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How eBay Classifieds Solves User Problems with Global Complexities

Ashley Sefferman  //  September 18, 2018  //  10 min read

While users have certain needs that must be met in order for them to successfully engage with the product, how companies approach solving these needs across global markets varies. On top of that, working across markets has its own challenges.

We were excited to host Kacie Wise, Senior UX Researcher, Global Mobile at eBay Classifieds, at our Customer Love Summit. In her talk, Kacie shares the global considerations her team takes into account and goes in-depth into how they approach solving user problems across the world.

Specifically, Kacie’s talk covers:

  • How to design your mobile experience for trust
  • Using consumer psychology to supplement research
  • Different strategies for companies with a global presence

If you prefer to read rather than watch, we’ve included the transcription below the video.


Kacie: Okay. Getting my bearings. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to talk to you about our organization. So, as I mentioned, I am the UX researcher for Global Mobile. I sit on the design team for our group and also on the Global growth team. But you guys all know… Oops, did I do that right? There. Okay. So, you know, eBay, eBay classifieds is part of the eBay family, and that’s who I work with. So eBay classifieds is a C2C classifieds marketplace that focuses specifically in local markets in 11 countries around the world. We have eight brands and we operate in a handful of languages, but we don’t actually operate in the United States so I just wanted to like set the stage. I am part of eBay but I am not eBay. So introducing eBay classifieds.

So let’s talk a little bit about the classifieds space. We’ve all been there. We’ve all been on the buying side of some classifieds product. So we’ve just moved. We’re trying to fill space in our home. We wanna like make it our own. And we find this great patio set that we wanna bring into our place. So we look at all the details and we say, “Okay, like this is gonna fit our space. This is the right price.” We reach out to the seller and we negotiate like the right price for us and a meeting locale. So there’s a lot of moments within this interaction where you’re kind of asking yourself these questions like, one, “Do I have enough information to make the right decision? Am I confident moving forward with this seller based on the conversations that I’m having with them? Do I feel like the price is fair?” Like what are all of those questions that you’re asking yourself in the process?

So you decide on the price and you decide you wanna meet up and you punch in the address and you arrive at the location. And this is the house that you’re buying from. So, you know, and at that moment, this is one of those other decision points. So you are interacting with a stranger. You are going to their home. You are likely bringing a wad of cash, and you’re probably going alone. So what could go wrong? And so from a seller’s experience.

So this was my sexy eco-conscious car. I decided it was time to sell and so I listed it on a favorite classifieds app. And so I took the time to really like provide enough detail in the ad itself so that I could kind of minimize the amount of back and forth with potential buyers. I took a ton of photos because I know that like the more photos that you take, the better likelihood you’ll have selling and so I listed it. And it went great, like within about an hour we had like five hits on the car. And the first one was around, mentioned something about, “Can I send you a money order? I’ll give it to you as soon as my relative gets out of the hospital.” And so we knew that that was scam. And then there were a number of other communications that happened as a result.

So, you know, these are all the questions that are going in my mind as a seller. So do I trust this person that I’m interacting with? Do I believe that they’re who they say they are? I’m getting a series of questions from potential buyers on, you know, what are the additional details? Like some total gearheads that really want to know like the ins and outs of the car itself. Or people that are asking questions about the details of the car when it’s actually in the ad. So there’s, you know, is this person detailed enough to like not waste my time? And these are all the questions that you’re trying to figure out too and like is this person someone that I wanna transact with?

So through those conversations, we had about three people that ended up setting up a meeting with us. Two people never showed, never heard from them. One person ended up did come and she did come to our house, actually to the corner where our house was because we didn’t want to give our actual home address. And she seemed legit. We were, you know, going through all the details. And, you know, she was kind of motioning for her purse as though she was going to like reach out with a wad of cash, so to speak. And she admitted that she didn’t have the money today, that she was waiting for payday and that she would get back to us on Friday. Never heard from her.

So you’re thinking about, you know, what is the experience from a classifieds app from both the buyer and the seller experience, it’s really all about trust. So there are moments within both of those journeys that you really have to consider. So this was actually a quote from one of our users on our Canada app Kijiji. “I don’t trust buying on Kijiji.” And really you could like swap out buying with selling. I don’t trust selling on Kijiji. Because it really doesn’t matter what side of the fence you’re on, trust has to happen in order for you to engage on the marketplace. So this is kind of like our core value, like trust within the product itself. So this isn’t a new thing. This isn’t a new thing for any sort of like marketplace app either. But this is like, really, like how can we always measure ourselves against this? How can we minimize the amount of comments that come from our users on this topic?

And it’s not unique to marketplaces. We’ll go through a couple of examples. But trust is really just a human need. So do I believe that the person that I’m speaking to has my best interest in mind? Do I believe that I’m safe? Do I believe that I’m being treated fairly? And so if we think about this in other world, so trust from a retail standpoint means that like I trust that the product that I’m buying is protected. So whether it’s like a return policy Nordstrom, whether it’s the ability to try before you buy at Warby, but you know that there are certain guardrails in place to make sure that you have some freedom essentially to experience their selling process. And then from a share economy standpoint, I wanna trust that the brand that is hosting me is accountable for certain safety concerns or certain trust issues. So whether or not, you know, I’m staying in a stranger’s home or I’m getting in a stranger’s car, I need to know before I enter both of those scenarios that like I trust this person that I’m dealing with.

So trusting the classifieds app is a little bit different. So you think about kind of the core customer journey from like listening to communication to transaction. And when you’re thinking about this too, so research shows that in order to… Trustworthy people are perceived to be similar to ourselves. So and that that’s just like we trust people who have things in common to us. The problem is, is that in classifieds, it’s pretty much anonymous, like historically anonymous practice of buying and selling. So you think about pennysaver, you think about a newspaper. Like classifieds is fairly anonymous until you actually have that moment of transaction. And then so there’s that tension now within like mobile classifieds in that, you know, you’re trying to reduce a certain amount of anonymity, but you also wanna maintain a certain amount of anonymity because of like safety concerns. Like I don’t wanna divulge so much about myself, but I wanna tell enough about myself so that people will trust me and wanna transact with me.

So how do you design for trust? So when we’re talking about designing for trust, you know, obviously, like I’m researcher, so this is something that we do like on an iterative basis and constantly. So I guess that’s repetitive. But, you know, for instance, within the product itself, like what are all those things that could go wrong? So that’s kind of information that we wanna collect. So if you come back to that customer journey, so from a listening standpoint, are there the right amount of photos in this ad to really understand whether or not it’s like high quality? Is the description really clear? Like is the language spelled correctly, down to from a communication standpoint, you know, is a person that I’m transacting with responding to me in a respectful way? Is there are a lot of time that transpires between communications? And then from a transaction standpoint, like is someone showing up on time? Are they bringing the right amount of money? Are they trying to negotiate a price that we’ve already agreed to? And so like, this is what you consider in like where all those moments where we can like really focus on trust.

So there’s also like cultural things to consider. So if we’re talking about designing for trust, like what are all those breakpoints, you also think about well within the product itself and from a global standpoint, what are those differences? So from a cultural standpoint, for instance in Mexico selling secondhand clothing competes with their manufacturing industry or clothing manufacturing industry, and so in some regards selling secondhand clothing is illegal in some ways so there are…like it happens illegally. It doesn’t happen on our marketplace obviously, but knowing that there are these like certain cultural like levels of acceptance of like the second hand economy. In China for instance too like the second hand economy hasn’t really like established itself and so, you know, we have customers in countries where like this actually doesn’t even resonate. So even just from like addressing customer needs, that’s something that has to come into play.

Alternatively, in Canada and this picture is actually from the Netherlands, the second hand economy is live and well. Like in person experiences for second hand connected to digital are huge. This is actually a picture from King’s Day in the Netherlands in Amsterdam where it is the world’s largest flea market. It’s a country holiday, actually, and among all of the other like festivities, like the entire city shuts down and becomes like this huge flea market. So it wouldn’t be surprising to know that within them the Netherlands, the app that we have there, Marktplaats, has like 98% market penetration. Like it’s just like part of the culture in Amsterdam.

So thinking about all of these problems that we’re seeing, like where are those moments where trust breaks down, how do we solve for it? So how do we solve for those problems when like ads aren’t actually showing up correctly, people are trying to sell a car and it’s just this one dark image of a car from the distance? So we’ve started including for markets where like cars have high sell, where goods and services are particularly popular, for instance, bicycles in Amsterdam. We include guidance text within the post flow so that people know that, you know, you have an X percent more likelihood to sell a car in this market if you provide this many photos and provide this many angles. So like thinking about like, how do we build trust from a post-folk experience in order to help sellers sell their stuff.

We also included ratings and reviews, which is not uncommon to like, you know, an Airbnb or what have you. But, you know, this is not solving like the problem. Like just launching ratings isn’t going to solve this trust problem because everybody has these different ideas of what trust means to them. But it’s the combination of all these things. So it’s kind of like this grab bag, picking and choosing to see we’re gonna include all of these things in our app because like combinations A, B, and G are gonna be the things that work for you, but it’ll be different for someone else. So ratings and reviews, it could be just like that quick five-star rating or it could be the drill down where it’s more granular feedback that indicates like why you chose that five-star and what that means from a level of communication. Some people care and some people don’t, and that’s okay. But we need to like solve for like the broad range of needs from a global standpoint, but also just from a trust standpoint as well.

We introduced profiles, which, again, like this whole anonymity piece was brand new for us. Profile pictures, system generated, activity indicators that show basically like stellar stats or buyer stats, how long you’ve been on the product, how many products you’ve sold, how many active listening do you have. So we’re giving everybody like a wide range of options to gauge whether or not they trust transacting with this person. And then also, we’re incorporating CES into our product. So customer effort score. We also have our customer love, and we also have NPS. So really like factoring in like contextual feedback within the customer buyer seller journey so that we can gauge at what moments within the buyer seller journey, where are they working, where are they breaking down to help us really focus and narrow in on like where we should be focusing our work.

And trust doesn’t stop with our customers too. It’s also something that we need to address like organizationally as well. So these are starlings and they kind of form this big moving like glob that happens kind of like synchronously. It’s called a murmuration. And this is just like symbolizing that like it’s one bird that has like a job to do, but fully recognizes that they’re part of like this larger organization, and that they kind of move without really thinking, like they kind of intuit each other’s moves. And so this is kind of like this synergy, this level of working together, this trust also needs to happen from a organizational standpoint.

So what we did from an organizational standpoint we were trying to solve for, like we were, you know, duplicating research across our markets. We were conducting research in different ways across all of our markets as well. So how can we form like more synergies around, you know, collecting all this information on our users? So we kicked off a knowledge management tool that’s shared globally. We’re streamlining our discovery process. And we’re also creating a unified approach to how we conduct and how we report on global research.

So that all makes sense from like, an operational standpoint and from like behind the curtain as we were talking about, but the only reason why that makes sense and creating those like internally operational focused tools is because we’re serving our customers. And so we need to understand and always maintain this level of like, how are we doing from our trust indicators. Where do we need to dial up, where do we need to dial down and then how can we share that information so that we can work in a more streamlined fashion across all of our global markets and share insights and learnings along the way? So, thank you.

Moderator: Okay, so we have one question. “Kacie, what does the decision making process look like when there is a tradeoff between a seller experience and the buyer experience?”

Kacie: Okay. Let me think about that. That’s good.

Moderator: I thought so, too.

Kacie: What is the tradeoff between making a decision on the seller or the buyer experience? I think with any like marketplace environment, like you have a primary audience and so I think it’s really just evaluating like if we were to make a decision based on what audience, what are the implications to the other, are there opportunities for us to make certain compromises? I think…I’m in research so I would wanna do a bunch of testing to figure out like, you know, are there implications that would impact our business overall? Are there implications that would impact our users? So I think it would…like the cop out, it would depend. But certainly, we’re always faced with those decisions on like which direction do we do and making no decision is the wrong decision. And so I think if we can just stay nimble and flexible and like make adjustments along the way, like that’s how we’ll see it through.

Moderator: Awesome. Thank you, Kacie. Let’s give her another round of applause.

About Ashley Sefferman

Ashley Sefferman is Head of Content at Apptentive. A digital communication and content strategy enthusiast, she writes about multichannel engagement strategies, customer communication, and making the digital world a better place for people. Follow Ashley on Twitter at @ashseff.
View all posts by Ashley Sefferman >

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