Is Best Match a Non-Performing Seller?


Monday, 24 November 2008 at 8:00 am Pacific USA Time.

Let's start with eBay's standards for being a great seller. 98% positive feedback. No DSR under 4.6. And to turn 4.6 into a percentage (out of 100%), it becomes 92%. Any one rating under a 30-day average of 4.6, you are heading for being disadvantaged for being a bad seller. At eBay, a test score under 92 starts to be a failing grade.

Best Match. At eBay's webinar 2 weeks ago, I asked what percentage of shoppers re-sort their search results so that they are NOT using Best Match. I was told that I can publicly say that "most" shoppers use Best Match. OK, I can do that. The exact percentage of shopper who re-sort search results is confidential, and I will publicly say most shoppers are staying with Best Match and not re-sorting. Because of that, you have to slant your eBay strategy for Best Match because that is by far the dominant behaviour of shoppers.

But "most" could be anything over 50%. It could be 95%. Who can say without eBay being open about the exact figure.

How many people have to stay with Best Match for it to be considered "performing"? 98% like feedback? 92% like the DSR threshhold? Even four out of five dentists is 80%, and Trident has been using that as a major selling point for what feels like decades. If 1 out of 5 shoppers re-sorted to get away from Best Match, would we still say it's working? 1 out of 7 shoppers? 1 out of 10 shoppers?

Jeez, we've all been so trained to see anything but near perfection in an eBay SELLER as a fatal flaw. When's the last time you bought from someone with feedback as "awful" as 95% positive? How about DSRs around 4.4 or 4.5? We've been taught that if your DSRs are there, you are a potential loser who maybe shouldn't be allowed to sell on eBay. Then I'd like to hold eBay features up to the same standards for failure and performance.

If 1 out of 7 people shopping on eBay are looking for a different experience that what eBay serves them by default, then is what they're being served working? If 1 out of 7 of your buyers wanted something different than the experience you're giving them, would you feel that that were enough people that you'd have to take a look at what you're doing and possibly change? If 1 out of 7 people told you the doctor you go to is bad at what he does, would that be enough to make you think there are a lot of people thinking your doctor stinks?

If eBay is calling Best Match a success now, I'd like to know when they call it a failure… especially when it doesn't seem to be tested against anything else. So hey, compared to pretty much nothing else, Best Match is a success. Well, I think if it's not what shoppers want, and sales are down and/or people are re-sorting to have another experience, then it's not working. Something COULD work better. Are we testing that something? Is there a department at eBay in charge of finding what's better than Best Match? Can we get Disruptive Innovation involved? :)

I am one of the last people I know still passionate about the eBay platform and where eBay could be going, but I am so concerned. I hope that someone at eBay will think about this, and if anything is not really working, please change it. Please be open to testing other ideas.


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Categories: That's Bad Marketing

Comments Closed

One Response to “Is Best Match a Non-Performing Seller?”

  1. Good post Debbie. I agree with everything. It sound like you know the number for Best Match re-sorts, but are not permitted to share it. I respect that.
    But let me share with you how the number eBay is giving you is not the whole story. And this particularly impacts Experienced and “Good” sellers.
    Much of my business (about 35%) is from repeat customers. They don’t search for an item. They go right to my eBay store, either through a bookmark, or based on an email I send them with my store URL, or through the URL on my packaging, etc. When they go directly to my store, they haven’t searched for anything, so obviously, Best Match is N/A, so the sort they receive is Time Ending Soonest.
    Many will search for something using my store search on the left side. The results they get from that are also based on Time Ending Soonest, not Best Match, because they have stayed within my eBay store.
    I have asked many of my regular customers if they change the sort within my store. Some have responded that they will sometimes change to Newly Listed, to see the latest items I’ve listed, but none have EVER told me that they switch to Best Match.
    I have a feeling that there are a lot of long-tail sellers, as well as established sellers with a large following who have similar experiences to mine. So I believe the more valuable meaningful statistic would be the number of SALES that were made as a result of a Best Match search, not the number of visitors.
    If eBay made that number available, I have a feeling that eBay’s grade for Best match would drop even lower.
    Good work Debbie! I like you with your pom-poms on, but I also like you on those rare occasions when you take the pom-poms off.