Making Sense of the Pending eBay UK Updates in May 2012
This quarters eBay UK updates are a real mixed bag, on one hand there appears to be a lot taken away and the other little given back.
I’m going to be using a scoring system for each update, +1 if it I feel its a positive change for businesses and -1 if I don’t. I wonder what the total is going to be at the end of this article?
I’d love to hear from you, let me know if I have graded each change fairly (or not) and how you would have graded each change. You can let me know in the comments box at the bottom.
eBay Video Overview of the Changes
Below is the official video from eBay UK on the May 2012 updates with Angus McCarey
eBay UK Fee Increases x3
No one likes fee increases & there are three punches to the pockets of businesses in the pending update.
In last years update the Tech category fees were reduced from 6% and businesses enjoyed a 50% reduction in fees to 3%, this advantage is now gone. The first is the increase in FVF in the technology categories from 3 to 5%.
This now brings eBay UK in-line with Amazon UK electronics category at 7% (as 5% FVF + 1.9% = 6.9%) and make help businesses that are tech-heavy decide that price parity across the channels might be attractive as it was confirmed that Amazon do include eBay as a sales channel (no surprise really) as part of their price parity checks (see earlier article here & here).
Matt’s Rating: -1 as no one likes fee changes.
The second is the the eTRS discounts are being reduced by 10%. eBay are quick to add that the eTRS status does promote businesses in the Best Match, their value of 15% is obviously a site wide figure, as I know from experience the gain (or loss) of the eTRS status to actually account for a difference of 30-40%.
|Currently Discounts||New Discounts|
This one is really going to hurt and I really mean hurt. If you’re fees are £10,000 a month, this is a cool £1,000 extra that you’re going to be paying and even at a medium sized business with £5K of eBay fees each month, this is £500 which at any business size will make owners re-evaluate current overheads, which include staff.
You can quickly work out what impact this will have by checking your billing section of eBay here, if you’re a high volume business then you’ll have to download the transactions or use the drop down box on the right to see the history of invoices and look for the “New Fees” value in the report summary and your current discounts are shown as ”Discounts”.
Matt’s Rating: -1 as again no one likes fee changes.
eBay Motor Fees Increasing
Also for Business sellers in the Motors category, the insertion fees are changing from £8.00 to £10.00, although you are getting the listing upgrade “Gallery Plus” as part of the update, just like the C2C did in November (see this announcement). The motor fees for business sellers in Ireland they’re seeing the fees increase from 9 to 12 Euros. But they get free gallery plus too.
I’m not sure why eBay aren’t just blunt with the motor fee changes, its a proven fact that listings with images sell more effectively and for a higher sales value than listings with no images. Just a simple inclusion of that fact that “eBay listings with images in the motor category sell for X % more, so we’re making the use of gallery featured compulsory” would have been quite effective.
Matt’s Rating: +1. Yes its a fee change, but for the buyers this has to be a positive change.
We’re at -1 for the updates so far. Lets start digging into the others. Remember if you feel that I have graded one or more of these incorrectly, let me know in the comments box at the bottom.
Note: I’ve used a couple of acronyms in this article, these are explained below
- eTRS = eBay Top Rated Seller
- Best Match = A biasing search mechanism to promote or demote search results
- FVF = Final Value Fees, which is the fee that you pay when the listing is successful.
- C2C = Consumer to Consumer or private sales in plain English.
Say Hello to Adverts & Other Sellers Items In Your Listings
Adverts have been in private seller listings for some time now, however in this release business sellers are going to be seeing adverts below their seller credentials on the listing pages and potentially other sellers items above their listings too.
Now if you’ve not seen the bundles functionality a screen shot of this below, expect eBay to be split testing options showing other sellers items, above this, below this and also at the bottom of the listings and if it was me split testing, instead of showing the bundle options too.
I’ll be blunt here, if I was a business trading on eBay, then I would see this as a step too far (let me know your thoughts in the comments box at the bottom). The insertion (or via eBay Shop subscription) fees are paid to display my businesses products, not anyone else’s and you could say I’m not a fan of this sacred area being played with when it does not immediate benefit the business directly, like the bundles.
Yes, this is going to be an opt in and if you allow your listings to show other sellers items, then yours will be shown, that’s nice, but frankly I’d turn it off.
A screen shot of this in action is below:
Considering that buyers have already got to scroll a mile downwards to get to the actual product details, this puts extra emphasis on what you do above the fold (this is the top of the page before you scroll down), titles, sub titles, images and multi-variation attributes have never been so important to motivate the buyer to scroll down and get at your product details.
Matt’s Rating: -1 as I feel this is a step too far for business sellers
eBay Buyer Protection Extended
In April the number of categories covered by the eBay Buyer Protection are being extended to:
- Custom made products
- Airline flight tickets
- Anything equivalent to cash
- Gift certificates
Any process that fits in with the current processes such as the eBay Buyer Protection to help buyers feel more protected has to be a good thing in my book.
Matt’s Rating: +1 Helps buyers feel more comfortable.
I don’t believe that this in the formal update, but the next update for the KCodes is in April. If you’re in the parts category, look out for these changes.
There is no rating for this, as its not part of the release. If you were wondering, it would get a +1 for keeping them updated.
There are a number of eBay category and item specifics changes in this update. Businesses dislike category and item specific changes, however I see them as an opportunity to adapt quickly and gain a temporary edge over other businesses.
The current list I have of these are below.
- Clothes, Shoes & Accessories
- Consumer Electronics
- Health & Beauty
- Home & Garden
- Jewellery & Watches
- Musical Instruments
- Toys & Games
The full list of category changes is in PDF format and you can view them here
Matt’s Rating: +1 This will cause some fun for businesses with products for these categories, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this section, this could give you a temporary edge.
The eBay Catalogue Extended
Its curious that eBay sport the inclusion that “On average, sellers who use the catalogue sell 50% more than sellers who do not use the catalogue” which indicates how effective the new catalogue system as been.
The following product groups have been extended:
DVD & Blu-Ray:
- Region Free DVD Players
- Portable DVD Players
- DVD Players
- Region 2 DVD Players
- DVD & VCR Combo Players
- DVD Recorders
- Region 2 DVD Recorders
- Region Free DVD Recorders
- Other DVD & Home Cinema
- Blu-Ray Players & Recorders
Home Theatre systems:
- Home Cinema Systems
Home Theatre Speakers & Subwoofers:
- Other Speakers
- HiFi Speakers
- Bookshelf/ Wall Mount Speakers
- Floor Standing Speakers
- Surround/ Home Cinema Speakers
- Standmount Speakers
- Speaker Components
- Portable Speakers
Matt’s Rating: +1 I’m not saying its flawless, however this has to help buyers find items more quickly & efficiently. For businesses, adding the EAN or manufacturers part number (MPN) is strongly suggested as it will also help your eBay items be found in Google product search.
Manufacturer Warranties to Item Specifics
Item specifics are going to support manufacturer warranties. I’ve seen this in certain listings where the business has added it as a custom item specific, however by the very nature of it being a custom item specific, that lacks uniformity across the eBay site and by eBay setting a standard field for the inclusion of the warranty period has to be a good thing.
Plus if its used heavily then it’ll appear in the left navigation bar when in search or browse screens and an option to indicate if the current warranty is transferable is a nice addition.
Matt’s Rating: +1 Definitely a change for the better, for both sellers and buyers.
Handling Time Changes – Show “Same Day” Despatch
This is welcomed addition as many businesses work exceptionally hard at ensuring that their orders are despatched the same day, with the larger ones working with couriers to extend the collection times past 6pm to add efficiency.
Its curious that you’re unable to change the despatch time at a seller level, with eBay’s cut off being midday nor will you be able to change this on a per listing basis just yet (which sucks for pretty much all businesses using a hybrid business model which have a “Just In Time” slice).
Its going to be an account wide setting in your site preferences which once live you can find here.
An interesting addition is the ability to give a reason why a businesses despatch/handling time is longer than normal, this is exceptionally well received because if your business is selling custom made items that take 1-2 weeks to be designed and built, you can let your buyers know in advance.
Matt’s Rating: +1 Definitely a welcome addition. Just hoping that this will be expanded upon at a per listing level.
Automatic 5 Star Rating for Communications
There are a couple of conditions for this to happen which are below:
- Tracking is uploaded or the item is marked as dispatched within 1 working day after payment has been received
- Stated handling time is 1 working day or same day
- The payment method is PayPal, making the payment date visible to eBay.
- No communication took place between the buyer and seller from 14 days before the transaction up until the point that Feedback was left. This includes messages within My eBay and any opened cases
If these conditions are met, then when feedback is left you’ll be automatically awarded 5 stars for communication.
Points 1 to 3 are do-able, point 4 is one that will annoy businesses, as we know that eBay buyers are the most vocal of all the sales channels and certain verticals of businesses will rarely meet this fourth condition.
Matt’s Rating: +1 We’re going to have to see how this pans-out. Some businesses will benefit greatly from this, while others won’t notice any difference. Let me know what you think of this change in the comments box at the bottom.
Clarity on Customs
I only work with one business that will benefit greatly from this addition, however as a whole it’s not a bad update, its just extra wording to help the buyer realise that marking goods as gifts is bad practice (oh come on we all know what its referring too!) and there could be delays with the delivery due to customs issues.
Matt’s Rating: +1 Any extra clarity for buyers has to be a good thing (although that doesn’t mean that buyers will notice it).
Automatic Removal of Non Paying Buyers
Finally, the removal of eBay feedback from buyers that did not pay, if they haven’t left feedback yet then they’re going to be blocked from leaving feedback as well.
The caveat to this is this statement:
This applies whether or not you are using Unpaid Item Assistant as long as you are only offering PayPal and no local pick up is offered.
Matt’s Rating: +1 YAY!
This is going to get another +1, anything that simplifies the policies for businesses and buyers is a good thing. These polices are taken for granted in advanced selling tools such as ChannelAdvisor, ChannelGrabber or eSellerPro, however for businesses without these tools, then they can be a pain.
I’m not going to cover these in any great depth, as the video with Dave Forest below explains them really well.
eBay As a Payment Processor in Germany
This also applies to eBay Austria as well, but you need to be fully aware of what the implications of this mean to us in the UK. eBay UK is not the second largest eBay site, eBay Germany is and for such a fundamental change to be made on that site, means that we’re likely to be seeing this change in either the next update or the one following.
Currently for eBay UK sales, you can opt to choose a different payment method other than PayPal, say bank transfer or cheque, however in Germany where bank transfers are the norm, eBay are now stepping in as a the payment processor. The customer pays eBay for the order and then eBay pays the seller.
I’m sure the intentions are good, if its been identified that eBay need to step in as the trusted party between the seller & buyer to ensure a smooth transaction, then this can be easily understood, however does this not sound familiar? *coff* Amazon.
What We Didn’t See in the Updates
There are a couple of topics that we didn’t see in this update.
The first is that there was no mention of the pilot bundles facility being release site wide for all businesses to use. This feature is still in pilot mode with several larger businesses on eBay and allows sellers to create “special offers” at the top of their listings.
I checked the eBay API documentation this morning and there is still no sign of this being added to the core trading API, which means that to use these, sellers need to manually upload their bundles via CSV files. Once this hits the API documentation, I suspect we’ll be seeing in the following update, assuming that it does leave the pilot scheme (which it should do).
No eBay Shop Updates
In a previous article I found that there are 400,000 eBay shops currently on eBay UK. While the enterprise businesses have a new structure to the eBay shops (that’s why the outlet stores look and act differently differently to normal eBay shops) the tools & features that are included have not changed for years.
I’ve been waiting for an update for the eBay shops for the past two years, because if you look in the HTML of eBay shops there are three very interesting additions, these are are below:
Meta Tags for search engines
The only way these tags work is that if the domain where they are being served from is in the control of the business, with it being on a eBay domain its clearly not. So will we be seeing CNAME aliases for eBay shops soon or maybe eBay is working with Google & Microsoft just for eBay Shops? I just don’t know. But from the code snippet above, its clear there is something going on with them.
Mobile Optimised descriptions
As an observation, if eBay is experiencing a rapid increase in the number of transactions made via mobile devices (one pound in every ten), would it not be a good idea to ask sellers for a duplicate description that is optimised for mobile devices?
Have you tried viewing an item on eBay on a phone? It looks awful and I personally always end up going to the main site to view the item. I know what I am suggesting, two descriptions for eBay listings, but larger sellers with tools in the background will be easily cope with this and would be easily added to most eBay platform specific tools.
The Final Score
So… Quite a few changes to digest, that’s why I have been keeping track of them using a scoring system, the total count comes in at +7.
There were 3 negatives around the eTRS fees being reduced, the insertion fees going up for Tech and the addition of adverts & other sellers items in item detail pages. I’ve spoken to a couple of businesses already and I asked them what they thought, universally the reply was “fee changes”.
However generally, as shown by the 10 positive scores in this article show that while it may frankly suck that its going to become more expensive to sell on eBay for most, the updates included in the pending release are generally positive overall.
What do You Make of the Changes?
- Would you have scored eBay at just minus one for the fee increases?
- Do you agree with the ratings I have given each of the changes?
- How are the fee increase going to affect your business?
Let me know in the comments box below.