Matthew is an eBay Expert & consultant with over 10 years of experience on eBay. Has worked for two eBay auction management companies and has helped hundreds of eBay based businesses sell on eBay, including his own for 3 years.

eBay Expert Having run his own business on eBay UK for 3 years, been featured on BBC News 24, BBC Radio 4 “In Business” with Peter Day and also featured in the Sunday Times.

eBay Top Rated SellerHosting the very first eBay PowerSellers meeting of its kind in the UK, attended by eBay, which then lead to the eBay university program. Then working for the USA auction management company (now owned by ChannelAdvisor) here in the UK and then later on another eBay listing software company, Matthew has probably seen more eBay based businesses outside the confines of eBay than anyone else in the UK.

Matthew takes a different approach to eBay and it really shows in the articles he writes. eBay is just a sales channel, admittedly a rather large one at that, but this should never be forgotten and he knows that its all to easy to become caught up in a whirl-wind of noise that is generated by selling on eBay and does his best to help keep your feet on the ground and focus at the job at hand, making more profit.

Its unlikely you’re going to ask Matthew something he does not already know about eBay, you can contact him on his dedicated Contact Matthew page.

Why is eSellerPro still the best of a “Bad Bunch”?

It was 3 years ago I left eSellerPro and still today, eSellerPro is generally the better choice for larger multi-channel marketplace businesses, but why is this? That’s the question I aim to answer in this article & accompanying video.

I’m answering the same question a couple of times a week and rather than repeating myself over and over, I thought it would be more productive for me to create a video and explain the once :) If I’ve referred you to this page, scroll down and hit play on the YouTube video.


So why 3 years on is eSellerPro still the best of a bad bunch?

Just for the record, “Bad Bunch” is not my term, this is the term being used by business owners like you to describe the multi-channel eCommerce software providers out there today.

And back on topic… Well, the answer falls down to only three key areas:

  1. Inventory Management
  2. Importing & Exporting
  3. Stock Control

So let’s look at these in more detail. You can either follow these in the video below or the written overview that follows.

1. Inventory Management

I’m really surprised that none of the other providers have picked up on this and this can be boiled down to two key areas, inventory structure and the extensible data fields called “custom fields”. So let’s look at the inventory management side in more detail and custom fields, I’ve covered before.

Simply Master, Sub, Listing, Variation and Kit inventory records are the answer here.

No other multi-channel software product out there has an inventory system similar to what is found in eSellerPro and it’s still holding strong  with the inventory types we created over 6 years ago. And this boils down to several key inventory types, these are:

  • Master
  • Sub
  • Listing
  • Variation
  • Kits

Basically you have maximum control over the way your inventory works and if you’re selling products that come in variations or have more than one sales channel, then these really come into their own and kick every other software providers butts.

2. Importing and Exporting

If we take a moment to look at what some of the other software tools have out there and then look at eSellerPro, you’ll then understand why importing & export still rocks in eSellerPro.

Let’s take Linnworks, what would take a single import in eSellerPro takes 3 imports in Linnworks, oh and then you have to combine this with a disjointed interface, managing lots of inventory becomes cumbersome.

Now let’s look at ChannelAdvisor, ChannelAdvisor has the second best importing system out there and in a few places a superior import system as you can run excel based logic when importing product data, but it’s let down by the poor inventory management system behind it, thus falls flat on that part.

ChannelGrabber, they still don’t seem to be able to handle a single import for all products, instead you have separate records for the same product. So if you have one product and 10 listings on the channels, you have 11 records (or there-abouts), times that over 1000 products, you can see the problem.

Other software tools like SellerExpress, StoreFeeder, 247TopSeller etc… I’m unable/unwilling to comment on, but they don’t have the same inventory structure we covered in #1, so they’re basically flawed for larger businesses when compared like for like.

3. Stock Control

In eSellerPro there is a system that was a cool idea in the beginning and even today I’d personally class it as “insanely cool” and I bow to the developer that built the code behind this, it’s amazing.

This all boils down to the way that stock is managed over multiple sales channels and inventory records. But let’s keep it simple!

Say we have a pair of sunglasses that we have 10 in stock, we are selling these on eBay on two accounts, Amazon and our website, we can sell these sunglasses on all the sales channels and when the stock level decreases, then all the channels are updated, when we have stock arrive, then the stock levels are also updated.

But it doesn’t stop there with the channel profile you can set up minimum quantities to limit the risk of overselling, you can use it to calculate prices and it’ll list and delist products as your products come in and out of stock and also by it’s very name “Channel Profile”, you can have more than one profile doing different things for different products

So why is eSellerPro still the best of a bad bunch?

Their inventory system is designed for large multi-channel marketplace businesses, their import & export system is one of the best and most flexible systems out there and finally with the Channel Profile, you can have ultimate control over where and how products are listed.

And frankly what did you expect?

After all I genuinely did believe that eSellerPro was the last software product I would be helping create for multichannel businesses, this is clearly shown  six years on as it’s still the better choice of a bunch of providers out there.

I hope that helps you!

PS: If you’re one of the 3rd party software providers I just covered above and don’t like my summaries or explanations, make your software better, the keys to doing this are covered in the video :)

Are You Being Overcharged on eBay Too?

Just like most of you, I bet it was quite a while ago when was the last time you dug in to your eBay invoices. Digging into the transaction history in one eBay account identified an expensive flaw with eBay’s billing when it comes to multiple eBay categories resulting in the account being heavily over charged.

Read on and let’s see if you’re affected too by this.

2nd Categories

There is a flaw in the way eBay handles the billing for fashion categories on the eBay UK site with second eBay categories, this results in your account being over charged, £2.70 every time or if you’re lucky just 36p a pop.

When you list into the eBay fashion categories on eBay UK, you are given a free picture pack.  This is great, you can add lots of images (12 of them, “happy days” springs to mind) which are especially important in fashion related categories. 

You don’t ask for this on the sell your item form or via the eBay Trading API, you are given it for free whether you want or actually use it

Remember this point, it’s important.

The problem occurs is when you list into a fashion related category as your primary category and then add a second eBay category that isn’t a fashion category. This second eBay category may not have a “free picture pack” and because you were given this without choice on the 1st category, your listing is imposed the upgrade fee of £2.70 per listing for the picture pack.

But it doesn’t stop there… as we’ve found you can also be charged 36p “Picture fee” on other items per listing that is listed into secondary categories, although the listing only has one image and there are no additional images. Oh and to top this off, on the account we found this on, the images are externally hosted as well. So that means anyone using 3rd party listing tools are also affected.

Ouch This Hurts

This is the direct feedback from a eBay UK business owner that is affected by this, I’ve checked their account this morning and the fees are there in their billing history exactly how they describe:

Hi Matt

Over the last few days I’ve revised some listings into different categories. Big mistake if I’d have deleted the listings and reuploaded I think I’d have saved £400 ish.

So I’ve uploaded an item into Clothes, Shoes & Accessories >Womens Clothing >Activewear (category ID 137085) and ebay have by default added a free picture pack (we didn’t set it).

Then I have revised the item and added a second category

Sporting Goods >Exercise & fitness>Exercise Clothes & Shoes>Womens Clothes (category ID 79758)

When adding this second category it has picked up the free picture pack on the original category that ebay has added and charged. £2.70.

It’s also charged for picture upgrades on some at 36p & I have listings that are the same as above moved into identical categories and have been charged the correct amount 1p. (anchor store listing with 2 cats).
eBay have recommended two options to stop being charged in the future

a) Remove the second category from any listings.

b) Upload blank images to delete all images from the live listings. Then re-upload the correct images back onto the live listings. But can’t give me any guarantee that this would work.

the option they didn’t say was to delete all listings and re-upload as this would cancel any future issues. But I think this recommendation would be too close to admitting there is a bug in their system. It should have dropped the picture pack when I added the second category.

I have been told that the picture pack charges are down to me as they are advertised clearly on the fees page. I have told them that at no point did I ask for a picture pack to be added to the first category so it can’t be my responsibility.

Unfortunately moving forward there is no setting in ebay to stop additional images charges.

Now there’s not much option but to remove any second categories from my listings resulting in me not using ebay properly and giving my competitors a massive advantage.

We’ve worked out how much this has cost this business this month, it wasn’t pretty as it came in at over £400.

Penalised for Playing Fair

This really does feel we’re being penalised for playing fair.

I know many of you use 3rd party tools and to duplicate your entire inventory, switch a few titles around wouldn’t take more than a few hours, but we generally don’t (most of you anyway, *coff*) and could easily list products into other categories, but in this case we’re adding the second category to play fair and not duplicate list everything.

After all, eBay has gone to such lengths to remove duplicates from the site such as the August 2012 where the a single fixed price listing was imposed, a duplicate listing tool back in 2001 to identify duplicate listings and I’m sure you’ve received them, the bot that scans eBay and slaps you for having duplicate listings with policy warnings.

Are you Affected Too?

A serious question, when was the last time you scanned down your eBay listing fees? Quite a while ago like the rest of us I’m betting.

Take a look at your eBay “Account Activity”, you can access this page from My eBay > Account > Seller Account > And clicking on the “View All activity” link at the bottom or  a direct link is here

Tip: A download option to CSV files is also available on this page too for those of you that have a large amount of transaction history and you can filter the charges using the data filter option in Excel.

My questions for you:

  • So are you affected by this as well?
  • Do you agree with me that this really is not fair for playing fair?

Let me know in the comments box below.

Making Sense of the Spring 2013 eBay UK Seller Updates

This is likely to be the most comprehensive guide there is to the eBay UK updates that are being released this morning that covers the all the changes that are included in the eBay UK Spring updates and a look on how these are going to impact your business over the next 6 months.

These updates require your full attention, pop the kettle on and pull your chair closer, we’re going to dig in deep and see what these changes are all about and crucially how they impact you and your business and we’ll also be looking at what wasn’t included in this update too.

I’m interested in what you make of these updates and how they’ll impact your business over the rest of the year. You can let me know your thoughts & reactions in the comments section at the bottom of this page. If you’re an eBay Top Rated Seller, then do let me know what you think of the changes you’re about to discover.


So What’s eBay Included in eBay Updates?

Almost across the board the updates are almost all positive and we don’t have any unknown surprises of what’s been included, the writing has been on the wall for the images requirements since last year when eBay US sellers got hit with the update, we have also known for a long time now that the “New eBay” was coming and it’s going to be rolled out in the UK this year and there is one word I know you love the most, “FREE” is included in this update as well.

There is one word I know you love the most, “FREE” is included in this update as well

With the eBay UK site being the most highly penetrated site per head of all the eBay sites (hat tip to Chris @ Tamebay for working this out) there are deeper links into cross-border-trade and eBay are taking the extra steps needed to help expand UK sellers by working with 3rd party companies to offer tracked postage options into the EU with half decent rates too, plus clarity for international buyers from their native sites when selecting postage options.

While this update has to be one of the most positive updates there has been to date by eBay (I even questioned this in the call, “we’re 20 slides in, when to do get to the bad stuff? Come’on there has to be some percentage fee increases in here somewhere?”), we do have category & item specific updates in this update as well, that’s almost a given now. I’ll also be taking a look at what was not included in this update, especially around eBay Shops, for me one of the most undervalued parts of eBay that has been shunned again and got a fee increase too.

eBay’s Theme for the Spring Updates

This update has a theme to it, well three to be precise and they all revolve around those most dear to our hearts, customers and crucially what they are becoming to expect from any retailer out there online and offline.

Visual browsing and inspiration
“Online shoppers want to be able to see an item just like they can in a high street shop. This means lots of high-quality photos and clear item descriptions on every listing, especially for buyers using mobile devices. Buyers also like to be inspired by regular deals and great merchandising”

Fast and flexible fulfilment
“When shopping online, buyers can’t simply walk away with an item as they can on the high street, but they still expect the next best experience. Flexible delivery options, with same day or next day dispatch are standard expectations”

No surprises, no risks
“Online shoppers want the option to return an item, with ‘no questions asked’, just like they can in most high street shops”

What we’re now going to see in these updates are changes & updates that revolve around how businesses with eBay can help deliver these as a high quality package to customers.

Update: A short video from eBay on these changes can be viewed below:

Overly Harsh on Themselves

In the chart below, which was compiled by research by a visually impaired research company (joke, but seriously not sure where or how deep they looked?) multi-category retailers are compared to specialist retailers and to marketplaces such as eBay and rated them on a scoring system from good to bad.

Services provided by retailers and marketplaces

Services provided by retailers and marketplaces

Marketplaces appear to have had a really rough ride in this research, consistently scoring poorly.

Yes, we know that same day delivery & scheduled delivery have never really been part of eBay, but as a whole for customer service, most smaller businesses on eBay believe that outstanding customer service is their primary unique selling point and Amazon even changed the rules last year to penalise businesses that don’t respond questions within 24 hours, even over weekends regardless if you’re open or not with the Amazon Seller Ratings they released last September.

eBay swaps images on colour selection

This is a screenshot from the article I mention in a few moments regarding how listings change images on eBay.

I wish I had finished an article that I have been working on over the gallery options on Magento, in this I look in depth at the gallery options on eBay and Amazon, while neither of them are “perfect”, they are a lot better that what you get in almost ALL shopping cart systems out there, free and paid for!

Both eBay & Amazon marketplaces do a pretty good job at the fly over zoom options when there are larger images available and most serious business sellers on eBay have got excellent images, combine this with outstanding product data and many of you reading this would put large retailers to shame.

Update: Thanks to a nudge from eBay, there is a “Top tips for taking photo’s guide” that you can download here.

We’ll be back to the topic of images shortly as we have some important updates on this topic.

eBay Top Rated Seller Status Changes

This is the biggest change to the eBay Top Rated Seller status since it was brought in (and that includes the discounts going down last time too). In this update, we’re seeing a shift from eBay from looking at your performance overall at an account level, but also focusing at individual listing level as well.

You must offer:  (This is their words, not mine)

  • A minimum returns period of 14  days, using the new way of specifying your returns policy
  • 1-day or same-day dispatch
  • An express delivery option – offering delivery within 1 day
  • A free postage option
eBay Detailed Seller Ratings requirements removed

eBay Detailed Seller Ratings requirements removed

The caveat to this is that you don’t need to meet these requirements for all of your listings, instead you’ll only receive the associated benefits and final value fee discounts on listings that do match these requirements.

While you’re not forced to include these options, I know for several companies same day despatch would be impossible and next day would be a massive challenge, especially if we consider that products need customisations made to them before dispatch and is going to be a challenge for them to maintain the eTRS status levels they have previously enjoyed.

On the flip side to these requirements, the entry level to obtain eTRS (eBay Top Rated Seller) status will have it’s minimum of 4.60% for detailed seller ratings dropped [Update: This is actually an error, these are still required to meet the eTRS status] and the minimum percentage will be 0.5% or 2 (this is the 1 & 2 star ratings for the 4 detailed seller ratings, which is what we have now). Also, the barrier to entry has been halved from a minimum of £2,500 of sales & 100 transactions to just  £1,000 of sales for any the past 12 months.

Does this sound exactly like what happened with the eBay PowerSeller status when it was diluted when eTRS was brought in?

Is this a good or bad move by eBay? Remember you can let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Free Pictures But No Advertising :(

The second most important marketing asset that we have available on eBay is changing (the listing title being first of course).

We saw in the updates that were released on last year where extra marketing information was basically banned from being used in product images (this is extra information such as brand logos and text such as “UK Seller” and so on…), in this update we’re being given advanced notice that in August of this year the same rules are going to be imposed on UK businesses.

Promotional messages & borders are going in August 2013

To sweeten the impact of this, we are going to be given free images, well 12 to be precise and when questioned, this looks like up to 12 images per variation as well (not just the 1st free one like we have now) and access to the zoom feature as well. A side effect of this is that the picture pack is no longer needed and is being retired, but the super-size upgrade option will remain.

To be fair we’re being given a decent amount of time to work on changing any images that we may have up with extra borders, messages and so on in them, even businesses with large amounts of inventory, this should be enough time to make the changes needed (although quite painful if you have +10,000 listings with them). If you’re selling in the vehicle parts & accessories categories, then you’re the exceptions list (again) and won’t be subject to these requirements or restrictions.

eBay are setting some new minimum requirements for when it comes to images, these are as follows:

  • Every listing must have a minimum of 1 image
  • That image must have a minimum width or height of 500 pixels
  • Watermarks are allowed, but under strict guidelines

It’s suggested that any images used are 1600 pixels on their longest side, as this causes the zoom feature to be shown on the listing pages and for refurbished items stock photographs are allowed, but not for used products.

Below I’ve included some images around the new image guidelines to help you:

eBay Reccommended Image Sizes

eBay Recommended Image Sizes. A minimum of 500 pixels on the longest side and a suggested width or height of 1600 pixels, as this makes the zoom feature appear on your listings.

eBay images don't use borders

Borders are going to be disallowed when the image requirements are in-force.

eBay water marking Images

Watermarks are allowed for ownership and attribution, but not for marketing information such as specific details about your item or customer service. Your watermark should be no bigger than 5% of the total image area, have an opacity of no more than 50%, and never obscure the item. Links are not allowed in watermarks.

eBay no text or artwork in gallery pictures

This is the end of using the eBay gallery picture to help promote the product and/or your business and instead to focus purely on the product.

What do you make of these changes? Are they going to dramatically change the way you view eBay over the next 6 months? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom.

eBay Shop Subscription Changes

Did you know that there are approximately 400,000 eBay shops in the UK alone and these make a cool £81.4M per year?

If you’ve got a basic or a featured eBay shop, then the monthly subscription fees are going up. Basic is going up by £5 to £19.99 and a featured eBay Shop is going up £10 to £59.99 per month. For this, we’re getting 20 GTC listings (That’s Good Till Cancelled ) for the basic level and a whopping 60 GTC free listings per month for the featured store.

When we do the maths on this, this equates to 20 listings x 10p = £2.00, so that’s a £3 increase for a basic shop or 20% and 60 listings x 5p = £3 and £7 increase for the featured or 13% more.

It doesn’t matter how we mince this one, we’re going to be paying more for the same under-performing, lonely, forgotten-about-for-years, under-developed, under-promoted, generally-lacking, poorly-design, pants-marketing-tools and unloved eBay Shop. More on this topic later.

The New eBay is going to be Rolled Out This Year

The “New eBay” is more than just a logo change

For those of you that followed the Podcast series that we ran last year, one of them also included a deeper look at what the “New eBay” is. The “New eBay” is more than just a logo change, we have already seen some of these changes, but there are some massive changes coming for buyers this year as part of this and I’ve included the video from the Podcast that covered the changes below, which will take you through the updates that eBay have planned with the “New eBay” below:

Common Sense For eBay Buyer Protection Cases

Not just yet through, but in May when you win a buyer protection case, any feedback that has been left will be removed from your account and crucially excluded from the seller performance evaluation.

Same Day Despatch on the Item Detail Pages

eBay same working day despatch optionIn this update when it’s released, we’ll be able to set a “Same Working Day” option for our despatch times on listings.

I’ll cover this in more detail later in what was missing from this update, but for now you can only set your cut off times for your entire account as a single time user setting in your eBay account settings for all your listings.

Native Shipping Options When Listing on Other eBay Sites Locally

This always was a challenge when listing locally on to other eBay sites, which shipping option do you choose? eBay are adding 3 options for international sellers for Economy, Standard & Express options to the shipping options for international sellers when listing onto foreign sites directly.

If you’re using a third party tool to list with, do make sure that once these are released that these options are available for you, as this will help buyers see a true reflection on the right postage costs and delivery times to them.

Forced Immediate Payment Only on Buy it Now Listings

We’re starting to see the first imposed PayPal that we have seen to date, probably since PayPal nought and favoured over the previous billing system Billpoint (which was ok actually) and for listings that are over £650, PayPal immediate payment is required on buy it Now listings. It’s not clear yet whether this is on all product categories or if there are some exceptions (Motors for example), we’ll know more once the updates are public.

Faster Resolution of Unpaid Items & Feedback Removal

A while back (maybe 18 months or more) eBay lowered the amount of time it would take to open an unpaid item case, from April this year eBay are reducing this by 50% from 4 days to 2 days to expedite the payment process or for you to be able to relist your item more quickly.

Keep this in mind if you’re using third party software to automate your disputes and do nag them to make sure that you can take advantage of the ability to create cases faster, as this ultimately means that you’ll get paid or you can release the inventory back to eBay quicker, either-way this will help cash flow.

Best Offer Changes

In May we’ll be seeing some changes to the “Best Offer” functionality as eBay test over multiple categories the ability to access best offers from multiple buyers for an item, but crucially the item actually only being won by the customer who pays first. That’s an interesting dynamic, which I can see sellers liking, but I’m not entirely sure how much customers will like this. Would you agree?

This is going to be tested in the following categories from May:

  • Computers, Tablets & Networking
  • Jewellery & Watches
  • Art

Category & Item Specific Changes

Ewwwwwwww these fill me with dread.

I’m not sure which categories are changing and how deep the item specifics are changing for the eBay UK category tree yet (I’ll update this article when I know), but any change when it comes to categorisation and item specifics makes me cringe. Data is the live blood of an eCommerce business, if you’ve got more than a handful of listings live, then you’re going to want to check these updates out ASAP.

As with any changes on any marketplace, you can gain a competitive advantage by being first to fully implement changes, this is especially true when it comes to categories and item specifics, unfortunately not everyone will read this site that uses eBay and even with eBay’s messaging over the next few weeks it’ll still be missed, read up on the changes ASAP and take advantage of the headstart on these.

If you’re using third party tools to list onto eBay with review what options you have around item specifics and factor these in as quickly as you can. I’m suspecting that the majority of these changes will be minor, that means within a few exports & imports you can have the majority of these changes licked and your data prepared for the updates.

Update: The categories that have updates are as follows and they’re not that bad on first impressions:

  • Clothes Shoes & Accessories
  • Coins
  • Health & Beauty
  • Home, Furniture & DIY
  • Jewellery & Watches
  • Pet Supplies
  • Sporting Goods
  • Vehicle Parts & Accessories

A by-product of these changes, two leaf categories are seeing an increase in fees, these are:

Current category Current final value fees New category New final value fees from 1 May
Home, Furniture & DIY> Celebrations & Occasions > Christmas > Santa Hats & Costumes (122751) 10% Clothes, Shoes & Accessories> Fancy Dress & Period Costume > Other Fancy Dress & Period (163149) 12%
Home, Furniture & DIY> Celebrations & Occasions > Hallowe’en > Costumes (10944) 10% Clothes, Shoes & Accessories> Fancy Dress & Period Costume > Other Fancy Dress & Period (163149) 12%

Also  the “Other Stuffed Toys” category will no longer receive free pictures:

Home, Furniture & DIY > Celebrations & Occasions > Valentine’s Day > Stuffed Toys (70981) will become
Toys & Games > Soft Toys & Stuffed Animals > Other Soft Toys (68394)

A full list of the category changes can be found here and the PDF downloads are below:

Business Policies Tool Being Launched

Back in the eBay May 2012 updates, one of the updates that wasn’t released was a new tool that that simplifies the policies for businesses and buyers. Sometime between March & July we’re going to see the the business policies section launched, this will allow you to keep manage your own custom settings for returns, postage and payment information in one central location.

With this tool being launched, later in this autumn we’ll be seeing new standard returns policies for the eBay UK site, this will include an expansion on who pays the return postage that we already have to include the number of days that a buyer has to cancel a transaction and implementing a standard returns policy for all business sellers on eBay UK.

eBay Returns Information

The standard returns policy can be updated in your site preferences section in “My eBay”

Note: This one will be interesting to read when it’s released, eBay UK publish that there are now 190,000 registered businesses on eBay UK and trying to cover sooo many different business types with one policy means this is bound to upset someone. We’ll know more later this year on this.

eBay Business Policies

Currently the eBay Business Policies is an invite only, this means you should expect an email when it’s released and you’ll most likely be notified within My eBay too.

When this was originally released, Dave Forest from eBay released the video below. If you’re not using advanced listing tools, this tool could save you a bucket load of time when it comes to these settings and is worth taking a the two minutes to watch this video:

eBay Charity Updates

eBay for Charity LogoeBay are removing the  £1 minimum donation from sellers for charity listings.

For the switched on business owners out there, you’ve gotta be thinking 1 pence is a small price to pay to have the charity logo on your listings and I can see this being heavily abused, sorry “used” when this update comes out.

All Ticket Sales Moving to StubHub

This is more of an informational update than anything. eBay bought StubHub in 2007 a platform dedicated to ticket sales and as StubHub launched in the UK last year, ticket sales are being migrated to the dedicated site and from the week commencing the 13th May 2013 all ticket sellers will be required to list on instead of the site.

So What Was Missing from the Spring Updates?

Now this is where it gets interesting, what did we not see updated or included in this release?

No Updates to eBay Shops Functionality

I just feel that the eBay shops owners like you deserve more

Another update passes and eBay Shops now have a price increase, but no extra functionality or exposure added in return. If there are 400,000 eBay shops in the UK, you would have thought that someone (there has to be someone!!!!) that has worked out that the obscene amount of revenue that these stores generate could be used to really expand on what has been built with the existing eBay shops and build these into proper eCommerce sites with features such as:


  • Domain mapping
  • Better themes
  • More configurable design options that we see in true eCommerce websites
  • Maybe responsive themes as standard
  • More SEO options for the shops
  • Daily or weekly deal widgets
  • Deeper shopping cart functionality
  • More custom pages, with more keywords
  • Maybe a proper content management system to make each business show that they are the experts in their niches



  • Better email marketing tools and a signup page that isn’t absolutely pointless
  • More advance cross promotion tools
  • Discount codes
  • Deeper links back into eBay search results
  • Other payment methods (lol, couldn’t resist)
  • Advanced search options that don’t need 3rd parties to create
  • An online chat system
  • Discounts for businesses that use Google Adwords to promote their eBay shop


eBay is a leader in Marketplaces across the globe, I just feel that the eBay shops owners like you deserve more. Do you feel this way too? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

No Delayed Shipping Options

One of the points that were highlighted in the research at the beginning was that even high-street retailers are not really offering same-day or delayed/scheduled delivery options.

If you were looking at that research (and trust what it says), then surely would you not be thinking “We could add this into eBay now and facilitate this before any of the other platforms out there“. I feel eBay missed this one early and we’ve missed out on some cool functionality that could have given an edge over the outside world of eBay.

No Control at Listing Level for Same-Day Despatch

Having a global setting for all listings for a cut off time is nice and it’s s start, but for most business now use a mixture of business models for the supply & distribution of stock, then this is plain useless as some products won’t be despatched until the next day and this could be different options within the very same listing as well.

No Fee Updates

Always a welcome to have no fee changes, but makes you wonder what will be in the Autumn update, are they saving them up?

A Complete Reworking of the Types for Vehicle Parts & Accessories

Have you tried listing into the vehicle parts & accessories categories lately? What a nightmare this has become. I’m not sure, if anything has been planned over the use of the parts compatibilities, but they’re not simple to work with on a massive scale. One update that I didn’t include in the bulk of the article above is that eBay are reworking the parts compatibility tool for listing onto eBay directly, this is welcomed of course, but it’s still not a friendly affair.

No Variation Listing Expansion into More Categories

eBay variations are lethal, we covered these in a Podcast last year called “The 101 of eBay Variations + 7 Tips” which was one of the most listened to Podcasts we created. What was missing from this update was the expansion of variations to even more categories. I know some businesses that are crying out for these. (Are you too? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom)

No GTIN/EAN/Barcodes for Variation Listings

We also didn’t see the ability to set a barcode for each variation listing in this update. This basically means that variation listings on eBay don’t get the exposure they should do in Google Search & shopping, plus in the main eBay search. Think about it, if a customer knows the barcode of an item, do you also think that the customer has a credit card in the other hand waiting to buy the product? I do. So that’s why we should have this in eBay too, we have it everywhere else (*coff* Amazon, Magento…)


Out of all the changes that we have in this update, the one that is most likely to impact your business is the changes to the image requirements. If you’re in the vehicle parts & accessories which have missed this hit, then this is the end of the extra marketing potential of the eBay gallery image.

Personally I’m sad to see this go and I know many of you reading this will be hit hard by this update that will be hitting us in August. With up to 12 images now available for free in listings is a really nice extension to combat this but some categories already had free images, such as the fashion categories…

eBay category & item specifics updates are to be expected, they have been in the last few updates and the reasoning behind this is around the cross border trade into the EU sites, there are multiple sites that need to be aligned to each other and I’m sure we can expect more updates to these over the next year or so. On the bright side is that once they are fully aligned (or as as aligned as possible) then updates for inventory data that is used on multiple eBay sites should become a lot easier for businesses with large amounts of inventory.

I’m a little surprised at the bar for the eBay Top Rated Seller status being reduced by such a considerable amount and that the DSR scores are no longer part of this as well, just the minimums that are always tricky to maintain.

We’ll also be seeing granular control over the eTRS status on listings that don’t conform to eBay’s requirements at a listing level, so if you’re not offering:

  • A minimum of 14 days returns
  • AND 1 day or same day despatch
  • AND an express delivery option
  • AND a free postage option
  • AND meeting the other requirements at account level

Then you’ll not be promoted as an eTRS at listing level, which is a little harsh, but if there are items that cannot match this, then the fairest way is to control this at listing level.

eBay are also working with 3rd parties around delivery options as well in to Europe & beyond. Again I’ve not covered this in the core of the article (mainly due to time restraints), eBay have teamed up with 3rd parties to work out decent shipping rates into these locations and especially around expedited and tracked options. This has to bow well not only for us as business owners (especially around PayPal issues), but crucially for customers too.

If eBay’s focus really is, “fast flexible fulfilment”, “no surprises, no risk” and “visual browsing & inspiration”, these core essentials are an excellent base to work from. We’ve seen them working on all these topics in this update, but also in previous updates as well. Sometimes these updates don’t go as planned like the image swapping and colour swatches that had issues in the run up to Christmas from the Autumn 2012 updates, but that’s OK, we know that sometimes updates won’t always go smoothly, with the customer as the focus point, they really can’t go wrong.

What Do YOU Think of the Updates?

That really is enough from me, what do you think of these updates?

  • How will the images update impact you?
  • Will you gain anything from having free images?
  • What do you make of eTRS being diluted?
  • Do any of these updates change your thoughts on eBay as a marketplace?

You can let me know in the comments box just below this article.

eBay Dynamic eBay Store Categories Script Updated

Dynamic eBay Categories ExampleOver the weekend several updates were added to the Dynamic eBay Store Categories Script were released.

If you’ve not heard of this before, this is a “eBay Compatible” widget that allows you to add in your eBay shop categories into your listings remotely and have complete control over how they appear and look.

The Updates:

The updates to this script are as follows:

eBay Store search added

You can now have a eBay search box at the top of your categories bar in your listings that allows customers to make searches in your eBay shop, straight from your listing. Add in your eBay shop URL and set the setting to true to enable this feature.

Ability to order the categories

This was a feature request because sometimes the ordering that eBay gives you in the “Manage my Shop” section isn’t good enough and now you have the option of setting the ordering of the categories either to follow the eBay ordering or to order them alphabetically on each of the 3 levels of categories

Speed improvements & better compatibility with more hosting providers

Not all web hosting is born equal, several changes have been made so that you don’t run into challenges with hosting provided by the majority of the UK & US web hosting companies. Also added to this were several faster ways of rendering the final output code too and cache management


If you’re already purchased & are using this widget to bring in your eBay shop categories in your listing templates, the upgrade details are in your email inbox :) You can download the latest version from your account on this site and I’ve increased the download limit by 2 to allow you to grab the latest version.

Would you like your eBay shop categories in your listings?

eBay compatible applicationThis is a stand alone script that runs from your web hosting for maximum control and allows you to not only show your eBay shop categories in your listings, but also includes a search feature and is completely configurable through the template system I added last year as well.

You can find out more about this script here (there is a video included too).


PS. If you’re a web designer, there is a special web designers version also available for use with multiple clients which is being used by several high profile eBay shop & listing template design companies

Why Does More Products = More Kisses?

Sat around the dinner table a night or two ago, the reply to a question which was asked almost choked everyone the table.

So what was the question?

Does having more products available online equal more sales?

The thing is I was being serious in my reply and to share with you, we need a little story.

Intrigued? Read on…


The Direct Answer

The question was “Does having more products available online equal more sales?” and from experience the answer is simply “yes”.

If we look at Amazon then there is no price difference between having 1 item and 1,000,000 items listed if you have a Amazon Pro merchant account for a flat £25+VAT. With eBay if you have more than 6000 listings, then you should be on the anchor shop subscription level and you get free listings too (see here for why) and for websites… well that is really down to the tech behind the site being able to cope.

The Real Answer

If the answer is a plain “yes”, but what on earth does this have to do with kisses?

Well that needs a little story to explain it. Between the ages of 19 & 21 I completely missed the drug scene and instead we used to just get drunk and chat up women. Not being a huge sports fan, that was to all intents and purposes “our sport”. One night we decided to mix things up a bit and instead just  to “cut to the chase” and ask the simple question:

Do you fancy a snog?

Then round robin the entire bar or club that we were in until receiving the answer “yes. Crudely put, the law of averages just worked and unbelievably we never got slapped once either.

Now we just didn’t ask the question with no sense of style, we mixed things up.

This could be the entrance to the group of the unsuspecting, by sliding in to the chosen party or following up with the cheesiest of grins or just a tongue & cheek smirk and waiting for the response (silence with friendly smirk/smile worked best if you fancy trying this yourself). There was only ever two outcomes, yes or no. And even no wasn’t a point blank no, it was an entrance and opened up the conversation, so we were winners all-round (and at worst we got the piss taken out of us).

So how does this relate to more products?

If you don’t ask you cannot be told “yes or no”. This directly applies to making products available online. If you don’t make inventory you have available for sale, then how on earth can you make a sale?

The reason why we were never slapped was simple, we flirted at the same time. We weren’t butting in and not following up with a “follow up” of some form. We were making a light hearted gesture that sometimes got results.

When it comes to products, if we put up the barest of listings then our chances are still better than not having that item listed at all, but we can at least one a few extra steps and provide that tongue & cheek smile and provide:

  • Semi decent titles of products so that they can at least be found in the first place
  • Add in an image that is more than a thumbnail
  • Do our best to document the item with the information we have available
  • Bolster this with a half decent listing template
  • Cross promote our other products
  • And have accurate pricing

Now you maybe concerned about being uncompetitive with the pricing and that is a fair point, but at least we had the item listed and gave the buyer opportunity to make the purchase (this is comparable to flirting with the potential customers). After all if it means that the customer then gets a combined postage discount and a single delivery, they might just take it and that ultimately means more money for you.

Now before you leave this page thinking that I’m a just a womaniser, if we don’t ask, we won’t get.

That worked for us and opened up untold amounts of conversations we would never have had. When we compare this to making more products available for sale online, the same is true. Even if the browsing buyer ends up not buying a the product that they found us by in the first place, they weren’t looking at someone else’s and we’ve just introduced them to our business  and gave them the opportunity to say no.

Start more comnversations, take more rejections, just make more products available for sale, the worst they can do is just click away, but at least they met you and you got to say hello.


How Much Did eBay & Amazon Spend on Google Advertising in 2011?

While researching for an article working I’m working on in relation to Google Adwords and the eBay & Amazon marketplaces, I came across the info-graphic below and I’ve got to share!

The numbers are just unreal

In 2011:

  • eBay spent $42.8 million
  • Amazon spent $55.2 million

On Google advertising in one year.

Yes, in one year!!!

Question: How much did you spend on Google Adwords last year?

Was it £0, £10, £1000? You can let me know in the comments at the bottom

Googles Earnings Breadown for 2011

Googles Earnings Breadown for 2011

eBay Comparative Pricing Policy & It’s Ramifications

A hit tip to Marcus for this one, as I had overlooked it and focused on the better use of the eBay resolution centre that is coming soon, that was announced last year in the Autumn 2012 updates.

Marcus has pointed out that there is a new “Comparative pricing policy”  and when you start to read the details, this is going to cause some fun.


eBay’s Comparative Pricing Policy

In short this is an attempt clean up of the wild RRP’s that are being used on eBay & to be fair on most Internet sites too and makes it clear that as a seller you can now be held accountable for any RRP claims on a product that is being sold.

The are a few parts of note, these are as follows:

If you’re a brand owner, you can’t set an RRP?

RRP will not be used for products that are only supplied by the Seller.

You’ve got to keep them up to date

The referenced pricing will be accurate and current throughout the entire duration of the listing (if the RRP changes, the seller will promptly update the listing information accordingly).

But we’re allowing you this loop hole

In relation to each item, the Seller held a reasonable expectation that a significant number would sell at the higher price.

Prove it

Upon eBay’s request, the Seller will provide (within 2-3 days) written documentation to substantiate the previous selling price (receipts or detailed sales records showing that a number of the items were bought by customers at the previous selling price), or RRP (e.g. letter from the manufacturer confirming that the RRP used is up-to-date).

Play nice now or we boot you where it hurts[in the wallet]

eBay may, in appropriate circumstances and at its sole discretion, suspend or terminate a Seller account, or impose other consequences (such as removal of eBay Top-rated seller status) as a result of failure to provide substantiation, or our, or a regulatory body such as the Advertising Standards Authority’s, determination that the comparative price is false or otherwise misleading or deceptive.

The full Comparative pricing policy can be found here:

This goes live in just over a months time (12 March 2013) but right now I’m thinking this could cause some fun between fierce competitors the moment that this policy comes into effect and I also wonder how many sellers will actually get requested to prove an RRP in the end.

What do you think of this pending update?

Is it a good move or do you think this is just going to be a tool to wind up competing businesses with?

Let me know in the comments box below, Matt

Brightpearl CA101 Live This Thursday in Bristol

Are you available to be in Bristol this Thursday for a breakfast meetup?

SS Great BritainBrightpearl are holding their first “Commerce Acceleration 101” live event at the SS Great Britain at 08:00 and I’ll be joining Chris Tanner one of the co-founders of Brightpearl, who will be discussing growing from one store to multi-channel the easy way and Lee Adams, who is showing us how he built an incredible online business.

Register here for free to reserve your place.

I’m up last out of the 3 speakers (is that a good thing??) and will be discussing “How multichannel can transform your 2013” in a fast paced presentation with one single goal, to ensure that when you leave the room you’ll be thinking “I must do marketplaces right now“.

[I am] opposed to the laying down of rules or conditions to be observed in the construction of bridges lest the progress of improvement tomorrow might be embarrassed or shackled by recording or registering as law the prejudices or errors of today.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel

The event is being held at Bristols famous landmark,  Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s stunning SS Great Britain, just outside the city centre. Starting at 8am sharp, a complimentary breakfast and refreshments are being served on arrival.

To stir your interest I’ve included a couple of slides from the presentation below, will we be seeing you on Thursday?

Register here for free to reserve your place.

What is Order Aggregation & How Can it Help Your Business?

Aggregating orders from multiples sales channels is one of the main features in 3rd party software, but what are the benefits of doing this and how can it help your business?

I delve deeply into order aggregation in this article and explain how this can help your business tackle multiple sales channels and still leave you with (some) hair.

I’ve also included a video accompany this article and I would value any feedback you have in relation to the aggregation of orders from multiple sales channels, maybe this is something you take for granted through your current provider or maybe it’s something you’re pulling your hair out with right now. Let me know in the comments box at the bottom, I’d love to hear from you.


Order Aggregation Video Overview

What is Order Aggregation?

This is a process that collects orders from more than one source and aggregates them into a single location, this could be into your own system or that of a 3rd party.

Simply put, while you may be able to manage one, even two sales channels and even possibly three with a low velocity of sales and/or inventory, the moment you try to scale the business or add any increase in sales or inventory you’re going to run into a brick wall.

Order aggregation at any level of complexity can help you and your business deal with sales orders from one or more sales channels in a structured manner.

Winding Back to the Order Life Cycle

Let’s consider the typical life cycle of an order before we dig any deeper into this subject. We make one or more products available on one or more sales channels for customers to buy, this could be eBay, Amazon, your website(s) and maybe even a trade counter or retail store or may be many stores.

A customer commits to purchase one or more items and an order is formed. We may take payment straight away (cash over the counter or electronically) or the payment could be delayed (think eBay here) and some common details are taken and we then need to process the order.

For orders taken over the counter in a store or trade counter are orders that require little packaging in most instances, however for orders that need to be fulfilled by a delivery process you will likely need to create any documentation to pick & pack the line items and then possibly bespoke courier labels to prepare the order for despatch.

Once the order has been despatched, then typically with most online order sources, we need to update the channel source with common details, such marking the order as despatched and some other luxury data, such as the method, time of despatch and tracking details. We may also desire to email the customer to let them know that their order has been processed and despatched.

In the background, for the line items on the order, we need to keep track of their quantities, which is super important when dealing with multiple sales channels, so we can notify the other sales channels of stock updates or maybe to identify that the stock level for one or more products has fallen below a set level and a re-ordering process needs to be triggered.

Typically when you first started your business with one of the online channels, keeping just one channel up to date is relatively straight forwards for low volumes of orders, however as soon as we mix in multiple sales channels, a high velocity of orders and/or large inventory base, keeping everything in-tow can be an impossible task to complete manually.

Locating software that can solve all or part of this process can be hugely beneficial to the efficiency of the business, resulting in costs savings and sanity of the staff & business owners. It’s these benefits that I delve into for the rest of the article.

Benefits of Order Aggregation

Even if we just had two eBay accounts, logging out of one account and then into the other is cumbersome and time-consuming, as we’re duplicating the effort placed to process orders. It’s amplified when we have many order sources, in some cases to the point it would be almost impossible to do so.

Single Interface to All Orders

If we imagine that you have several order sources, these could be two eBay accounts, Amazon Seller Central or Marketplace, two websites and the desire to take manual orders in a retail or trade store aggregating the orders together for unified processing can by hugely beneficial and even if you have just one sales channel.

However, if we mix in the other features of the software providers offer, making use of a single orders screen can be an added feature to gain efficiency.

Customer Services

By bringing in orders from two or more sources into a single location can be hugely beneficial. Not only for ease of processing orders in mass, but also as a single reference point for all processes relating to orders, thus lowering the time spent by customer services in resolving order-related issues.

Some applications also include the ability to process payments & refunds from the orders screen. besides the obvious of not having to jump to a different system to conduct such an action(s), a by-product is that you are easily able to administer this and keep a history of the transactions have been made (such as who, when, why and for what amount in a refund).

Platform Specific Functions & Marketplace Integrations

If the order system that you use also has direct integrations back to the order sources, such as eBay, Amazon or Magento, then payment processing issues can be tackled from a single interface. For example if we need to check a PayPal payment or to make a refund, instead of giving all the members of staff the login details, it can be controlled in the orders system so that this is no longer needed and depending upon the system used, an audit history can be maintained for referencing later if needed.

If we pick on eBay for a few moments (as this marketplace certainly has some platform specific functions!), just because we received an order, this doesn’t mean we were actually paid for the order.

eBay have the disputes process that is unique to eBay and when processing large amounts of orders, the amount of unpaid orders can become a concern to your business (turning on immediate payments doesn’t suit all businesses). Some software applications allow the automatic processing of disputes back to eBay, so that stock  that isn’t going to be paid for, can be released with the minimum amount of effort of you or your staff and with minimal time lag. So that the order can either be committed to that customer (after payment) or released back onto the sales channels for resale.

Amazon is not without its quirks, specifically around the fact that unless you mark an order as shipped you don’t have the funds released for that order. So being able to mark multiple orders as despatched from multiple locations and then the system going back to update the different sales channels to confirm they’ve been shipped can not only keep customer service communications down to a minimum (especially if you include the despatch method, time and tracking information), but to also to get paid for those orders.

Amazon also keep track on how quickly you despatch orders, remember Amazon only cares about ITS customers, then if you consistently ensure that your orders are processed ASAP for this channel and keep within their allowed levels (and far higher than these are strongly suggested) then you will ultimately benefit from a stronger relationship from them.

Here are some examples of what such an integrations could offer you:

  • Leaving feedback when orders are shipped
  • eBay dispute integration for unpaid orders
  • Marking orders as shipped when marked as shipped in the orders screen. In the case of Amazon this means getting paid for the order.
  • Updating the sales channels with the despatch method and tracking number, so the customer can see these details within their marketplace account

Business Rules

A by-product of being able to collect the orders from multiple channels is that you are able to process business rules on the orders. You might become confused here with these, this is not as simple as matching the delivery method chosen by the customer to the right order, that’s just matching, I’m talking about business rules and I’ll explain these now.

Business rules might be as simple as if an order arrives and is over 2Kg, then a courier should be used as the despatch method. Maybe if an order has an order value over £30 and as such its deemed by the business that it would be safer to send via a courier or a recorded method of delivery. Not just the shipping method that the customer chose at the time of checkout.

Also couriers are renowned for having exceptions to their services and typically there is either a delay in posting to certain locations or an extra charge. By applying a business rule (or several) to your orders, you could create an exceptions list of postcodes and select a different despatch option.

An excellent example of this is Northern Ireland, almost all couriers charge a premium for delivery to this location. Lets say we receive an order from Amazon and there is two line items and normally these would be sent via a courier, however because the courier wants $10 more to this location, using a service such as Royal Mail tracked would be more suitable. Its still relatively quick and it’s a traceable method, but works out cheaper than the main courier and has the attributes not found with normal Royal mail offerings.

Here are some of the attributes of orders that you may want to apply business rules to when processing them:

  • Order Source
  • Shipping service selected by the customer
  • The value of the shipping selected by the customer
  • Order value
  • Weight
  • Quantity
  • The destination of the order (postcode/zipcode, state, region and/or country)

Unified Processing & Documentation (Including Email Notifications)

Integrated Label ExampleAnother benefit of aggregating orders is that all the orders can be processed in the same process, so that could be the same (or similar) despatch documents, thus saving an array of custom documents to each order source and standardising the entire pick, pack and despatch process.

Obviously I’m guessing that you would desire customisation to the despatch documents, as if we have one part of our business branded in a certain fashion and another part to another, ensuring that the documentation is either universal or customised to the sale source would highly beneficial.

Depending upon the software being used, some allow you to fully customise each document, this could be the picking slip, shipping document and invoices. These documents could also be depending on the shipping method set by the business rules be customised paper stock, for example if the order has been allocated to Royal Mail 1st or 2nd class, then the document printed could include the PPI label, so  there is no need to stamp or add a stock for this.

The paper stock could also include an integrated label, so that once the contents of the order have been checked, you peel off the label, pop it on the front of the package and then spike the sheet or pop the rest of the sheet into the package itself for the customers reference.

Going beyond the paper documents, we must not forget email notifications. It’s quite possible to include a PDF version of the invoice for the order in the order despatched email and also for the email notifications to be tailored to each business identity and order source. Of course if you have the courier details from a courier integration to the orders aggregation software, then including the tracking information (and ideally links to track the order) could be a huge win for your business.

Despatch Process

If you can imagine that you have your orders in a single place of reference and have control over the documentation and business rules being applied to your orders, then we shouldn’t forget the ability to find a process of despatching orders that works well for your business.

Some businesses have really simple despatch processes, this could be a single document that fulfils multiple roles, such as invoice, picking slip and shipping list. Whereas another business may require barcode scanning of orders and products to ensure the accuracy of the despatched orders.

Whereas others may be required to enter or scan a serial number of the product being shipped in the order, for security or tracking. Having a software product where the despatch process can be altered, either globally for all orders or specific order parts can be hugely beneficial when working out a despatch process that works for you.

To add an extra dimension here, it’s not uncommon for a business to be looking at the despatch process and idealising other people’s businesses when it comes to order efficiency. The biggest eye-opener for me personally was during a visit to Expeditors in Avonmouth, Bristol.

This company specialises in warehousing and despatch of orders for 3rd party companies (amongst several other services). When I queried the team over despatch process and whether they used a unified process, the eye-opener was that for each business they worked with, they each had a tailored despatch process. Some had barcode scanning, some had picking lists for later processing and some just had a single sheet for all the despatch functions.

Stock Control

If your orders are being collected to a single location, then if we know what your stock level was before the order was received and the amount sold. We know what your true stock level is and this can be uesed to update the other sales channels where you are selling the same inventory.

This process varies from system to system, but the crux of this process is exactly the same, we know what we had to begin with, we know we have X number less and where from and where the item is being sold to, thus we know where we need to update with the latest stock level, so that we still achieve maximum market exposure of our products, but minimise the risk of overselling.

Note: See this article relating to the eSellerPro Channel Profile which is a process that does just this.

Accepting Manual Orders

One order source that we shouldn’t overlook is manual orders, these could be orders taken over the phone or trade orders. By allowing these to enter the normal despatch process can also be a huge win. Taking an order over the phone, checking stock levels and taking payment can be a tricky task when using multiple sales channels and without this basic information to hand, it can be impossible.

By having ALL the information about your inventory in a single place and being able to process an order with this information at your (or your staff’s) finger tips can make a call with a customer into a few minutes rather than 10’s of minutes and saving awkward situations of taking an order and not actually having the stock available to fulfil the order.

External Fulfilment

Not every company fulfils their orders internally, with the process of fulfilment becoming cheaper and cheaper and whole host of specialised companies out there that are capable of dealing with both stocked and just in time despatch (ProFS and Expeditors are two good examples of these).

With such orders, you can either allow the 3rd party company access to your orders or even in some cases integrate to their EDI or API systems for automated exchanges of the order data for them to fulfil the orders for you.

How Can it Help Your Business?

Bringing orders from multiple sources to a single orders screen will give you an exceptional business advantage. You can see your orders, process them in-mass, most likely be able to integrate with couriers, expedite the time it takes to process issues in customer services, apply business rules to the orders and have a clear picture of what is happening in your business, right now.

Going to the extreme, any and I mean any! order aggregation software will help your business become more efficient.

The processes in even less ‘evolved’ applications will allow you to process your orders more effectively and apply one or more processes to your despatch process. Some applications will go much, much deeper and allow for the full customisation of the processes, documentation and integrations involved with collecting orders from multiple sources.

Your Feedback

Maybe this is something you take for granted through your current software or maybe it’s something you’re pulling your hair out with right now. Let me know in the comments box at the bottom, I’d love to hear from you.

Report a Buyer Now Live on eBay UK

In the eBay Autumn updates which we covered in-depth here, one of the sellers favourites was the ability to be able to report a buyer for naughty behaviour. This is now live on eBay, YAY!


Video with James Stewart

In the video below from eBay, James Stewart, Director of EU Seller Protection explains the reasoning behind this being included and how to leave a report for a buyer.

How to Report a Buyer that Exhibits Bad Behaviour

When the process is put live it will be really straight forwards to notify eBay of a bad buyer and it is important to note that this can only be done through the eBay website and cannot be automated using the eBay API.

Step #1 – Select the “Report a Buyer” Option

After an item has been purchased, on the Leave Feedback page here a new option will appear called “Report a Buyer” where the eBay account is the seller for one or more transactions.

Select Report a Buyer on eBay

Step #2 – Select a Reason

Next you’ll be able to select from one of the five options, these are:

  1. Buyer has made unreasonable demands
  2. Buyer has left inappropriate feedback
  3. Buyer abused the buyer protection program
  4. Buyer misused returns
  5. Other problems

And there is an appropriate link to solve unpaid items through the eBay resolution centre.

Report an eBay Buyer Step 2

Step #3 – Submit Report

After making your selection, you then submit the report, noting the text in the confirmation notice “Bad Buyer”.

eBay Confirm Bad Buyer

Have You Used This Yet?

So have you have to use this for a buyer yet, let me know in the comments box below.

Podcast 003 – The 101 of eBay Variations + 7 Tips

They weld themselves to the top of eBay search results and now that eBay’s paid promotion tool for “Featured First” is going, using variations on eBay has never been so important.

In this Podcast with myself Matt (waves) and Dave Furness, we discuss eBay variations and why you should be using them, the benefits and the downsides and give you 7 tips to follow for success using variation listings.

We’ve listened to your feedback and today’s Podcast is a half the length of our previous Podcasts and comes in at a trim 30 minutes. If you think we’ve skimped on value, you’d be wrong, wait until the end :)


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What are eBay variations & Why do you want to use them?

Variations allow you to keep a product that has a range of options in a single listing. This makes selecting the right product as a customer much, much easier as they no longer have to go and find the variation they want, such as a shoe size, they can pick from a single listing.

eBay Variations Example

Several good examples of how these are used and are easier for both buyers and sellers are:

  • A pair of shoes that come in multiple sizes
  • A dress that comes in different sizes and colours
  • Rugs that come in different colours, styles and sizes.
  • Motorcycle helmets
  • A handbag that comes in multiple colours

Each of these products can come in different sizes, colours and styles. When linked together it makes it much easier for a buyer to make the right choice and also easier for you as a seller to track their inventory as instead of an individual listing for each colour/size/style, they are all contained in one listing.

Variation listings are now supported in 20 categories on eBay UK and you can see the full list and the exceptions here.

What other Benefits are there for sellers?

There are several key benefits to using variation listings and for best match rankings which is of special note and we cover that shortly too.

Key Benefits of using Variations

  • First picture is free so that if you have can extra free pictures on eBay, that swap when the buyer makes a selection
  • Saving money on listing fee’s as one insertion fee
  • The subtitle upgrade is better value as its £1.05 for a single listing
  • Increase of product visibility – every time a sub SKU sells the whole listing benefits
  • Stays clear of duplicate listing policy
  • Makes it easier for the buyer to find what they want which should make your listings stickier and increase conversion.

Note: You will hear us call them “multi variations” in the Podcast, even if you item has one variation, it’s the same thing. It’s just a term we use and it’s the same as variations, whether there is 1 variation or 5 variation options.

eBay Variation Tutorial Video

Earlier this year Dave Forest from the eBay UK seller team created a video to take you through the creation and use of eBay variations.

Dave takes you through a live listing on the eBay site, a Men’s T-Shirt that has colour and size variations and we can see how the price changes with his selection and also the how the image changes for each colour variation. Then how to create a variation listing in multiple colours and sizes like the example listing.

eBay Best Match & Variations

Listings that are variations become welded to the top of the search results. Even by eBay’s own admission in several categories you cannot compete unless you are using variation listings. They took hold fast and have completely changed the dynamics in every category they have been released in.

To make the point, we’ve made some searches on eBay below. Take a look for yourself and the listings that you see without “More Options” under them, you’ll find very few because for all the BIN listings, the single listings just don’t get a chance.

Example Searches of How Variations Weld to the Best Match Search Results

In the Podcast we refer to a rugs listing that has 17 colours and 10 sizes, you can view that item here at the time we looked at it, it had around 2216 items sold. Now it has 2255 at the time of writing!

Are there downsides to using eBay variations?

Although these are minor when compared to the benefits, unfortunately there are a couple of downsides to using variations.

  • Can’t rename the master variation SKU in eBay
  • Creating them can be slow
  • They are not supported by all 3rd party tools and even eBay’s own turbo Lister you cannot import or export them.
  • Cannot add separate EAN’s for Google search/shopping results for each variation

In the next updates we are seeing

eBay variations and Pricing UpdatedI’ve covered the eBay Autumn 2012 updates in huge detail, however the variations didn’t get much hype from eBay, but they were one of the biggest winners with numerous changes that will improve their performance.

  • We’ll be seeing “£9.99 – £129.99″ instead of the highest price only
  • Also seeing image swatches for colours, when common colours are used (shades)
  • Intelligent variation search – search for Pink shirt and eBay will show you the image of a pink shirt (Providing you have one uploaded).
  • Featured first is going, so your listings need to be as good as possible to get to the top spot…

Our Tips for Variations on eBay

Myself and Dave have put together 7 top tips for you on eBay variations and the last one is golden.

  1. Where-ever possible use them
    If your category supports them then you should be using them (we have the entire list on the website at… )
  2. Keep the options to a minimum
    Think of your buyers! Try and keep the variations to a minimum, Size and colour.
  3. You can change prices if needed
    Remember you can change the pricing for each combination and if one variation goes out of stock, the listing remains.
  4. Take advantage of eBay’s Fast N Free Option
    Don’’t forget that eBay are going to be showing products as “Fast N Free” when you have an estimated delivery of 3 days or less. So that means if you have a handling time of 1 day and first class or a courier of 24hrs or 48hrs with the same handling time.
  5. Don’t force variations if your products don’t suit.
    Certain categories are so suited to having variations, such as fashion and certain home items.  If your item isn’t one of them, don’t force it or have complicated variations.
  6. Use images for each core variation
    Make sure you have pictures loaded for each variation…in place for when the latest update comes in, it’s going to be even more important
  7. Name the variation labels well
    Apparently it is OK to do this, you are able to Keyword stuff the variation names. As the variation names may only show 35 chars in the drop down box but you can add variation names that are up to 50 chars long. So thats your eBay title at 80 + 50 + 50 + etc… There is an article I created a while ago here that includes a video showing this in action. eBay declined to remove the listing.

Thank You!

We don’t really say it enough, thank for taking the time to listen in, because of you we’re out growing our current web hosting and are moving to a new server this weekend.

Your Feedback

You may have noticed that the sound quality has got better and we’d love to hear your feedback about this Podcast and your thoughts and experiences with eBay variations.

You can let us know in the comments box below.

New eBay Logo, Your Thoughts?

The first time I saw the new eBay logo it did it no favours, with shadow and weird background, instead if this is the first time you have seen, look below in awe.

New eBay Logo

I liked the old logo a lot it’s done well, but let’s be honest, it’s old and it’s time has passed. Sooner or later we were going to get an updated version, thank goodness they have not strayed too far away from the original and frankly I think it looks ok and thank goodness it’s nothing like the Olympics 2012 logo, that would have been a disaster, but… What do you think? Let me know in the comments box below.

PS. It’s Podcast day! I’ve just started editing and should be ready for 2pm :)