Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Who Fancies a Sex Change on eBay?

A group of Israeli researchers tested buyer attitudes on eBay and discovered that women sellers tend to receive lower prices and fewer sales than men selling the same and similar products. The team tested their result over various different products and age groups and reached roughly the same conclusion.  

There were some minor variations, however, one being that buyers tend to trust women more than men to accurately describe quality and condition of used goods.  But for new goods, male sellers came out tops in most situations where seller gender is known.

The obvious exception is where prospective buyers don’t know and can’t easily determine whether a seller is male or female. 

Like most high level research, the Israelis’ report extended to numerous pages of statistical jargon most of us don’t need to know about anyway. 

But we can all benefit from knowing how to use the research to our advantage.  One way is for female sellers to avoid using predominantly female names in eBay ID and eBay shop names.  So instead of ‘Avril’s Collectibles’, I should fare better calling my eBay shop ‘Collectors’ Emporium’ or ‘Harper’s Shop’ (very rough and hopefully fictitious).  And we girls would probably be better off not mentioning gender or first names in our listings and messages.

You boys have no such problem, although you might like to consider a name change if you’re selling mainly used items.

You may think I’m over-reacting but I personally agree one hundred per cent with the Israeli team, based among other things on something a local flea market stallholder said last weekend when I complained about having encountered two really difficult buyers in just as many days.  He said, and he meant it: “It’s because you’re a woman and they think they can run rings around you.” 

Next day I used my husband’s name to reply to both problem customers, saying Avril was away on business and he was in charge.  Did I just imagine both people becoming more polite and less hostile?   

I don’t think so and that’s why I’ll be letting an imaginary male colleague tackle badly behaved buyers in future.

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