On the eBay community forums, a thread got some attention about eBay adding a new “Why to Buy” signals that indicate how quickly the seller is responding to best offers.

There was the typical banter between sellers about if this is good or bad for their business. The thread did catch the eye of eBay, and a moderator chimed in with the following information:

“I am happy to provide some added context on this feature. We are currently testing this out to encourage utilization of the Best Offer option when it is available. The estimated response time is determined based on a seller’s behavior over the past year. We have found that most sellers are incredibly responsive to reasonable offers, getting back to their buyers in less than three hours on average. Some sellers are replying in under an hour with consistency.

We do expect this to signal to buyers to drive additional purchases, thus increasing sales for our sellers. While this is only in the initial testing phases, we will work to enhance this feature and apply it strategically so it only appears when there is reason to believe it will significantly impact the chance of a sale.

I know there are some concerns with this notice providing inaccurate expectations if your buyer contacts you outside of normal business hours and I want to reassure everyone that this notice is not something that we have expectations associated with and it is unlikely that a potential buyer contacting you outside of typical business timeframes will be negatively impacted by a delayed response.

We would love to hear your experiences with this feature, so please do not hesitate to share feedback here. While I know that the initial reaction to a test can be frustrating, these kinds of tests are designed to improve the eBay experience and boost your business. I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to see how this impacts your sales and your customer’s experience before making changes or adjustments to your business.”

Testing a New Metric?

While it is in testing right now, this feature to provide an average response time based on seller’s past behavior is not a simple small coding addition.

Presumably, this required collecting data and averaging the response time into a metric that is added to the seller’s account as a structured data item. It’s not realistic to think eBay is providing this estimate on the fly, but for speed purposes, calculates this metric on a periodic basis.

With all the machine learning improvements for buyers to find the best products, offering up a listing where the seller may provide a Best Offer and is extremely responsive could become a significant metric in the new eBay world.

Clearly, if a buyer is a typical user of the Best Offer feature, eBay may weigh the importance of fast Best Offer responses in its display of the best choices for the buyer.

Important Change for Sellers with MAP Pricing Products

This could be an important change for sellers that offer products from brands that have pricing policies such as Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP) to follow.

If response time is tracked and used to filter best options for buyers, then sellers may have to look at automated acceptance over a minimum threshold to speed up their response times. Some third party listing tools offer such automated functions.

Sellers not bound by MAP policies may wish to get out of Best Offer all together to minimize this problem.

It seems a bit unlikely eBay would abandon this metric since it likely required a lot of coding work.

Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with this feature as it should improve conversion. But some sellers have to decide if they wish to participate in Best Offer, especially if they are notoriously slow in response.

What do you think about eBay testing response times to Best Offers as a Why to Buy signal? Head over to our Facebook Discussion Group or use the comments section below.

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