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***A Message From Bill Cobb – eBay eCommerce Forum Highlights***

January 17, 2007 | 02:55PM PST/PT

Bill Cobb
Today I talked about the state of eBay.com and our 2007 priorities with a number of North American sellers who joined us in California. We also made my remarks available by recorded webcast, which I invite you to listen to by clicking 2007 eBay eCommerce Keynote from Bill Cobb.

We all know that the internet continues to evolve and become more competitive. There are many more choices for buyers who want to shop online than ever before. We've done in-depth research to help us understand online buyers today – and as you might expect, their expectations are growing. Across the web, the buying experience is improving quickly. That's a good thing – it assures the continued growth of e-commerce, and it raises the bar for eBay and our sellers.

We have the opportunity in 2007 to make significant improvements to the buyer experience on eBay. We'll do it by focusing on these high-level priorities over the next year:

  • Reinvest in eBay's core by simplifying the site, improving finding, and accentuating the things that make eBay fun and unique.

  • Take a more proactive approach to Trust & Safety to protect our members from fraud.

  • Improve the buyer experience on the site by holding sellers to higher minimum standards

Reinvesting in eBay's Core
eBay is about more than just buying stuff - eBay is about finding items you won't find anywhere else and buying them in a way that's fun and engaging. As e-commerce becomes more crowded and competitive, eBay's unique differentiation will become even more important. So we're investing in core auctions and the buying experience in general.

Take finding, for example – we're going to make it easier for buyers to find what they're looking for on the site. We'll also be doing things to emphasize the thrill of winning a great deal – the kick of transacting online with others who share your passions – the excitement of finding new things and connecting with people all over the world. This is the DNA that defines eBay.

We made a start last year with projects like Deal Finder, eBay My World, eBay Blogs, eBay Pop, and eBay Matchups - fun new site features that are pulling in traffic and encouraging folks to spend more time on the site. Throughout 2007 we'll be making changes like these that allow us to test and fine-tune new innovations without disruption to the marketplace. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.

A More Proactive Approach to Trust & Safety
It's no secret that online criminals who target sites like eBay and PayPal have grown in number and sophistication over time. You've read several recent messages from my friend Rob Chesnut, eBay's Senior Vice President of Global Trust & Safety, about Safeguarding Member IDs, which protects bidder User IDs on high-end items from fake Second Chance Offers and other malicious email, and Buyer Protection which encourages safe payments, and eliminates coverage for unsafe payment methods.

These changes represent a shift in our philosophy on protecting eBay members. Where we've historically put an emphasis on transparency and free choice, today the security threats are more complex, and we're more actively protecting our buyers from fraud, as well as other bad experiences on eBay.

Aside from these visible changes, we've also been busy behind the scenes. One big issue we've fought on eBay since the early days is counterfeits. Make no mistake – counterfeits are illegal and not welcome on eBay. As a buyer, wondering if you are going to get a counterfeit item on eBay is a terrible experience. And, our legitimate sellers know how counterfeits hurt the marketplace for everyone.

We've cooperated with copyright and trademark owners via our VeRO program to bring down counterfeit listings for years, but recently we put stricter measures in place to further safeguard the buyer experience. For some items known to be favored by counterfeiters, we've started requiring additional seller verification, we've eliminated the ability to list these items with 1 or 3-day auction durations, and we've put in additional restrictions for people selling these items cross-border. (Read our FAQs for more details.)

So far, these efforts appear to be paying off with minimal disruption to our legitimate sellers.

Holding sellers to higher minimum standards
Another way we improve the buyer experience is to adjust the standards to which we hold sellers on eBay. It's a fact that the majority of bad buyer experiences result from circumstances controlled by sellers. Buyers are less likely to return to the site after having a frustrating experience - like finding the shipping & handling charges are excessive, receiving an item that is not as described, or experiencing poor customer service.

Since last summer, for example, we've made significant progress cleaning up categories where egregious cases of excessive shipping & handling charges are most prevalent. For instance, in our Cell Phones category, the average shipping cost on cell phones has come down by around 25%, and the buyer experience has improved. The competition between these sellers is more fair now, too.

It's clear we have a shared responsibility with our sellers to make sure our buyers have satisfactory experiences. Historically, eBay's philosophy has been to allow practically anyone to sell, with few restrictions. Going forward, we'll apply higher minimum standards for selling on the site. These changes will improve the marketplace for the vast majority of sellers who deliver a good customer experience. Here are some other ways we're addressing this issue:

  • Private Feedback & Cross-Border Trade Requirements - Last fall we eliminated the ability for sellers to make their feedback private. We've also raised the bar for sellers who want to sell cross-border. To list outside one's home registration site, sellers must establish their identity by becoming PayPal Verified (sellers with established track records will not be affected by this requirement.) (Read our FAQs for more details.)

  • Safe Payment Requirement for New Sellers - Today I announced that we'll be requiring all newly registered sellers to accept PayPal or a merchant credit card. We know that PayPal is the safest way to pay on eBay, and we want to make sure our buyers have this option with new sellers. (Existing sellers will not be affected by this requirement.). (Read our FAQs for more details.)

  • Feedback 2.0 - eBay pioneered online reputation systems with the feedback system back in the '90s – and since then, our members have loved to debate its merits. The fact is, it's a great system, but it needs some refinement to keep pace with our marketplace. Today I announced Feedback 2.0, which we'll be launching in pilot markets next month. Feedback 2.0 will add a new dimension to the current system, allowing buyers to rate transactions on item description, communication, shipping time, and shipping & handling charges. The average of each of the Detailed Seller Ratings is displayed on the seller’s Feedback Profile page. It's a simple system that rewards sellers by recognizing and spotlighting the things they do to ensure customer satisfaction. We'll share more about Feedback 2.0 in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Feedback Recency
Speaking of Feedback, I also announced an important change launching later this year that I think many members will appreciate. For years, members have asked us why we don't retire old feedback that has lost its relevance, especially old negatives. Later this year, we are going to archive all but the last 24 months of feedback history. Your total score will remain, but your percent will be based on just the last 2 years of activity. All comments older than this will be archived.

Heading into a new year, eBay is stronger than it's ever been, and I'm incredibly excited about the future, and I hope you are, too. I'm going to be hosting my first Town Hall of 2007 on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 4:00pm PT. We'll be using our new radio format that allows you to phone in and ask your questions on the air, so I hope you'll join us.

Sincerely,

Bill Cobb
President, Marketplaces North America

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