Friday, January 27, 2012

Amazon Listings Have New Facebook and Twitter Share Buttons

I was listing some stuff to amazon today and noticed that when you finish your listing, amazon now shows a Facebook and Twitter share buttons:

Sunday, January 22, 2012 Customers Need to Download Version 9.5 for Media Mail or Parcel Post

I just got this email from sure to download the new version if you are mailing out Media Mail or Parcel Post!

Dear Customer,


As of January 22nd, all customers wishing to print Media Mail or Parcel Post mail classes with Delivery Confirmation will need to download the latest version of our software. To download the latest version (Version 9.5) go to

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact us toll-free at 888-434-0055, Monday-Friday, 6 AM to 6 PM Pacific Time, or you can use our online support at


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Terapeak Makes Changes to eBay Research Tool; a Q & A

Data mining tool Terapeak recently made changes to its Terapeak for eBay Research tool, which it says were a direct result of feedback from users. New features users will see (other than a whole new interface!) include more filters, such as more filters for Item Aspects and Condition (New, Used, NWOT/New Without Tags, etc.).

I use the Terapeak tool a lot to dig up historical eBay sales data for items I am selling, or thinking of selling. So I did a brief Q & A with Terapeak Director of Marketing & Communications Tim Dubroy, to see what was up with the new interface.

Q: What are the most significant changes Terapeak made to its eBay research interface, and how will it most benefit users?

A: The biggest change is the workflow model we have chosen. More simply, we have made it easier to access the features that are essential to getting fast, accurate results. For example, now as soon as you search for an item, we bring up relevant subcategories right under the search bar, helping users get to accurate results fast. Also all the filters such as "time of day" or "listing type" are now accessible in the same place as the subcategory so you can set every relevant parameter and get
your results quickly.

Also perhaps more interesting...we now have aspects and conditions data! What that means is we can now allow a user to filter on the condition ie. new vs. used or "aspect" such as brand. This is essential to getting the most narrow and accurate result when doing pricing research.

Q: Why did Terapeak decide to make these changes?

A: We made these changes almost 100% in reaction to user feedback. We call this "Terapeak 9.0: The eBay Research Tool that Sellers Made" because just about every noticeable change was made to answer our users' requests for new functionality or layout.

I asked Tim how far back the data could go. I was under the mistaken impression I could only get 90 days of data.

A: We have had 1 year of data available to our users for almost 2 years now. We allow users to search any time period going back 365 days in 90 day chunks. We have
updated our interface to make that longer search easier to do. Now you just click the date range bar, click custom, and a calendar pops up allowing you to easily chose the time period you'd like to research. And also, if you want to look at just trend data, you can go back 2 years!

Thanks for your time, Tim! I plan to be doing a lot of that.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

John Donahoe Shares eBay Factoids at 2012 CES; 890,000 New eBay Shoppers, and a Seller Reacts

Some factoids dribbled out of the 2012 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Keynote Speech, given by eBay CEO John Donahoe. I wish I could have been there, though...would be nice to get a sense of what the room was like and how they reacted to Donahoe's speech. Did they laugh? Did he make any jokes? Or say anything other than this litany of statistics?

Here's a list of the metrics I found interesting, in descending order (thanks to Ina Steiner's EcommerceBytes coverage, TechCrunch, and other sources). I'll give you my take on these stats as an eBay seller.

- Over 890,000 new eBay shoppers made their first purchase through the company's mobile apps in 2011, a 113% increase year-over-year.

My take: That's good. I could certainly use more sales. Can you make sure they're shoppers who actually pay, so I don't have to go through the filing-a-case rigamarole?

- eBay reached $5 billion in mobile GMV ("gross merchandise volume") in 2011, meaning shoppers bought $5 billion in goods from eBay sellers using mobile devices. eBay is predicting it will reach $8 billion in mobile GMV in 2012.

I like that. I hope that helps eBay's stock price.

- "There's a 'new normal' for retail in which consumers engage where, when and how they shop across channels. He noted that technology trends - mobile, local, social, and digital - are changing how people shop and therefore how retailers must compete...e.g., eBay's RedLaser barcode scanning app was updated last fall to include integration from PayPal and Milo Local offering users the ability to buy now for either in-store pick-up or home delivery later. And he announced that Best Buy was RedLaser's newest partner to offer local in-store pickup."

Hmmmmm. I've got the obligatory smartphone, a 4GS. I'm not sure I will be using it for in-store pickup of anything. I hate in-store pickup. That's one reason I like to shop online so much, because I hate going to the store. As a matter of fact, the last time I went to the grocery store, someone in the next lane over dropped a ginormous bottle of Yellow Tail red wine, chunks of glass flew, and blood-red liquid crawled all across the floor in the direction of my (fortunately rubber-soled) boots. "John, Cleanup in aisle 7!" yelled the checker. Several minutes passed. "John, Cleanup in aisle 7!" Then, "Bobby, cleanup in aisle 7!" Nada. Finally I gingerly stepped over shards of glass, unrolled some brown paper towels that were sitting there on the checkout stand, and carefully started sopping up.

All right, I'll give this RedLaser app thing a try. But what I'd really like in an eBay app is a selling app that makes it as easy to list an item on eBay as it is on amazon.

Let's not forget PayPal.

- PayPal reached $4 billion in mobile payment volume last year - and projected the online payments unit would reach $7 billion in mobile TPV this year.

That's cool. PayPal is making money, and it sounds like it will be making even more money. I don't actually have the problems with PayPal other sellers seem to have. I know they need to take their cut. I just hope the cut doesn't start creeping up on us.

So (some) eBay stats are growing, PayPal's growing, more people are using cell phones to shop, blah blah blah. Can we think of some ways to make eBay more fun again, and help more people on the Internet find our listings?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Google to add google Plus social networking results to search

So it just came out today that Google is making one of the biggest changes ever to its search: adding results from its social networking site, google plus/circles.

So how can eBay sellers capitalize on that? For one thing, posting more about their items to their google plus account. But not too much. Here's one for the Winston churchill fans out there:

eBay Creating Social Media Toolkit for Sellers

eBay employee Andrew Zager Chase recently showed up in one of the eBay-related Facebook groups I belong to, saying he is working on creating a "social media playbook/ toolkit for sellers." He says he is scheduled to have it ready soon, and will be posting links.

Meantime, eBay sellers in the group were all abuzz with questions and comments about the social media integration issue, especially with tweeting and posting their eBay listings to Facebook. How much tweeting/posting was too much; should it be done on your social feed or only on your business "fan" page, and would there be a way to track views or sales coming to eBay from those social media venues?

One seller said, "If we were able to use Google Analytics on our eBay listings that would be it stands media is, for me, cute, but ineffective for eBay sellers."

When asked how sellers can best track when buyers from Facebook & Twitter are driven to their eBay listing (and potentially purchase), Chase responded, "There is not a very good way today. I am working on creating more analytics around social shares right now."

Another seller posted about the problem of Facebook users getting annoyed by posted general, there seemed to be thoughts that one should post eBay listings in moderation, if at all, in their Facebook social feed. "eBay and fb have an agreement to allow listing of auctions/fixed price offerings, i.e. the 'f' button on listings...yet I get alot of pushback from fb users saying that we shouldn't be posting listings...had one in fact from one of my cousins 2 weeks ebay and/or facebook going to do any road paving in this area such as public relations convincing fb users that we are not invading heir social media escape from reality?"

Chase responded that "I think this is a discussion among more folks than just eBay and facebook. Frankly - the rules of engagement are being written every day. That being said, most folks use facebook socially, not necessarily in a retail way. I think the way to win will be to engage users in a non-invasive way.

"Personally, I like my feed to have updates from friends I follow and news updates. When I want shopping info, I go to the brand. I don't really want to be sold a new item every time I log in."

I would agree with this; I don't want to spam my facebook friends. I may on occasion post a link to Facebook to a special item that I want to comment on otherwise. But I'm very mindful of not ticking off Facebook friends, lest I lose them.

Another eBayer said that although the Facebook and Twitter shares are encouraged with the icons on eBay, "I get alot of pushback from fb users saying that we shouldn't be posting listings...had one in fact from one of my cousins 2 weeks ago."

But Anthony Cicalese ( said he has made sales from his personal facebook page, e.g. "Posting on my personal fb page that I have the new glee CD resulted in a quick 3 sales from friends & family members who otherwise never would have asked me for it." But he said now he focuses on his business fb page, "and I send out messages to my followers/customers."

About the Twitter and Facebook icons which appear on eBay listings, Chase said, "We are trying to increase the size of those buttons, as well as sharing options. As far as the share itself goes - it is beneficial to all. It is absolutely allowed, and both eBay and (I assume) Facebook support it. Your cousin perhaps doesn't - I'm sure he will learn about the filtering options soon enough."

Kathy Keefe ( said when she tweets listings, she always includes hashtags... "...and in my own testing with and without tweeting the difference in views can be up to 100 or more."

In response to a seller who said eBay does not have to be so afraid of off-eBay links, and he had not had much success getting his customers to move off eBay to his store, Chase said, "I think eBay has been scared to allow off eBay links primarily because of fraud isues. But with PayPal and expansion of the eBay properties (Magento, GSI, Where, RedLaser, etc) - I personally think the choice should lie with the buyer. If as a buyer I want eBay protection- I will buy on eBay. If I know and trust the seller and want to transact off eBay- then so be it. eBay (corp) wins because with the quality of our offerings- we create a compelling suite for commerce. Buyers win with choice. Merchants win with quality transactions."

So..stay tuned for how eBay supports sellers with social media tools!

Amazon Changing Its Long-Term Storage Fee

I just got the following letter from re: changes being made to its FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) long-term storage fee: In a nutshell, it's decreasing the fee from $45 per cubic foot to $22.50 per cubic foot, but will now charge it twice a year. (I'm scratching my head over that one; does it benefit them to spread out this charge somehow?)

Below is the letter:

Dear FBA Seller,

Fulfillment by Amazon's (FBA’s) next inventory cleanup will take place on February 15, 2012. As communicated previously, on that date, and each six months thereafter, FBA will assess an upfront, Long-Term Storage Fee on inventory that has been in our fulfillment centers for 365 days or more.

Please note the following changes to the Long-Term Storage Fee. The fee will be decreased effective February 15, 2012, from $45.00 per cubic foot to $22.50 per cubic foot, but will now be charged twice a year. However, Units that were charged a Long-Term Storage Fee on August 15, 2011, will not be charged a Long-Term Storage Fee on February 15, 2012.

Learn more about FBA Long-Term Storage.

To see a list of your inventory by age, as well as to begin the removal process, go to the Recommended Removals Report (sign in required). The data shown in this report is the authoritative source for Units of inventory that should be removed to avoid Long-Term Storage fee charges on February 15, 2012.

The Fulfillment by Amazon Team

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Facebook, Please Bring Back Ability to Send Note with a Friend Request

Note to Facebook: Can you please bring back the ability to add a "note" to someone when sending them a friend request?

I'm not sure what the benefit was of taking this feature away. I find it extremely useful to explain to someone why I am friend-requesting them, whether it's to remind them who I am from days of yore, that I am contacting them about an article I am writing, or other.

Apparently the ability to "message" someone first is still there, but I still think it would be useful to have as a component of a friend request.

What do you think about this issue...should Facebook bring this back? Is it something you miss?

On a positive note, I am looking forward to the new Timeline feature. It was positively reviewed by Melissa Bell of The Washington Post, and I am pysched to see how it pans out (at this writing, it is still rolling out to selected members).

Friday, January 6, 2012

A recent post on the Regretsy blog - ("Where DIY Meets WTF"), which I read about in one of Ina Steiner's EcommerceBytes posts (, has generated a lot of discussion. It shows an email from a seller who was devastated that PayPal ordered her buyer to destroy an antique violin, due to the buyer's questions about its authenticity:

This prompted a flood of comments, both on the Regretsy blog itself, the EcommerceBytes blog (, and other places including the eBay Clothing Discussion Board.

It raises questions in my mind, and those of other sellers, especially those who sell high-end goods where questions of authenticity arise. Who is to decide the issue of whether or not an item is authentic or not? Especially in esoteric niches such as antique violins. It seems to me in these situations where there is doubt, there needs to be a careful evaluation of the item...I'm not sure what that would be, but one idea would be for the item to be seen by an expert evaluator, or photos could even be uploaded to an online appraisal/authentication service such as

Quoting the violin seller from the Regretsy blog:


"I sold an old French violin to a buyer in Canada, and the buyer disputed the label.

"This is not uncommon. In the violin market, labels often mean little and there is often disagreement over them. Some of the most expensive violins in the world have disputed labels, but they are works of art nonetheless.

"Rather than have the violin returned to me, PayPal made the buyer DESTROY the violin in order to get his money back. They somehow deemed the violin as “counterfeit” even though there is no such thing in the violin world."


I had a similar nerve-wracking experience of an eBay buyer questioning the authenticity of a high-end handbag I sold her. I was totally confident of its being genuine; had bought it from an expert in that brand, and also checked all the marks and construction against a detailed authenticity guide.

However, I was sweating bullets because as a buyer, she seemed to have all the power, and I was in jeopardy of having my 100% positive feedback rating destroyed. I assured her of all the points to check that would allay her fears about its being a fake, and suggested she take it to a local boutique for this brand where they could confirm the authenticity.

It worked out OK; she ended up keeping the bag, and not questioning it further, but in my mind it highlighted a problem.

Some of the comments about the situation that are going through the online selling forums world:

- From the Regretsy Blog comments:

- "I have never really used F***(you)Pal, so I have a question about the “buyer potection” thing. Is this something that you’re “enrolled” in automatically? Or is it something you have to “agree” to? Because, FyP is a third party, and has no way of authenticationg ANYTHING, nor, does it seems to me, that they have the right to demand that someone destroy property that they have not paid for,and that the seller can’t replace, especially if they aren’t given any options.

- "I have also been ripped off by paypal in this manner. I sold some Frank Miller books and the buyer sent me some her random books back and claimed I ripped her off. So she kept the nice books and got her money back. I told Paypal she sent me back crap books but nada.

- "Bull***. Quick straw poll – how many paypal users have waded through their mystifying terms of service from beginning to end? I know I haven’t. I haven’t lived long enough yet.
"Besides you’re missing the point.
"a) She states that she has had the item authenticated
"b) Even if it was not as described, it still wasn’t counterfeit. It’s still a bloody antique violin. Every violin you see online is described as ‘labeled as xxx make’ not ‘this is a xxx make’ because mislabelling was so common. Any buyer would KNOW that. Apart from Douchey Doucherson here, apparently."

"Even worse, this scheme of PayPal’s makes a great way to perpetuate fraud. Want to swap the fake Vuitton bag you bought on Canal Street for a real one? Just buy that real one on eBay, pay through PayPal and report the ‘fake’!"

Some sellers said they no longer sell valuable items on eBay due to this hazard.

But not everyone agrees that PayPal is always the problem: this one comment from Regretsy said they were burned as a buyer:
"Like everyone else I have been F&*ked over by PayPal several times but I was the buyer.
My items were fake and one very expensive item ($850)was broken costing me over $300 to fix before it could be used.
I have receipts and a detailed receipt showing that I wasn’t at fault for the broken bits and I had the other items authenticated at considerable cost and time wastage to me but PayPal still didn’t find in my favour.
I am an honest shopper unlike the scum some of you have dealt with yet it’s these same idiots that get away with the crap that you guys have described..."

For PayPal's part, it has a long list of steps taken when disputes arise, and this one paragraph seems to have been applied to the violin situation:

Under "Dispute Resolution":
"...How is the Claim resolved?

"Once a Dispute has been escalated to a Claim, PayPal will make a final decision in favor of the buyer or the seller. You may be asked to provide receipts, third party evaluations, police reports, or any other information or documents reasonably required by PayPal to investigate the Claim. PayPal retains full discretion to make a final decision in favor of the buyer or the seller based on any criteria PayPal deems appropriate. In the event that PayPal makes a final decision in favor of the buyer or seller, each party must comply with PayPal's decision. PayPal will generally require the buyer to ship an item that the buyer claims is Significantly Not as Described back to the seller (at the buyer's expense), and PayPal will generally require a seller to accept the item back and refund the buyer the full purchase price plus original shipping costs. If a seller refuses to accept the item, PayPal may award the Claim in favour of the buyer, provided the buyer has provided satisfactory evidence to PayPal that the item was sent to the seller. In the event a seller loses a Claim, the seller will not receive a refund on his or her PayPal or eBay fees associated with the transaction. If you lose a Significantly Not as Described Claim because the item you sold is counterfeit, you will be required to provide a full refund to the buyer and you will not receive the item back (it may be destroyed)."

This seems vague to me in its terms, and leaves a lot of wiggle room. Anyone out there, including any PayPal reps, eBay sellers, or eBay buyers, have other perspectives on this or better ways this type of thing could be handled?