BAM eBay Blog

Posts for eBay buyers about buying on eBay

Enterprising Seller Uses Cat in His Photos; A Turnoff?

Enterprising Seller Uses Cat in His Photos; A Turnoff?

This blog post of AuctionBytes calls out a seller on eBay who has been using his pet cat to get attention on his listings. It seems to be working: according to the Forbes article that features the story, seller Tim Dombrowski has been getting "plenty of messages, about three per day," he says.

It started out as an accident; "As I took my pictures," Dombrowski says, his cat Mercedes started wanting more attention and sitting next to his items, "so I just started using her to pose,” according to the piece. “Then she started to stand up, really hamming it up good."

The cat is apparently becoming a celebrity, according to AuctionBytes. But while this whimsy is reminiscent of the old-school days of eBay, when quirkiness reigned, it begs the question, are pets in product photos a turnoff?

Generally sellers mention their items come from a pet-free and smoke-free home, if they mention the environment at all. And many folks shiver at the notion that their item may come with any kind of pet hair and dander. But, as AuctionBytes points out, the items Dombrowski is selling are antiques and collectibles, so less likely to be affected by any kind of squeamishness.

But how would you feel about seeing a pet in a product listing? Would it turn you off whether it was a collectible or an edible? I once wrote a piece for EcommerceBytes about a cat that had been photographed by a seller of tea; that seems a definite no-no. Or is this kind of thing something that can bring more fun back to eBay? What do you think? Post a comment here!

EBay Struggles to Appeal to Younger Consumers; Should Vintage Be Forgotten?

EBay Struggles to Appeal to Younger Consumers; Should Vintage Be Forgotten?

EBay is trying hard to appeal to younger consumers such as millennials, according to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal. "It is rolling out improved search features and personalized recommendations and reviews. A new ad campaign stars a supermodel, and wine is now available," according to the piece. (The supermodel is model Karlie Kloss, who is shown in an ad outfitting an apartment with things bought from eBay).

The message of wanting to be a "one-stop shopping" place and shedding the "grandma's attic" reputation came from
executives during the company’s third-quarter earnings call last Wednesday. "EBay reported revenue grew 5.6% to $2.22 billion, beating analyst expectations for a third straight quarter of sales gain -- signs that the company’s new e-commerce strategy is starting to pay off," per the Journal article.

Part of the appeal is supposedly that eBay has a higher-percentage mix of new to used items now, with 80% of the items on the site are new, and 86% sold at a fixed price. Auctions are supposedly the antiquated model of the Internet, and what with more people knowing how much things are worth because it is easy to do research on the Internet, they aren't as fun anymore, according to the piece.

But is this really true? Even in the piece, it's said "many millennials are open to buying vintage or used offerings," according to Ken Seiff, managing partner at early-stage retail technology venture capital fund Beanstalk Ventures and a former retail executive. “But that’s not the direct message of eBay’s new marketing campaign,” he said.

And a frequent eBay buyer, Jason Burke, recently purchased three ’90s-era T-shirts, a bolo tie and some old video games via bidding or fixed-price sales, according to the piece. He is 34 years old, and says vintage clothes are cheaper on eBay than at stores near where he lives in Brooklyn.

Many of the changes eBay is making, such as its cataloging of items which allows a clearer presentation of factors such as brand and item features to buyers, and no doubt its amped-up ad presence, are bringing new buyers to the site, and one seller said her sales of both new and used fashion items are up.

I still see sales in my own vintage items as being strong, although admittedly that's most of what I offer. And even if the auction format is not as popular as it once was, people are still dickering: I get a lot of "best offers" on items rather than outright bids.

I think it's a good thing eBay wants to increase its offerings of new items and appeal to younger buyers; I just hope it doesn't lose its vintage soul in doing so. It can be strong in new items and still be the go-to place for the unique and the offbeat.

What do you think about eBay's efforts to attract younger buyers? Is it working? Are you a younger buyer yourself?  If so, what kind of mix of items would you like to see on the site?  Post a comment here!

After How Many Days Should an EBay Unpaid Item Dispute Open Automatically?

After How Many Days Should an EBay Unpaid Item Dispute Open Automatically?

Recently an eBayer wrote to the EcommerceBytes Letter to the Editor section about the Unpaid Item Assistant.  The seller had the UPA set to open a claim two days after a sale. But they had sold an item four days ago and noticed that the UPA still had not gone off.

"When I checked my settings they were set to have UIA file after 8 days. I called eBay to ask if it was a glitch and was told that eBay is changing the minimum amount of time to file automatically to 8 days."

However, EcommerceBytes Editor Ina Steiner, who is checking with eBay about the matter, said "The help page on eBay still says four days," and noted that "We'll send an inquiry to eBay. Let us know what you are seeing."

Meantime, some people in the comments had thoughts about opening a claim automatically two days after a sale.

"Personally?" wrote one, "Two days is incredibly short. I would not feel so strongly, except an unpaid item claim can DAMAGE a bidder."

They further added, "There are plenty of valid reasons to NOT use the instant payment function. One that comes to mind first is buying multiple items that can be shipped together. Another is having a question about shipping arrangements (example, seller offers only UPS Ground and I really want and will pay for Priority Mail, for the fragile item I've bought)."

This eBayer also said they "snipe a lot of items, simply because our electric goes off almost routinely, and I have to use DSL and cannot rely on a last second bid to get through in time. So I expect an invoice since the snipe service can't handle an instant payment too."

Another suggested it may be a factor of combined shipping charges. "Ebay hasn't changed anything, this is just a misunderstanding on how this works.  If you offer combined shipping for those that purchase from you in a given period, the UIA can not be set for a time period that is less than your combined shipping rule. For example, if you offer to buyer that you will combine shipping charges for items that are purchased within 7 days, then your UIA can not be set up for anything less than 8 days."

Personally, I like to give buyers plenty of time to pay when buying something.  I do not use the UPA at this time, but if I did, I would probably set it to 8 days to be on the safe side about complying  with any combined shipping that might be a factor.

What do you think is the ideal amount of time for the Unpaid Item Assistant to open an Unpaid Item case? Four days? Fewer days?  Is eight days too long? Post a comment here!

My Take on EBay's Fall 2016 Seller Update

My Take on EBay's Fall 2016 Seller Update

In my last post I wrote about the changes in eBay's Fall 2016 Seller Update from a buyer's perspective. Today I want to write about them from a seller's perspective, as I know many buyers are also sellers.

- Structured Data:

"For new or manufacturer refurbished items, eBay will accept non-standard product identifiers. We will make selling even easier by enabling merchants to list using a wider range of product identifiers beginning February 2017, including:
        Amazon standard identification numbers (ASIN)
        Google product identifiers
        Private label product identifiers (seller-generated product identifiers)"

My take is this is a good thing; they are making it easier for sellers to use all kinds of product identifiers, including rival Amazon's.  This should help sellers list items that already have identifiers, and help buyers find things in search.

The only thing that worries me about this is the following part:

"By February 2017, for most categories, newly-created listings will require at least one type of product identifier (e.g. UPC, GTIN, one of the above, etc.). Also, note that the options “Does not Apply” and “NA” will no longer be available for the majority of items."

I hope that for rare and one-off items, sellers will still be able to list these without some sort of product identifier number. EBay did say that "When you provide your product information to eBay through our new catalog-upload feature, we’ll create eBay product identifiers (ePIDs) for you, which help you build your brand on eBay. ePIDs offer sellers of private label and unbranded items access to the benefits and insights branded inventory currently enjoys, including eBay product reviews." So there will be a specialized eBay product identifier; I just hope that those rare and unique items won't have a problem being listed.

- Returns

"You told us that you wanted the option to offer buyers a replacement item, or allow them to exchange an item, rather than provide a refund. This capability will be available in October.

We are also updating the Return Preferences in My eBay, so that you can set preferences for automating returns, refunds, and replacements all in one place."

My take is this is also a good thing; having more information for buyers about return preferences in listings should help both sides, and having the option to do an exchange instead of a return should as well.

- Active Content

"Active content no longer allowed on item description pages after June, 2017

"Active content is used by many sellers today to provide interactivity, animation or video via JavaScript, Flash, plug-ins, and form actions in listings. As we mentioned last spring, active content can negatively impact the user experience by inhibiting mobile purchasing, creating longer load times, and increasing security vulnerabilities."

I've written before that I think active content is just a distraction. Some sellers may not be happy if they are using it now, because they will need to change their listings, but I don't think this will be a big problem for most sellers.  And for buyers, it will be a cleaner look.

- Seller tools

"eBay Seller Hub to become the tool for managing your business on eBay

"Free to use, eBay Seller Hub offers the tools, information, and insights you need to build and maintain your business on eBay. As part of our ongoing commitment to providing you with world–class functionality and actionable data, we will be directing future resources toward developing new Seller Hub features that will make it easier to run your business and help you stay competitive in the ever–evolving world of e–commerce."

I think consolidating the tools and information sellers need in one area is a good thing. And the new tools will be available all from that area; "eBay will no longer support older tools, such as Selling Manager and Selling Manager Pro after Spring 2017."

- Seller performance standards

"More insight, more guidance, and more time to get back on track," says eBay.

"When you’re unable to meet eBay’s minimum performance standards, we’re making it easier to understand your status, how you got there, and what you can do to fix the situation.

"As you work to make these improvements, we’ll defer performance-related selling limits or selling restrictions on your accounts for at least three months (other consequences may still apply*). This will give you ample time to focus on selling and getting your status back above standard."

The sellers who wrote about this that I saw all were very happy about this, understandably. Things sometimes happen in any business -- illness, disasters, floods, etc...and this new leniency gives sellers with such situations a chance to salvage their business and time to fix things.

Other than that, there were mainly minor things such as category changes -- additions and consolidations -- and some changes to the User Agreement.

It seems to me that sellers should be pretty happy about this new update, which many agree took seller feedback into account, with CEO Devin Wenig taking his hundreds of conversations with sellers to heart.

What do you think about the eBay 2016 Fall Seller Update from a seller perspective?  Post a comment here!