Monday, October 14, 2013

Building a reputation as online seller

A good reputation is difficult to earn and easy to lose. And reputation matters, think of monetary policy, auditing, medical doctors, restaurants, and politicians. With the Internet, online reviews and reputation have become important as well. I certainly take them into account before buying online. From the point of view of a seller, how do you build a reputations?

Ying Fan, Jiandong Ju and Mo Xiao got access to data to the major Chinese e-commerce platform to study the evolution of seller reputation. In particular, they have been able to trace the strategies and histories on sellers. They show that a good reputation is a great benefit, but that new sellers have a very hard time establishing it. Imagine you start with no reputation whatsoever and are competing with established sellers. To gain an edge, you need to resort to sales and attract attention in various ways, such as cross-listing your product all over the place. This is a lot of effort, and the authors argue that there is too much of it.

This reminds me of the early days of this blog. Being anonymous, I obviously started with no reputation and had to build it from scratch. With barely any readers, I started adding links to unrelated, but interesting stuff to attract more. That did not work, although this has worked for others (restaurant reviews come to mind). It took several years for readership to really pick up, and I thought several times about abandoning during that time.

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