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eBay to move from subjective to objective feedback

By Chris Dawson June 22, 2015 - 9:30 pm

eBay Radio 12th Party reportLast week the eBay Radio Party & Conference held their 12th anniversary and spoke about how they aim to change from subjective feedback to objective feedback – a major shift change and one that could potentially spell the end of feedback comments.

The conference featured 3 full days of presentations and workshops by leading eBay and ecommerce experts plus seller-to-seller networking with over 200 US eBay sellers in attendance.

Making the 7,200 mile round trip to report on the annual event were the guys from 3P Logistics. Based in the UK, 3P Logistics provide outsourced order fulfilment services to wide range of ecommerce sellers including many eBay top rated & power sellers.

John Scully – Business Development at 3P Logistics told us “With senior speakers from eBay seller experience, Terapeak, Pinterest etc. in attendance, we felt it important to meet such policy makers first hand to listen to closely and digest any new developments that may ultimately impact eBay sellers here in the UK. After all, most new initiatives are originated and piloted in the USA before reaching our shores some 6-12 months later. If you’re an eBay business seller in the UK then we can safely say that eBay are now listening to their sellers with a number of key changes outlined this year to make the seller experience a whole lot better.”

eBay changes coming this year

The main speaker on behalf of eBay was Jordan Sweetnan VP eBay seller experience. He outlined his remit to represent the voice of sellers, to invest in sellers and to engage with sellers as partners.

He briefed the 300 strong audience on a number of key changes to roll out throughout 2015 across the following areas:

Feedback HomeFeedback / Standards / Returns

Jordan said that eBay want to move from subjective to more objective feedback and standards. eBay also want to reward sellers for doing the right thing by buyers and also introduce programs and policies that reflect retail standard differences by verticals (A hoorah eBay for everyone who’s products are delivered by pallet for example).

This is fantastic news – so many sellers are fed up with “Slow delivery” when a buyer selects economy and the item is delivered within a few days or “Not the right size” when it’s a standard high street garment. Objective feedback already exists in part, for instance we have an auto five star Detailed Seller Rating for offering free postage and packaging and in the US they even have an auto five star when tracking shows delivery was within the promised timescale.

Feedback could change beyond all recognition and many wouldn’t be disappointed to see the end of feedback comments to be replaced by a simple “Would you buy from this seller again” style question. If we don’t get that, rating sellers against measurable standards would be very welcome rather than arbitrary customer opinions, which we all know vary from one buyer to the next.

Objective feedback is a big deal and I can’t wait to see it happen.

Structured data

eBay are going to go big on structured data. Their challenges according to Jordan are an incomplete product catalogue and inconsistencies around the globe.

From you the seller they want three things – the Brand, the Manufacturers part number, and the GTIN. This will enable eBay to give better visibility and conversion by showing buyers the products they want, make it easier to give trust to buyers and enforce standards and ultimately better SEO and at the same time give inventory insights and tools to help sellers perform even better in the future.

Scaling tools

eBay want to make sure the tools are in place to grow your business no matter how large it becomes – we’re all familiar with the problems TurboLister runs into when you have more than a few thousand listings!

Seller tools / insights

eBay also want to reimagine the entire selling experience, stream line everything and put all the reports and tools you need in one place. As well as inventory insights to help you manage stock and know what to source, they want to give detailed defect reports, provide inventory management tools and make the capabilities available through the API which will enable third party software to tap in.

Buyer experience

eBay want to focus on three main areas for buyers which will involve:-

Trust

Compete on a great buyer experience
No just binary Top Rated / Not Top Rated

Value

Beat the competition on price
Other services also impact value – quality, item condition, shipping speed etc

Relvance

Accurate and complete data – category, attributes, product ID, pictures etc

Jordan finished up emphasising that the buyer experience, conversion and listing quality are all based on the foundation of structured data. Mobile buyers spend less time on listing descriptions and so eBay need to use images and leverage structured data to make sure they see and buy the products that they’re looking for. Structured data (Brand, model number, GTIN, Item Specifics….) will be the key part of your eBay business to focus on to ensure you’re ready for changes eBay introduce over the next year to 18 months.

The eBay Mission

Throughout his 60 minutes address to conference Sweetnan re-emphasised the eBay mission: “To create a simple, fair, predictable outcome for sellers without sacrificing the buyer experience” .

This would be achieved by creating a simple solution that works for 99% of eBay sellers as opposed to a complex solution that works for 100%

Summing up the eBay Radio Party experience

eBay Radio PartyIan Walker MD 3P Logistics summed up their trip to the eBay Radio party saying: “The opportunity to network with a broad range of influential industry speakers gave us a real insight into the pace of change and how this is likely to impact sellers in the UK. I can safely say that the eBay family is as strong as ever in the USA with a real sense of community amongst the sellers we met at the conference. What did take me a little by surprise was the overriding desire to regain market share form Amazon and the changes outlined are party to this aim. I am often told by sellers that the DSR (Detailed Seller Ratings) aspect of eBay is hugely unfair and on the basis of what I have seen and heard over the last 3 days I would expect some redress of balance in this area in the coming months.

To get from behind the desk and meet real people from the International eBay community in a place like Las Vegas was a fantastic experience and will live long in the memory”.

Our thanks from Tamebay to Ian and the 3P Logistics team for their reporting from the event!

  • Richard
    2 years ago

    Why do I sit here cringing at how this will all end up in reality. From many years experience I have zero faith in eBay to deliver anything properly nowadays. Words are cheap and eBay has a ton more competition than it did even just a few years back. Lots of nice corporate speak saying the right things, but I fear for eBay’s long term future. No one nowadays is too big to fail.

    • Simon
      2 years ago

      I read this too and thought the same as you and Rich Vernadeau below.
      The proof of the pudding is in the eating and so far I’ve got gut ache from the last few months especially.

      After the buyer blocking was SORTED ! I received a message from a customer saying she was trying to buy an item but couldn’t and could I help her.
      I went to my list expecting to see her userid there BUT nothing. I put her on the exemption list and advised her of the ebay problems but it then raises the suspicions that have ebay made it so they haven’t fixed the problem BUT have managed to make it so the user doesn’t end up in the blocked list therefore not alerting sellers to the issue.

      Another thing that then happened after reading the blurb above was that I got a “A request is open: Please respond now (Ref # 5085621963)”. As most people reading this will know, the first thing you think of is “oooh that’s another defect”. Ebay guide the unknowing buyer down the path and instead of asking them to message the more than helpful seller who will quite happily send another item that was £3.50 for free 1st class so that the customer isn’t inconvenienced too much, they don’t, they add the insult and a kick in the nethers of the DEFECT!!!

      I think most people who read Tamebay will look at the “Objective – Subjective” article like a politicians promise. When they really do what they say, that’s when it really shocks you.

      IF IF IF EBAY REALLY wanted to know how sellers feel and learn what is wanted and needed, they ONLY have to read Tamebay!! Most of the responses here come from years of selling experience on ebay, and ebay COULD learn a lot IF they wanted.

      Right off for some more cups of tea.

  • 2 years ago

    It’s the usual misleading propaganda from the Bay, and nothing will change for the targeted small sellers who are being eliminated en masse. The big box retailers will still enjoy “scrubbing” and immunity from Defect rates, lows DSRs, etc. In the meanwhile, tens of thousands of small sellers continue to fight back against eBay in social media groups that keep growing exponentially, and these same displaced small sellers have migrated to a number of other competing online selling sites.

  • JD
    2 years ago

    ~
    But the UK is not the US.

    Tracking is much less expensive in the US. A fact that eBay has used to ensure that the majority of eBay US domestic transactions now use tracked delivery.

    The use of tracked delivery in the UK has a far lower penetration (than in the US).

    Use of these so called objective metrics can only come at a price to both UK buyers and sellers.

    • Simon
      2 years ago

      You are 100% correct.
      When I ship to the USA from Uk on EBAY.CO.UK, I always use RM International Tracked and sometimes I delve into my DSR’s and metrics and see that ebay has given me a slap by telling me that I haven’t uploaded tracking. TRACKING is ALWAYS uploaded.
      When delving deeper it appeared that the transactions I had not uploaded tracking to, were in fact UK transactions. I was told by EBAY UK that it was not their problem and they put me through to EBAY USA. They were about as helpful as a chocolate fireguard, being put through to 5 different departments. By the end of it they had no idea why, but could only assure me that my DSR’s were not affected as I thought they were.
      So I learned, on that occasion, that it appears that uploading tracking is the norm on ebay.com.

  • john
    2 years ago

    So…they are going to use a system based on amazon’s feedback system.

    What I want to know is how they will manipulate sellers?.
    I assume sellers are going to get immunity if they give buyers free products.

    Many sellers have no confidence in eBay’s ability to implement a fair and equal set of rules/policies.

  • Simon
    2 years ago

    I love the logo above.
    ” IF it ain’t fun we Ain’t doin it”

    Try being on the phone for an hour to ebay.com (US), 5 different departments, trying to explain an issue.

    That certainly wasn’t fun but strangely enough I still had to do it.

  • Martin
    2 years ago

    A single question “Would you buy from this seller again?” is equally as prone to problems as subjective feedback. Buyers will answer no if the size is right but the garment doesn’t fit, or if they choose economy delivery and then want to complain about delivery speed.

    Objective is the only way forward to be fair to sellers BUT

    Like everyone else my confidence is very low that Ebay can deliver any change effectively and correctly, or that they really understand what being fair to sellers means, or how to standardise across widely disparate markets and postal services.

    Typical is the recent recategorisation of some Toys and Games categories. I went in to this with 100% accurate categorisation and full item specifics. I have come out of it with an over 30% error rate on the categories Ebay have used for my items. I looked at 1 item yesterday from all sellers, and the new category error rate on this one item was in excess of 50%. It is reported to the tech team through CS, and it is like falling into a black hole – no response, no guidance, no announcement, no freezing of the recategorisation, no reversal – NOTHING.
    It is totally substandard.

    Most of the errors I have spotted are inexcusable. If it was previously specified as an aircraft, why the hell isn’t it still an aircraft? It is a straight programming change from the old item specific to the new category. The managed to get some of my aircraft right, so why not all of them?

    It looks like I will need to find the time to change the categories and therefore create new item specifics on approx. 600-700 listings when I should be working to grow my business.

    The only positive comment I can make consistent with others is fear the worst if you need to go to ebay.com CS. The .co.uk guys in Ireland are far better trained, and far more responsive.

  • Bunchy
    2 years ago

    Anyone else thinking that buyers are going to choose “no” because they simply won’t buy the same kind of product again and nothing to do with whether the service is great, as advertised etc?

  • Dave
    2 years ago

    Its the returns that are killing me. It desperately needs a revamp

    We sell Consumer Electronics and the returns system is just not fit for purpose in our business. People think the item has a fault when they can’t use it or don’t know what to do and open a return. Satellite boxes for example, we have many people who say that they have no signal when it’s their old dish at fault. Getting a man out to fix the dish is more hassle than just returning it. 75% of the time its resolved with an email back to them. Also if they don’t like it, you’re always going to choose the option where the seller pays for the return shipping right?

    Looking at the figures, out of approx 1400 sales we’ve had 41 returns opened in the last 6 months, only 10 were actually genuine returns and faulty (inc some damaged in transit). Something like 15 of those returns never came back to us and timed out.

    We’ve got 6 open at the moment, just 1 of those is coming back and its not faulty, just the buyer being an idiot.

    Obviously we get a defect for each one and have lost our TRS as a result.

    Soul destroying after 3 years of financial risk and hard work.

    • james
      2 years ago

      same boat here, ebay need to realise that “one size does not fit all”.

      if you buy a 99p keyring and dont like the colour, you dont send it back, you dont lie and say its faulty, you live with it or buy another.

      we selling big-ticket, expensive to ship, or luxury goods, are all being held to poundland return standards. poundland dont get returns.

    • Paul
      2 years ago

      Poundland might not get returns, but ebay sellers of low value goods do! As well as low DSRs, false INRs and SNADs (more likely on a sub £5 item IMO), complaints about slow delivery and pretty much everything else that you think only affects you – oh, and times those problems by more transactions.

      Some of the OTT negative feedback given over 99p, £1.99, £2.99 items absolutely beggars belief – disproportionate aggression, expectation and bad language, and buyers almost literally saying their lives have been ruined over a quid – you get my drift.

  • 2 years ago

    I still can’t get my head around why a product review in feedback is accepted and can have a detriment to a sellers business.

    Feedback has become distorted into a ‘for whatever reason a buyer is unhappy we’ll defect the seller’

    Non-positive feedbacks I’ve seen:

    The ending in of the book was crap – defect
    fast delivery, good seller but product didn’t heal my medical condition – defect (needs a visit to doctor?)

    Borderline and if the choice was ‘would you buy from this seller again’ then the answer would have been a no!

    Not entirely convinced but we shall see.

    • paddy
      2 years ago

      I’ve had a feedback like that removed on the basis that the comment was “social commentary”. The feedback that was left was something on the lines of, “I could have bought this cheaper at Asda”.

    • 2 years ago

      I asked and have been told via email and @AskeBay on twitter that it wouldn’t be removed. The second one about not working I know may be borderline but they wouldn’t remove it. Five of the six non positives (1 neg and 5 neutrals) are product reviews.

      Seems we are responsible for more than just the transaction but the performance of an over the counter product too.

      Feedback system is too messed up

    • james
      2 years ago

      i’ve had similar feedback Not removed on the basis of “its the customers opinion, and their opinion is valid, even if wrong”.

  • Mark Ellis
    2 years ago

    This is not going to work – ebay are never going to be able to police the feedback system (which can only ever be subjective – you cannot by definition make it objective) to everyone’s satisfaction – they may as well try knitting fog.

    Brace yourself for more pointless ebay incompetent tinkering

  • tinker
    2 years ago

    any change will be focused to benefit ebay PLC
    any thought to a sellers welfare or plight is utter bollocks

  • 2 years ago

    Wow – I was over for the ebay conference in Vegas last week to hear it first hand. I have to say that the feeling among the US sellers was pretty similar to the views that have been aired in the UK.
    On a brighter note – i have shared a cross section of the views directly with the VP Seller Experience in the US and if anyone has the capacity to make notable leaps in favour of a seller then i guess he`s the man.
    As a company that houses and processes orders for numerous ebay sellers i can also relate to seller frustrations first hand.
    For now the air of scepticism on this forum is fully justified and only time will tell as to whether ebay can truly build bridges with its sellers and ultimately embrace sellers as true business PARTNERS which must surely be the one of the main goals.

  • Rich
    2 years ago

    I don’t know why they don’t just get rid of feedback for buyers as I’m a small fry seller who always leaves feeback when I dispatch items but it’s becoming more and more common to never get feedback left in return from the buyer.

    Who cares if a buyer who never sells anything has 1500+ feedback? What use is that? It’s not like I can handpick who buys from me in the first place is it?

    eBay broke feedback years ago when it became totally one-sided. They’d be better off implementing some sort of incentive to buyers to leave genuine feedback such as random prize draws or discount codes etc.

  • Gareth
    2 years ago

    “Would you buy from this seller again”

    I don’t understand how that is objective? If I was buying a one off item I wanted I would select ‘no’, not because I wasn’t happy, but just because I didn’t require anything more from them. Would such a response then damage the seller’s account in some way?

    eBay want to collect all this data, and start using product Identifiers, but so many categories from vintage to art are exempt. I understand eBay has made some allowances, but I don’t understand why they’re trying to mutate closer to something more akin to Amazon.

    On another note, I like to read the feedback comments, as it gives more objective data for the seller to understand when they’ve done something right or wrong, and it’s also useful for buyers. I particular like to search seller’s feedback to find people who have bought the same item I’m interested in, and read their responses.

  • Gemma
    2 years ago

    I doubt that this will make any difference. We just called eBay to try and get a neutral removed because a buyer said it was smaller than expected. Our product description states the precise dimensions of the item to the millimetre so we thought it wouldn’t be a problem to get it removed. How wrong were we? The “Top Customer Care” advisor from the Dublin Team told us that because the size was contained in the product description and not the item specifics, it could not be removed. However if it was in the item specifics it would.

    We always fill in the requested item specifics, but this is a child’s toy and size is not a required field. The advisor said that a seller can put whatever they want in the product description, so they cannot use that as the authority. However I can’t see see how having the size in the item specifics (where a seller can also put what they want if they add a custom field – which isn’t searchable in any event) would make any difference to the buyer’s perception of the item. Anyone else heard of this?

    • james
      2 years ago

      its ebay CS (BS), “the rules” are just whatever he thinks will get you off the phone the fastest, without him having to do any work.
      customer didnt read the description, thats obviously your fault and not the customers.

    • lolzy
      2 years ago

      Yes, I sold a grey item and was negged for it. CS refused removal because the colour wasn’t in item specific (but was in description )

  • 2 years ago

    I heard this a while ago, buyers on mobile don’t generally click through to read a description or can’t see it if it has a template and isn’t adaptive to mobile.

    If eBay decide these things they should inform sellers’ better by email rather than waiting until a seller needs something removing under these guidelines (was going to write ‘moving goalposts’ but decided against it).

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