Monday, July 07, 2008

Improve the eBay Buyer Experience!

All of eBay's focus is on getting sellers to improve their performance, as a way to improve the buyer experience. I have a few suggestions as to how they could improve the buyer experience.
  • Allow more choice in payments -- How is restricting payment options a better "buyer experience"? As the Aussies proved in fighting off PayPal only on Buyers want choice in payment options.
  • Build a damn Shopping Cart. With $5 billion in the bank and double digit profit margins, couldn't you improve the buyer experience buy building a shopping cart, which is a ecommerce standard. This is beyond ridiculous.
  • Spend money of Buyer Customer Service, not just those power buyers. Amazon does it and you want to be like Amazon so make it happen.
  • Decide what you want to be when you grow up -- Are you a venue or are you a retailer? Pick one! Sybil had fewer personalities than eBay.

There, that's enough for now. Have a great week everybody.

Just my 12%


David said...

"# Allow more choice in payments -- How is restricting payment options a better "buyer experience"? As the Aussies proved in fighting off PayPal only on Buyers want choice in payment options."

I totally see your argument, but the problem is buyers will sometimes send a personal check and expect to have the item in 2 or 3 days.

If you sell in volume, you get the buyer that pays with cash and doesn't include a return address, or any information about what they ordered.

The worst is when somebody buys a dozen items but mistakenly only pays for 11. They make a mistake and don't pay for your item (but think they did), and then they leave NFB and file INR disputes. These situations are a complete nightmare to resolve. The INR dispute process is a joke.

I had an INR dispute opened 4 months ago from an impatient buyer who sent a check. The buyer left me positive feedback, but he left the dispute open for 80 days until eBay closed it for being 90 days past transaction.

With paypal there is a paper trail, and you don't have to deal with any of those problems.

Also the amount of money you save from accepting checks or money orders isn't worth all of the extra time these buyers take up.

Somebody who has a Paypal account and can pay immediately is a much better buyer.

Randy Smythe said...


Checks and money orders are a choice that even Amazon offers.

Bank to bank transfers work in Australia but not in the US.

Amazon requires an Amazon account but with that account you can pay with an echeck, credit card, gift card, mail a check, use Bill Me Later and possibly soon pay with an Amazon balance.

An Amazon account gives you many more choices and they are kings of the "buyer experience"

Sue Bailey said...

Yes, to all of that. It ain't rocket science*. :-D

* Dear eBay, it obviously is rocket science to you, so please give Randy a consultancy position at whatever hourly rate he wants to charge you. Regards, Biddy, erstwhile seller.

ms.pat said...

Randy - you're right on but ebay is way too cheap to do those things. They're pushing Paypal hard as they can because Paypal is just about the only thing holding them up right now.

"I totally see your argument, but the problem is buyers will sometimes send a personal check and expect to have the item in 2 or 3 days."

If they want to be like Amazon I suggest they give sellers a time frame for getting an item to a buyer and the buyer is not allowed to leave feedback until that time frame! Ebay likes to shoot out half baked rules and everybody has to walk the tightrope for them. Its just plain ignorant!

Lots of my buyers send checks and moneyorders - they don't want to work with Paypal - I supposed to lose the sale? No way!

Matt - BumbleZine said...

Thank you, Randy - especially in regards to the shopping cart suggestion. This is one of the things I feel like I have personally been "harping" on for quite some time. I am astounded that eBay could even go to the effort of a product like Express without figuring out this most basic of eCommerce concepts.

Lisa said...


Bingo on the shopping cart. I think the buyers want the flea market sellers, but give them a chance to shop around and bundle it all, like Amazon does.

Ebay keeps spending money on the stupidest ideas-changing the feedback, adding stars, eliminating stars, etc. etc.

I've been noticing they're starting to suspend some of the really bad sellers, which is long overdue. Everyone seems to know who the bad sellers are, except the naive buyers, who keep buying from them and getting burned.

Keep up the good thinking!

David said...

Randy, I'm not arguing that amazon allows checks and money orders. What I am arguing is that there's a huge difference in the buying experience *AND* selling experience.

It's a pain in the ass to drive to some store and then wait in line to buy a money order. It's also a pain in the ass to send a check and wait for it to clear.

requiring credit card payments creates a better first impression for newbee buyers (I found that at least half of the checks and money orders I receive came from first time buyers)

Also you eliminate buyers who sign up for eBay just to "play games", or competitors who win your auctions just to tie up your inventory and lessen their competition.

Lisa, the problem is eBay's definition of a "bad seller" and my definition of a "bad seller" are completely different. My definition of a "bad seller" is somebody who fails to deliver merchandise. eBay's definition of a "bad seller" is somebody who doesn't offer free shipping and doesn't ship the item 5 minutes after payment.

Randy Smythe said...


It really should be left open to the seller. Some sellers love getting checks and money orders other don't

Sue, Pat, Lisa and Matt, the choices seem simple and reasonable to us but we unfortunately have no say in the matter.

I'm just putting the ideas on "the record" so wheneBay backtracks again in 6-9 months you will still find my posts in Google Search.

Netsellers said...

As I understand it (but I could be wrong), eBay India have shopping cart functionality built into their site, so why haven't eBay adopted this worldwide? It would put an end to UPIs, wouldn't it?

Randy Smythe said...

Net Sellers, yes eBay India does have a shopping cart and I haven't heard of nay problems in the marketplace.

I bears repeating: Every other ecommerce site in the world has a shopping cart. That should have been the first change eBay made - Give buyers and sellers a shopping cart on eBay!.

David said...

Randy and netsellers, we need to address the issue of UPI's.

Before we start talking about things like "getting rid of UPI's" first we need to understand if eBay really wants to get rid of UPI's.

I'm guessing eBay makes millions of dollars off UPI's.

With the new feedback changes, I think that revenue is going to go way up as sellers are filing less and less UPI's.

Randy Smythe said...

David, I am working on something along those lines. I will hopefully post something later in the week.

Henrietta said...

I am amazed at how many sellers have completely swallowed the line that PayPal is the only safe payment method available to small sellers who can not jutify the expense of a merchant processing account.

Google Checkout: 33% less in fees with automatic sweeps to the account of your choice.

Amazon Payments, available now.

My bank is 50 miles away from my home. I mail deposit checks and MO.

My time, even if my bank was a mile or two away is a lot more valuable than the cost of a 42c stamp.

Cliff said...

Cart is #1 on my list, no surprise.

Google Checkout is currently a pipe dream, but yeah, I'd love for it to be there.

I don't see much difference between eBay and Amazon's payment policies, though it'd be nice if eBay could set up sellers to accept credit cards directly--hell, even if they're forced to use PayPal as their merchant account, it'd be nice to have.

I believe David mentioned that most checks/money orders come from new buyers--I have several regulars who use them, but yes, probably half of mine are from new buyers. I wouldn't want to do away with them, why raise the bar and make it more difficult for the newbies to get started?

The customer service is going to wind up pissing me off whether it's kept the same or improved, as a buyer I don't care too much on this one. My attitude towards customer service (and this goes beyond eBay/Amazon, etc.) is that if you need it, you're already screwed. I'd be fine with them going the Amazon route, to me Amazon's reps are just as confused and uninformed, with the difference being they always give a buyer the benefit of the doubt in the end (meaning a full refund).

BSP said...


Regarding the UPI's, you mentioned, "David, I am working on something along those lines. I will hopefully post something later in the week."

I am *really* looking forward to reading what you are working on here. If my estimates are correct, this could be an insanely huge number.

Just like you did with the agreement, dig up whatever you can on this one sir - the world needs some more of your good old-fashioned "Blog Juice"

David said...

About UPI, here is something very interesting.

I listed an item and one of the options for buyer requirements was that you could block bidders with 5 unpaid item strikes in the last 30 days.

I remember there was a time where 3 UPI strikes meant an automatic suspension.

eBay is now trying to punish sellers with greater than 5% buyer dissatisfaction, yet it's unclear how many unpaid items buyers can get before being suspended.

I'm convinced that eBay is so paranoid about losing buyers that you'd have to get a half dozen strikes in 30 days to get suspended.

ms.pat said...

I used to think ebay had a big secret plan up their sleeve and that they didn't want to scare us off until they were ready to cut us loose. Now, I'm thinking they have a half-baked plan that changes from radically from day to day and keeps us in the dark so they can change their minds on a dime if things don't work out. When you think of the sloppy thought processes in work there so far, its downright scary!!! They haven't a clue as to the damage they're doing.

Jack said...

The reason eBay India has a shopping cart is because there are no auctions on eBay India.

A shopping cart isn't so simple when you add auctions to the mix.

Let's say I want two of your fixed price items, and one of your auction items.

I can't simply add the auction to my cart, I have to wait for it to end and see if I've won.

They could in theory add a cart for sellers who only do fixed price and store, but then you have buyer confusion elsewhere "why does this seller have a cart but you don't, where did the cart go?"

Robin Calrk said...

Ecommerce shopping cart as opposed to the real shopping cart is not just about accumulating the stuff that one wants to buy. It transcends that petty objective partly because of the fact that it is virtual. Apart from the fact it helps people in selecting the goods they want to buy; it also attends to other objectives like calculating the total amount payable, making the task of keeping track of the customers and the goods sold for the owner etc. Actually it won’t be wrong to say that the ecommerce shopping cart is the backbone of every ecommerce web site.

Randy Smythe said...


Yes, auctions could be a problem but the % of buyers who use auction and Fixed Price, is probably pretty small. If there is a bid on an auction the buyer doesn't see the cart.

The problem is the new checkout technology that they have coming into play next year isn't written with the same code set as the existing shopping cart.

Maggie said...

This is OT, but since this has become my favorite eBay info blog and I haven't seen anyone else talk about it, I'm hoping Randy might weigh in...

Am I the only one who's noticed that the time parameter when searching on eBay's "completed listings" has dropped from 30 days to 15?

And in addition to that, when I tried to run several 'completed' searches on an item I knew had many, many sales in the past month, I repeatedly got "0" returned to me ... along with a big ad for eBay's 'marketplace research' product. This happened whether I was searching from the 'advanced search' page or within a list of a seller's completed items.

Anyone else?

Randy Smythe said...


They have been playing around with completed items search for quite awhile. I'm not sure yet if they have settled on the final version.

I think we will know more when Finding 2.0 actually goes live in August.

If they can get more revenue by signing up sellers for eBay research, you can bet they will do that.

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