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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.

eBay Australia Offering Some Sellers Cash to Help Change Listings

Seems that eBay Australia is offering some ‘eligible’ sellers some funding to assist in the modification of their listings prior to June 17th to remove any payment methods that will be disallowed after this date.

I asked my TSAM (Top Seller Account Manager ) about it, but they did not know who was made eligible or how the amounts were calculated.

Cynics will view this as some sort of bribe, but I think given the policy changes on the 17th will impact sellers with large volumes of listings, an initiative like this will help.

I for one will find it hard to say no to an offer of assistance. We will have to change our listings anyway as we are not going to simply stop selling on eBay (like I hear many smaller sellers threatening to do).

eBay still makes up the majority of our sales (although this percentage continues to drop) so if the marketplace decides to throw some money our way to help us sell in their marketplace (by their rules) then I will take the offer thanks very much.

I haven’t heard of many sellers getting the offer, and I admit I was quite surprised to hear the spiel from my TSAM and the generous amount offered…

Sensis’ Tradingpost Launches Auction Site To Compete With eBay!

This morning tradingpost.com.au has become the newest Australian auction site, to compete head on with eBay Australia.

Tradingpost.com.au (owned by Sensis) is a strong brand name with Australians and been around for many years as a classifieds print publication, and for some time now a website too.

I have never much liked the tradingpost.com.au search and display results (the whole site needed a pretty major rework to be honest) and they have certainly done that now!

The tradingpost auctions site has been a long time in the making, obviously. So, what can we see from this site change this morning?

Fees

In summary,

  • free to list!
  • bold titles $1.95
  • Short desc (shown in search) 50c

Free listings (quantity of listings will be limited by previous month’s sales) will be a big draw card for sellers. Apparently the Traderpro application from trading post will accept turbo lister data (although at the moment it isn’t working too well).

More feed details here.

First Impressions

The site is good rework from the ‘old’ tradingpost, with a lighter look and an interface that isn’t quite as clumsy. It still takes a few too many clicks to see ‘listings’, but that might change.

Search seems to be improved a little.

There are very few auctions yet, this will take some time, and the site is extremely slow (probably getting quite a lot of curious traffic today!) so they will need to work on that before the ‘official’ launch.

Will it work?

Only time will tell. Tradingpost claim 2 million visitors per month, but are not known for auctions or as a place to buy from larger sellers (tradingpost has always been home of the single classified listing from individual sellers, with a strong focus on used vehicles).

What I do know is Sensis has planned a large advertising budget for this site, and with the current sentiments of eBay sellers due to eBay Australia’s PayPal only decision and other feedback changes there could be a large influx of listings from businesses keen to spread their eggs around.

But will there be enough buyers? Lets hope so.

In other news, eBay announced recently that starting yesterday they are offering half price insertion fees for 10 days

2008 – Year of the Australian Online Retail Summit?

Summits coming up that you might be interested in attending:

“The eBay Seller Summit, by eBay sellers for eBay sellers”, June 12th

I think that one could be related to eBay? The ESS08 summit is being held in Sydney on Thursday June 12th, 2008 at the Bankstown Sports Club in Bankstown, Sydney.

This event will give an opportunity for all sellers to learn more about how to successfully sell on this ever-growing and ever-changing online platform.

* Discuss the new changes on the eBay Australia website.
* Learn how to take advantage of all the opportunities available for online sellers
* Interact with representatives from companies that complement online sales
* Solutions to take your business to the next level

Its only a one day conference, but attendance seems to be good value at $30 (+$20 for the cocktail party), with sponsors including eBay, PayPal, Australia Post, AuctionBlox, the ATO and ChannelAdvisor.

The Retail World Management & Technology Summit, June 17th – 18th

Although based more around bricks and mortar retail there are a few speakers from online retailers attending and the list of keynotes is pretty impressive including executives from Wal-Mart, Tesco, Carrefour, Myer, Harvey Norman and more. I am sure online retailers can learn a lot about retail and branding from the big B&M guys…

Check out the schedule here.

Attendance is $1,395 + GST, but the schedule and speaker list make it look like it would be an interesting few days.

ChannelAdvisor Catalyst (Australia), July 2nd to 5th

ChannelAdvisor’s first ecommerce summit in Australia is being held on the Sunshine Coast this year. Hoping for a strong turnout of sellers, ChannelAdvisor has a list of well known players in the industry attending including Scot Wingo, CEO who has a fantastic blog on eBay and online strategy and news. Always insightful.

Yours truly might be presenting some stuff there too and I am really looking forward to getting into some sunshine away from Melbourne!

Registration for the 3 days is $249.

PeSA Australia will be looking to hold more events soon too. As soon as I get some more information I will post an update.

My Personal Experience with the eBay.com.au Feedback Changes

OK, so the feedback system on eBay.com.au has now rolled out.

The world is taking notice too, with some heated discussion on Ina’s blog AuctionBytes, and I am sure elsewhere too.

Let me start by saying it’s never going to be a perfect system. Of course there was always going to be opportunity to abuse the system, by using feedback extortion or other pressures, retaliatory feedback and so on.

But to now count a neutral as a negative? I find that a bit hard to swallow.

(more…)

Has Your Feedback Score Worsened Recently?

If your eBay seller feedback score has dropped, don’t be too alarmed as many other sellers will notice the same thing in Australia.

eBay has just rolled out their feedback changes, now counting neutrals ‘as negatives’ when calculating your feedback, and ignoring feedback older than 12 months.

See the full list of changes here.

Most of our account ratings have fallen a little, and I did some quick checks of other sellers around too. Most others have fallen too.

There will be plenty of sellers concerned now that they are unable to leave negatives for buyers. With a popup box appearing on the Australian eBay site now stating

Buyers, you can no longer receive negative or neutral Feedback from sellers. You should leave honest and accurate Feedback without the fear of receiving negative or neutral ratings

will buyers leave more negatives from before, hurting feedback ratings even more?

I know this change is designed to reduce retaliatory feedback from sellers, but I have seen so few instances of this that I can’t believe it is that large a problem.

Here is a tool to compare your feedback in old and ‘new’ system courtesy of AuctionBytes.

Also of course, Mutual Feedback Withdrawal is now no longer an option.

After much consideration, we’ve made the decision to remove the Mutual Feedback Withdrawal process. The reason is that – under the new rules – it opens sellers up to extortion. As part of this decision, Mutual Agreement from third-party Feedback mediation services, such as SquareTrade, will also no longer be accepted.

The marketplace continues to change in some big ways … I notice even eBay describe them as ‘bold changes’.

Release : ChannelAdvisor Catalyst Conference Coming Soon!

I got sent this press release information from ChannelAdvisor today regarding their upcoming conference at the Sunshine Coast in July. The early bird discount rate is nearly over, so if you are considering attending to learn more about online business, how to grow and improve it then you might like to consider attending.

Yours truly will be attending (I will be sitting on one of the panels), along with many sellers that I know. It should be a great conference with a lot of fun networking. It would be great to see some of you there!

Press release below:

ChannelAdvisor is about to hold our first Asia/pacific major conference aimed at the top online retailers in the Asia Pacific Region July 2-5. Around 400 of the top online retailers from over 10 countries will descend on Twin Waters for three days of intensive networking, top speakers and international strategy.

ChannelAdvisor (US) hosted their second annual Catalyst conference this past April. Previously, ChannelAdvisor hosted two annual conferences, ChannelAdvisor Marathon in the spring and ChannelAdvisor Summit in the fall. Catalyst is a combination of those two conferences, focusing on the needs of retailers of all sizes. After seeing the success that has come from the US Catalyst conference, ChannelAdvisor AU has decided to bring the Catalyst conference to our online retailers.

Catalyst is a fantastic opportunity for online retailers of all sizes who are looking for strategic and tactical information to grow and take their online businesses to the next level. Comparison shopping, search marketing, fraud management, alternative payment vendors, and multichannel management experts will be presenting real-time actionable information.

  • Registration is only $199 and includes:
  • All Conference sessions
  • Lunches, Dinners, Receptions, and Refreshments throughout the day
  • Golf tournament with Awards luncheon
  • Welcome gifts and sponsor gifts

Bring the family! Spouses and business partners are welcome to attend all conference sessions with paid registration. Childcare will be provided by Club Dolfi and paid for by ChannelAdvisor!

Representatives from ChannelAdvisor, Trading Post, eBay, PayPal, Shopping.com, and GetPrice will be in attendance and will be available for one-on-one discussions in addition to their keynote sessions.

The ability to network with other sellers, buyers and industry experts will prove invaluable to the success of your business.

Registration is $199 until May 15 and includes FREE golf with lunch at Pacific Harbour Golf and Country Club.

http://www.channeladvisor.com/catalyst/AU/

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