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Third-party checkouts changing, not banned

By Chris Dawson April 16, 2009 - 8:55 am

You may have read a blog post yesterday on AuctionBytes reporting that third party checkouts were to be banned on eBay from June. The post cited ProStores and Infopia as saying that their checkouts were to be discontinued, and named the source of the story as “letters sent to some sellers”: surprisingly, it hadn’t been included in eBay’s biannual changes announcement made the day before.

I spoke to ChannelAdvisor, who said that their own checkout was not being discontinued, though changes were to be made. There’s currently no detail on just what those changes are, but Scot Wingo wrote a long and impassioned plea for CA customers to defend their checkout.

Then eBay weighed in with their own post: Dinesh Lathi writes that third party checkouts will only be available from a select group of providers who “have updated their user interface according to a set of eBay guidelines. Our goal is to give buyers a more consistent checkout experience.” Again, there is a conspicuous lack of detail about exactly what these changes will involve, so sellers using one of the approved providers on Dinesh’s list should contact that provider for more details.

As eBay have been talking since at least eBay Live in Chicago last June about “a more consistent and safe checkout experience”, my guess would be that the new rules will force less merchant branding, no offsite links and definitely no off-eBay upsell. 3P checkouts will remain available for payment processing and stock control purposes, but the way that they’ve been used to siphon customers from eBay to merchant’s own sites will be stopped. But all that is only my guess, and eBay have given me no information on this whatsoever. As Dinesh writes:

Please keep in mind that the definitive source of information about eBay is eBay. You can find accurate information about any planned changes through this Announcement Board and through emails, calls and other official communications from eBay.

The problem is, when eBay themselves don’t give out the information, give out incomplete information, promise announcements and then don’t deliver them, where are merchants and 3P providers supposed to turn?

  • Bob
    11 years ago

    What is the benefit of a third party checkout without the up sell option?

    eBay should just get on with it and ban them forcing the likes of ChannelAdvisor to up their game to survive.

    “Scot Wingo wrote a long and impassioned plea for CA customers to defend their checkout”, a plea for CA customers? I don’t think – plea for his company to have a future more likely.

  • 11 years ago

    Bob: one benefit is stock control; if your eBay orders get run past your own stock database at eBay checkout, you can synchronise eBay sales with website sales in real time. Another current benefit is credit card processing: currently there’s no way to plug your merchant account into eBay’s checkout, though this is changing.

  • Bob
    11 years ago

    You can still control inventory with CA without using its third party checkout while still using the eBay checkout as it still picks up your sales and adjusts the stock holding.

    I use CA’s antique MarketplaceAdvisor (the old Marketworks platform) but turned off the checkout as customers didn’t like it and there could sometimes be a delay in the link between eBay and CA preventing customers checking out.

    The main problem with controlling inventory with CA is that you can’t adjust stock levels on GTC listings through MarketplaceAdvisor so have to do directly on eBay which corrupts your inventory levels.

    Introducing PayPal Pro to the eBay checkout would allow credit card processing.

    • 11 years ago

      Introducing PayPal Pro to the eBay checkout would allow credit card processing *through PayPal*. I don’t believe that all merchants should be forced to use PayPal for every single transaction; do you? And some buyers, of course, don’t want to either.

  • Bob
    11 years ago

    With PayPal Pro the buyer doesn’t know it is PayPal it just looks like a normal online credit card transaction like any other merchant account.

    Yes I understand some merchants don’t want to use PayPal for every transaction but look at Amazon, things are kept nice a simple no choices you use their payment processing.

    Third party checkouts are unnecessary, I would have thought a standard and familiar eBay checkout gives more confidence to a buyer.

    • 11 years ago

      Well, I’d frankly be perfectly happy if 3P checkouts had been abolished as rumoured, at the same time as the eBay checkout was made a bit more flexible (e.g. adding merchant accts), but there you go.

      And I think the difference between Amazon and eBay payment methods is 1) Amazon have ALWAYS made merchants use their checkout, not sought to impose it after years of laisser faire, and 2) Amazon’s relationship with their merchants seems to be, for whatever reason, both less antagonistic and more professional, so “this is the way it is” causes much less upset over there.

  • 11 years ago

    Aloha,

    Below is the email that eBay mailed out on April 13th to “a small percentage” of sellers. Seller name “*”‘d out, and eBay’s typos are untouched.

    //

    Dear *:

    Our records indicate that you?ve recently completed selling transactions through . We?re writing to let you know that as of June 15, will no longer be providing third party checkout service on eBay.

    A big step toward reducing unpaid items for sellers is ensuring a secure and consistent checkout experience for buyers. That?s why, in the months ahead, we?ll be working to integrate key functions offered by current third party providers into eBay checkout.

    The ultimate goal is to have all checkout and payments take place right on eBay–and to help you make a seamless transition to on-eBay checkout that fully supports your business as usual.

    In the interim, as of June 15, sellers will only be allowed to use eBay checkout or third party checkout services offered by one of a select group of approved Certified Providers.

    This would be a great time to take a close look at your business needs, and if you haven?t already done so, switch to eBay checkout before June 15.

    If you need specific functionality that is not yet integrated into eBay checkout, you can choose a solution offered by a Certified Provider approved for off-eBay checkout.

    We?ll keep you updated as new functionality becomes available in eBay checkout. We?ll also make sure you have the time and support you need to make a smooth transition down the road.

    Thanks for helping us keep eBay a great place to buy and sell.

    Sincerely,

    Dinesh Lathi
    Vice President, Seller Experience

    //

    And the email “Certified Provider” links lead to:

    eBay Certified Provider Program
    http://certifiedprovider.ebay.com/ns/checkout.html

    If you need additional checkout features not available through eBay, some of our listing solution Certified Providers can help:

    Benefits:

    * Offer payment by credit card
    * Perform tax calculation
    * Offer additional shipping carrier options
    * Show only the specific countries you want to ship to
    * Support redemption of your own coupon codes
    * Offer insurance
    * Collect important information like color selection, customization requests
    * Up-sell your other eBay items with a customizable merchandising module
    * Custom seller branding on purchase summary

    Certified Providers:
    Auctiva
    ChannelAdvisor
    Kyozou
    Vendio

    //

    Another example of a lack of coordination and back peddling by eBay’s management.

    “Oh boy.”
    Samuel Beckett, Quantum Leap

  • 11 years ago

    Thanks EH! Very interesting… and a Quantum Leap quote to go with it, fantastic 😀

  • 11 years ago

    @ # 2

    3rd party checkout isn’t mandatory to maintain stock control. Quantity Manager is proof of that. All one needs is a way to automatically monitor your sales and transaction completion (payment), a centralized database to handle inventory data, and a way to hook into your other channels (Amazon, website, etc).

    I don’t see any benefit for future 3rd party checkout. It isn’t needed for stock control, won’t allow you to upsell, and eBay will soon allow credit cards on their site. All that’s left is making your buyers angry when they don’t get their Microsoft live cashback or eBay bucks.

    eBay needs to ban it instead of doing this half-way solution. It is like what they did with feedback last year. They restricted sellers so they can only leave positives as if that would still be an indication of buyer trustworthiness. eBay should remove both for everyone’s sake. No feedback for buyers and no 3rd party checkouts.

  • 11 years ago

    @#9 I didn’t say they were mandatory to maintain stock control. I said that was a benefit. Which indeed it is. But I’m not going to be pushed into defending 3P checkouts: I don’t like them.

  • 11 years ago

    #9 I’m amazed you still don’t “get it” as far as feedback goes! eBay effectively did exactly what you want, scrapped feedback for buyers. It’s a done deal.

    All you have to get your head around is the fact that buyers like seeing their score go up so eBay let em still have positives. It’s not an indication of reliability, it’s simply because buyers like seeing their score go up. It’s just marketing fluff like the feedback stars are and who cares that it’s totally meaningless if it keeps the buyers happy?

    There are too many sellers who are quite frankly abysmal and can’t be trusted not to neg buyers for the sellers own shortcomings so eBay had to do something. For the few buyers who aren’t genuine the three unpaid item strikes and you’re out is much more effective than the old seller dilemma of “Not leaving a neg cos I’m scared I’ll get one back”.

  • Pete
    11 years ago

    I agree with most of what you say Chris, however the unpaid item process is only effective if eBay don’t take it upon themselves to remove the strikes for “customer service”, which we all know they do.

    It should also be made A LOT clearer to buyers that by clicking on the BIN button, the seller has incured a cost!…and I for one do not trust buyers to close a mutual agreement to cancel the correct way (they never do).

    I also agree that feedback comments, positive or negative are the cause of most issues around FB. Remove the comments but keep the scoring (both positive/negative).

  • 11 years ago

    #12 The old “education” aka remove your strike is an annoyance, but buyers that really are a PITA tend to collect enough to get banned. Buyers who have one removed might be an annoyance, but if they carry on buying then in the long run it’s a minor blip and proves healthy for the marketplace in the long term.

    I always add a note to disputes “Please click to CANCEL the transaction to let eBay know you don’t want the item. If you don’t click to cancel the transaction eBay will still expect you to pay £xx.xx for the item”. Seems to do the trick 🙂

    • 11 years ago

      I disagree.

      eBay is the only site on the internet where you can be told off for changing your mind. If I’m buying from Amazon, I can
      ~ put an item in my shopping basket and take it out again
      ~ get halfway through checkout and decide I don’t want it
      ~ go to pay, and decide I’m not going to
      ~ pay, and then decide there’s something else I want more, and cancel in the click of a button.

      I can’t do *any* of that on eBay. Until eBay joins the 21st century, and gets a shopping cart and a buyer-initiated “cancellation before dispatch” process, I don’t think buyers should be penalised for changing their minds about things.

      What is needed is not a stronger UID process, but a way for the whole thing to be streamlined and for sellers to not lose out because of it. IMHO eBay are so obsessed with the thought that sellers might use a sale cancellation feature to fee-avoid, that they hold the whole site back.

      [I realise this would probably only work for BINs, and that’s cool.]

  • Bob
    11 years ago

    I agree Sue, the whole wait 7 days before the seller can do a mutual is ridiculous. Until the point the packing slip / invoice is printed off the buyer should be able to cancel the transaction.

  • Lino
    11 years ago

    #15 Sorry, I have to disagree. If you don’t want it, don’t commit to buy it. It’s very simple.

    We get dozens of non-paying bidders each week (and many more nearer Christmas). They waste a lot of our time, and cost us money.

    • 11 years ago

      That’s my point, Lino – the eBay system makes them waste your time and money. If the system were better, there’d be the convenience to your buyers of being able to change their minds before the item entered the dispatch process, without the inconvenience to you of the UID process and the current way you get charged fees on unpaid items.

  • Lino
    11 years ago

    Sounds good to me Sue.

  • eqixx
    11 years ago

    pardon my ignorance, but how would this work if you only have, say, 5 of an item in stock?

    for example, someone puts one in his basket on monday, and doesn’t pay for it until friday. in the meantime all the rest sell out. Now as i see it there’s one of two things that happens here:

    1. they haven’t yet paid for it, so the 5th one is sold to someone else, meaning there isn’t one left when the buyer goes to pay for it on the friday

    or

    2. the site has ‘reserved’ one for the guy, meaning that only 4 are left to sell. if the buyer then never pays for it, it means the seller loses out for a while.

    can anyone clarify what would happen?

    • 11 years ago

      What would happen would be whatever the eBay developers made happen: scenario 1, scenario 2, or something else entirely. If it were me, I’d make it work like Amazon marketplace does: it’s not yours til it’s paid for. So if you leave it in your basket for five days and someone else buys it, that’s tough. And I’d have a big fat notice on the shopping basket saying so too.

  • Matt
    11 years ago

    I’ve kept away from posting here for a very long time now, but this post, from where I am sat currently, is very, very LOL watching Channel Advisor publicly panic.

    “Scot Wingo wrote a long and impassioned plea”

    There are only two absolute uses of the checkout redirect, tax calculations (don’t really affect sellers in the EU at all, a real bummer in the US) and credit card gateways, the rest are niceties.

    If eBay can provide a solution to these (I do not care much for the US tax issue, being in the UK), why should they keep this service going for what is a very hit and miss affair with such a poorly built checkout system., especially the buyer experience given in a CA checkout.

    ~~~~~~
    To Wingo:
    Is this not just an issue for “Channel Advisor” in general with antiquated system that cannot really cope with such major changes and as such quite humorous that yourselves, are trying to get your sellers to complain for you?
    ~~~~~~~

    What eBay has in fact done, is attempt to enforce some “common ground” and uniformity of the checkout experience for their buyers (remember buyers are our priority, not because CA have their billing system tied to a system and they’re scared they’ll have to actually spend some time developing).

    The latest guidelines they have created are very good, however very scary, if done incorrectly its going to cause problems of people bailing the checkout redirect pages because they are tooooo like eBay and may take as phishing sites.

    Alas you will not be seeing it in a Channel Advisor checkout any time soon as far as I am aware they have yet to complete it their requirement to have this ready in time (Channel Advisor: Need VC another handout?).

    However this is really only a half way house, they’re [eBay] bodging it with this step, when really they should be adding merchant services [Authorize.net, Optimal Payments, Protx and so on…. or offering PayPal Payments Pro WITH seller protection], fixing the complicated issues with tax [US centric] and adding the ability for sellers to control what items are cross/upsold against items in the checkout.

    AND….. Crucially keeping the buyer ON eBay in a safe bubbly environment, with every cunning ploy to them and the sellers entertained. I’m shocked at eBay for not or attempting to pull the chain on it before now.

    Matt

  • 11 years ago

    For those who aren’t aware (as he didn’t say), Matt in the preceding comment works for ESP, one of CA’s competitors.

  • Matt
    11 years ago

    Hi Chris,

    Yes that’s correct, however the above is a “personal opinion”, take the comments as you may, thats how it was intended and was written as such.

    Matt

  • Bob
    11 years ago

    Scot Wingo is like Marmite ………

  • 11 years ago

    #24 I like Scot and I like marmite 😀 I don’t like 3p checkouts though however much they may be a necessary evil for the few functions that can’t be done on eBay (or for those they perform better).

    Personally I’d like to see eBay build out their checkout API so that all 3rd parties can get all the hooks they need to run their back end reliably and complete checkout but for it to run on eBay in as few pages as possible
    (“as few” meaning no more than 1 😉 )

  • 11 years ago

    Checkouts & Unpaid Item / ‘changed my mind’ process

    Sue is spot on – eBay need to get up to date.

    3rd party checkouts are a nonsense. eBay should be ashamed that they are so far behind everyone else. Sort out the Merchant account / Tax / Up & Cross-sell issues then ditch the 3rd parties. Buyers should be kept ‘on-site’.

    Waiting 7 days to cancel a BIN transaction is a farce. eBay’s failure to update this speaks loudly about greed for manipulating fees and lip service for the buyer (and seller) experience.

  • 11 years ago

    Bloody well said.

    Last invoice period a guy purchases a suite, no payment for a few days, then comes on to tell me his wife purchased it by mistake and he didnt know about it, we agree to cancel only he hasnt yet, so £40 odd quid in FVF’s has to be paid now and I have to wait until the next billing cycle to get it back…f’kin robbery…

    eBay, what exactly have I done wrong, please tell me?

  • 11 years ago

    I must admit purely as a buyer I LOATHE 3rd party checkouts and if the seller warns me in their listing that there will be one I simply buy elsewhere. So many of them seem to generate errors especially if you’re not using IE. On the odd occasions where i have to use one I never go back to the seller.

  • 11 years ago

    3rd party checkouts are as exciting as halifax 3D secure. As Linzi said I simply can’t be assed to continue.

    • 11 years ago

      Please. Do not mention Halifax 3D, the most annoying thing on the entire internet (and I’m including that bloody wizard in that too). It is not in the least bit secure, except insofar as it stops you wanting to use the website in question so I guess it’s made you keep your card number to yourself.

  • 11 years ago

    I refuse to use 3D Secure. It does nothing for me as a consumer and is just incredibly annoying. Telling me it’s to protect me and make sure it’s my card is rubbish, I know it’s my card, it’s in my wallet!

    Any site that insist on using it gets one try with an alternative card (Amex is normally a good one to use 😉 ) and if that doesn’t work I simply don’t buy. Easyhotel is the cheapest by far in London but I won’t use them any more because they’ve implemented that infuriating crap. They’ve lost my custom and the last hotel I used cost well over £100 extra but didn’t insist on annoying me before I even turned up on their door step.

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