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eBay 2.0. Or is it all too late?

It has been a little while since I read Scot Wingo’s blog, and he had a great post recently that I took the time to read and digest.

It was his own roadmap on how he thinks eBay should change in order to survive.

For those who don’t know, Scot is founder of ChannelAdvisor (software that we use in our ecommerce business). He has some great industry experience, knowledge and insight.

For eBay sellers and those interested in eBay, Amazon and the online retail space you might be interested in his ideas :

“Episode IV – A New Hope (for eBay) -or- How to Fix eBay? -or- Introducing eBay 2.0”

Shipping Automation and our solution – ReadytoShip

ReadytoShip Shipping AutomationEarly on, ‘back in the old days’, our staff manually copied and pasted addresses for customer orders into shipping software packages or (*gasp*) hand wrote labels.

This was all fine and dandy until we started selling more than about 5 – 10 items per day.

Firstly, shipping started to take too much time in our day and secondly, staff were complaining about the boring job of writing out shipping labels!

So we decided to automate and we developed some software that would automatically correct all of our Australian addresses and import all of our orders into eParcel for shipping. This saved us a lot of time every day and a lot of errors. Not to mention the reduced amount of time spent resending items that were returned because of incorrect address (you could be amazed at how many customers type in their address incorrectly).

We assumed that lots of other sellers had made some sort of effort to develop similar software as it worked well for us and enabled us to process 100 or more orders per day with only a few staff. We could prepare and print 200 address labels in minutes.

But not many sellers do this, so ReadytoShip was born.

What does it do, and how does it help online sellers?

(more…)

eBay Australia to Allow Feedback Revision

eBay has announced a new feedback revision process to launch in the week commencing 13th October.

This has been sorely needed since they banned feedback removal a while ago, especially when there had only been some miscommunication with a customer for example, and the seller was able to provide them a satisfactory sale at the end of the day.

What will this mean? Not a great deal. You will only be able to change .5% of your feedback. Why limit it?

From eBay’s news annoucenement :

A number of changes were made to the feedback system on eBay this year, including the removal of the Mutual Feedback Withdrawal tool. Many sellers felt this left them with little option to have feedback revised or cancelled when they had rectified an issue.

This new Feedback revision tool provides sellers with an opportunity to send a Feedback revision request to a buyer.

Sellers will be able to use the Feedback revision tool if they feel a buyer should now be satisfied with the transaction (i.e. an issue was resolved) or if they believe a buyer may have accidently left incorrect Feedback in the first place.

While the Feedback revision process is initiated by a seller, buyers have the option to accept or decline a request. Only one request can be made per transaction and sellers will have a limited number or requests available within a 12 month period. We suggest that sellers get agreement from a buyer to change their Feedback before initiating the process.

Coupled with this, eBay is introducing a ‘Resolution’ centre (note the change from the ‘Dispute’ terminology – a smart move).

Lets hope that they Resolution Centre is somehow tied into the negative feedback process to help resolve issues first, rather than letting the current ‘shoot from the hip customers’ leave feedback first…

PeSA Australia Summit Wrap-up

Back on deck at work this morning, following up a few people that I met at the Pesa Summit over the last few days.

It was great to meet some readers of my blog, and talk to a lot of sellers. After my panel session on Business Automation my 15 min one on one blocks with sellers were booked out very quickly. I had lots of sellers ask advice on their websites, listings and business and it was great to see so much enthusiasm.

As Jonathon Garriss pointed out during one of the sessions, he doesnt know it all and neither do I. But it is great to chare experience and we always learn.

Every time I catch up with some of my peer sellers we always learn things too. You will never hear of Paul from DealsDirect.com.au visiting a conference like this and walking away saying he didn’t learn something to go back to his business and implement, for example. I learnt a lot too.

Day two of the summit had some great material. I was particularly fascinated by Tom O’Toole (of Beechworth Bakery fame). He is a very energetic and passionate speaker!

Other sessions included copywriting and headline skills which was very interesting. Direct marketing has a lot of common ground with eBay listings and advertisements. A lot to learn.

I also had a lot of people ask about our new product ReadytoShip which was great, and also got some great feedback on some other areas that sellers find frustrating and time consuming that we are working on fixing. But I will post more about that shortly!

PeSA Australia Summit Day 1

I just got home from the PeSA Australia summit, Navigating Success for Change.

A good turnout with close to 300 signups,s to the Flemington staff were kept busy with coffee and snacks during breaks.

Keynote this morning was from Jonathan Garriss (of Gotham City Online) who has flown in from the US and talked about current opportunity in eCommerce. He had some interesting facts to get everyone motivated and keep things in perspective. eCommerce is growing at 15% pa, traditional commerce is +/-3% pa.

There is a massive and more importantly growing marketplace to find opportunity in.

The ‘Navigating Change for Success’ tagline for the event was followed up with some discussion on change and opportunity. Jonathon is always a good speaker, with some great sites, technology and processes in his business that give him some good credibility.

Some of us more experienced eBay sellers also got the chance to spend some one on one time with sellers and talk about their ebay listings, stores and strategies which was interesting. I had quite a range of sellers talk to me today, from very small turnover sellers to quite large ones.

The attitude today was very positive. Simon Smith did ask that no one yell at him, and it sounds like he got his wish.

The 2 panels today were Business Automation (with Your truly, John from JJ entertainment, and Anthony of AuctionBlox), and the Top Seller panel (with Shaun from Selby Acoustics, Shayne from i-soldit.com.au and Jonathon of Dinosaur Deals).

I love the chance to talk to sellers about their business. It seems that there are som many sellers out there wanting to grow that perhaps don’t even know what parts of their businesses can be improved with better tools and processes.

I think the panels were the highlight from today, based on feedback that I got. It is a great opportunity for sellers to ask questions to people who have travelled the road before them. Jonathon, Shayne and Shaun did a great job talking about some of their own businesses, challenges and strategies and answering questions.

Some brief highlights of the day

  • Simon Smith did state that they had a ‘deep regret’ about how the Paypal changes were implemented.
  • Effectively a promise that eBay Australia management would be far more active in discussing potential upcoming changes in Australia (with sellersand buyers) that are already occurring in eBay US
  • One on one sessions. Great chance to talk to sellers looking for some advice. Jonathon Garriss had quite a crowd (but he loves it:) !
  • Simon announces today that the interstitial prior to leaving a neg (advising buyers that sellers can’t leave retaliatory feedback) was being removed today.
  • Great networking opportunities with lots of other likeminded sellers.

A big day. Definitely time for some sleep.

One of the biggest eBay sellers in Oz gone bust?

Some news this morning that eBay seller ebusiness supplies (eBay account, website) is now NARU on eBay, not answering customer emails and seems to have stopped trading.

This article from The Age sheds a little more light on the situation.

These guys have been in business for many years now and moved a lot of stock. Like a few of the big sellers (perhaps many) they based their business model on preselling stock arriving from suppliers. When doing this you obviously run the risk of inability to supply if there is a supplier issue, incorrect goods arriving etc etc.

It probably also meant that their cashflow was operating the business, as if they had plenty of capital they may not need to run their business using the ‘pre sale’ method. I never saw them advertise the fact they were pre selling items, maybe they should have been more upfront if there were.

And, according to some discussion around the place, it seems that e-business supplies might have been pre selling items that hadn’t even left China.

In any case, it’s not a pleasant thing to happen to buyers who may be left out of pocket. The better news is that PayPal have come to the rescue and will apaprently reimburse customers who paid using PayPal. Not bad!

eBay Australia Backs Down on PayPal Push

eBay.com.au released a statement yesterday notifying of their intent to withdraw its notification to the ACCC regarding the removal of other payment options from the eBay.com.au website.

This didn’t come as a big surprise.

Going to court over the matter would indeed have been a long and painful process, not to mention the amount of stress and anxiety it would cause eBay’s poor old PR team in Australia. The lesser of two evils was to withdraw the notification. Good move. They should now make some more publicly satisfying changes to try and get some goodwill back!

PayPal still remains a compulsory payment option at this stage. No doubt this will still cause some animated discussion. In fact, one website has already questioned the validity of the PayPal requirement in relation to the ACCC notice

eBay Australia In Lose/Lose Situation

Time to change all your listings back to include all payment options?

Today eBay announced it would postpone its (now) 15th July deadline for changes of listing payment options to PayPal only, citing its requirements to wait until the review process of the ACCC regarding its recent draft notice is complete.

It seems fairly inevitable to me that the outcome will not fall in eBay’s direction.

eBay Australia seem to be in a lose/lose situation. If they struggle and fight against the ACCC, Google, and other companies and individuals that have submitted complaints to the ACCC they don’t come out of the situation looking good. If they ‘win’ they still look like the bad guy in the media, given the attention this whole situation has received.

And, if the ACCC ends up halting their effort for PayPal only, they lose again. They may then be judged as having made a poor decision to attempt to limit payment options to begin with, and they will lose (more) face with plenty of buyers and sellers.

Its a sad situation, head shaking stuff. I can’t help feeling that if they took smaller bites from the apple over time there wouldn’t have been a public and media reaction as strong as we have seen.

I do hope that other site improvements that they have planned (check out playground.ebay.com.au) ensure the sales and buyers continue to come and purchase…

eBay to Phase Out 3rd Party Checkout

eBay annouced that it is to phase out 3rd party checkout.

This is a move that will impact many thousands of (usually large) eBay sellers.

It will affect us, as we use ChannelAdvisor, as do many larger sellers. ChannelAdvisor’s main markets are US and UK, and they have some very big eBay sellers using their systems.

For us, ChannelAdvisor offers the ability to:

  • manage inventory and SKUS
  • manage listings/ads templates
  • automatically schedule and maintain ads in eBay (and soon, Trading Post)
  • capture customers
  • upsell on checkout
  • sell into other channels like Shopping.com, Getprice
  • have an online store

I was thinking about how the eBay decision to remove 3rd party checkout would affect us.

We don’t get too many upsells in checkout (where a customer can add another item to their sale on the way through payment) so there will be little impact there.

One thing it will stop is the ability to capture customers from eBay. We offer newsletter signup on the way through checkout (which can be incentivised if you like), and also promote the ability to visit our online store to buy from a wider range of items. eBay customers are not easy to convert. They tend to like shopping on eBay, and buying at auction.

Both of these things, although not contributing greatly immediately, offer some long term benefit as you grow a customer base. And you can pick up eBay customers in your mailing list and get them to buy direct. Many sellers do it, and if you aren’t you should be.

All this decision does is provide us even more incentive to grow our business outside of eBay, in more cost effective sales channels. We have received some sales from Tradingpost.com.au auctions already, and although the turnover is slow there at the moment the cost of sale is very appealing.

The ACCC proposes to revoke immunity for eBay’s PayPal only policy

This afternoon the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, an independent statutory authority formed in 1995 to administer the Trade Practices Act 1974 and other acts in Australia, issued a press release regarding it’s intent toward the pending PayPal only policy change from eBay.com.au.

The press release says:

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a draft notice proposing to revoke a notification* lodged by eBay International A.G. on 11 April 2008. Under the notification, eBay proposes to mandate the use of PayPal for almost all transactions on the eBay site.

“The ACCC is concerned that the notified conduct will allow eBay to use its market power in the supply of online marketplaces to substantially lessen competition in the market in which PayPal operates,” ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today.

“PayPal currently competes with a range of other providers to supply online payment services to users of online marketplaces. If the notified conduct is allowed to go ahead, there will be no competition for the supply of such services to buyers and sellers using eBay.

“Given eBay’s position as Australia’s leading online marketplace, the notified conduct will substantially reduce competition to supply online payment services to users of online marketplaces more generally.

“The ACCC acknowledges that having PayPal as the only payment provider has the potential to deliver some benefits to users, such as increased buyer protection insurance in certain circumstances. However, the ACCC believes that consumers are in the best position to decide which payment method is most suitable for them. And if they were to click for info, they’d know that there is a cornucopia of other payment options.

“The notified conduct denies them that choice. Accordingly, the ACCC considers that these benefits do not outweigh the anti-competitive effects of the conduct,” Mr Samuel said.

eBay proposes to implement the conduct in two stages. From 21 May 2008, all sellers on eBay were required to offer PayPal as one of their accepted payment methods. The second stage of the conduct is due to commence on 17 June 2008, with the requirement that all transactions on eBay must be paid for using PayPal or cash on pickup.

“In light of the serious competition concerns raised in the draft notice and the significant concerns raised by interested parties, I have asked eBay to delay implementation of the second stage of the conduct until a final decision is made by the ACCC,” Mr Samuel said.

eBay and interested parties now have time to lodge submissions in response to the draft notice, before the ACCC decides whether to issue a final notice revoking the notification.

So, big news for eBay buyers and sellers in Australia today. This doesn’t put the nail in the coffin just yet though, it’s a stall for more time to make a better informed decision. The ACCC will take a little more time and listen to both sides of the story in a little more detail.

As it stands though, I think it is likely the ACCC will bloke eBay’s policy change plans.

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