**Update – several commenters have correctly pointed out that I neglected to mention that the criteria for a seller to use InDemand is that you have to be a PowerSeller with 30-day DSRs over 4.8. I agree this is a very high bar, and I’m already on the record with my top 5 reasons DSRs are broken here so don’t shoot he messenger here. If you want access, might as well send an email to ‘email@example.com’.
ChannelAdvisor and some of our eBay selling customers have been giving eBay some beta feedback on a new program they are calling InDemand. eBay was kind enought to let us blog about this before it hits the radar (with the stipulation that we didn’t have to pull any puches of course).
- eBay is (finally!) starting to get some religion around the importance of selection. The prior regime implemented many policies that in my opinion hobbled selection at eBay – frequently I tell folks that eBay “cut off its long tail”. On the flipside of that coin, Amazon around the same time (mid-06), realised that mid-size retailers can bring some really interesting selection to the site that is filling out the long-tail for Amazon. They priced their third party offering with this in mind (high bar, but once you are in, no listing fees).
- There are two major hurdles to selection on eBay:
- Information – eBay has tons of data on who is searching for what, what listings are being watched, what millions of keywords they are buying from google, etc. However sellers never have access to that data. When your supply is blind to demand – it seems obvious that there will be unmet demand due to a fundamental lack of information parity.
- Channel Pricing – Frequently eBay’s listing fee, final value fee or both can make it uneconomical for supply to come to the site. For example, everyone in the media categories knows that the ebay fees make it a non-starter for brand-new items to be on the site, thus eBay tends to not have big slices of ‘recent releases’s on the site. (mini rant – In my opinion,listing/insertion fees are the archenemy of selection. eBay argues they are quality’s friend, but personally I worry more about selection and quality will take care of it self if you have a good search/finding experience.)
- Enter InDemand – InDemand is a microsite at indemand.ebay.com that looks to address the two selection challenges (Info/Pricing). It does this by first providing a list of ‘in demand’ products based on eBay’s research (this addresses the Info problem). Secondarily, InDemand gives eBay the ability to offer spot fee discounts (listng+FVF based on my understanding) for the products it feels are important for selection but due to the very broad fee structure, that product is not coming to the site.
Did you say lower fees for InDemand items?!?!
How InDemand works
- First, you’ll see every InDemand item has a ‘eBay Product ID’ associated with it. This looks like eBay starting to head to a more Amazon-like ASIN model. I guess now we have EPIDs and ASINs (that one is for the readers that always comment about my copious use of TLAs).
- Next, if you look at the little box at the left, that’s where you’ll see any promotion (listing/fvf fees) associated with that item. At the time of this writing none of the items have promos, but eBay swears they are coming.
- Next, there’s a ‘currently’ on eBay link that pops a new window with all of the listings on eBay right now for this product.
- Finally, you’ll see there’s a ‘sell this item’ link. This link will take you to SYI which is pre-populated with that products information.
“When do I receive the discount?
If an Insertion Fee discount is offered, you’ll receive the discount at the time of the listing. If a Final Value Fee discount is offered, it will applied at the time of the sale.
How long does a discount last?
A discount is valid if units are still needed and the promotional period has not ended.
How do I find out the quantity needed for a certain product?
The first line of the listing requirements indicates the quantity of a product that eBay is looking for.
Do I still receive my PowerSeller discount?
Yes. Any In Demand discount will be in addition to your PowerSeller discount.”
- catalogueueue coverage – one of the nice things of having a catalogueueue is you can run queries such as “how many catalogueueue items have zero listings”. That’s an easy one.
- Search data – ebay has a wealth of on-site and off-site search data and subsequently knows how many results are returned. Another interesting query would be: ‘show me the top search terms internal+external that have null search results.
- Closed loop data – John Donahoe (JD) has been saying for years that ebay has the most ecommerce data on the planet and I agree this is an asset that has gone somewhat unused at eBay. This data is a great gauge of supply and demand. Historically eBay has licensed it out at very expense rates to tool providers with somewhat mixed results. At ChannelAdvisor we have elected to not license this data because of the lack of structure and usefulness at the end of the day. With InDemand, you could really finally see eBay using this data to figure out which products have unusually high conversion rates and then make sure the marketplace continues to fuel that demand such that it doesn’t go off-site.
One item to watch is how automated the indemand listings are. I get the sense that there’s some manual steps to the ‘demand calculation’ process so we may not see ebay update the list as frequently as you may like going into the holidays. That being said, I’m sure if this product is successful (easily measured BTW), then I could see eBay making whatever the next step of investment is to automated the calc+gen of the indemand listings.
- InDemand is the first eBay foray into SKU-level fee discounts
- InDemand is the first time eBay has focused on selection at such a granular level
- InDemand gives us a glimmer of hope that eBay is opening the kimono on some of the great ‘demand data’ they have kept behind iron curtains for 10+yrs. I’m a strong believer that marketplaces thrive in transparency so hopefully this InDemand experiment will finally convince eBay that’s the way to go.