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Developer Impact: Summer 2009 Updates

Today, Stephanie Tilenius announced the Summer 2009 Updates. Here is the developer impact for those announcements. Watch the developer blog for more details on these changes.

As announced in April, in the spirit of partnership, eBay is now consolidating changes that impact your business into two or three major releases a year, with two months advance notice. This post introduces the second and final major release of 2009. Most of these updates will launch between September 22 and October 1, 2009.

In some cases we will launch these features to the eBay Sandbox before the September 22 release. Watch the blog for a list of those features. Also note that "September 22" means "the week of September 22" as it takes time to roll code to all the eBay servers.

  • Rewards for sellers delivering great buyer experiences
    • New way to look at DSRs
      • Avoid getting low DSRs—1s and 2s. Buyers have different ideas about what constitutes a high rating, but most leave a 1 or a 2 only when they experienced a significant issue with their transaction. eBay will be shifting focus from average DSRs to the number of low DSRs as a more accurate measure of customer satisfaction.

The Feedback API allows you to get insight into your seller DSR ratings, including which group of transactions may have resulted in 1s or 2s. It is a good idea to add this functionality to your application so your sellers can carefully monitor their DSRs.

      • Only domestic DSRs will count toward requirements for eBay.com. International transactions can be subject to factors outside a seller's control and we want to make sure sellers can expand globally without undue impact to their standing on eBay.com.

There are no specific API changes for this feature, but the API will reflect eBay site behavior.

    • PowerSeller program update: rewarding quality over quantity
      • Starting in October, a new eBay top-rated seller status will be added to the PowerSeller program to recognize and reward sellers providing great buyer experiences based on the new way to look at DSRs (very few 1s and 2s). eBay Top-rated sellers will receive the highest PowerSeller Final Value Fee discounts (20%), increased visibility in search results for Fixed Price listings, exclusive access to purchase Featured First and a prominent Top-rated seller badge on item pages. The Top-rated seller badge will be tested in search results pages this summer. The current PowerSeller icon will no longer be displayed on buyer-facing pages including item pages.
      • All sellers with 100 or more annual transactions and at least $3,000 annual sales who meet the requirements for Top-rated seller status will be invited into the PowerSeller program and can start receiving Top-rated seller benefits in October.
      • Next April, the PowerSeller program will also include a requirement for sellers based on the new way to look at DSRs (very few 1s and 2s). PowerSellers that don't have Top-rated seller status will get 5% Final Value Fee discounts.
      • Meanwhile, the current PowerSeller discount structure will continue until April 1, 2010 to give sellers 8 full months to keep their current discounts while they adjust business practices to qualify for the new Top-rated seller status.

Information about top-rated sellers will be returned in Trading API and other API calls, just as it currently is for PowerSellers. We are currently planning to make more information about Top-Rated Sellers available via a dedicated API in a future release.

    • New minimum standards for all sellers:
      • Starting in October, there will be a new minimum standard for all eBay sellers based on the number of low DSRs (1s and 2s) received. The minimum standard will be stricter in April, 2010.
      • A new Selling Practices policy will define guidelines for professionalism and accuracy in all aspects of listings and transactions.
      • Optional buyer charges for shipping insurance will no longer be allowed. Sellers can still buy shipping insurance and add the cost to the item or shipping price.

As of SR2, any insurance charges including in listing calls like AddItem will automatically be dropped from the listing with a warning. The listing will not fail.

    • Updates to the Seller Dashboard: You can now see a snapshot of your low DSRs (1s and 2s) and standing toward the new Top-rated seller requirements updated monthly through a link at the top of your Seller Dashboard. In September, you will be able to see daily updates.

For SR2, this additional information will only be available via the Seller Dashboard on the ebay.com website. We are currently planning to add this information to a dedicated API in a future release.

  • Enhanced search presents more relevant listings
    • Best Match, eBay's default sort order, will look at listing's recent sales in relation to the number of recent impressions it received as a key factor for Fixed Price listings. An "impression" is any time a buyer sees a search results page that includes the listing.

This new Best Match behavior will be reflected in the new Finding API for searches with a Best Match sort order specified. However, for technical reasons, will not be reflected in other Search calls.

    • In addition, single quantity and newly listed Fixed Price items will be given exposure in Best Match even though they have no sales history. These listings will be given initial impressions based on the performance of similar listings. This change will improve the exposure of new Fixed Price listings that are relevant to buyers.
    • Auction-style listings will still get a boost in exposure as they are about to end. To keep auctions enticing, Auction with Buy It Now listings will be required to have a BIN price at least 10% higher than the auction start price.

Listing calls that do not meet this criteria will fail with a blocking error.

    • A new Search Visibility tool will help you evaluate how your Fixed Price and auction-style listings are performing in search results.

A new, dedicated Best Match API is being released with SR2. This API offers the same functionality as the Search Visibility Tool that will be offered on ebay.com.

    • Several features will be discontinued including Featured Plus, Border, and others to save you money and keep the focus on relevance.

If discontinued listings enhancements such as Border are included in your listing calls, they will be dropped with a warning. The calls will not fail.

    • Product pages are rolling out to more buyers, so list with product details to make sure your listings are included. Also, eBay will start selecting sellers' photos for inclusion in the eBay product catalog on September 1. If your photo is chosen, your user ID and a link to your profile page will appear on the product page. If you'd prefer not to have your pictures selected, opt out no later than August 31.

Listings must include a valid Product ID to be shown on Product Pages. Product catalogs are being rolled out to more categories, so there are more items that are eligible to be shown on Product Pages when you include their Product ID.

Also, there is no way via the API to opt out of sharing photos. Sellers must go to their My eBay to opt out.

  • Easier, more profitable selling on eBay
    • Faster recourse for unpaid items. A streamlined process will cut the resolution time in half. We are also working on a new automated option that will make the process even more efficient, cut the time to resolution to as little as 8 days and block negative feedback when a seller opens a claim and a buyer doesn't pay. This automated option will be tested in late September and our goal is to gradually make it available to all sellers by the holidays.

This new process also applies to items listed via the API. LeaveFeedback will be blocked in cases where this new process applies.

    • eBay dispute resolution for buyer claims is expanding to more buyers to make the process faster and easier for sellers and buyers.

No additional dispute-management functionality is being added to the API with SR2. We are exploring the option of adding it in a future release.

    • Buyer communications will be faster and easier to manage with enhancements to My Messages and streamlined post-transaction emails.

There are no API changes as part of this change, but developers who offer email management will want to be aware that fewer emails will be generated for each transaction.

    • Get more control over international ship-to locations. You'll have the same ship-to choices you have now, plus you'll be able to specify countries you do not want to ship to.

With SR2, sellers can specify a list of countries they will not ship to. They can specify this globally, and on a per-item level. Global preferences can only be set via the ebay.com website, but per-item preferences can be set in the AddItem call. To take advantage of this feature, sellers must select the option in My eBay to exclude countries that they will not ship to.

    • Upload tracking and delivery confirmation numbers for more shipping carriers.

Currently shipping carriers are selected from a list of enums. With the SR2 release, you will be able to specify the shipping carrier in a string. This will allow sellers to include more shipping carriers in their listings, including ones that the eBay site does not currently support. You can also specify a tracking number for that shipping carrier. Where eBay can identify the carrier, the tracking number will be displayed as a link to more shipping information.

    • Editing listings, even multi-quantity listings with a sale and listing descriptions, will be faster and easier.

Currently it is not possible to edit live, Fixed Price listings once there has been a sale. As of SR2, this will now be possible. Also, when retrieving listings via GetItem, and so on, you have the option of retrieving a specific version of the listing. If no version is specified, the latest version will be returned.

    • New Selling Manager applications boost efficiency for sellers of all sizes-try them free!

Selling Manager applications will be generally available to sellers shortly after SR2. To build your own Selling Manager application, see Selling Manager Applications.

    • Category and Item Specifics changes are now consolidated with the rest of updates. Find out if there are changes to your categories.
    • Stores subscribers-now you can put all your Fixed Price listings on vacation.

Get more details on all these updates You're also invited to:

  • Take part in one of several upcoming webinars on Tuesday, July 28 and Thursday July 30.
  • Join me and other leaders from eBay and PayPal in a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, July 29. Check the Announcement Board soon for more details.
  • Talk with members of my staff during the next two days on a special discussion board we've set up for this purpose.

Watch the developer blog for more details on these changes.

July 27, 2009 in Best Practices, Business News, Feedback API, Finding API, Product News, Shopping API, Trading API | Permalink