was not in a quart zip bag.
  • My Swiss Army Knife.

You read correctly. I just went through security in Tucson and Raleigh, NC with my black Swiss Army knife in the front inside pocket of my carry on backpack. That means I had two knife blades, a little saw, and some other metal tools. I thought it was in my checked luggage, but there it is, in my carry on rolling backpack.

I’m not a terrorist, but evidently, terrorists have taken planes down with much less than a Swiss Army knife and a half litre of some sort of liquid.

The TSA is just crap, and it’s embarrassing. If you’re not going to police the stuff you claim is so awful, then just stop pretending these are against the rules.

Aw just give us a break already.


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Coupon Abuse

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

If you clip a coupon for $1 off a 24-pack of Coca-Cola, when you go to the supermarket, here are some things to know:

  1. You will NOT be able to use that $1 off on Pepsi products.
  2. You will NOT be able to take $3 off your 24-pack of Coca-Cola.
  3. You will NOT be able to take $1 off a one-litre bottle of Coca-Cola.
  4. You will NOT be able to take 50 cents off a six-pack of Coca-Cola, and 50 cents off a bottle of Sprite.
  5. You will NOT be able to take $1 off a 24-pack of Coca-Cola, and another $1 off a pound of ground beef with the one coupon.

I’m writing this because I feel frustrated. We created a few promotional discounts to offer very select sellers for very select reasons. Now that people are finding our web page with these discounts, we find that many people are haggling with us. Like because we are offering $500 off our custom eBay listing template design if you paid that or more to another company, people are looking to get $500 off anything for any reason.

Their coupon abuse :) emails often end with, "Will that work for you?" and I’d like to say NO. Creating your own discount doesn’t work for me! If we made good money and were able to grow our company giving everybody these discounts, we’d just lower prices. But considering the amount of work we put into each client, and the amount of expertise and attention you get without being nickled-and-dimed, we have carefully constructed our pricing. We’ve also carefully constructed when, how, why, and who gets discounts.

We used to offer NO discounts or promotions because we found that people figured they could just "Best Offer" me any price they liked for our services. People thought everything was a negotiation, or a one-time discount was going to apply to them forever. These made for frustrating experiences for me, as well as for the client, who randomly decided that they were due all kinds of different pricing.

Most of our clients later tell us that we could have charged more for what they got from us and how well it worked for them. We are the only company broadcasting our track record; our average client grows eBay GMV by 15% within a few months of working with us, and keeps growing. I ask our potential and new clients respect the good pricing we’re offering for the amazing service you’re going to get.

I may have to stop offering the discounts if I find that they are bringing more negative experiences and weird client expectations. I was hoping that the promotions would bring great, new clients who really appreciated what we do and the great pricing we offer even without the discount. I did not want to enter into a world where everything is a negotiation.

For the $100-500 about which the client may be hassling me, how many more sales would the client have to make to have absorbed that? How much would our advice need to save the client in listing fees? We can probably save you hundreds per MONTH with some of our advice. Just trust that what we do is going to more than pay for itself. :)

That being said, April is 10% off month for us. All new clients get 10% off whatever is in their contract with all future services at regular price. Jump on now! :)


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Amazon Isn’t Perfect

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I’ve heard some stories about sellers on Amazon, and in some cases, they make eBay sound quite fair! AuctionBytes has also been covering this as well:

http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2008/3/1205424896.html

http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2008/2/1203469425.html

http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2008/2/1203203694.html

I heard two stores from my own clients. One seller had two not-so-great feedbacks on Amazon, and Amazon immediately limited his account. Another had an email glitch, where she missed three small orders that came in the same day. So they didn’t ship in a timely manner. Amazon permanently suspended her, and she said they won’t listen to any appeal at all.

Thanks to eBay for NOT doing this stuff to people!


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