This is the Grand Finale of John Lawson's 3 Part series of commentary derived from his notes from New Orleans - eCommerce Summit 2008
Hey guys, here is Part III and this is the final in this series. So let's get into it!
First I want to go over the little notes I listed in Part II of this series.
I'll go through it and give you my personal feeling about what Lorrie Norrington said and how what she said in her speech might affect my business and as a PowerSeller on eBay.
I want to respectfully say that I am basically just a guy trying to feed my family with an eBay business. My business is a business that I started at the kitchen table, literally. It is a business that I actively run and the day to day operations of it are handled by myself, my partner and a small virtual staff. I think 3rd Power Outlet has come to the point now where we would be considered small to medium eBay Powersellers, experienced sellers, and primarily eBay-centric sellers.
When Lorrie started the speech and said primarily that eBay wanted seller's business and considered us sellers as partners, my initial reaction was, "OK, this is different". I was not really used to hearing keynote speeches from eBay Presidents speaking in these terms.
Much a part of my previous experience with eBay executive speeches always seemed to be a little demeaning toward the seller. This speech flipped things and made it seem like both buyer and seller were equally important to eBay leadership.
With this different perspective I had to stop and grab myself because I didn't understand where I was! After hearing these repeated sentiments at both CA Catalyst and now at the eCommerce Summit, I have become convinced that eBay is serious about a committed partnership with its sellers, which feels real good folks.
Lorrie spoke about improving the SELLER experience and I was very, very excited to hear this as a topic point. This was something completely different, along with financial reward for good sellers (with a good customer experience). It all sounded extremely exciting to me.
I wholeheartedly applauded eBay's efforts with the DSRs and cleaning up the platform. However, I do have some reservations possibly about eBay throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to historical feedback.
What does concern me is that basically, eBay has taken all of your lifetime feedback and completely ignored it when it comes to your "value" as a seller. eBay does not give any weight to your historical feedback in it's new DSR system. So even if you have a high 99% or above lifetime feedback rating it doesn't help your DSR scores! I feel at some level that the combination of the two scores should also be included if not forever, at least for a time. Maybe you've got 99% or higher historical feedback with good DSRs of say 4.8, 4.7, 4.6, and a 4.4. Maybe your DSR plus feedback should still qualify you for PowerSeller status, for lets say…6 months while you get that last score in line?!?
I dunno, just sounds fair to me to allow for adjustment to business models.
Her statistics of 63% of power sellers getting a 5% discount while 30% received a 15% discount seem a little off? But I believe Scot Wingo got that one cleared up for us on this point (http://tinyurl.com/5po5mv)
Now onto the retaliatory feedback. Oh boy, you are not going to like this, but here it goes… Personally I've always thought the feedback system should be a one-way system with customer feedback only. This is a highly contested view and I simply cannot lay out my entire argument on this in this blog post; it really needs a post of its own. But I will say this: one-way feedback is the reality of nearly every other marketplace other than eBay.
As a service provider/seller I have always highly valued the feedback of our customers. You simply do not go into a restaurant and have the kitchen give you feedback on how fast you eat the food. Nor does your waiter come by after the meal to comment on how much food you left on your plate. That would be completely asinine! In the world of restaurants you get a comment card as the restaurant customer, you then provide comment on the food and the service of the restaurant. That's the way it should be between a customer and provider. NO PRESSURE.
eBay in its inception was a unique "community" platform, but I believe that the nature of the eBay experience and platform has changed. And as such, the feedback system is antiquated and absolutely needs to be a redone. That is what eBay is doing with DSRs and with removing the seller's ability for negative feedback. For me, this change is a no-brainer and way overdue. At the same time, she spoke about the new tools to block those poor buyers. Excellent choice and I am glad they're putting in more tools to prevent problem buyers. Yes, there are defiantly bad buyers out there and we all get our share of those.
They are FINALLY acknowledging that not every buyer is necessarily a good buyer and that is great news.
Now for my last bullet point in my notes where she says free shipping is the standard of eCommerce. I am puzzled - where in the world did she get that from? While I am not an expert on eCommerce, I do shop online often. Free shipping is not a standard that I see. Even Amazon Prime has a member cost associated with it. I do recognize many specials from companies that advertise free shipping, but the "standard" I see is you get free shipping when you spend over a predetermined amount with that company.
If eBay desires the platform to be full of FREE Shipping, I think they would need to tie that to FREE Listings. If the listing fees were removed, I could very well see free shipping as a business model making more sense for a seller like myself.
All in all, I thought the speech was fantastic and I left the room feeling pretty good about the directions that eBay is taking.
I was also fortunate enough later that day to have lunch at the eBay table with Lorrie, Jonathan (PeSA Director), Matt (eBay) and Josh who created Best Match / finding 2.0 and Scott Pooler. This opportunity extended my conversation with the executives even further. One thing that I asked all the eBayers at the table: "I need a direct answer. Can any of you explain to me the difference between an "Accurate description" and a "Very accurate description"?
…Holy crap, you could hear a pin drop… and then all fingers pointed to Matt Halprin (eBay Trust and Safety) who was at a completely different table. LOL…
I dropped my fork and walked over to Matt and asked him the same direct question. He responded to me, in his unique no-nonsense delivery…"I am not even going to begin to try to explain that to you. What I will say is that I believe we should remove the language all together from the DSR ranking page."
WOW, I was floored by that response! There may be some good things coming soon around that tricky wording with DSRs.
So that is my take on my trip - well, at least as it related to the eBay experience. The rest of the time was absolutely fabulous, informative and entertaining. The event was top notch and for a first-timer at the eCommerce Summit, I was very impressed. I would like to personally thank all the planners and organizers for an exemplary experience. I cannot wait to do it again and hope they will consider Atlanta once again in the near future...wink, wink.
3rd Power Outlet (www.3rdPO.com)