eBay Watch: Is That Relevant?

A new Best Match feature promises to improve the relevancy of search results, game over on Playstation 3 auctions to eBay, new third-party tools abound, HiBidder.com offers an eBay alternative and bid on the car of the future.

eBay has announced a new optional Best Match option in the search results that allows users to sort listings based on their relevance. According to Esteban Kozak with eBay's Finding team, relevance is based on past buyer behaviour, as well as on information such as the listing title and description. Best Match will not change the items listed for a search, just the order of the listings. eBay's Best Match option, when available, can be found in the Sort by drop down menu on the top of the search results page.

In a post on eBay's announcements page, Kozak said that "with Best Match, what buyers do on the site affects the order in which listings are displayed. In other words, if buyers running a particular search often end up viewing, bidding on, or buying, a certain type of item more often, this will be factored into our relevance calculations. These types of items might then display higher on the page in subsequent searches.

Matt Halprin, manager of eBay's Global Trust & Safety Policy team has spent some time recently providing safety tips to eBay's users on how to be better protected from phishing e-mail and spoof Web sites, as well as and fake second-chance offers. Halprin has provided some safety tips for users which include the following

  • Never pay with Western Union or Money Gram
  • Check My Messages to verify the authenticity of eBay e-mails
  • Always verify second-chance offers
  • Download the eBay Toolbar and the PayPal SafetyBar
  • Monitor your account regularly for suspicious activity
  • Be suspicious of any e-mail that requests personal information

eBay provides safety information and forms to report suspicious activity on its Security & Resolution Center Web page.

eBay in the News
Gaming site 1UP.com is reporting that eBay has been shutting down early Playstation 3 (PS3) auctions by enforcing its policy of not allowing auctions in which sellers cannot guarantee the item will be shipped within 30 days of the auction's closing.

Some eBay sellers who waited in retail store lines for pre-order lists, and in their auction state they are guaranteed the machine, have turned their $600 purchase into a $2,000 sale on eBay. One seller we found yesterday had a bid price of more than $2,000 on its PS3 had its listing removed by eBay as of this morning. Other industry sources have reported that in a few cases, eBay sellers not only had their item de-listed by eBay, but also have had their account suspended.

Third Party eBay Services & Integration Round-up
This week PayPal, an eBay company, announced international expansion and support for both currencies and foreign markets. New Currency support announced includes the Czech koruna, Danish krone, Hong Kong dollar, Hungarian forint, New Zealand dollar, Norwegian krone, Polish zloty, Singapore dollar, Swedish krona, and Swiss franc, bringing the total number of accepted PayPal currencies to a total of 17. PayPal also announced that residents in an additional 48 new markets can now use PayPal in their local markets to send money online. These new markets include Indonesia, the Philippines, Croatia, Fiji, Vietnam and Jordan, to name just a few of the latest International market additions.

Virtual Iris has released Irisize.com as a public beta. Irisize.com allows you to convert digital images into media displays for posting on the Web, including sites such as eBay and MySpace. Irisize.com offers an eBay subscription package that is designed to allow you to insert a picture gallery from Irisize.com with up to 24 images into your eBay listing. During the expected four-week beta period, the site is free for users, and following the beta, each set of 24 pictures for use in an eBay auction will carry a flat 99 cent fee. Discounts are given at 10 listings ($7.99) and 100 listings ($59.99).

First launched in 2005, UnWired Buyer for eBay has recently added eBay Phone Alerts to its service, which is free for both sellers and buyers. Through the Unwired Buyer service, buyers can opt to receive a phone call in the last minutes of an auction and place their bid while on the phone. The service works with any mobile phone that uses voice channel (it does not require GPRS or text messaging). Currently, UnWired Buyer is offering a trial a service where sellers can advertise their other auctions or provide coupons and other incentives in the 10 seconds between the close of the auction and when the buyer finds out if they have won.

The Unwired Buyer service lets buyers receive a phone call in the last minutes of an auction and place their bid while over the phone.
(Click for larger image.)

eCRATER a free Web store builder and online marketplace (see Breaking Up With eBay) has added Google Checkout to its service after being approved by Google Checkout as e-commerce partner. This integration with Google's payment service allows eCRATER sellers to charge, refund, cancel, ship and add tracking information to their Google Checkout Orders through the eCRATER interface. In addition to the new Google Checkout options, eCRATER also recently announced new search & filter options to their online marketplace Web site.

Eye on The Little Guy: HiBidder Profile
HiBidder.com is one of the more established and well-rounded alternatives to eBay that you'll find online today. According to statistics posted in the community forums by HiBidder administrators, on October 3, 2006 HiBidder boasted 21,000 active auctions by its 2,000-member base. It also offers more than 15,000 different categories (and sub-categories) for sellers to list in. For the fee-weary seller, HiBidder doesn't actually charge any fees for listing items, reserve price, image gallery, InstaBuy or second-category listings. Instead HiBidder charges only a final sale fee, if your item sells. The final sale fees range from 10 cents on items selling for less than $100 up to a $1.75 fee for items selling for $10,000 and higher.

HiBidder, a free alternative to eBay, has 21,000 active auctions and 2,000 members.
(Click for larger image.)

HiBidder offers sellers a standard selection of optional listing upgrades. Like many of the newer auction sites, and in contrast to eBay, some listing upgrades are free while others do incur a small fee for usage. Optional upgrades include highlight and bold titles, gallery pictures, 60-day listings, dual-category listings, as well as a listing designer. Sellers interested in being a HiBidder ID Verified member are charged a $1 fee for verification. Before you can list items for sale on HiBidder, you must first become a verified member. Sellers can also opt to close their listings to buyers who have not been verified.

To help  buyers and sellers get started with their online marketplace, HiBidder offers an in-depth knowledgebase, as well as several step-by-step online tutorials that cover topics such as how to bid, how to become verified, how to create a store and more.  HiBidder also spreads the word about the site's listings by automatically submitting to Froogle, Google Base, BidHopper, and BidFind providing alternative ways for buyers to find your items listed on the HiBidder auction site.

Research Says...
According to research by Homestead Technologies, eBay aftermarket is one of the hottest home-based business trends for 2007. eBay aftermarket services is a niche business where services are provided to assist companies conduct market research, pricing strategies, shipping and competitive analysis.

Only on eBay ...
Looking for a better ride to help beat the morning rush hour traffic? If so, you may be interested in Moller International's recent auction block offering of a Moller M400X Skycar Prototype, which can be found on eBay Motors. With a successful winning bid, you can own the one and only prototype of the Moller M400 Skycar. According to the auction details, this test vehicle has flown repeatedly and demonstrated its hover capabilities in more than a dozen flights at the Moller International facilities in Davis, Calif.

Be the first on your block to own the Moller M400X Skycar Prototype — the bids, at press time, were hovering around $2 million.
(Click for larger image.)

Moller International, the company that developed the flying car, has it on the auction block in an attempt to raise capital for the company. They caution that the Moller M400 Skycar is suitable for test and evaluation only and that it is not certified for use by the Federal Aviation Authority nor as a licensed road vehicle. Listed as a 10-day auction, the Moller M400 Skycar just surpassed $2 million in its first four days in 43 bids. At the time of this writing, the reserve price still has not yet been met.

And for those of you who tuned in to last week's eBay Watch, Barbara Bush's pink ducky brought in $2,524 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in 77 bids. Our bets were on William Shatner's autographed pink duck for bringing in the bucks, but with only four days left on the auction it sits at a mere $830.

Have an interesting tip, auction or news item to submit for eBay Watch? Tell us about it!

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