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Are buyers really incentivised by seller funded eBay Promotions?

By Chris Dawson September 12, 2019 - 3:36 pm

Last night, I bought a relatively cheap laptop on eBay. Priced at £299.00 it seemed reasonable but it was only when I added it to my shopping basket I received a totally unexpected £10 discount through seller funded eBay Promotions.

You can view the original eBay listing here, and I’ve revisited it but can’t see any sign of an offer. It’s nice to receive a discount, but surely seller funded eBay Promotions should be used to incentivise buyers to purchase, not as surprise discounts when they’ve already decided to make the purchase.

In fact, in some ways the offer is a distraction as it contains a link to all of the items included in the offer. It makes an awful lot of sense to advertise an offer to attract buyers to make a purchase, but surely applying the offer in checkout when it hasn’t incentivised me to make a purchase is giving profit away for no discernible advantage.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen offers unexpectedly given to buyers and a real problem is that buyers, whilst welcoming of any discount, often can’t figure out how they got the discount or even how the discount was calculated. This is because eBay have a set order in which eBay Promotions are applied so whilst the buyer might see one particular promotion an entirely different one might be applied to their purchase.

Promotions are also made more complicated as the same promotion with the same discount could be set up for two sets of products which means that while both are included in a promotion, they may actually be in different sale events even though they appear to have an identical offer. Buyers simply have no way to figuring all this out meaning sellers may be giving money away without it being directly attributable to an increase in sales.

Order of visibility for eBay Promotions

  1. Multi-buy
  2. Coupons
  3. Order discounts
  4. Sale event + markdown
  5. Shipping discounts

With Multi-buy, Targeted coupons and Order discounts, only the best discount will be applied based on what’s in the buyers cart, regardless of which one is shown to buyers.

If you’re also running a markdown sale, the Multi-buy offer will be applied on top of your discounted price.

If you’re also running a shipping discount, the Multi-buy discount may also be applied.

  • Dav
    5 days ago

    It probably means eBay wasn’t correctly displaying the seller’s promotion anywhere. Not in search results and nowhere on the item page. This has been an ongoing issue especially since last year. Has come up in seller complaints several times that promotions weren’t being displayed correctly, if at all. eBay’s algorithm decides it all as it does everything. If promotions aren’t showing it means it’s not “good enough” in eBay’s ideas to display it. Tell me what kind of messed up logic is that? I’ll tell you what kind, it’s eBay logic, and not much of what they do makes any sense or is of benefit to anyone. I guess eBay would rather “surprise” buyers with an unexpected discount than actually letting them know beforehand. eBay are pretty much a trainwreck from top to bottom at this point…

  • MA
    5 days ago

    Chris, what if, just if – eBay is often paying (subsidising) upto 50% on these ‘seller funded’ promos? Its definitely not always seller funded entirely. In a weird way it’s strengthing the stronger sellers with everyone’s fees. Picking winner would be the term. As the marketplace don’t control the stock, it’s probably the only way they do it. I’m uneasy about this redistribution to the most resourced, from everyone.

  • 5 days ago

    Are buyers really incentivised by seller funded eBay Promotions?

    Yes & No.

    Yes they can be if they can see them.

    No they won’t be if they can not see them. You can’t be incentivised by an offer if you can not see it. As you said, you had already put it in your basket.

    A while back ebay started putting “offers” on listings at the bottom of the listing page, what use is that?

  • 5 days ago

    Earlier last year eBay took significant flack when they messed about with hiding promotional offer banners on listings and also hiding promotion ‘teasers’ in search results. The eBay US boards have a number of thread topics on this very issue.

    Many sellers were extremely upset that they were unnecessarily giving away ‘free money’ because buyers were completely unaware of any promotion until the check-out process – exactly like Chris’s example.

    Buyers would search for an item, and without the promotion teaser icon and text showing in search results, the promotion itself had no effect on the click-through from search to the listing page.

    Likewise, without any indication of the promotion on the listing page either, the hidden promotion, without providing any incentive to the buyer to proceed to checkout, has no influence on the purchase decision, thus when the ‘surprise’ promotion is applied at checkout, it’s seller money (and eBay revenue) essentially ‘thrown away’ because the buyer didn’t even know about it.

    As I recall from last year, the ‘value’ of the promotion had some impact as to whether or not it showed in search results and the listing itself, and many of us thought eBay finally had this sorted when they reverted back to showing promotion teasers in search as well as promotions and banners at the top of the listing page.

    This is a potentially serious issue for any seller using promotions!

    As mentioned earlier, eBay gave indication last year the relative value of the promotion was factored into whether it was displayed in search or not.

    This confirms it is once again imperative sellers check their promotion visibility in both search and listing pages and agitate for eBay to either again fix this, or be transparent as to exactly when promotion teasers and banners will, or will not, be displayed in search and listings.

    • 5 days ago

      Here’s a post on the US boards from 2017 from an eBay employee explaining when promotion teasers are shown in search results:

      👉 https://community.ebay.com/t5/Archive-Weekly-Chat-with-eBay/Community-Chat-April-19th-1pm-PT-Promotions-Manager/m-p/26874804/highlight/true#M12598

      “We use an ‘offer score’ algorithm in the background that evaluates the promotion on specific criteria and determines if the promotion is a strong, average or below average promotion. Only strong promotions are shown with the teaser message in search results. Also at this time we’re only showing this on Desktop search and are looking to make this available in Mobile search as well.”

      It’s anyone’s guess how much this has changed over the myriad changes eBay have made to promotions, but our thinking is eBay needs to provide sellers clear indicators whether their promotions will be shown or not, and we question the value of *any* promotion that doesn’t show at all – why bother even offering “below average” (whatever those criteria are) promotions that won’t be seen by buyers??

    • Dav
      4 days ago

      Adding to this, I would also suggest anyone to check their promotion visibility from a secondary device/IP address. Reason being that if you’re logged in to your account and using your primary IP, eBay will show you better results than what everyone else would see. Same goes for search placement. They do in fact attempt to trick and deceive you. eBay has ZERO business ethics whatsoever. Using your primary IP, you might see your promotions displayed and have good search placement. Using a secondary IP, your promotions might not be displayed at all and find it difficult to even locate your items in search. These are facts and that’s what buyers are seeing, or more accurately, NOT seeing. Carl Icahn said 5 years ago eBay is the worst managed company he’s ever seen. What has it become under Wenig since then?

  • Toby
    5 days ago

    It is a mine field out there on ebay.. Ebay proms, multi discounts, seller promos and mark downs… Far too many types of ‘discount’. Customers are never really sure of what is what and how one affects the other.
    Then there are other areas where thought has gone out the window…
    A month or so ago i saw an ebay promo that was emailed to me… Cant remember the exact details but it mean’t £50 off if i spent over £500… Along those lines. Anyway it just so happens i was looking for something that was £1000. So i checked and fab… £50 off with the code.
    I clicked to buy and went into the checkout, but it wouldnt process the dis code. Cut a long story short, the reason was that the postage was by freight and i had to request the cost. Ebay would not let me continue unitil the cost was there. Unfortunately it was a weekend and the company was closed until Monday… The coupon ran out on the 16th or whatever day it was, which happened to be Monday.
    Got the quote on monday, went to pay… Coupon expired. Now it is common place in the UK for coupons etc to expire at the end of the day listed unless otherwise stated… So the 16th would mean 23.59 on the 16th….. Not 23.59 on the 15th.
    Complained to ebay who told me, they always end as soon as the last day stated starts and it is in the t&cs that they can end it when they want!
    I voiced my disgust with the fact that not only did they not honour it as the system wouldnt let me pay, but that it was in clear violation of common retail practice and without further research i believed that this was actually false advertising. The reply was…The duration disclaimer covers us!!!
    Let’s just say it is another reason i buy elsewhere now. Don’t blame the seller, they were very appologetic and understanding.
    Ebay has a funny way of encouraging sales!

  • Rob
    4 days ago

    Wonder when ebay will be adding best offer to monthly seller bills or shop fees seen as they encourage sellers to offer it on items and tells use it is what buyers love.

  • Nic
    4 days ago

    When it comes to retail, an unexpected and unsolicited discount or gift often has greater potential for future sales than a simple, up front, price reduction. And that potential is much greater these days due to social media and review sites.

    I bought a couple of “free shipping” items on Ebay the other day, from the same seller, and got a partial (and completed unexpected) shipping refund from the seller. Last week, I found a packet of Haribo sweets inside another parcel. A few weeks ago, I bought a fountain pen and a couple of roller ball pens were included free of charge; again, completely unsolicited.

    If some sellers are scratching their heads, unable to understand why sellers (or indeed Ebay themselves) provide unexpected bonuses to buyers after the committal to “buy”, rather than as part of the commercial offer, then that’s absolutely fine, because if everyone provided “freebies” then buyers’ collective expectations would be raised over time and the commercial advantage for those sellers who really do “get it” would be either lost, or at least diminished.

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