Written by Matt Warren
12th August 2015 • 9 min read
“Not only does eBay provide aggressive estimated delivery dates, they remind the buyer of them during feedback.” and “By asking it in that way, it makes it seem even more like a promise, instead of an estimate” were just two of the comments on eBay’s forum when on July 23rd, eBay announced that the new feedback feature would be “presented globally to all buyers leaving feedback”.
The addition is simple, but evidently not well received. When buyers are about to leave feedback they are asked whether it arrived on or before the estimated delivery date which was given by eBay, based on the delivery option stated by the seller.
eBay’s explanation behind the new feature is vague “this new question is designed to give eBay additional insight into the on-time item delivery experience”. What’s unsettling for eBay sellers is that this statement doesn’t answer what eBay will do with that information. It is also begs the questions why they need this feature, when it already tracks shipping information? And perhaps most importantly, will this affect seller ratings, or is it to rate the performance of carriers?
When I questioned eBay on the repercussions for sellers before the official announcement was made, I received the following response..
“At the moment we have no information to share on this. We conduct various tests from time to time and this was one of them. There is no further information we can share now”. – eBay support team
This isn’t the first time in recent years where changes have been made to the eBay buyer feedback system. The introduction of detailed seller ratings, where buyers could grade sellers based on description, communication, speed and charges resulted in many sellers losing their top rated seller status and a lowering in their items in the best match search. Danni Ackerman, an 18 year veteran on the platform and eBay coach stated that the “7 ways a seller can receive a defect” meant that “many top rated sellers found it impossible to try to maintain or regain their status and many of them have left selling on the site altogether”.
The addition of an extra field to fill out for buyers is seen as unnecessary from sellers. Carlo Silva of MultiChannel Selling says that “eBay needs to go back to its roots when it was an even playing field for both buyers and sellers” and that “adding an extra question just complicates things and will probably just drive more sellers and buyers away from the platform”.
The idea that eBay is moving away from its roots is furthered by Marty Babayov, who runs his own site and sells on eBay as Suit Depot, he believes that “eBay has been trying to change their identity and morph from a seller-centric platform to a more buyer-centric one, like Amazon”.
The main complaint however surrounding the addition is that this will grade sellers on issues that are out of their control, when the fault may lie with the carrier. This, according to Babayov, will particularly affect smaller sellers “who aren’t eligible for volume discounts from UPS or FedEx, which may be more reliable, and are forced to use the USPS”. This point is reiterated by Andrew Schrage from Money Crashers who states that USPS Priority Mail “gives guidelines normally of two to three days for delivery, but not guarantees”. How this will affect sellers during busy periods such as Christmas and Black Friday is also yet to be determined.
The issue of the speed of the USPS seems central to this argument, Marsha Collier author of eBay for Dummies believes that “domestically, within the US, this is not an issue” , however Collier continues that sellers may “fall on the sword of their chosen shipping carrier”, if they choose poorly.
You may now be thinking, as an eBay seller, are they any positives I can take from this? Collier mentions that “‘officially’, it doesn’t count towards their feedback rating”, and perhaps if it did affect rating, you feel eBay would have mentioned it. Collier further mentioned that if the package did arrive on time, this would “prompt the buyer to a positive experience”.
Nii Ahene who is COO at CPC Strategy feels it’s not only a good idea “but a necessary one for eBay to compete with Amazon Prime and other retailers”. Ahene, whose company runs an Amazon Sales Acceleration Program believes going in the way of Amazon is a good ideas as eBay “must provide consumers with a reliable means of knowing who ships quickly and who doesn’t.”
So what does the future hold for eBay sellers? Despite her reservations to the new system Ackerman remains positive that the platform is in the right hands, having met and chatted to Devin Wenig who became President & CEO of eBay after the demerger with Paypal.
Ackerman believes that Wenig will “bring back a needed balance between buyers and sellers” and will further more “make the feedback system a tool of trust for buyers and sellers”. It will certainly be interesting to see how this story develops over time.
When ecommerce bytes recently asked their readers in a poll whether they felt that eBay’s change to the feedback system was effective, almost 86% said no.
What do you think? Will this change just affect smaller sellers? Does the seemingly unreliability of the USPS come in to the argument? Is eBay turning into an amazon-centric platform? Are sellers, the heartbeat of eBay, being pushed away? How will new CEO Devin Wenig fare compare to John Danhoe?
Leave any comments in the box below, would love to read your opinions.
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Written by Matt Warren
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