Making Sense of the Spring 2014 eBay UK Seller Updates

eBay UpdatesHowdy,

It’s that time of the year again and we’ve just been told about the latest updates that eBay have unveiled for sellers.

Those of you that have been following myself & this site for a while know that with each update I’ll be digging in and seeing how this affects you and your business.

You can read previous updates using these links  Spring 2013, Autumn 2012, The New eBay (2012)Spring 2012 & Spring 2011.

The devil is always in the detail with these updates and unlike a certain marketplace starting with A *coff* Amazon, eBay actually give us all fair warning (about 2 months) about major updates to the site that impact you and your business. This gives you chance to adapt and to prepare.

There are some huge changes in this update and we’re seeing eBay adapt, taking the best from lots of social sites and combining them into one huge transactional giant. The word “Follow” has never been so important.

If you’ve got an eBay store you’ll definitely want to dig in with the first proper update in ni-on a decade and also a new feature which I’m calling “Loaded Auctions” which is going to be very curious if you’re using auctions (or maybe once did). There are changes to the eTRS requirements and moves to make cross border trade accessible to the masses.

With that said, grab a cuppa, pull your chair closer and let’s dig into the latest round of updates from eBay and see how they impact you and your business on eBay.

Oh and talking of coffee… Join myself & the co-Founder of UnderstandingE Dave Furness live on Tuesday 18th March where we discuss these updates live & we’ll be able to answer any questions you have there and then.

The button to join is below:


Before We Get Started…

The are a couple of topics that we need to cover off before digging in, the first is the rating system which is covered in more detail shortly, the second is a little more subtle.

services provided by retailers and marketplacesIn the spring eBay updates back in 2013, eBay were pretty hard on themselves with regards there side by side comparison of eBay to other eCommerce sites.

I’ve included the rating chart that they shared with us back then and you’ll see that compared to the rest of the eCommerce industry.

Back then I did make a point that the research company might have been “visually impaired” as it was overly harsh and when speaking with the team at eBay they were down-beat about the research.

This has obviously stayed with the eBay team for quite a while because if we revisit eBay now a year on,  we’ve seen the impact of the changes to the site, many so minor you’d overlook them.

The image requirements we upped to provide a better experience and the the number of images available on listings is being included in the main search results, oh and the listing frames and general crap in the gallery images has almost been eradicated (but still present in vehicle parts & accessories).

eBay and Argos Click and Collect ServiceWe also saw eBay join forces with Argos as part of their Click & Collect service, BBC article here & eBay UK page here.

This has obviously done well beyond the pilot users, as I’ve heard from numerous sellers now being invited to join the program and in yesterday’s post on Tamebay here they’re [eBay] pretty upbeat about it.

Note: Basically this works by the customers delivery details being replaced with the selected Argos store address (1 of some 150 stores), so the order gets sent there instead. Items that aren’t collected within a week or so get sent back to you.

And while we’re on the topic of delivery, we saw eBay buy Shutl in October 2013 (see this article on Techcrunch) sporting a 1 hour delivery option for around £6.99, for less than half the cost for what you can pay over the counter in the Post Office for 48hr delivery.

The Rating System

For each of the updates I’m going to be using a +1 ,0 for neutral or -1 rating system to rate each of the updates individually. This will help us both remain objective about the updates.

We all dislike fee increases (which there is in this update) and they’ll score an immediate -1, anything that means a change to your data or listings such as categorisation, generally that’s a -1 as well (as that has a massive impact to your data requirements).

However other parts of the updates may not be so clear cut and we’ll be looking at these from both your perspective as a business owner that leverage’s eBay as a sales channel and also the buyers perspective too.

eBay Fee Increases & Freebies

Let’s get the ugly one over with first :)

Thankfully the fee changes are minor in comparison to what we’ve experienced in the past, noting that the August 2013 eBay updates we saw a decrease in fees for many categories (see here for more info).

Fifty Pounds Cap for FeesIn this update we’ve come away pretty much unscathed by any massive fee increases as business sellers and the updates to eBay fees fall into 6 categories:

  1. Home & Garden and Sporting Goods see a maximum cap of £50 in fees
  2. Home & Garden, Lifestyle and Business & Industrial see a fee increase from 10% to 11%
  3. Reserve price increases
  4. Auction + BIN listings
  5. Fees payable on auctions ended early
  6. Freebies

Let’s take a look at these in more detail where warranted.

Cap of £50 for Home & Garden and Sporting Goods
Basically if you’re selling products over £500 you’re going to be better off.

Free Increase for Home & Garden, Lifestyle and Business & Industrial
Yea no avoiding that one, these categories are hugely popular, any increase in fees is going to hurt with an increase from 10% to 11%.

Also the caveat to this is word “Lifestyle”, basically it means almost every category on eBay!

These are the affected categories:

  • Bedding
  • Business & Industrial
  • Celebrations & Occasions
  • Children’s Home & Furniture
  • Cleaning & Laundry Supplies
  • Clocks
  • Conservatories
  • Cookware, Dining & Bar
  • Crafts
  • Curtains & Blinds
  • DIY Materials
  • DIY Tools
  • Dolls & Bears
  • Events Tickets
  • Everything Else
  • Fireplaces & Accessories
  • Food & Drink
  • Heating/ Cooling/ Air
  • Home Decor
  • Kitchen Plumbing & Fittings
  • Lighting
  • Luggage & Travel Accessories
  • Metaphysical & New Age
  • Other Home Furn.
  • Pet Supplies
  • Pottery, Porcelain & Glass
  • Rugs & Carpets
  • Security & Home Automation
  • Stationery & School Equipment
  • Storage Solutions
  • Wedding Supplies
  • Wholesale & Job Lots

While the fee increases aren’t going to hit until April and most spring purchases are going to be completed (like a new blade & belts for the lawn mower I need to buy), summer will just be around the corner when the Home & Garden category will start to gain pace.

Reserve price increases
I personally don’t know a single business that uses this option on a regular basis. How much impact this is going to have, not really sure. However if this affects you, a table is below on how the pricing is going to work with regards to reserve pricing:

Reserve price Insertion fee + reserve few Current fees on From 15 April, new fees on
All categories, except Media £50.00-£99.99 £1.00 + 3% of reserve price £1.00 + 3.5% of reserve price
£100.00+ £1.30 + 3% of reserve price up to £150 £1.30 + 3.5% of reserve price up to £150
Media £50.00+ £0.10 + 3% of reserve price up to £150 £0.10 + 3.5% of reserve price up to £150

Auction + BIN listings
This is a curious one once you see what is happening with the “loaded auctions” later on in this update. Basically if you’re using the BIN option to a auction style listing then the amount being paid is going up.

Starting price (now) Fee on (now) Starting price (from 15 April) Fee on (from 15 April)
Auction-style with Buy it now £0.99 – £4.99 £0.08 £0.99 – £4.99 £0.10
£5.00 – £14.99 £0.15 £5.00 – £14.99 £0.20
£15.00 – £29.99 £0.22 £15.00 – £24.99 £0.30
£30.00+ £0.38 £25.00 £0.50

Oh and you’ll find out more on “loaded auctions” shortly.

Fees payable on auctions ended early
The curious one on this is the wording “If a seller ends an auction which has already received bids early, they may be charged a fee equivalent to a final value fee. The fee will be calculated based on the item price when the auction is ended.” that aside this should be of minimal impact to the point it can be ignored.

Supersize is now free and listings that meet the requirements and will be automatically applied. Also if you’re the owner of a basic eBay shop you’ll now have access to the eBay promotions manager which was only available on Featured or Anchor store subscriptions (yay!).

eBay Store Design Changes

Responsive Web DesignThe eBay shop has been one of the most undervalued tools on eBay for many years and has suffered from neglect.

In the spring 2013 updates they were missed again and if you scroll down half way through the article that covered the updates abck then here you’ll see a long list of suggestions of features that could or should be added.

Finally eBay have made huge changes to the eBay shops, not quite what I had personally expected (turning the eBay store into a website, maybe that’s why they bought Magento?), however none the less curious, especially if you currently have designed eBay store or were looking to have a store design done.

After what feels like a decade (which it has basically been the best part of 8-10 years) eBay have brought the humble eBay shop up to the standards of 2014 and added in features that you would expect from a new website, that’s a responsive design that moves with the screen size the stores being viewed on and larger product images.

Key features for the new eBay Store designs:

  1. Responsive design (this is huge!)
  2. Single billboard image
  3. Social sharing & “Follow” button
  4. Single featured products area
  5. Larger product images
  6. Lazy-loading images (see note below)
  7. Clicking on a product opens it in a new modal window

Let’s put ALL the options aside for a moment and focus on the two things that really matters, the responsive design and the Follow button.

Responsive eBay Store Design

Basically “Responsive” means that your eBay store will now move to fit the screen size that your customer is using.

So if they’re on a desktop, then your eBay shop will max out at 1200 pixels wide, however if they’re viewing it on an iPad or any other device that has a smaller screen size, your eBay store will now resize automatically to accommodate your customer’s screen size, rather than being a “fixed width” as you see with the current eBay stores.

You can learn more about responsive website design in an article I published in 2013 called What is Responsive Website Design?

eBay Follow ButtonAnd the “Follow” button…. Screw the “Watch Item” button, this is now set to be the next holy grail button only seconded by the buy button on eBay.

Social Networking with a Buy Button

Think of the “Follow” button being a direct comparison to the follow button on Twitter, the like button on Facebook and the “Follow Board” button on Pinterest. However with one massive difference…

Twitter is non-transactional, Facebook is good-as non-transactional, Pinterest is non-transactional however…. eBay, you guessed it, transactional!

If you can get your buyers to press the lush green “Follow” button you’re laughing.

This means that your products will appear in your buyers eBay Feed. The moment that your products are in the eBay Feed, expect eBay to be nudging your products in front of the customer. After all your customer just told eBay that they’re interested in your store specifically, that’s like the cheeky smile at the end of a first date, you know there is a second date soon!

Video Overview to the New eBay Store Designs

If you’ve not seen the new eBay Store’s yet, myself & Dave have put together a full HD video overview to the new stores for you below.

This is part 1 which is an overview to the new store designs, in part 2 when we upgrade our eBay store to the new layout, we’ll record what happens and take you through the steps needed & load it with tips so you can take full advantage of the new layout.

As mentioned in the video, you can find the stores used here: Jeff’s Music Gear, Cardboard Legends, Digital Goja & Crush Vintage.

1st Note: “Lazy-loading images” means that you can have more products on a page, but instead of waiting ages and ages for each product image to be downloaded, as the user scrolls down the page, the extra images are loaded when they need to be. This means that your customers have a far faster experience as they’re not downloading oodles of images for the entire page.

2nd Note: I’ve been mixing up the terms “eBay Store” and “eBay Shop”, they are the same thing, in the UK they’re called “eBay Shops” and in the USA they’re called “eBay Stores”.

eBay Promotions Manager for Basic Shops Too

eBay Promotions ExampleAlso in this update if you’re the owner of a Basic eBay Shop then you’re going to gain access to the eBay promotions manager.

Basically if you’re not using the eBay promotions manager you should be.

This tool allows you to create your own bundles and offers that are displayed with your listings. There are a multitude of types that you can use:

  • Related items offers: “Buy a camera, get 10% off select accessories”
  • Volume offers: “Buy 3, get 1 free”
  • Sale events offers: “Save up to 75% on men’s suits”
  • Targeted offers: “Discounts to selected buyers”
  • Postage offers: “Free delivery on orders over £100”

There wasn’t any word on extending the eBay promotions manager to include discount codes, an eCommerce stable, maybe in the next update?

eBay Collections

ebay collectionsI’m not going to cover these in any great detail here, the reason for this that I know I can do better for you and you’ll find out what I mean by this in a few days time.

However… last Thursday eBay launched a new section to the site called “eBay Collections” (they can be viewed here and here) and they brought in celebrity assistance like they did in the USA when it first launched there. These were Dannii Minogue, Reggie Yates, Kelly Hoppen, Alex James and did I mention Dannii Minogue?

They each have their own collection and the links to these are below:

Dave Furness summed eBay collections this up nicely with this quote:

Dave Furness“This is Pinterest with a buy button, how cool is that?!”
Dave Furness Co-Founder, UnderstandingE

With my marketing hat on there are sooooo many ways that these could be leveraged, which is why they deserve more attention than I’m sharing here and later this week you’ll have access to a free guide on how to leverage these for your business.

In the meantime, here is a video overview to eBay Collections that was created by eBay featuring Jen Stanbrook from lovechicliving and you can also see the behind the scenes of the video being made here on her site.

New eBay Seller Performance Requirements

eBay Top Rated SellersHow do I best word this… We’re getting a simpler version of the ratings system that we saw Amazon release  in 2012.

Note: If you’ve not seen the Amazon rating system, see here for the original article on Amazon Ratings which was released here before anyone else in the world.

When speaking with eBay they stressed the point that they have measured millions of transactions to understand what’s important to buyers, what motivates buyers and what impacts their decision to buy again & again on eBay.

So while it frankly sucks to have the bar raised for eTRS (again) they’ve got the data and insight to what makes buyers want to come back and this is eBay ensuring that they do.

eBay are changing the eTRS system to make it simpler to understand and also harder to achieve.

It’s simpler to understand as instead of having a multitude of options, they’ve basically narrowed it down to what counts and any boo-boo’s are now being called a “defect”, if you receive a defect that’s a slap and too many slaps puts your eTRS or at worst your selling account at risk.

The minimum for for all sellers is a 5% defect rate and eTRS sellers are expected to be 2% or less for all transactions.

To help I’ve popped this into a table for you:

Requirement  Minimum for All Sellers  eBay Top-Rated Sellers
Defect Rate
Maximum percentage of transactions with defects  5%  2%
Minimum number of unique buyers affected before seller status is impacted 8 5
Closed cases without seller resolution  
Maximum percentage of eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Buyer Protection cases closed by eBay without seller resolution*  0.30%  0.30%
Transactions and sales  
Minimum number of sales transactions  N/A 100
Minimum amount of total sales  N/A £1000

Note the percentages on top of the minimum, so if you’re processing 1,000 orders a month on eBay, 2% for eTRS is 20 defects and the threshold for all sellers is 50 per 1,000 orders made.

So What are the Defects?

The curious thing is to what eBay are now classing as a “Defect” with a defect being a transaction that is considered to create a bad shopping experience for for buyers, again I’ve popped a table together for you below:

# Defect
1 Detailed seller ratings of 1, 2 or 3 for item as described
2 Returns for item not as described
3 eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Buyer Protection cases for item not as described
4 Detailed seller rating of 1 for dispatch time
5 eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Buyer Protection cases for item not received
6 Negative Feedback
7 Neutral Feedback
8 Transactions cancelled by you due to stock out or item sold to another buyer

The defect’s above you can’t argue much with. A DSR for item as described 1,2 or 3 is bad, receiving a return back for the item not being as described, that’s a boo-boo, the same for claims, the item not being received, neutral or negative feedback and if you have to cancel an order because there was an error in stock levels are all bad things to happen to a customer.

The one defect I found odd was the “DSR of 1 for dispatch time”, when questioning eBay over this, they couldn’t conclude that a buyer leaving a 2 star rating for the dispatch time as a conclusive negative effect on whether the buyer would come back or not. I’m not arguing with them, that gives us some lea-way :)

Oh and some more good news, if a buyer doesn’t leave you feedback then the transaction is counted as “good”. Yes we still have the 45 days or so for the buyer to leave you a neutral or negative, but eBay is treating “no news” as “good news”.

This is what Ian Crawley, B2C Director, Global Managed Marketplaces at eBay (LinkedIn Profile) had to say about this update:

Account Safety from Rogue Buyers

The immediate question I had, as I’m sure it would have been from you too, was “What about rogue buyers?“.

eBay has already thought about this and there are safe guards in place to help protect your account & eTRS status from the occasional nut job.

  1. Defects must be from at least 5 unique buyers for eTRS or 8 unique buyers for an above standard seller in order to affect the status
  2. Buyers can’t open an item not received case before the estimated delivery date has passed (was that a cheer from the benches at the back?)
  3. There is an updated our seller protection policy. From August, negative or neutral Feedback that’s been removed under the Feedback Removal Policy won’t count as a defect
  4. Cases escalated to us and resolved in favour of the seller won’t be counted
  5. Each transaction can be counted towards the defect rate only once, regardless of how many defects may occur in the same transaction (basically one order with 10 items = 1 defect)

Updated Seller Dashboard to go with the New Seller Performance Requirements

No screenshots available for this just yet however what we do know is that this is coming around mid-April with a d-day of 20th August 2014.

eBay were keen to stress that they’ll be messaging you as the deadline of the 20th Aug draws closer, so that when this lands you’ll have a very clear idea of where you’re going to be with new levels.

As part of the new performance ratings eBay are updating the seller dashboard to give you an ultra clear picture of what’s needed for you to maintain the level that you’re currently at and if needed improve. You’ll be able to see your defect rates and projected seller level with the new criteria and a breakdown & percentage of each defect type listed in the table above.

Expect onsite messaging for this, emails to track your progress and if you have an account manager, a chat with them closer to the deadline.

Loaded Auctions

Revolver With BulletsThis is what eBay have said:

From May, we’re removing the limit on the number of duplicate auction-style listings that a seller can list on Sellers can list as many duplicate auction-style listings as they like, but when they receive a bid on one of the duplicate listings, only one will show on eBay at any time

The easiest way of explaining this new feature is by using a revolver and six rounds of ammunition as a metaphor. The revolver is eBay and the bullets are auctions.

Currently you’re allowed a maximum of 15 listings on eBay, one of which can be a pure fixed price listing. This leaves the other 14 to be auctions or auctions with the Buy it Now option.

With the pending changes you’re going to be allowed to list an unlimited number of auctions, however there is a caveat to this…

Say we list 6 auctions onto eBay for 10 days, only the first listing will actually be shown in the search results. That is until it receives a bid or a purchase is made. The moment that this happens the next auction is made available in the search results.

So if we have 6 auctions listed, the other 5 are not going be shown until a bid or purchase is made on the first one, when that happens the next is shown and the process repeats until we’re out of auctions.

This is  a curious effect because in this update if you don’t receive any bids or purchases for any of the 6 auctions you’ll receive your fees back, however if you have a desirable product that attracts bids, you can quickly expedite the selling process and loaded gun is going to empty it’s clip of 6 rounds out really quickly, hence the term “Loaded Auctions”.

Picture Standards Being Enforced

ebay_image_size_requirements_2013_05_06If this affects you then you’re probably not going to like this one at all.

Basically eBay have telling us for months & months that the minimum image size is 500 pixels on it’s longest side and now they’re going to be enforcing this restriction.

If you have a good till cancelled (GTC) listing that has an image that is below 500 pixels, from May when it’s time for the listing to be automatically relisted then it’s going to be stopped.

There is a free service that can be found here that will work through your current live listings on eBay and let you know if any of the images that you have on eBay right now are below their minimum requirements.

I know that it can be tricky for you request new images from your suppliers, however eBay are now clearly saying that images smaller than 500 pixels is not good enough and frankly as a customer and as eCommerce in-general goes, 500 pixels is tiny by today’s standards. And to be fair they are lobbing in supersize as a freebie to push you in the right direction of having much larger images at 800 pixels or larger.

This topic has come up in the UnderstandingE forums a couple of times and if you’re using Magento & M2E Pro I’ve written you a PHP script that you can use to dynamically resize images when they’re being imported. You can view the video guide and download the PHP script for free from the Importing Products into Magento tutorials, it’s tutorial number 12 at the bottom.

Noting that while the video guide is focused on Magento, the actual PHP script can be used with any 3rd party tool if needed and obviously this is not ideal and is a temporary plaster to get you over this hurdle while you source or create larger images.

eBay Managed Returns

More than 60% of online shoppers say they would shop more with retailers who offer simple returns processes and policies

This has always been one the biggest challenges for eBay, having a single process to cover all business, from private sellers to businesses turning over millions. When it comes to returns with the sheer amount of transactions being made there are bound to be returns.

In Autumn this year eBay are going to be introducing  the following:

  • Royal Mail and Collect+ to be available with more drop-off points for buyers
  • Increased seller protection: improved processes for us to investigate report a buyer cases
  • Direct integration of managed returns with third-party listing tools

The curious part was in their wording around this update, “From Autumn 2014, some sellers who already accept returns will be required to use the managed returns process.” and then “It’ll then gradually become a requirement for all business sellers. We’ll send emails and information 2 months in advance to these sellers about what this means“.

So basically we’re all going to be using eBay’s managed returns sooner or later.

I know you might not be too riveted about this thought, however they’re letting us know now probably 6 or more months in advance that this is likely to happen.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
For you it might be a little frustrating, however for buyers if this gives them the confidence to come back and shop again, this has to be a good thing right?

Oh and I know you are thinking about the infrequent nut job that will flaunt the system. The thing is there is always someone that will do this and it’s always the negative experience that will stick in your mind (we’re human and we’re wired this way to remember negative events), put these wasters to one side for a moment and think of it from your perspective as a buyer, would you not want a simpler returns process built into eBay as a buyer?

eBay Fitment Increase in Codes

Mitsubishi-brake-padIf you’re selling in the Vehicles parts category you’re going to love this one!

The cap of 1,000 compatible car models has been increased to 3,000.

I know for many of you this has been a struggle as it’s likely that a specific part can fit many models and the previous limit of 1,000 was highly restrictive.

This does come with some “forced encouragement”, the “other” categories on eBay will be limited to a maximum of just 100 compatible models which is a hefty drop from the previous 1,000 limit, so choosing the right or more apt category is now 10 times more beneficial.

On the International Front

If you’ve got a Anchor or Featured shop subscription then the discounted international listing fees are still in place. If you’ve not heard of this before then basically you can list into the European sites for free, Australia too and also onto at a discount rate.

This was announced back in the autumn 2012 here and you can see the full overview to the sites included and fees on eBay here

eBay's worldwide potentialPart of this process or challenge that eBay have had is the alignment of the categories and item specifics across each of the eBay sites.

For years each country was pretty much independent, however all the recent changes to do with categories and item specifics on eBay have been related to trying to achieve a uniform structure over all the sites.

With each update we have seen changes to both of these and this time around is no exception. I’m not listing the categories that have changed here because basically it’s pretty much all of them.

You can view the list of affected categories here: and there is a PDF download for the new category structure for post April 7th here:…/categorychanges/UK_New_Structure_Apr2014.pdf

While category & item specific updates fill me with dread, because it means that if you’re using any 3rd party software then (or even non at all) then this means updates not only to the software, but also your listing data as well. They’re changing and there is little we can do about it.

Note: If you’re using Magento & M2E Pro to sell onto eBay, then you’ll want to follow the instructions in this 3 minute video tutorial so that you have the latest category & item specifics structure in your Magento system (you will need to be registered to view this video tutorial, it’s free join).

eBay were also keen to stress that they have been working with 3rd party tools such as ChannelAdvisor & Linnworks to improve the management of international sales with more features around stock synchronization, sales reports and translation abilities. When I queried about M2E Pro, a extension for Magento that they subsidise (remember eBay now own Magento), the team I was speaking to were unable to comment.

Note: Myself & Dave are working on a “Cross Border Trade in Plain English” series at the moment to help show you where you should focus your attention to, when and also how. This is a few weeks away and will be another free course on the UnderstandingE site.

International Tracked Postage Service

eBay have partnered with DPD to make the despatch and delivery of orders into other countries more affordable, traceable and speedy.

Some of the key features of this initiative are:

  • Discounted rates negotiated by eBay
  • Full end-to-end tracking with confirmation of delivery
  • Labels printed directly from order management tools or using eBay sendIT- a dedicated portal to print and pay for eBay labels
  • Postage service to 28 countries (most European Union countries plus Australia, New Zealand and the US)
  • Fast transit times from 2 to 5 days in the European Union
  • Delivery of items up to 30kg
  • Choice of either a collection service (at least 5 parcels per collection) or a drop-off service through Collect+ locations
  • More convenience: the tracking number is automatically added to My eBay for buyers

While at a conference with eBay a few weeks back I asked the curious question: “is this just for businesses new to DPD or can existing DPD customers have access to these rates as well?

The answer made myself and one of the other attendees pull an odd faces across the table because this new service and the discounted rates are only available to businesses that don’t already have a contract with DPD. So if you don’t have an existing contract with DPD the new rates could be pretty tasty, if you do, you’ll need to ring your account manager and start using the eBay rates as leverage if they’re no on par with what you’re already receiving.

You can register your interest here:

The eBay Sping 2014 Updates Summary

Unlike Amazon which commonly say “in 14 days you must change xyz, like it or we’ll limit or close your account“, eBay they’re giving us 162 days notice in most cases. Always keep this in the back of your mind with these seller updates, eBay are playing fair.

We all dislike eBay fee increases and we’re seeing a 1% rise across a load of categories. The question we should be asking ourselves “is eBay worth the extra 1%?

Honestly speaking, of course it is. eBay are holding the deck of cards here, they have the marketplace, they have buyers and it’s the eyeballs of the buyers that count. It would need a whopping increase for it to severely impact the bottom line. Like it or hate it eBay are here to make money, just like you.

Did we get 1% back in this update with the other changes? Well we got Dannii Minogue and that’s gotta be happy days!

The Follow Button

eBay Follow ButtonPutting the store changes and everything else to one side for a moment, the one thing that you should be thinking about is the follow button.

As mentioned this is the pin board button on Pinterest, the follow button on Twitter and the like button from Facebook. However the fundamental difference is that this follow button has the ability to drive a tangible sale to your business.

The second that a buyer hits this button, you’re in their feed and if you’re in their feed they’re going to see you and your products. This is the customer saying to eBay that they are interested in your products and gives eBay the ammunition to target that buyer with your products.

The results may not be instant but unlike the other social networks which have always been vague with actually making transactions, there is no vagueness with eBay, eBay is a marketplace and it’s primary purpose is to help you sell more products.

eBay Update Ratings

As mentioned at the beginning I’ve put together a rating system for each of the updates, scoring them from -1, 0 and +1 depending upon their impact:

Rating Update Notes
-1 Fee Increases Always a -1, good start eh?
+1 eBay Store Design & Related Features I’m a massive fan of this as you might have been able to tell from the video we added
0 eBay Collections I’m rating this as 0, which is me saying this is a good idea but we need to work out wtf to do with it as sellers
Speaking to Dave Furness just before this guide was published, he’d rate them +1. However we haven’t seen what buyers are going to do with these and I’m sticking to 0.
+1 eTRS Changes eBay just made this simpler and harder in one swoop. Is this a bad thing? Hell no, raises the bar for everyone and ultimately customers receive a better service
0 Seller Dashboard No previews available yet, so no comment and no score
+1 “Loaded Auctions” So curious how these are going to be used, ultimately you get your fees back at the end if you don’t fire all the rounds
+1 Picture Standards About time, plus we’ve had months and months of notice on this
0 Managed Returns I’m giving this a 0. I was fluttering between a +1 for this as a unified returns process has to be good for buyers, however… this isn’t actually being imposed on us just yet and as such I’m remaining neutral
+1 Fitment Codes +1 all the way, cuts down the number of listings needed and less listing spam in the vehicle parts categories.
-1 Category Changes Always a -1. A complete nightmare to handle if we do or don’t have listing software in place. I appreciate the changes being needed and the reasons why, but this causes a burden to you and your business to bring them up to date.
+1 International Tracked Service A hat tip to eBay on this, while this may be useless if you already have an account with DPD, for businesses that want to sell internationally this is a helping hand in the right direction to help them grow so they can negotiate their own terms with a courier such as DPD
Grand Total: +5

If this guide helps just one business owner like you, the two days it took me to complete this has been so worth it.

Do you think I’ve scored these appropriately and what do you think of this update?

Let me know in the comments box below.

Live Discussion of the eBay Updates – Tuesday 18th March

Join myself & the co-Founder of UnderstandingE Dave Furness live on Tuesday 18th March where we discuss these updates live & we’ll be able to answer any questions you have there and then.

The button to join is below:

See you there,


26 replies
  1. Chris
    Chris says:

    Get real for a moment Matthew. You can’t expect sellers on eBay to take the blame for Royal Mails failings. That is just ridiculous. What are they supposed to do about it? Use another courier Yodel, Hermes, UPS? They all have their problems and the customer will need to pay a lot more in shipping charges.

    I can’t believe you have given a +1 for the TRS changes. Defects for item not as described in eBays current state is wrong, wrong ,wrong. At the moment it’s far too easy for a customer to open a case. Customers will often buy the wrong thing because they haven’t read the listing properly or they don’t understand how a product works. They open cases for all sorts of reasons which aren’t the sellers fault.

    They should change it so it doesn’t affect you until the customer escalates the case to ebay.

    I know this is the way it works on Amazon, but we hardly ever get any A to Z claims on Amazon, whereas on ebay someone opens a case at least once a day. Amazon appeals to a different type of customer than ebay and they need to take this into account.


    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy Chris,

      I certainly do.

      When a customer purchases from your or any seller on eBay, they’re paying for the whole order which includes delivery this case RM is an extension of your business.

      And you’re right they are two different genres of customer.


  2. Gareth
    Gareth says:

    Great article; very in-depth and informative.

    As Dave Furness says, this is like Pinterest! Are Amazon doing anything similar I wonder?

    As always, e-commerce is Interesting, changing, challenging and fun.

    Thanks Matt,

  3. Will
    Will says:

    Hi Matt,

    Many thanks for this article.

    I am really interested in the new eBay store design options. The example designs you showed certainly seemed really crisp and fresh.

    Question 1
    Can you tell me how this effects the decision on whether to get a custom store design implemented or do you think the new look and feel of the ebay stores is good enough?

    Obviously the new eBay store looks like a lot less work as you just need to create a store banner but I wonder if the additional navigation options that seem to exist with some of the custom designs make that still the way to go?

    I have looked at some of the eBay store developer portfolios and some of them IMO are a little clunky looks wise.

    Question 2
    Will any of the new eBay store features be fed into the general listings in terms of look and feel?



  4. Lee
    Lee says:

    Hello Matt,

    I am considering using magento for my ebay listing templates.
    Would I be right in thinking that if I do, the listing/s will then be a custom store design?
    Would I be better to wait to be invited to participate in the new ebay store designs (as custom designs will not be invited to start with).


  5. Will
    Will says:

    Hi Matt,

    Many thanks for this article.

    I am really interested in the new eBay store design options. The example designs you showed certainly seemed really crisp and fresh.

    Question 1
    Can you tell me how this effects the decision on whether to get a custom store design implemented or do you think the new look and feel of the ebay stores is good enough?

    Obviously the new eBay store looks like a lot less work as you just need to create a store banner but I wonder if the additional navigation options that seem to exist with some of the custom designs make that still the way to go?

    I have looked at some of the eBay store developer portfolios and some of them IMO are a little clunky looks wise.

    Question 2
    Will any of the new eBay store features be fed into the general listings in terms of look and feel?



    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy Will,

      Thanks for the email earlier really appreciated.

      To answer your questions:

      Can you tell me how this effects the decision on whether to get a custom store design implemented or do you think the new look and feel of the ebay stores is good enough?

      Obviously the new eBay store looks like a lot less work as you just need to create a store banner but I wonder if the additional navigation options that seem to exist with some of the custom designs make that still the way to go?

      If you consider that 99% of your customers will find you from your listings I’d actually suggest you look at the eBay listing template rather than a designed eBay store because that is where you would see the maximum return on investment back.

      Will any of the new eBay store features be fed into the general listings in terms of look and feel?

      The grey background already has hit the USA and appears on some UK listings. See this listing as an example: however no sign of the new store designs hitting the actual listings as far as I’ve seen yet.

      Does that help you Will?


  6. pete martin
    pete martin says:

    Great article, full of very valuable info as usual! A couple of questions – when does this come into force on ebay; and does the shop update apply to all shops, ie basic upwards?
    Pete Martin

    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy Pete,

      There are a couple of dates, the eTRS changes are 20th August with the new dashboard being available around mid April, the new stores later this month.

      9th April for the category & item specifics updates, 15th April for the fee increases & the promotions manager will be available.

      does the shop update apply to all shops, ie basic upwards?

      Yes I believe it does. The caveat to this is that it’s going to be offered to shop owners that don’t have any customisations first.


  7. Vinny
    Vinny says:

    Hey Matt,

    Heard alot about you over the years and i never linked up. Good to chat. I think a suck it and see approach required. Interesting shift in the way forward for eBay. Won’t always be positive.

    The stores, i get the change and like it, but it’s just a shame there is no real simple way for people to search via shops. Plus, in store searches, on any platform have severe limits i find.

    thanks for the reply,


  8. Vinny
    Vinny says:

    I don’t necessarily disagree with what you are saying. Im game keeper turned poacher BTW, but i think a step to a new way of measuring feedback was critical. This is a step in the right direction. The bad buyer experience may become quantifiable and visible for once, which i believe, is powerful. It does not filter out some of the behaviours we all know exist. The reality of marketplace selling is that they don’t create a very realistic view of what a normal expectation should be. There is fear of legacy and a fear to move on in the same breath. Given the scale of the platform, each change has to be carefully orhcestrated and monitored.

    The continued cohesion with “retail” on the high street seems to be the MO for eBay. As this evolves there will be a shift in the paradigm i think. But to a regular seller it won’t change. I find it easier to decide that these forces are now so large that when they make changes, it is surf the wave or wait for it to drown you.

    Continued mandating of areas like managed rerturns should see a nawrrowing of the criteria also and in time there will only be certain areas in our control that we can be marked down on. eBay through enterprise, DPD etc will start owning those processes, thus removing them from the equation. That’s an opinion, not a fact.

  9. Matt@eSP
    Matt@eSP says:

    Great review Matt, well rounded and fairly scored. I think you underplayed the ‘no news is good news’ on feedback for items that don’t receive feedback. eBay has been massively successful in getting us to buy using our mobile devices but the mobile interfaces do not make it as easy to leave feedback as they do to buy something, so feedback is declining (in my opinion) because buyers don’t go to the desktop anymore and post their feedback. Getting missing positives back in the eTRS calculations is going to be huge help in maintaining good metrics and I know will be welcome news to our customers.

  10. Rik Powell
    Rik Powell says:

    Really good article (again)! Thanks for the break down. I think eBay should have their own logistics as delivery is becoming one of the most important factors for distance selling. Maybe with the purchase of Shutl, integration with DPD (C.B.T) and UPS for Click + Collect they are exploring more and more down this route.

  11. VInny
    VInny says:

    Good update Matt. agree with most of this to be honest. Nothing too crazy. Im particularly happy with the eTRS changes. Requires the whole business to up the game a bit. The store design is a bit “meh” .. not many folks shop this way yet and until there is a greater visibility around this, i dont think its that big a change. But its a good step in my opinion.

    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy Vinny,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Agreed with the eTRS changes, I’m sure eBay will tinker with the defect rates given enough time.

      With the stores I really like them, frankly I was chuffed that we had any changes to them, they’ve been neglected for years and the changes we have had are way better than the standard stores we’ve got right now.

      Can’t wait to see what people do with the bill board image, we’ve seen some highly creative solutions on Facebook over the years, we’re bound to see this for the stores too.


  12. admiralhardinge
    admiralhardinge says:

    I have a real concern about the defect rates on shipments. These count against sellers. However, UK buyers open a case automatically if the even want to ask a question about item not received or not as described. So this counts against the seller even if they are not at fault?

    Let’s take the case of item not received. On my UK sales over 50% of opened cases are because either Royal Mail did not leave a card where the buyer was not able to take delivery, or because the buyer couldn’t be bothered to arrange re-delivery or go to the sorting office. And if they don’t the item is returned to me as Unclaimed by the buyer. However, a minimal percentage of items are actually lost or have delivery attempted late. How can I possibly be at fault in this instance? Yet ebay say it will count against me.

    Item not described – so suddenly I am to be penalised if the buyer has not read the description properly, or something is damaged in the mail despite high quality packaging. This is typical ebay being unreasonable to sellers.

    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy admiralhardinge,

      Humour me for a moment on this.

      Let’s say we purchase a product from a business on the internet. We’re also paying for the delivery of the product to our door.

      Regardless of the delivery company used, the total package for the order is the items we order and the delivery of the product.

      So if RM/courier/carrier pigeon screws up, forget to leave a card or either of us didn’t make it to the PO office in time, the business is ultimately responsible.

      The delivery part is an extension of the whole order made and if it’s not traceable (as many deliveries are not as they’d become uncompetitive) this doesn’t help because we don’t have anything to use with eBay to say we did our best.

      I know this sucks, but it has to land somewhere and it’s right that it lands with the seller.

      Does that make sense?



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