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April 06, 2008

Confusion abounds over eBay's new International visibility offering

In late March, Stephanie Tilenius announced a new listing upgrade called the "International Site Visibility Upgrade".  At Catalyst I mentioned this to many sellers that I know have large sales outside the US and none of them had heard of it.  Those that had heard of it were confused (as was I) about how it works.

Background

In the past eBay has always fiddled with cross-site listing (second only behind stores listings).  If you listed in the US, sometimes your items would show up in the UK 'core results' and other times they wouldn't.  Lately eBay has stopped this practice and now puts non-local results below core results in a little box that's below core and then store results called something like "X items found from eBay international sellers like this for example (click to enlarge):

International_exposure

The "ebay international sellers" results only pop up when there are very few search results so the bottom line is that as a US seller you get very little UK exposure.

Any buyer can go into advanced search results and change those to see a more global view of the results.  For example, if we take the search from the above example done in the UK and turn on 'worldwide sellers' vs. the default of UK only (the other choice is EU), then we see the result that was previously in the "international sellers" segment fully integrated:

International_exposure2

Because of the limited exposure of US items in the UK, many sellers maintain separate UK selling accounts.  This allows them to list in a more local format and also to provide better shipping information for UK buyers.  This last point is VERY important in the world of DSRs so let me be clear.  When you list natively to the US site and your item shows in the UK, eBay converts your price to pounds and then usually says 'see listing'.  I'm sure there's some way with the eBay shipping calculator to show shipping in pounds, but as I've said most sellers avoid the eBay shipping calculator like the plague so I don't see that as a viable option.

Enter the International Visibility upgrade
Now eBay is offering a new listing upgrade (one seller at Catalyst noted that this is kind of like listing in two categories and paying a fee for extra exposure, but this is for two eBay sites and not categories - which is a great analogy) that is tiered based on star price:

  • 10 cents for items under $10
  • 20 cents for items $10-$49.99
  • 40 cents for items greater than $50

This upgrade is only available for US+Canada sellers that want to pay to show in the UK and to UK/IE sellers that want to show in the US/Canada.

Note that US items will still show up in canada and I believe that UK items will still show in IE, so think of this fee as working 'cross-pond' vs. 'intra-continent'.

How does this change your strategy?
This new feature goes live in May and my current sense is that it probably isn't worth it for most sellers because of the shipping and handling mess.  I'd say the strategy of continuing to list across two different seller IDs is probably the best strategy for now.  Also it's our belief that non US buyers rate US sellers at a .2-.5 lower stars so the nice benefit of breaking out your UK sales into a separate ID are that you can keep those lower DSR stars isolated to that UK ID and not pollute your US ID where you'll probably save more with the discounts.

What do you think?
This is a confusing new option - does anyone have questions?  Do you disagree with my assessment on the change to strategy?  If so, why? Sound off in comments.

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