October 29, 2014

EBay Fee Changes and Why You Might Need an eBay Store

Fall is officially here. Leaves are changing, and so are select eBay fees. We should expect this kind of change by now, shouldn’t we?

What’s more, we should also expect marketplaces to make policies that direct us toward the paths they want us to take. That’s exactly what happened in a recent eBay announcement: Caps on final value fees will increase for US sellers that don’t have an eBay Store. Final value fees, which are paid on the total selling price of each item (shipping included) for non-Store sellers will now be capped at $750 — up from $250. This change will go into effect on November 6, 2014.

The published final value fee for a non-Store seller is 10%. This means that the increase in the cap on the final value fee will really only affect items from non-Store sellers that total more than $2,500, including shipping costs. Here are some likely categories where total price may be over this threshold:

  • Business and industrial

  • Automotive and Powersports: Parts and accessories

  • Fine art and collectibles

  • Antiques

  • Fine jewelry and watches

  • High-end consumer electronics and cameras

  • Computers

  • Furniture

  • High-end sporting goods

  • Sports and entertainment memorabilia

  • Travel

Note that this change is only for non-Store sellers. Which leads to the question, Why is eBay so interested in increasing Store membership? Could it be the revenue stream from Store fees? Or will this bolster seller brands on the heels of the global brand campaign eBay is running? It could also just be about increasing a seller’s effectiveness since Store sellers have access to tools that provide insight into buyer behavior and trends (traffic reports within the Manage My Store interface).

There are three eBay Store types, and all qualify for an exemption to this fee increase: Basic Store, Premium Store and Anchor Store. Store fees range from $15.95 per month to $199.95 per month, depending on the type of Store selected and the subscription period (monthly vs. yearly). With the three Store types, you can also buy down your insertion fees (ranging from $0.20 with Basic to $0.05 with Anchor) and increase your free insertion fee listings (from 150 with Basic to 2,500 with Anchor). In essence, the more volume you do, the more advantageous it is to go with an Anchor Store.

If you don’t have a Store yet and might be affected by this increase in the final value fee cap, or if you want to ensure you aren’t better off with a Store subscription due to the insertion fee discounts and free listing allotment, then you can check out this free tool from eBay: eBay’s Fee Illustrator. This tool gets information about your average listings, sell-through and sales price to compare fee models from the different Store types.

It’s also worth noting that if you have a have a below-standard performance rating as defined by seller performance standards, your only Store option is the Basic Store.

What Other Changes Did EBay Make?

Also within this announcement were a few changes to how free, automatic relistings work. First, automatic relistings will count toward the free listing allotments for sellers (remember, this allotment is different depending on Store membership). Second, later this year eBay will remove the relisting option for one- and three-day duration listings. Third, if you’re using the automatic relisting feature, after November 6 the system will relist items up to two times instead of once, like before. If you are a ChannelAdvisor customer, we manage the relisting process for your, so the last two changes will not impact you. These changes lessen the benefits sellers receive from Store membership but will affect all sellers, regardless of Store membership, so you still may come out ahead with a Store membership.

If you’re in the UK, you may have noticed changes to relists back on October 6, when eBay reduced the number of times that a listing was relisted when it used Auto Relist. EBay changed this from three relists down to one.

So what do you think about these eBay final value fee changes? Is eBay continuing to move its selling strategies toward those of other online marketplaces, like Amazon, which don’t have any fee caps? Let us know what you think below.

 

Blog post by Rachel Miller, product marketing manager, ChannelAdvisor

October 21, 2014

Google vs. Amazon - Deep Dive into Same-Day Delivery Part I/II

In the last two weeks there has been a lot of news around Google's same-day delivery service, Google Shopping Express (now called Google Express or GX), and Amazon's Grocery program, Amazon Fresh.

We received a lot of questions about both programs thought it was a good time to compare them and answer the question: Is Google Express a threat to Amazon?

To explore this question, we are going to follow this path across a two part series:

Part I: (you are here)

  • Background on each program and the same-day delivery players
  • Why Google vs. Amazon?

Part II: (coming soon!)

  • We are going to scorecard Amazon and Google on six criteria we call the Marketplace Comparison Framework
  • Based on the results, we'll both learn a lot about the programs, marketplaces and answer the question: Is Google Express a threat to Amazon?

Google Express Backgrounder

Google_express_logo

GX works by marrying  four components:

  1. Local retailers willing to participate in the program.
  2. A 'ghost' Point-of-Sale (POS) system that Google provides on Android tablets.
  3. A consumer-facing user interface (UI) that allows consumers to see an aggregation of the local retailers and order from them all in a centralized location (we call this a marketplace). The UI works on desktop and a very nice mobile app.  The consumer pays with Google Wallet.
  4. A network of couriers (today, outsourced to 1-800courier, in the future, driverless robot cars) - Once a consumer orders a product, a courier goes to the local retailer, picks up the product and brings it to the consumer.  As you can imagine this is quite expensive.

Highlights of GX's history:

Google  Express is only about 18 months old, but has had a lot of activity and investment from Google.

  • March 2013 - Google unveiled Google Shopping Express (GSX), their courier +local store based program.  We had a first look/deep dive of the user experience here.
  • May 2014 - GSX Expands to New York and Los Angeles.
  • June 2014 - GSX adds next day to Northern California.
  • Oct 2014 - Google announced they are renaming the program to Google Express (GX) and expanding the program to three new metros (Chicago, DC, Boston).
  • Oct 2014 - Google also announced the fees for the program - $95/yr.
  • Oct 2014 - Google also announced the addition of 16 merchants.
  • Oct 2014 - Office Depot, American Eagle Outfitters and Lucky opt-out of GX.

Amazon Fresh and Same-Day Delivery Background

Amazon has two programs now that offer same-day delivery.  Amazon Prime has a $5.99 same-day delivery for 13 major metro areas for non-grocery items.  Amazon Fresh adds grocery (including refrigerated items, fruits and veggies, meats, etc.) and covers 4 metro areas (Seattle, SFO, LAX, NYC).  Here's a brief history with highlights of the program:

Highlights of Amazon's same-day delivery history:

  • August 2007  - Amazon starts testing grocery delivery (later branded Fresh) in Seattle.
  • October 2009 - Amazon launches same-day delivery in seven metros (NY, Philly, BOS, DC, BWI, Vegas, Seattle).
  •  June 2013 - After a 6yr Seattle incubation/test period, Fresh expands to LAX.
  • December 2013 - Amazon Fresh expands to SFO.
  • August 2014 - Amazon expands same-day delivery to six new cities (Boston,  Chicago, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Atlanta, DFW).
  • October 2014 - Amazon Fresh expands to NYC (Brooklyn).

Other local delivery options

As you can tell from the GX and Amazon timelines, there has been a LOT of activity around these programs in the last two years as each Titan tries to out-invest and out-flank the other.  Both Target (Minn, Miami, Boston) and Walmart (Denver, SFO, LAX)  are testing same-day delivery in three markets.  In 2012, eBay launched eBay Now, which is their same-day delivery market.  They started in San Francisco and expanded into 4 metros (SFO, Chicago, NY, DFW).

Finally, there is a start-up called Instacart that has raised ~$55m from top-tier VCs such as Sequoia, A16Z, Sam Altman, Khosla Ventures, etc.   Instacart is in 15 metros and focuses on primarily grocery delivery using a network of independent delivery folks (think Uber for groceries).  Plus there are persistent rumors that the transportation  marketplace companies Uber and Lyft will eventually offer courier/personal shopping services as well as 'people transport'.

This table compares the >3 metro same-day delivery options as they exist today with general pricing:

Gsx_service_comparison

Why Google vs. Amazon?

For the purposes of this series we are going to focus in on GX vs. Amazon.  Google has said they plan on spending $500m on GX and with their massive fulfillment center build out (we track it here) Amazon has spent many times that amount on their infrastructure (over 150 FCs) that supports their entire suite of offerings.

The stakes are extremely high.  First, you have the $600b grocery business in the US. Then you have over $3b in advertising spent by consumer product goods companies.  Finally, the winner of the local delivery battle could end up owning product search which is turning out to be the crown jewel and holy grail of e-commerce.

According to Forrester and other research firms, when consumers start their online buying process, more than twice as many start on Amazon as Google.  Search is Google's cash cow and product search represents ~40% of queries, so Google's primary business counts on success in turning the tide against Amazon.

Google has historically been quiet about this situation, but recently Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt, in a speech in Berlin revealed that, in fact, Google believes that Amazon is their largest competitor:

"Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon. People don’t think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon. They are obviously more focused on the commerce side of the equation, but, at their roots, they are answering users’ questions and searches, just as we are."

In Part II, we'll look at the two programs across six criteria to see how they measure up against each other and see if GX is going to turn the tide against Amazon for Google.

Stay tuned!

This blog post was written by Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor.

 

 

October 20, 2014

My first ApplePay purchase!

Today, Apple officially launched ApplePay with iOS 8.1.  Here's my first ApplePay experience:

 

I downloaded the iOS 8.1 and scanned in 4 of my cards.  It was all going great until I hit my last card (issued by PNC):

Add_card_erroor

Well, guess I won't be using that one with ApplePay.

A quick scan showed that our local Walgreens is ApplePay compatible and a launch partner, so I shot over there and got a soda and some dog treats (yum!)

Items

 

The clerk wasn't sure if it would work, but we gave it a try (I was the first customer to try, but they had heard of it and he said Walgreens trained them to expect it today).

The Walgreens Point-of-sale had a clear NFC 'tap area'->

Walgreens_pos

The first time I tried, I tapped the phone to the NFC area and then pulled it away, that stopped the transaction.  The clerk said I have to keep the phone there longer.  Ok, take 2.

Take 2 worked - Passbook fired up and I selected the card and then used TouchID to pay:

Paying_thumb

The Walgreens receipt showed the card I paid with and had different digits (the token) than my card:

Receipt

Nearly instantaneously, I received a digital receipt (not itemized):

Passbook_receipt

Conclusion
This was a great transaction.  I've used the PayPal POS system and Google Wallet and ApplePay blows them away by far.  The entire process is very smooth and thought out. On top of that, I like that my card numbers are going to be more secure now.  Plus, I was able to verify my credit card with miles worked and even my Walgreens loyalty program (the POS asked for my number on that).

I'll definitely be using this going forward.  Here's a list of retailers and apps that are part of the ApplePay launch:

Applepay_unified_graphic

 

 

October 16, 2014

eBay Q3 2014 Results - A Seller-Oriented Deep Dive

Wednesday, October 15, 2014, eBay announced their Q3 2014 results.  The results were postive for PayPal and negative for eBay: 

  • Overall Revenue - Met expectations coming in at $4.36b.
  • Separation - eBay's management originally called the spin off of PayPal as a 'split', but now they are using the word separation.  There was lots of talk about the separation, but not much new information other than re-iterating that the move will make it easier for eBay Marketplace and PayPal to focus on their different situations.
  • Payments - PayPal did very well and is growing much faster than e-commerce.  We don't cover payments here, but the majority of concern seems to be from PayPal facing increased competition on the mobile and off-line fronts.  PayPal TPV grew 28% y/y which is about 2X the rate of e-commerce which was impressive.
  • Tickets - Tickets are still a tough area (StubHub vs. TicketMaster, etc.) and eBay is in defensive mode here. On the call, Bob Swan (CFO) said: "Both volume and take rate are down and growth is not quite where we'd expected it to be."
  • Marketplaces - Unfortunately, the bulk of the call was spent around the underperformance and challenges of marketplaces.  Year over Year GMV growth decelerated for the fifth straight quarter and came in at 7% - less than half the rate of e-commerce growth.  The main contributors mentioned by the management team are the may Google SEO change and the password reset.  In most of the Wall St. notes out this morning, analysts are skeptical and worried there are more systemic issues around global competition.

Donahoe summed up the Marketplace performance: "eBay is clearly facing some near-term challenges. Its growth is neither what we wanted nor what we expected."

On top of a bunch of tough Q3 datapoints (details later), eBay also signaled they are expecting a sluggish holiday by lowering their Q4 guidance.  Reading the Wall St. notes today, the implication is a 6% decrease from prior estimates - primarily driven by marketplace weakness.  We won't know if this is an eBay only view or if it is also shared by Amazon until they announce next week.

Marketplace segment key metrics and analysis

Here is our dashboard of key metrics we monitor from eBay's Q3:

Ebay_q3_dashboard_final

As you can see, there's a lot of red on the dashboard.  Here are the three key metrics we are keeping an eye on:

  • GMV Growth - Overall y/y GMV growth was well below expectations primarily due to the data breach and SEO problems that eBay had starting back in May.   Overall GMV grew at 7% with the same result for both the domestic and non-domestic.
  • Sold Item Growth - At eBay (compared to Amazon), this metric 'matters' more because it is more relevant and tends to track GMV unless AOVs increase/decrease materially (which is why we watch it).  Sold items came in at 9.1% a decrease from Q2's 9.5% and what you would expect given the GMV slow down. 
  • Active users - This was the only moderately bright spot for the marketplace segment.  Active users grew to 152.3m - a 13% y/y growth rate which means 3.4m new buyers came to the platform in Q3 (Q2 was 3.9, so this slowed sequentially from an absolute and % basis).  This is the best signal of the future we have and it is good to see eBay continuing to add new buyers.   

Marketplace trends are troubling

The data from the dashboard above is a snapshot that only shows you Q3.  What's more causing more alarm bells with the Wall St. analysts is the trends of all these datapoints.

Here are some six quarter (18 months) views of the key datapoints.

Sold items:

Ebay_q3_sold_item_table

GMV growth:

Ebay_q3_gmv_table

Active buyers:

Ebay_q3_active_buyer table

As you can see with the exception of Active Buyers - there's a downward trend on sold items and GMV growth that started back in Q2 13 (e.g. US GMV declined 17%->7% over that six quarter span).

(All of these datapoints are from eBay's Wall st. presentation)

A lot of time on the call was spent talking about the remediation of these trends.  Here are the highlights.

 

What is eBay doing to address the marketplace declines?

Brand campaign

eBay's management team revealed some new details about the Q4 branding campaign called "Shop the World" (there's a new landing page here fyi):

  • This is the largest campaign they have run in 4-5yrs
  • It is going to run in 3-4 countries

SEO Challenges

  • Majority of their traffic is organic
  • SEO is still important, especially for new users
  • It's less than 15% of their traffic (this was revealed in an answer to a question)
  • eBay is unique with 800m listings that change over every 14 days
  • They are implementing a 'new approach' to SEO and a 'long term solve' 
  • Later in the call they mentioned they are going to make their 800m unstructured listings look more like "structured data" - this could be a revival of the catalog project they have started and stopped 2-3 times over the last 10+yrs.

Breach Challenges

  • Once the breach was discovered, eBay forced a password reset
  • "Majority" (>50%?) of users have gone through password reset
  • Unfortunately many forget new and need another reset (I'm raising my hand on this one, plus my mobile app is all messed up now on 3 devices - ugh).
  • They are making some improvements to the signup, pwd change and other 'flows'
  • The global brand campaign should help push folks over this hump
  • Also other investments in marketing to increase traffic

Other initiatives

There was some somewhat vague talk about eBay starting to focus in on their "target customer segment" which was described as "eBay will be focusing more aggressively on those customers where we can compete and win."  There are several ways to interpret this.  My reading of the tea leaves:

  • This could mean eBay might change their focus on buyer segments.  Today's eBay buyer segment is what I would describe as the value shopper.  eBay has been experimenting with luxury designers on the site, so perhaps they want to go up-scale as they believe they can win there vs. the value segment. Or on the flip side, maybe they have realized that luxury buyers don't come to eBay and they need to double down on value.  Their actions in the last six months point more to a move up-market (recruiting luxury brands, suspending used good sellers, etc.).
  • One of the historically fastest growing categories on eBay is parts and accessories.  Part of that success is eBay has a very unique and differentiated buying experience there that is very tailored to that buyer.  Perhaps what they mean here is more vertical category experiences.  I would strongly recommend this and it's always been a mystery why eBay doesn't do more of this. eBay used to be ahead on this concept, but Amazon has pulled way ahead and even come into eBay's back yard by launching vertical buying experiences around collectibles.
  • Looking at the growth rates of fixed-price vs. Auctions, maybe an extreme move would be to sunset the auction format?  The data is undeniable that the format is not popular with consumers, so maybe it's time to take a bigger move here.  Or maybe they restrict auctions to certain categories.
  • Donahoe mentioned on the call they don't think same day delivery is important to their target segment.  eBay's CEO and the rest of the team have been increasingly negative on the eBay Now opportunity (same day delivery), so I'd be surprised if they a) expand that program and b) continue it long-term.

Finally, the management team did mention "adjusting cost structure and redeploying resources".  Several journalists speculated this was a signal that some kind of headcount reductions were coming to the eBay marketplace.

Other Marketplace metrics of interest

For sellers, the biggest headline from Q3 is the slowdown in US GMV. Donahoe called out a couple of interesting tidbits on the call:

  • Top Rated Sellers (TRS) was 50% of GMV (conversely non-TRS was 50%) - this is a new high watermark since eBay has been discussing this datapoint.
  • 56% of transactions featured free shipping (44% did not) - another high watermark.
  • Cross-Border-Trade (CBT) - CBT increased 27%, bringing it to 22% of overall GMV.
  • Mobile - Mobile grew 67% y/y and is now 21% of overall GMV.  Specific to the marketplace they said mobile MP volume is up 41% to $7b.
  • Fixed-price grew 15% (in-line with e-commerce).
  • Fixed price is now 79% of GMV.
  • Auctions were a pain point, down 7% .

Action items for sellers from eBay's Q3

This was another really tough quarter for eBay and while we haven't seen Amazon's results for comparison, it's clear that overall the eBay marketplace is losing share.

If you are a seller, your action items from the Q are pretty clear:

  • A diversified strategy with many marketplaces and e-commerce channels is the best protection against any one channel having headwinds.  
  • For ideas of new channels, check out our latest September SSS report. Note that Amazon, 'other 3PM' and Google Shopping/PLA are all growing significantly faster than e-commerce's 15% rate.
  • The 'quadrant' of fixed-price and TRS is where the growth is at eBay - the playing field is tilted heavily this way, so for most sellers it is worth the economic cost hit to be here.
  • Mobile and cross-border-trade (CBT) are big initiatives for eBay so you should try and make sure you are utilizing them by making sure your listings are mobile friendly and that you are experimenting with programs like eBay's Global Shipping Program (GSP) and the UK-based Click and Collect, which appear to be growing much faster than eBay and e-commerce overall.

Next week we will cover the Amazon results on sister site Amazon Strategies.

Scot Wingo wrote this blog post. I am CEO of ChannelAdvisor.

Cyber Five Frenzy: Drop-Shipping Planning & Keyword Refreshes

To help all retailers prepare for the holiday rush, we’ll be kicking our blog into high gear, sharing several holiday preparation tips over the span of the next two months. We want to make sure you’re covered from all angles, so two tips per post — one on digital marketing and one on marketplaces — and two blogs per week. We’ll begin with the tips that take the most time to implement and end with the less complex. Let the prepping commence!

 

Halloween is quickly approaching, and after that, the days leading up to the holidays always cruise by at lightning speed. Little things that can make the world of difference in your business performance tend to drop off your radar during that exciting (yet chaotic) time. To help you prepare for the latter, two steps you can take now are coordinating with your drop shipper and giving your keywords a slight makeover. These simple actions can help ensure that your site and products are populating during a relevant holiday-specific search and that you don’t experience delays on holiday shipments.

Take the rest of this week to make a call to your drop shipper and get your keywords freshened up. You’ll thank us later.

Marketplaces Tip #4: Plan with your drop shipper

Let’s define drop shipping. It’s simply a fulfillment model that allows retailers to buy products individually from a wholesaler and ship them directly to customers. With that being said, now’s the time to start planning with your drop shipper. You don’t want to bear the brunt of a customer’s wrath because your drop shipper dropped the ball. Discuss holiday shipping deadlines and timelines with your drop shipper before the holiday to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

  • Determine your final day to ship.

  • Solidify shipping rates and speeds.

  • Consider adding expedited shipping options (if you don’t offer them already) and prepping warehouses early so they’re ready.

  • Make sure you’re clearly marking last free-shipping days (and last paid-shipping days) within your product listings.

Png;base648d3ada0bba1ec6b1

 

Digital Marketing Tip #4: Get your keywords in order

Out with the old, in with the new. With every change of season, it’s a good habit to sort through current processes and strategies to determine what’s doing well and what could be improved. Your keywords are no exception. Prior to the holidays, make keyword renovations a top priority so your keywords and bids are fresh and ready for the gift-giving season.  

  • Don’t forget to bid on keywords like:

    • Gift ideas for girls/boys

    • Presents for mom/dad

    • Bonus: These keywords can be expensive, so consider using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) to boost your conversion rates. Since these customers are already familiar with your site, they may be more likely to click on an ad served to them for more generic keyword searches.

  • Update your negative keywords! Don’t waste traffic on people searching with words like “free” or “review” in the query.

  • Remember your long tail keywords for shoppers who know exactly what they want. Not only are they cheaper, but they convert better, too.  


These tips can take some time to implement, so put them into action pronto. We always love hearing about your progress as we approach one of the busiest times of year, so feel free to update us in the comments below.

Be on the lookout this Tuesday for our next blog post in our holiday series. We’ll discuss lesser-known marketplaces that should be on your radar, as well as top-notch bidding strategies!


Us-ebook-holiday-checklist-2_LP
Act now to maximize your holiday success later! Here are 8 actionable marketplaces tips included in this holiday checklist.

October 15, 2014

eBay Q3 2014 results preview (seller oriented metrics)

Today  (Wednesday, October 15, 2014),  eBay will announce Q3 2014 results after the market closes (~4:30pm ET).   In this post we preview the Q3 report and provide an overview of what we will be watching for from a seller's perspective.  

ComScore recently reported that US e-commerce grew at 13% y/y for the desktop, which translates to 15% y/y with mobile included, so that is the baseline for Q3 2014 growth.  

Our average y/y Q2 SSS increase for eBay's GMV was 8.2%, which is below the comScore e-commerce benchmark and in-line what Wall St is expecting (8-8.8%).   

eBay’s busy quarter

eBay has had no shortage of excitement recently. Here are the highlights:

  • The biggest news came on September 30th when eBay announced they were splitting off PayPal - here’s our blog post on that and some thoughts at the bottom about how this will ‘work’ for the eBay marketplace.  Also, did you know that PayPal is being spun off with zero debt - leaving the eBay MP with a pretty sizable obligation going forward? 
  • eBay launched their holiday 2014 global brand initiative called “Shop the World” - you can read more here and see the (first?) spot here.
  • Apple surprised the world with Apple Pay - their new payment system that does not play well with PayPal.
  • Alibaba had their record-setting IPO , which isn’t directly related to eBay, but since the IPO, everyone has ‘woken up’ to the threat this global marketplace powerhouse represents to eBay.

eBay Q3 2014 Dashboard

As usual, before the results, we are publishing our dashboard so sellers/retailers can track the relevant pieces of the results:

  Ebay_q3_preview

What else are we looking for?

We'll be watching for these trends and any comments on these topics:

  • eBay has had the new Defect Rate (eDR) system going since August, so 2/3rds of this quarter.  Anecdotally we have heard that many sellers have lost their top rated seller (TRS) designation and we also have seen an increase in sellers being suspended.  eBay reports the % of items from TRS and the TRS SSS growth rates, so we will be following these closely to see if there is any indication of the impact of this program.  Ultimately it impacts GMV (less sellers = less selection = lower conversions = lower sales/GMV), but it’s hard to pick out from the other GMV headwinds (Google, breach, Amazon, etc.)
  • Mobile - eBay hasn't done much new with their mobile strategy on the marketplace side of the house, it will be interesting to see if this strategic area is holding strong or starting to lose some steam.
  • Holiday - Details on how the company feels about Q4 and any plans around the global branding campaign (duration, investment, regions, etc.)
  • Split - I’m sure the Q+A will be dominated by split questions.  We’ll be looking for details around the MP’s position in the split  e.g. will the MP be able to accept non-PayPal payment options (Apple Pay? AliPay?, etc.) 

Stay tuned

Shortly after eBay announces, we will update the dashboard with the actuals to see how they did vs. their guidance, Wall St. expectations and the e-commerce baseline 15% growth rate.

Scot Wingo wrote this blog. He is CEO of ChannelAdvisor.  

EBay Metrics: What You Need to Know

Winston Churchill once said that ‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.’ This is a sentiment that we can also apply to eBay’s metrics, which require regular attention and optimisation. As a retailer, you should be keeping an eye on any changes eBay makes to its metrics so you can stay on top of your e-commerce sales.

The latest changes to eBay seller standards and performance measurement came into effect in August. If you haven’t already, it’s high time to read up on these changes and assess how they could be affecting your business. If you missed our introduction to the eBay Defect Rate blog post, you can read it here. As the festive season approaches, we think it’s worth reviewing these recent changes and what they mean for you.

EBay’s most recent metric update was based on identifying what’s important for buyers and what influences their decision to buy again. The eBay ethos: Sellers that offer great service create better shopping experiences and repeat sales. And it’s these retailers that stand to benefit from updates to seller performance standards.

6a00d83451d7ed69e201a73d8bace5970d-320wiHere’s the lowdown: Among other updates, in 2014 eBay introduced a new way to measure seller performance. The four individual detailed seller rating requirements have been overhauled and replaced by a metric known as the ‘defect rate’. This metric is the percentage of a seller’s successful transactions that have one or more of the following defects:

  • Seller ratings of 1, 2 or 3 for item as described
  • Detailed seller rating of 1 for shipping time
  • Negative or neutral feedback
  • Return initiated for reasons that indicate the item was not as described
  • eBay Money Back guarantee or PayPal purchase protection case opened for item not received or item not as described
  • Seller-cancelled transactions

What Does This Mean for Retailers?

EBay has tried to better balance its seller ratings, and as a result, sellers now have to stay on top of customer feedback across the board. This means identifying and responding to seller issues in a timely fashion and ensuring your product descriptions are on point.

When you receive a negative review, you should aim to get further feedback from buyers and, if need be, react by making changes (such as to your product descriptions). This will help boost future ratings. Likewise, it’s important to flag any ratings you think are unfair.

Ratings for retailers that sell 400 or fewer units per month are backtracked by 12 months, and ratings for retailers with over 400 units are based on feedback from the last three months. So the sooner you put these processes in place, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits of being in the top percentile.

What Are the Targets?

EBay has also changed how it measures these defects. Now, up to 5% of a seller’s transactions can have one or more defect (and now each transaction is counted only once toward your defect rate, regardless of the number of defects associated with it). Those that achieve 2% and below qualify for Top Rated Seller status based on a minimum of five unique buyers. Additionally, eBay considers sellers with 5% and lower to be below standard based on a minimum of eight unique buyers.

What Else Is Different?

Sellers no longer need a 98% positive feedback requirement to earn Top Rated Seller status. Buyers, however, are still able to see this rating, which affects your conversion rates.

Your shipping cost and communication are no longer be counted towards your performance ratings, which protects you from low ratings towards shipping cost. Additionally, cases found in your favour through an eBay or PayPal escalation won’t count towards your performance rating.

If you want to dispute a customer’s feedback, you can request that feedback be removed from eBay under its feedback removal policy.


Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 11.42.28How Do I Deal with Holiday Sales?

  • Extended holiday returns are required for Top Rated statuses on listings (making them eligible for the Top Rated seal and value fee discount). Between 1 November and 31 December, all listings must offer the new extended holiday return option. It’s worth noting that if you don’t offer this extended return, it doesn’t mean you’ll lose your Top Rated Seller status. You’ll just lose the seal and the associated discounts for each item.
  • Like in the past, same-day or one-day handling is required, as well as a 14-day (or more) money back return policy when holiday returns aren’t in effect.
  • Valid tracking numbers must be uploaded within your stated handling time for 90% of all transactions — and must be validated by eBay. This can be any scan in the delivery process, including the final delivery, as long as it falls within your evaluation period.

Why Is The Defect Rate Important?

Your defect rate isn’t visible to buyers, so why should you monitor it? If you maintain a low defect rate, eBay will reward you with an enhanced position in Best Match search results. The better your Best Match ranking, the more likely you are to see an increase in conversions.

Additionally, you can benefit from the 20% final-value fee discounts that eBay offers to Top Rated Sellers. Not too shabby!

5 Tips to Improve Your eBay Metrics

  1. Stay on top of your seller performance: Regularly check your eBay Seller Dashboard to get familiar with your defect rating. Run a report for your defects and investigate why you received them so you can avoid future negatives.
  2. Focus on quality: Conduct a regular audit of your listings to make sure they’re up to date and accurate. If you receive any negative feedback about your product descriptions, use it as an opportunity to rectify any inconsistencies.
  3. Deliver on your shipping promises: Make sure you ship promptly and upload valid tracking details from carriers with scans that eBay can validate.
  4. Excel with customer service: If you receive any complaints or disputes, work hard to resolve them as quickly as possible.
  5. Keep an eye on inventory: Don’t put all the effort into converting a customer only to realise that you don’t have a product in stock. Make sure your inventory numbers are accurate on eBay so you don’t oversell.

If you have any questions about eBay’s metrics, feel free to contact the team at ChannelAdvisor. (After all, Winston may not be able to get back to you!)


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Looking for more practical eBay tips? Check out our eBook about The 10 eBay Mistakes That Are Costing You Sales.

 

 

Blog post by: Nic Dawson, campaign manager, EMEA, at ChannelAdvisor

October 14, 2014

Cyber Five Frenzy: Intelligent Logistics and XML Holiday Sitemaps

To help all retailers prepare for the holiday rush, we’ll be kicking our blog into high gear, sharing several holiday preparation tips over the span of the next two months. We want to make sure you’re covered from all angles, so two tips per post — one on digital marketing and one on marketplaces — and two blogs per week. We’ll begin with the tips that take the most time to implement and end with the less complex. Let the prepping commence!

 

The holiday season can be a wonderful time, but it can also be a season of stress. Shoppers tend to scour the internet for gifts at the lowest cost and with the fastest shipping options. While consumers are searching online for that perfect yet hard-to-find item, you as the retailer need to provide easy access to your products, along with quick delivery options. The last thing any shopper wants during a frantic product search is a slow site that’s hard to navigate. Or even worse: A shopper finally lands on the perfect gift, but the shipping cost is through the roof. To keep shoppers jolly, you need to get smarter about your retail logistics and site structure. Let’s walk through some best practices that could indirectly boost your holiday sales.

Marketplaces Tip #3: Implement intelligent logistics

ChannelAdvisor offers smart fulfillment with Order Management and Prioritized Distribution Centers. We’ll manage your distributed quantity and automatically determine where orders should be routed based on your fulfillment strategy. Fulfilling orders from the distribution center closest to your customer will trim your delivery costs and boost your customer satisfaction ratings.

Digital Marketing Tip #3: Improve SEO with an XML holiday sitemap

To help boost the organic side of your search engine optimization (SEO), consider implementing an XML holiday sitemap.

What’s an XML sitemap, you may ask? It’s a document that helps search engines understand your website — specifically, where things can be found on your site. You can use an XML sitemap to add information about each URL, such as how often the site changes, when the last update occurred and how important the page is versus other pages on the site. When using an XML holiday sitemap, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Include all of your products.

  • Set the priority of holiday products as 0.8 to 1, and set the frequency to daily or weekly.

  • Move non-holiday products as 0.5 to 0.7, and set the frequency to monthly.

  • Make choices: Not everything on your site can be set to 0.8 or greater.

  • Update “last modified” date when new reviews are added to the page (YYYY-MM-DD). Search engines like fresh content.

  • Remove duplicate or canonical pages from your sitemap to avoid having your primary pages dismissed.

  • Make sure your sitemap aligns with your robots.txt. Don’t include pages with 404 errors or redirects.

  • Validate in your sitemap.

  • See the example code below:
    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/MTdN0BQiuv8N4ppUQWSo_a0qpAMoxsJCBWknGrAqHE-7YBvJMn1s1VM_kblOJyG_b9R_Hp9oYaOn-_C2JIc8XNuVpOZju8Ma-xN7zr4V3eh4waFCiTFdCdi7amiERUs4Gg


These tips can take some time to implement, so put them into action pronto. We always love hearing about your progress as we approach one of the busiest times of year, so feel free to update us in the comments below.

Be on the lookout this Thursday for the next blog post in our holiday series. We’ll discuss planning with your drop shipper and getting your keywords in order!


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Act now to maximize your holiday success later! Here are 8 actionable marketplaces tips included in this holiday checklist.

October 09, 2014

Cyber Five Frenzy: Managing Reputation and Optimizing for Google’s Shopping Campaigns

To help all retailers prepare for the holiday rush, we’ll be kicking our blog into high gear, sharing several holiday preparation tips over the span of the next two months. We want to make sure you’re covered from all angles, so two tips per post — one on digital marketing and one on marketplaces — and two blogs per week. We’ll begin with the tips that take the most time to implement and end with the less complex. Let the prepping commence!

 

To be the best, you must first look and act the part! Let’s apply this same logic to the success of your holiday sales. Appearing reputable on third-party marketplaces is a staple for boosting online sales. Also, you want to ensure your digital marketing campaigns are optimized correctly so that you have the most granular data possible. A good reputation leads to sales, sales lead to data and sufficient data can lead to an overall improved e-commerce business. Let’s make sure you’re mastering this beautiful cycle.

Marketplaces Tip #2: Manage your reputation

Today, your online reputation is everything.The internet has provided a massive piece of real estate that can amplify your brand, products and, indirectly, your reputation. We’re going to concentrate on how you’re perceived on marketplaces. Top rated plus

  • EBay has a slew of requirements for attaining Top Rated Seller status (speedy fulfillment, low transaction defect rate, etc.), but the payoff includes better search standing, lower rates and improved buyer confidence. For those looking for extra credit and a fancier badge, Top Rated Plus status is available to sellers that offer a 14-day money back return policy, as well as same-day or one-business-day handling time.     

  • As for Amazon, maintaining your seller performance metrics is essential for making sure you keep your selling privileges (you don’t want to get kicked off Amazon) and increase your seller placement standing. To keep things positive, address slow customer response time or late shipment rates. Also, do your best to prevent negative and neutral feedback before it occurs, and don’t forget to  file disputes with Amazon to have negative product feedback removed from your profile and added to the product page.

 

Digital MarketingTip #2: Make sure you’re optimized for Google’s Shopping Campaigns

Google’s Shopping campaigns are the new campaigns for managing your Product Listing Ads (PLAs). The transition from the former PLA campaign type occurred throughout the summer, and you can check out all the details here.

Google’s Shopping campaigns provide you with more control over how you structure your campaigns, allowing you to organize them as you would a brick-and-mortar store. Shopping campaigns also allow for more accurate reporting and better access to competitive information. Seeing those benefits, however, requires that you first determine how your Shopping campaigns should be structured.  

  • Step 1: Make sure your data feed is in order. Because product attributes are directly matched to search queries, empty data fields could prevent shoppers from seeing your ads. If the standard attribute fields aren’t sufficient for your products, use Custom Labels to organize the additional attributes.

  • Step 2: Map out and build your new campaign structure. To begin, consider the way your webstore is organized. Think about how customers find products on your webstore. Most likely, at the highest level, your products are grouped by categories and brands. Once you’ve developed the campaign structure, ChannelAdvisor’s Product Group Generator can save you valuable time when building your new product groups. The Product Group Generator will also automatically keep new products in sync with your campaign structure as they’re added to the inventory feed.

  • Step 3: Once your campaigns are up and running, check out Google’s new benchmarking tools, such as Benchmark Max Cost Per Click (CPC), which provides insight into how much other advertisers are bidding on products similar to those in your product group. Benchmark Click-Through Rate (CTR) lets you compare your CTR to the rates of your competitors with similar products

These tips can take some time to implement, so put them into action pronto. We always love hearing about your progress as we approach one of the busiest times of year, so feel free to update us in the comments below.

Be on the lookout this Thursday for our next blog post in our holiday series. We’ll discuss implementing intelligent logistics and improving search engine optimization (SEO) with an XML holiday sitemap!


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Want this holiday season to be the one you brag about when you finally get to relax in January? This free eBook contains a checklist of holiday tips and strategies.

October 08, 2014

September 2014 ChannelAdvisor Same Store Sales (SSS) for eBay, Amazon, Search, CSE and other e-commerce channels

Note: This is a monthly feature published by ChannelAdvisor highlighting the Same Store Sales (SSS) across our wide range of thousands of retailers and billions in GMV.  Details on the SSS including background, methodology, disclaimers and the 2014 schedule can be found in this post.  

Today we are releasing September 2014 SSS data for eBay, Amazon,Google Search and Google Shopping/PLA.  ComScore recently reported that US Q3 e-commerce grew at 13% y/y for the desktop which translates to ~15% y/y with mobile included so that is the baseline for Q3 2014 growth.  

 Here are the y/y SSS results for September 2014, the last month of Q3 and the critical 'back to school' period, which propels us into Q4.  Note that there are 51 days until Thanksgiving from the time of this post (October 8, 2014).

September 2014 SSS Results 

  • Amazon - Amazon's September SSS came in at 37.9%, a decrease compared to August's 45.1% .  Even with a decrease from August to September, 37.9% is more than twice the growth rate of e-commerce.  We have Amazon details further in the report.
  • eBay -  eBay's September came in at 8.9% up from August's 5.9%, but below the e-commerce growth rate.  This is the first up-tick in eBay SSS since June and indicates that eBay is recovering from the breach and Google issues. Further in the report, we have details of the eBay internals.
  • Other 3PM -3PM continued strong growth in September coming in at 46.4%.  While this is an increase from the 24.2% recorded in August, these channels are a bit more volatile in m/m performance than larger more established channels.  @46.4%, they are growing 3X the pace of  e-commerce which is quite impressive.
  • CSE - Comparison Shopping Engines came in at 6.6% for September down from August’s 21.1%.  This was largely driven by weakness in the traditional CSE segment that over-shadowed strength in Google Shopping / PLA (details later).
  • Search - Search came in at 28.5% for September an increase from August’s 13.6% y/y growth.  Later in the report we have more search details.

 

 SSS Chart 

The following chart details the SSS data for September 2013 through September 2014: (click to enlarge)

  Sep_14_sss_main_chart


eBay Details

eBay's SSS for September was 8.9%.  To get a feel for what is driving the marketplace's performance, here are the interior data points for the month:

  • eBay auctions - Down 4.1% y/y. 
  • eBay fixed-price - Up 7.6% y/y - an increase from August’s 6.9%, which puts this key part of eBay growing about half the pace of e-commerce.
  • eBay Motors  (parts and accessories) - P+A  increased in September coming in at 14.7% compared to August’s 8.4%.  This brings P+A's growth rate in-line with e-commerce.

Looking at the data, we continued to see weakness in the golf category (details later) and also the electronics category.  Digging into this, what we are seeing is big y/y declines in those categories for sellers with used items.  As we've covered in detail on this blog, the new eBay Defect Rate (eDR) is now active.  It seems a consequence of this new system is that sellers of used/refurbished items are having to significantly reduce their inventory and it has created a headwind on SSS for August and September.  Note that our customer base most likely over-indexes for this category of sellers.

Interestingly, Amazon has added several features to embrace the used/refurb category and we are seeing a clear share move from eBay to Amazon in this category.

 Here are the TTM (trailing twelve month) trends on these eBay internals.  (click to enlarge)

Sep_14_sss_ebay_details




Amazon Details

In June 2014, we released two new data points around FBA:

  • Percent FBA - This measures the % of Amazon GMV through the ChannelAdvisor system that was fulfilled through FBA and tracks it on a y/y basis.  For September 2014, 35% of Amazon GMV was FBA.  That was up from September 2013 where 30.2% of the GMV was FBA.  That's a 15.7% increase y/y in FBA as a % of GMV.  
  • %FBA non Amazon - Here we look at the total bucket of FBA-driven GMV and look at the % that was not fulfilled for Amazon sales (website, other 3PMs, Search, CSE, etc.).  In September 2013, 1.4% was non-Amazon fulfilled.  Then in September 2014, we saw this grow 14.5% to 1.6%.

Sep_14_amzn_details

Supplemental data for Search

Here are the September Search internals: (click to enlarge)


Sep_14_sss_search_details



Note: these are all y/y SSS comparisons (September 2014 vs. September 2013).

Search SSS increased 28.5% for September.  The search increase from August to September was driven by increases in clicks (up 8%), AOV (which was up to $156.14, a 15% y/y increase) and Conversion Rate (CR) improved 3% to 3.17%.   CPC was flat at $.44 due to the headwind of mobile traffic.  Total cost was up 9% because of the delta between CPC and CR.  The AOV move is a bit unusual and historically AOV has moved in concert with consumer spending.  Decreasing fuel costs, improved perception of the economy and lack of inflation are all factors.

Supplemental data for Google Shopping

In September 2012, we introduced a new set of data around Google Shopping.  Here is the September Google Shopping/Product Listing Ad supplemental data:

Sep_14_sss_google_shopping

Overall, Google Shopping came in at 45.2% y/y increase, a decrease from August's 54.3%.   The Conversion rate was up y/y 6.6% from 2.09% to 2.23%, and (as with search) AOV increased 33.9% from $93.50 to $125.17 .  This is likely due to the improved consumer outlook as well as Google tweaking the algorithm to continue to show higher priced goods.

 Golf update

In May we provided a look into the golf category that has been quite popular with our golf customers.  In September, we saw eBay decline to .8% y/y SSS compared to August's 5.8%.   Amazon also declined to 39% from August's 63.1%.  The used/refurb product is a 25-33% chunk of the golf category and the trends we mentioned in the eBay details section (eBay pushing away used/refurb, Amazon embracing) were reflected in the golf data as well.

 

The following table and chart illustrate the 2014 YTD trends for the golf category from a SSS perspective.

  Sep_14_sss_golf_table

Sep_14_sss_golf_chart

Conclusion 

September was a strong finish for the channels we track. Amazon, Google PLAs, 3PMs and Search grew materially faster than the 15% e-commerce baseline growth rate.  eBay and traditional CSEs were under pressure, with parts of eBay showing m/m SSS improvements.  

NRF's online division: Shop.org just released their holiday forecast calling for 8-11% y/y growth in online sales vs. 4% for all of retail.  Forrester is calling for 15.5% growth (US) and IMRG in the UK is calling for 17% growth this holiday.  After our October monthly report, we'll be going into heavy peak season mode, so stay tuned.

This blog post was written by Scot Wingo, CEO, ChannelAdvisor.