eBay Watch: Free Gallery, Specialized Search Results

Free gallery listings, more exposure for eBay Store inventory in search results and PayPal unveils its quirky Holiday Survey results.
This week eBay promises Canadian sellers a shipping calculator, the company will be letting "guests" buy on the auction site this holiday season and eBay gift cards hit select retail locations. Plus, the auction giant is offering free gallery listings, more exposure for store inventory in search results and PayPal offers its quirky Holiday Survey results. Really, when you look at the results, we're not surprised women would prefer to receive a gift from Oprah Winfrey over Ellen DeGeneres.

eBay Invites Guest Buyers
With the goal of enticing even more holiday shoppers this year, eBay said it is introducing "Guest Buying" on the auction Web site, a service that will let consumers purchase fixed-price and store inventory items without registering for an account on eBay.

The service will require guest buyers to complete their payment through PayPal. To accept guest buyers, the seller must have a premier/business PayPal account for credit card payments, the shipping costs must be specified on the listing, the item price must be less than $2,000 and the seller must also use eBay's checkout system.

There also will be no way for a guest buyer to leave feedback for the transaction, however eBay says it will encourage them to register once they make a purchase.

eBay plans to introduce guest buying slowly over the next few weeks, making it available in the Music, Books, DVDs & Movies, and Consumer Electronics categories first, and will add more categories at a later date until guest buying is deployed site-wide.

New Price Promotion and Store Search
Sellers listing on the eBay.com or eBay.ca sites will get free use of the Gallery feature for auction-style and fixed-price listings until Dec. 12. Additionally, the Value Pack and Gallery Plus listing upgrades are discounted as well. Some categories and specific listings, such as eBay Motors, Real Estate, Ad Format and Store Inventory listings are not eligible for the promotion.

Also, through mid-December, eBay says store sellers using the Store Inventory listing format option will be able to take advantage of increased store exposure in eBay search results. When a buyer's keyword search returns fewer than 30 auction-style or fixed-price listings, eBay will display up to 50 store inventory items, an increase from the current maximum of 30. As an added bonus, any gallery images associated with the store listings will also be displayed in the search results.

Canadian Sellers To Get Shipping Calculator
eBay Canada plans to launch an eBay Canada shipping calculator that will help sellers automatically calculate and include shipping costs on ebay.ca listings, in English or French.

Calculated shipping will display accurate Canada Post shipping services and prices for domestic, US and international shipping in the item listing and eBay search results, based on the buyer's location. Sellers will simply need to provide the item weight, dimensions and location.

On the Canadian Discussion boards, many sellers commented that "its about time," as Canadian sellers are often left to deal with many time-consuming shipping information requests from buyers and only have the rate calculator on the Canada Post Web site for shipping calculations. What hasn't been made fully clear yet, however, is how the eBay Canada Shipping Calculator will work when a Canadian seller chooses to list in US dollars, a practice frequently used by Canadian sellers to gain more exposure for their items.

EBay Gift Cards Hit Select Retail Outlets
The auction company this week also announced retail availability of the new eBay Gift Cards, which are available in denominations of $25 and $50. The cards, out just in time for holiday shoppers, can be found at nearly 10,000 grocery stores across the U.S., including Kroger, Safeway, Vons, Dominick's, Fred Meyer, Ralph's and more.

To redeem an eBay Gift Card, consumers can shop on eBay.com for items from sellers who accept PayPal. Once they win an item, buyers click Pay Now to proceed to checkout, then enter the 13-digit code from the back of the gift card. Card balances can also be checked online. The online eBay gift cards are still available in $5 to $500 amounts and are sent to the recipient via e-mail.

Shoppers' Woes and Wish Lists Revealed
PayPal's 2007 Holiday Survey, conducted by Nielsen Customized Research, says that gift cards are hot, but shopping for your spouse is not. The lighthearted survey, based on responses from 1,000 respondents, shows that when it comes to receiving gifts, 43 percent of women would prefer to receive a gift from Oprah Winfrey over Ellen DeGeneres. Meanwhile,19 percent of men said they would most prefer to be on talk-show host Jay Leno's gift list this year, followed by David Letterman at 18 percent.

The survey results also showed that while both men and women agree that their significant other is the most difficult person to shop for during the holiday season, 34 percent of males said they actually enjoyed shopping for their partner, compared to just 17 percent of women.

Lastly, additional statistics from PayPal's Holiday Shopping Survey show that 44 percent of men versus 26 percent of women considered themselves last-minute shoppers, and a total of 67 percent of respondents expect to spend the same amount on holiday gifts this year as they did last year.

Vangie Beal is a seasoned eBay seller, a regular contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com and managing editor of Webopedia.com.

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