Customer friendly changes at eBay?

Each New Year brings resolutions for most everyone. As we enter 2008, I’ve resolved to submit my articles on time – maybe even early – each month. It would be nice for Web traders like myself if eBay made a resolution to establish a kinder rapport with its customers. From what I can gather, that well may come true this year.

By changing its buyers’ bidding system, it’s rumored that eBay may have plans to create a rewards program for upper tier sellers. From what I hear, eBay may be adapting a system of reward programs, similar to many credit card companies, who have different ways of luring customers with low percentage cash back rewards or frequent flier miles. This drives their business. Can you imagine earning 1 percent cash back on all eBay sales? Although eBay will most likely never offer the cash back feature, it’s rumored that eBay may include anything from reduced listing fees to actual reward gifts.

Before this possible change, what were the advantages of becoming a Power Seller? Aside from a star by your user i.d., some levels of the program gain direct phone assistance, which is priceless. It’s a great incentive, but often not enough to have to follow all of the rules that come along with the status. The star does play a role in the buyer’s confidence, though. When a buyer looks and sees that the seller is a power seller, they bid with more confidence of a safe transaction.

Many sellers choose not to become a power seller due to the large sales quota required in order to gain and remain at your chosen level. This is often difficult, especially in these months. You also must maintain a 98 percent positive feedback rating or higher. The opportunity to earn bonuses from sales as a power seller indeed may lure more people into becoming one. The better the seller the more bonuses.

For bidders out there it looks as though eBay has resolved to take its Website into the 21st century. In 2008 eBay will introduce real time bidding. On every item page you have to refresh in order to get a new accurate time. EBay will be introducing an actual ticker, so that the auction will count down in “real time” as you remain on this page. For those who have not yet leapt feet first into the world of sniping, this is great news; it may finally allow for true last second bidding, hence no more missed opportunities due to the refresh button.

Another new feature coming to eBay is a means of increasing bidding speed, called “1 click bidding.” It will simply be a button on the item page that will allow you to bid and confirm with a single click. Unfortunately, it will only be available in the last 15 minutes of an auction, and only for someone who has previously bid on the item. This will really help last minute bidders compete against computer-generated snipe bids.

I have devised my own idea of what eBay should do to increase bidding that is slightly different than the new 1-click bidding. My version would be a “BidFast” button, relying on just clicks. With eBay’s new feature you’ll still need to type the amount. You have to remove your hand from the mouse in order to type in the exact amount, losing precious seconds. My version is virtually hands free; your hand would never leave the mouse!

My new feature would add a button on each item page that, when clicked, would choose your next bid from a list of automatically generated amounts. Say, for example, that you were looking to bid on an item currently selling for $34.77. When you click on bidfast, you are taken to a page with your set bid amount increase options in increments of $20, then $100. The last option offered at the end of the list would be “other,” allowing you to type in any amount you wish, just like you have for the past 10 years.

My way of faster bidding without typing is, unfortunately, not one of the features eBay is introducing this year. I’m pretty sure they won’t be calling me after this article is published to tell me they want to use my idea. Thankfully, though, they’re introducing at least one change to increase bid speed. Adding the real time feature will also help bidders to be successful more frequently.

For myself, I’m primarily a seller, and I’m excited to see if this rewards program rumor comes true. I know that, personally, it would drive me to become more successful in the hopes of gaining better and bigger rewards.