Founded in 1995 as Auction Web, eBay has changed a lot more than its name since then. Once a strictly auction marketplace for knick knacks and memorabilia, eBay has become one of the top opportunities for retailers (of all sizes) to reach customers. There are over 128 million active users on eBay and millions are joining every quarter. Why the rush?
Sellers and buyers are moving to eBay in droves because of its market size and focus on providing the optimal seller experience. Amazon sells its own inventory on its website, but eBay does not cannibalize any of its sellers’ sales. And the strategy seems to be paying off: eBay’s net profit grew 9% to 2.86B in 2013.
So what strategies should sellers use to increase their profitability? It’s a vast and diverse marketplace and in order to be successful like eBay, you must train and think like eBay, young grasshopper. The first step is to address is your…
eBay wants every person who logs on and shops to enjoy the experience from selection to delivery, so eBay punishes sellers who it believes decrease the chances of developing a loyal customer. To ensure that no shopper leaves eBay unhappy, eBay buries those sunk in negative and neutral reviews at the bottom of the page.
There are three levels sellers can attain on eBay.
First is becoming a Power Seller. This recognition comes in different varieties based on your yearly GMV totals, but mainly denotes that you meet 4.6/5 across the board for your Detailed Seller Ratings customer service score. With simple perks, such as priority customer support and account management assistance, you have to crawl before walking and running.
After becoming a Power Seller, the next rung up the ladder is becoming a Top-Rated Seller. To become Top-Rated, consistency is key. 98% of your feedback needs to be free from negative or neutral feedback, seller-initiated cancelled transactions, or any 1-star Detailed Seller Rating. Meet these requirements, and enjoy premium placement on searches and discounts in fees.
Reaching the pinnacle on eBay is becoming a Premium Seller. You have to climb to reach the top, though. And hustling for 24-hour handling and allowing for 30-day hassle-free returns is the only way to get there. That sounds burdensome, but there is no reason sellers should ignore the option, if attainable.
So if customer service and lots of positive feedback are the key to success on eBay, that’s great. The only question now is, how does one get all of those sales in the first place? Well by mastering the…
Cassini Search Engine
eBay’s search engine software weighs various factors when pulling up a product in response to a buyer’s search. Dubbed ‘Project Cassini,’ eBay implemented the search engine to satisfy all possible preferences a buyer has when shopping. The Cassini search engine algorithm considers four areas, the importance of each weighted based on individual buyers’ preferences.
- Trust: As laid out above, being a trustworthy seller is what eBay, and its search engine, values above all else. Don’t expect to rank very highly on any general search without a trust verification from eBay
- Convenience: Again, eBay wants every customer to painlessly find, order, and receive any product. To be convenient for eBay, focus on offering the most navigable web front just as much as providing hassle-free logistics
- Value: It is fairly intuitive, but cheaper products will likely appear higher in searches than premium counterparts. If for no other reason than to show customers the range of price points.
- Relevance: The other aspects may be more valuable, but relevance is a nonstarter. eBay will crack down on squatting on irrelevant keywords, so effort would be better spent compiling a list of your long-tail search terms.
Providing quality customer service and optimizing for search are skills applicable to any-sized marketplace or a personal webstore. Your success on eBay is dependent on a wide variety of factors–luckily for you, they are all in your control. From pricing to search placement, little things can make big differences for your online store.
Contributing Author: Jack Symington