eBay Live 2008 Ends With A Whimper But Lives on in YouTube. And, New Policies for Sellers That Require Action Now

Let’s face it. We all wish that Elvis, the Beatles and Frank Sinatra were still with us –but they’re not. And neither is the old eBay we knew and loved. Everything changes and eBay is no different.

Before I get started let me clear something up.  A lot of people have complained that I don’t post their responses to my blog posts.  Unfortunately this blog is not moderated and posting is turned off. I would love to do this, but the simple truth is that I just don’t have the time. If you want to comment or ask a question, please go to my home page (www.skipmcgrath.com). Scroll to the bottom where you will find a contact form.

Now, Let’s get started. I have been to every eBay Live since the first one in Anaheim that fit in the space of a small hotel ballroom. For us eBay Live was an annual chance to meet and greet our readers, network with other sellers, get first-hand info from third party providers, see new products and services first hand –and most importantly, to recharge our eBay batteries.  This year we couldn’t find a place to plug in.
Signs of eBay cost cutting were evident everywhere. There were fewer eBay employees in attendance, fewer events with food and drink, lower cost entertainment, fewer vendors on the show floor, fewer seminars, fewer promotional items –in general less of everything. The cost cutbacks were most evident at last night’s gala.
The eBay applause tunnel was wider and shorter, the food simpler (lasagna and chicken), no more massage chairs, only one on-floor game, no more performance art and lower cost entertainment (a juggling group and Chris Izacks).  I heard eBay batting around numbers like 10,000 attendees at eBay Live.  Sorry but I never saw them. I am not an expert at judging crowd sizes, but I think 6-7000 would be a generous estimate and the gala had fewer than that.
To be fair, the slow economy and high fuel costs probably contributed, but as I look back, eBay’s own promotion of the event this year seemed lacking when compared to previous years.
I think that was a mistake on eBay’s part.  Given all the controversy and hard feelings from sellers over eBay’s new policies, this was not the year to cut back.  The whole point of eBay live is a seller appreciation event. Since eBay decided to cancel the 2009 event they could have used that money to make this year’s event bigger and better.
Many of the meetings where sellers were allowed to ask questions were highly contentious.  eBay is probably wishing that they had banned video cameras. Members were filming the meetings and putting the clips on YouTube within minutes.  Just go to YouTube and search eBay Live 2008. Some of the videos are really shocking.
There was plenty of news –and new policies announced and clarified. Some of them require quick action by sellers. Let’s look at a few.
First some good news for newer and smaller sellers
All sellers – now only 3 DSR ratings needed in 30 days for promotion in Best Match search results
eBay will elevate listings in Best Match for sellers with a 4.7 or higher across all four DSRs. To qualify for this boost in exposure, sellers have needed at least 10 DSRs left by buyers in the previous 30 days. (Without this minimum number, a seller’s listings would receive normal exposure.)
eBay listened to lower-volume sellers – that this bar was set too high. Now, sellers with DSRs of 4.7 or more will only need 3 DSRs left in the past 30 days to have their listings promoted. You can check your Seller Dashboard to see if your items are getting extra exposure in search.
eBay will soon make it impossible to email members directly  who ask questions with anonymous email forwarding

Starting in September eBay will “anonymize” email addresses sent through the member-to-member communication system (Ask Seller a Question, Reply to Question). eBay will replace the sender’s email address in the “From” field with a temporary anonymous address, and replies will be routed through eBay for processing prior to delivery. In turn, when recipients hit the “reply” button, their email address is also replaced with a temporary email address, which will then be routed through eBay before being sent to the original sender. And, starting in September, email addresses will no longer be allowed in listing descriptions. I asked the folks at Trust & Safety if we could put our direct email address in the body of the email, but they said they didn’t know.  I suspect that emails through eBay will not allow URLs or email addresses.
Required soon – Specified shipping, return policy, item condition, & handling time:

Starting in July, sellers will be required to specify their shipping cost and services. Then later this fall, sellers will also be required to specify : item condition (whether the item is new or used), your handling time (how long it will take you to put the item in the mail), and whether or not you offer a return policy, and if so, what the terms are.
More rewards for PowerSellers
eBay did add some new PowerSeller rewards to further encourage and top performing sellers:

  • PowerSellers with 4.9 or higher across all four DSRs will receive a 20% discount on their final value fees.
  • PowerSellers may now receive savings of up to 23% of UPS Ground Daily Rates in addition to the current UPS Special Savings Program for eBay sellers.

Now the bad news for small to medium sellers: It looks like eBay will abandon the “Level playing field concept.” Until now, eBay has always rebuffed pleas from large sellers for volume discounts. In the latest announcement by Jim Ambach’s replacement, Dinesh Lathi, eBay created a new Power Seller level called the Diamond level.  The Diamond level is for PowerSellers with $500,000 or 50,000 items in sales a month, who also maintain 4.8s or above across all their DSRs
Dinesh announced that eBay may consider “alternative fee structures”  (i.e. discounts) for Diamond PowerSellers. Consideration for alternative fee structures will be made on a case by case basis. This has already happened with Buy.com who sells on eBay under the user ID, Buy. The effect of this –offering lower listing fees to large sellers means more items from large sellers that could potentially swamp listings in certain categories –especially media (books, movies, music, etc.)
Here is A quick “listing update” checklist from Dinesh’s announcement:

    1. Remove any links to 3rd-party sites to stay in compliance with recent updates to eBay’s Links Policy (Read eBay’s previous announcement for details).
    2. Specify shipping, return policy, item condition & handing time in the specified fields. This information will be required soon so now’s the time to get started.
    3. Remove any email addresses from your listing descriptions by September.

So we are heading for the airport and home. I have started on my next newsletter and am trying to get it out by next Wednesday. So stay tuned and look for my next email.  If you haven’t subscribed, just go to https://www.skipmcgrath.com/newsletters to sign up. It’s free, and we don’t spam our readers and rent or sell their names.

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