Expedia In India

The US based online travel company Expedia is finally in India with expedia.co.in. The company had recorded a turnover of close to 20 Billion dollars last year and are operating in 17 countries.

The online travel  industry here is estimated to be a 2 billion USD plus in2007 – 2008 and Expedia’s entry , other than strategic, also holds and add’s support to the projections.

The site will offer access to over 75000 hotels and resorts and 3000 destination activities.  worldwide. I am eagerly looking forward to how some of the other established players will react now.

The ebay boycott story

Many of us in India might be unaware of the turmoil which developed and played out in ebay during the course of the last 2 weeks. Being someone who has been with ebay since its Bazee days and used the site on numerous occasions for both selling and purchasing I tend to follow anything ‘ebay’.

In a nutshell, powerseller’s asked for a week long boycott on listings post ebay announcing major policy amendments, which were:-

Fees: While front – end costs have come down, ebay is increasing cost in the backend which would have higher final value fees as a consequence and thus lesser margins for the sellers.

      Feedback: Sellers are not allowed to leave negative feedback on buyers. This change has possibly aroused the most passions and is clearly skewed to protect buyers and raises the chances of sellers being ‘exploited’ by fraudulent and non-serious buyers. Having had experience on both ends I know for a fact that there are as many bad buyers and there are sellers and fail to see the “functionality’ aspect of this policy and tend to agree with the powerseller’s that it is preferential in nature.

      While going through the FAQ I noticed what may appear to be ebay’s , irrational , logic behind this. They wrote “buyers will be more honest when they are not afraid of receiving retaliatory negative feedback”….which is in my opinion total BS….. Combine this with the change in the algorithm and buyers have the power to essentially bury a seller from results by giving negative results…and at the same time get away with not adhering to the buyer-seller policies laid down.

      Search / Ranking feature: Possibly the most lease publicized change is to the “best match” feature. Starting next month the logic will prefer sellers with high and detailed customer ranking ratings while essentially burying listings of sellers with lower volumes.

       

        The impact on India is slightly less, and given the small brand value and volumes it commands as compared to the US, UK the uproar, if any, went unheard. As per the site announcement section the changes that are going to hit us are 2 & 3 of the points listed above.

        The feedback change has been clearly announced, and the change to the ‘best match’ feature will be universal of course. There is no mention of the listings costs as such except that Indian sellers listing in the international markets might come under the preview of the new fees structures. All that the site states is ‘.will get same pricing benefits’

        What was the impact of the boycott however? Spokesmen from ebay have downplayed the entire week long boycott stating that there were next to no repercussions because of other than a drop in listings (which ebay claims was made up by the surge they saw post that). I however read an interesting calculative article here which suggests the following

        On a conservative drop of 2 million listings, with each listing lowest fee being 20 cents the total loss just from this drop comes out to be 400,000 USD , on the conservative side. If one takes a more realistic look at the insertion prices i.e which are as high as 4.80 and takes a more realistic average of 1.20 USD per listings….the total losses are 2.4 Million USD a day. This does not additionally include extras such as stores, or fees etc.

        Stating that a surge in listings to 16 million does not help. Ebay had to undertake 2 promotions to get those volumes back into the system. One of these was a 20 cent day listing… this translates into ebay effectively loosing upto 4.80 per listing. The overall impact thus is substantial….

        What is also important to consider is that the boycott was largely unorganized and thus lacking “efficiency” …but the support and the bonding between the community is clear to see and can serious pose to be a big risk to ebay the next time it happens, because it would involve more people and be more organized as well.

         

         

         

        Google adds additional Search Box within Results

        I think google’s been testing out a new application over the last couple of days. I was on google and searched for amazon at s0me point and the results page had an additional search box to be able to search within amazon straight (See image below). I tried it out with a couple of other searches as well but did not see it again. Pretty cool though.

        searchbox.jpg