Ask Auctiva: Who Should Lead eBay?

Director of Engineering Tom Urbanowicz answers this and other questions from Auctiva users.

by staff writer
- Oct 06, 2010

What kind of person do you think eBay should name to replace Lorrie Norrington as head of eBay Marketplaces?

—Curious in Cleveland

Urbanowicz: First, let's presuppose eBay should even replace Norrington, according to the current organizational structure. With that in view, this single person needs to have accurate visionary leadership, efficient managerial authority and acute ecosystem-smarts. While there's a valid argument for getting "fresh blood" into executive management, I would advocate internal promotion.

In eBay's search within its ranks, I would suggest the company take a cue from Jim Collins' book "Good to Great" in which he describes outstanding executives as those with "professional will" and "personal humility." Put another way: someone who's a proven mix of Chuck Yeager (bravely pulling a P-51 out of a nose dive), Pamela Landy (the astute and authoritative CIA officer from the Bourne movies) and Frodo Baggins (selflessly persevering in his mission to save Middle Earth). I'm talking about a blend of character qualities only, mind you, not physical appearance.

I saw a forum post about a new CSV import feature Auctiva is beta testing with a handful of users. How long until it's available to all Auctiva customers?

—Eager in Edmonton

Urbanowicz: The new bulk upload feature will be available for general use within the next few weeks. This much-anticipated addition will allow users to import inventory into with just a few button clicks. This is ideal for those who have been using eBay's Turbo Lister. If you use another software application that can export to a CSV (Comma Separated Values) or TSV (Tab Separated Values) file, you will also be able to take advantage of this time-saving feature. If you're interested in participating in getting a sneak-preview, send an e-mail to us at [email protected].

I always hear too late about eBay having listing sales, where insertion fees are discounted or even free. How can I make sure I'm aware of these when they happen?

—Missing Out in Miramar

Urbanowicz: Aside from announcements made on eBay, watching your e-mail inbox is a great way to keep apprised of late-breaking deals. Auctiva's communication team is always on the watch for special discounts and events. You can stay in touch via e-mail notifications, our Education site and the Auctiva Blog.

What resources are available for keeping track of my costs and profitability?

—Adding it Up in Adelaide

The pricing displayed on AliExpress is only a starting point for negotiating your discounted price

Urbanowicz: The reports provided at help you track your eBay transactions. When signed into your account, these are found at Sales > CSV Reports. From the past 90 days, you can mine historical data into downloaded CSV files. Using a spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel, you're able to correlate data points like amount paid and quantity to your raw costs. Between the two, profitability becomes simpler to track.

Why do I keep having formatting problems when I copy and paste descriptions into the One-Page Lister?

—Fed Up in Fort Collins

Urbanowicz: Behind the scenes of any rich-text editor, such as Microsoft Word, text is formatted using a series of markup "tags." These tags are nested in a complicated hierarchy to control the appearance of text—whether it be making it bold, centered or in a bulleted outline. When you paste text into the One-Page Lister, invisible markup tags are also brought over. Depending on what you copy, some markup tags may not transition as expected, resulting in partially formatted text.

To remedy this situation, the text editor in the One-Page Lister provides rich functionality for formatting descriptions. Those who want more detailed control can dive into the "source" HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) of the description.

I checked out AliExpress and was surprised to find the prices of some products were no better than what I would pay on eBay. How can I get the great factory-direct bargains I keep hearing about?

—Sticker Shocked in Sterling Heights

Urbanowicz: Manufacturers rarely list their best prices publicly. The pricing displayed on AliExpress is only a starting point for negotiating your discounted price. By using the no-obligation "Name Your Price" service from AliExpress, you can secure superior rates from suppliers.

Remember, too, that by sourcing products from AliExpress via, you can participate in exclusive discounts and sales. If you don't already see the Sourcing tab when logged in, stay tuned. We'll be rolling out sourcing functionality to you soon.

With eBay discontinuing third-party checkouts, what can I do to make sure I'm sending buyers through eBay's checkout system, and not Auctiva's?

—Diligent in Dannevirke

Urbanowicz: The short answer for most sellers using Auctiva Checkout is: nothing. This transition should be seamless for you and your buyers. We've been working with eBay to ensure this change doesn't disturb any active or scheduled listings. For the hundreds of sellers who have already made the transition, there have been no known issues.

For sellers using Auctiva's third-party checkout (without merchant accounts), we'll handle the migration in upcoming weeks. You won't need to do anything. For sellers using Auctiva Checkout with merchant accounts, you will need to first configure your account on eBay before disabling Auctiva Checkout. Additional details can be found in this Community Forum post. You can review and manage your Auctiva settings at My Account > Account Checkout.

You can ask Auctiva management your own questions by e-mailing "AskAuctiva" at the Auctiva dot com domain. Not all questions will be answered, but those selected will be published with responses from Auctiva's top managers in future Ask Auctiva articles. Due to the volume of mail we receive, it will not be possible to reply to you personally.

Please do not submit inquiries requiring an immediate response. Instead, please file a support request for technical or account-related issues.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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