Bonanzle marketplace recently implemented a new monitoring system of sellers with high percentages of negative feedback. Below is the interview with Bill Harding, CEO of Bonanzle.com providing more information on this latest change.
What caused this shift toward moderating?
We closely monitor a number of metrics to ensure that buyers are satisfied with their Bonanzle purchases -- this is the key to gaining repeat buyers, which are the lifeblood of any marketplace. Starting around November, as we were experiencing a surge in sales, we also found ourselves with a higher percentage of dissatisfied buyers than we had ever experienced previously. Of course, relative to the number of overall purchases, the number of unsatisfied buyers was still extremely low, but we certainly did not want to wait around until our reputation for customer satisfaction became damaged. Thus, starting in November, we began a series of initiatives to reduce fraud and remove sellers that demonstrated a pattern of dissatisfied buyers.
In addition to the recent probation system, we have also introduced systems that pro-actively detect when a seller is listing merchandise that is likely to not be delivered (e.g., under priced electronics), and review those items before they go online. We believe it is going to take a collection of safeguards to keep buyers safe and satisfied in the face of an ever-growing legion of unsavory characters that see Bonanzle's growth in sales as an opportunity to profit.
What does Bonanzle consider a high percentage of negative feedback?
There isn't a single number that constitutes a high percentage of negatives, we evaluate it on a sliding scale, based on a variety of factors. That said, if a seller is receiving something like 80-90% positive feedback over time, that's a far cry from the 98-99% positive feedback that is averaged across our site. We certainly realize that you can't make every buyer happy, and there will always be circumstances under which good sellers receive negative feedback. But what we're trying to do is make ourselves aware of the sellers who show a pattern of negative feedback, and potentially remove that seller from the site if they are damaging Bonanzle's reputation for satisfied buyers.
What exactly is probation?
Probation is where we notify a seller that their pattern of negative feedback is above an acceptable threshold, and they need to take steps to ensure that they are providing a positive customer experience. When a seller is put on probation, we offer them the opportunity to work with us to determine how they can provide a better experience for their customers. For example, if you're shipping your items from Thailand, you should make sure that buyers know in advance that it could take up to X weeks for their item to arrive. Ultimately, it's a case-by-case basis how a seller can improve their buyer's experience, but we try to give sellers the benefit of the doubt and make sure they have a fair opportunity to improve.
What steps are taken once a seller is on probation?
A seller's booth will continue to remain online during probation. However, if the seller accumulates additional negative feedback after being put on probation, we will evaluate their individual case and make a determination of whether the seller is a fit with Bonanzle.
And any more expanding you can do at this time.
This change is not going to impact sellers that are making an earnest effort to do right by buyers. However, on Bonanzle, as on any successful marketplace, there are going to be a small minority that will not be genuinely interested in keeping their buyers happy. Gaining the trust of a new user is extremely difficult, but losing that trust, particularly in a competitive marketplace environment, is very easy. Therefore, we take our buyer's satisfaction quite seriously, and we will continue to spend time implementing ideas like this one that will improve our buyer satisfaction rate, and ultimately, the number of repeat buyers who trust Bonanzle.