2007 and eBay prohibits the use of Google Checkout on eBay. EBay sellers attending the eBay Live party are invited to attend a Google live event entitled the “Google Checkout Freedom Party”
EBay cancels all U.S advertising on Google
Google backs down and cancels the party
This would appear to suggest some tension between the two companies.
2008 and eBay introduce a new search algorithm on its sales platform called “best match” So you thought you could just list your “stuff” and it would appear on an equal footing with other listings? Think again. Best match appears to work in much the same way as Google’s search algorithm accept, of course, there is no page ranking as generally eBay listings do not have in-bound links.
Listings that rank well and so do well in eBay searches are generally those listed by Power sellers and more recently “Top rated sellers” (TRS) who must maintain a very high standard of selling which is judged by buyers who rank sellers not only with a feedback system but with a series of 1 to 5 star ratings called “Detailed Seller Ratings” (DSRs) Your DSR’s fall below 4.6 and it’s EBay’s equivalent of Google’s sandbox for your listings.
Of course this system is weighted very much in favour of the large sellers on eBay selling hundreds of items a day. If they get a few low DSRs they’re diluted by the huge number of high ones they’ll get. Even negative feedback comments don’t mean much to a seller with a feedback count in tens of thousands. To the small seller, however, one bad rating can see their visibility reduced and even their account suspended.
Very similar to a webmaster being penalised by Google for “black hat” techniques which sees their website visibility reduced or even de-indexed. This topic is covered widely on Googles forum “Webmaster Central” as well as EBay’s forum including the rather lively Q&A board which, interestingly is about to be retired and replaced with “Seller Central”
Google has now introduced its new search; “ Instant” where it guesses what the searcher is going to type before it is actually entered. To see how impartial this is let’s take a look at the default Google alphabet.
A is for Argos, Amazon, Asda, Asos, a
B is for BBC, BBC news, BBC weather, BBC Sport, b
C is for Currys, Comet, CBBC, Cineworld, c
D is for Debenhams, Daily Mail, DVLA, Dictionary, d
E is for eBay, Easyjet, Expedia, ebuddy, e
F is for Facebook, Facebook login, FRIV, First Choice,
G is for Google maps, Gmail, Gumtree, Games, g
H is for Hotmail, HSBC, Homebase, Halford, h
I is for ITV, Ikea, iPlayer, IMDB, i
J is for John Lewis, Jobcentre Plus, Jane Norman, Jobs, j
K is for KLM, KFC, Kwik Fit, Karen Millen, k
L is for Lotto, Lloyds TSB, Lottery results, Lidl, l
M is for MSN, Maps, Matalan, Miniclip, m
N is for Next, New Look, Natwest, National Rail, n
O is for O2, Orange, Odeon, Office, o
P is for Paypal, PC World, Play, Primark, p
Q is for QVC, Quidco, Quiz, Quotes, q
R is for Rightmove, Ryanair, River Island, Royal Mail, r
S is for Sky, Sky news, Sky Sports, Skype, s
T is for Tesco, TFL, The Sun, Topshop, t
U is for Utube, UCAS, UK Top 40, UFC, u
V is for Virgin, Vodafone, Virgin Media, Very, v
W is for Weather, Wikipeida, Wickes, We7, w
X is for Xbox, Xe, Xbox Live, Xfm, x
Y is for YouTube, Yahoo, Yahoo mail, yell, y
Z is for Zara, Zoopla, Zumba, Zizzi, z
OK no reference to eBay there then, or PayPal or Gumtree in fact hardly any brands at all.
Recent news reports suggests that many shops in the UK are now lying empty with Altrincham in the North West topping the figures at 30%. There’s no doubting we are facing difficult financial times but is that really all that is destroying our high streets.
Over the last few years on-line retailing has grown exponentially with retailers like Tesco, Argos and John Lewis make huge in-roads into on-line sellers and sites such as eBay and Amazon growing massively.
But is everything as it seems, is the world of on-line selling a level playing field or is it about to become a mirror image of our high streets where the huge supermarkets dominate and the small shopkeeper is squeezed out.
Let’s start by looking at eBay, and let’s look at how eBay started out. You’ve probably read how eBay was created by Pierre Omidyar for his fiancée Pam Wesley who collected Pez dispensers. Pam commented how it would be great if she could trade her dispensers in one place. EBay was born; in the words eBay’s PR chief “as a kind of love token” This story got eBay lots of publicity in publications like The New Yorker and The Wall Street Times. The story has been re-counted many times on both sides of the Atlantic helping turn eBay into one of the internet’s gold rush companies.
It’s a nice story, but like so many other of the humble “I started out in a garage” start up tales, it’s not true. It is a tale invented by the PR chief to gain publicity for the company and a tale which hoodwinked many well respected journalists.
EBay has grown over the years and has become dominant in the on-line auction sector, if you have something to sell and want to sell it on-line where do you go? Yes there are other sites but none has the traffic that eBay has in the UK and worldwide. So is eBay a fair place to sell? And is there an eBay agenda for on-line selling in the future.
In 2008 eBay introduced the mandatory acceptance of Pay Pal as a method of payment, Pay Pal is an on-line payment processing company owned by eBay. This move had ebayers the world over up in arms but also brought in complaints from other businesses and banks citing reduced competition and the fact that users would have to agree to the new terms or leave the marketplace.
In Australia the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission received numerous complaints about the eBay/PayPal tie in but one complaint is particularly interesting. The ACCC publish details of submitted complaints on their website. One such complaint was a 38 page pdf submitted in word format. The doc was entitled “ACCC Submission by Google re eBay Public 2.DOC.” The file was removed from the site and re-posted with a new title. PayPal does not have to be offered on eBay.au now, but it remains compulsory in the UK. Google offers its own checkout option “Google Checkout”
Whilst PayPal may be a convenient form of accepting payment, it offers no facility for eBay items which are purchased and then collected in person. In the event of a buyer submitting a dispute to PayPal for an item not being received (INR) PayPal will look to the seller to provide proof of delivery via on-line tracking, no other proof will be accepted. On-line tracking, of course, will not be available if you’ve sold your sofa on eBay and the buyer has paid via PayPal and collected in person. Some say, that this system could easily be tweaked with the introduction of a PIN system whereby the buyer, at point of collection, enters a PIN number into the seller’s PayPal account proving collection. At this point nothing has been done to correct this oversight and eBay sellers constantly run the risk of INR claims on collected items. But is this really an oversight or do eBay/PayPal really not want these small time sellers? Would they really prefer eBay to be entirely an on-line experience, perfect for big sellers such as Argos.
Other recent changes to eBay would certainly suggest that this is the case.
To be continued..