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Making Sense of the eBay UK Updates for August 2012

This is probably the most comprehensive guide there is to the eBay UK updates that is being released this morning that covers the impact of the updates to you and your business.

Pop the kettle on, as this one requires your complete attention. If you’re on the move there is a treat for you with a special mobile version of this guide especially for you.

It’s that time of year again and eBay have loads pre-Christmas treats lined up for you in the August 2012 seller release and one thing for sure, eBay is on your side for the busiest season ever.

There are stellar changes lined up for us and there is a lot for us to cover, however unlike the eBay updates we had in May, I’m not going to be using a scoring mechanism for the updates, because as a general rule the updates are all positive, with the exception of two epic changes that is….

More on those two epic updates later, once you’ve been through this comprehensive guide to the eBay autumn updates, I’d love to hear from you and what your thoughts are on this round of eBay updates, how they impact you and what your Christmas trade is going to be like because of them. You can let me know in the comments box at the bottom of this page.

Downloadable Edition Available!

Ebay-Updates-Ipad-Edition-2012This guide is a monster of over 5,500 words taking you through each update step by step.

That’s quite a lot to take in and because of this, I’ve created you a special downloadable version in PDF format that you can use on you iPhone, iPad or Android device.

To view this version on your mobile device:

[CLICK THIS LINK TO VIEW MOBILE VERSION]

And open in iBooks or your favourite PDF reader.

eBay to Change in 7 Days?

Before we dig into the eBay Autumn 2012 updates, I’d like to share a quick story with you from a meeting earlier this year.

Until the ChannelAdvisor Catalyst event, I hadn’t realised how much effort the team at eBay had put into organising these updates and the communications around them. Half way through the meeting, a question was asked to the audience on the premise that what would we do if we could change a specific factor and have it rolled out live in 7 days.

A nice thought, a change made in 7 days…. after basking in the idea for a few moments and I’m sure several parties taking them seriously that it was possible, the reality had hit home. Just before the meeting had started and while the delegates were just beginning to enter the room, the eBay the team huddled together.

“Right guys we know we might take a rap from some of the sellers here today, we should expect that, everything is not perfect, but we’re trying out best, lets not forget that”

To release major updates like the ones that are about to follow is not a straightforward process. There is a mountain of code to break, sorry edit :D, almost endless groups to work through, testing and re-testing and what about the buyers? Every single one of these changes, don’t just impact us as a community of sellers on eBay, they directly impact the community of buyers and they’ll need an education program as much as the sellers do!

Seven days to make a massive or even a minor change to a site with how many million users globally? Pfft not likely, twice a year is enough for me and hopefully you too.

There is a lot to cover with perhaps the most in-depth there is on the changes for this Autumn, grab a coffee and let’s dig in.

Reporting of Bad Buyers Being Introduced

eBay Report a BuyerWoooooohoooooooooooo!

Once you’ve sat back your chair after falling off while cheering, eBay have hit a home run on this one. Well, that is IF they actually action in the information they are fed from sellers.

We are going to be able to rate buyers again, but unlike before with the old “negging”, sorry “feedback” system, this process is designed to highlight “Unreasonable Behaviour” by buyers through a new form.

This form is available after the purchase has been made via the feedback page and through a set of different set options than before, leave feedback about the buyer which is forwarded directly to eBay for them to process.

“We all know that a small number of buyers on eBay have been playing the system”

Let’s be frank here, we all know that a small number of buyers on eBay have been playing the system since the ability to leave negative feedback for them was taken away from sellers some time ago.

I covered one dynamic of this around the frequency of “lost orders” when comparing eBay & Amazon a week or so ago and the feedback in the comments from business owners who also use both marketplaces was compelling (also very constructive too, see the comments around the use of a barcode for a “suggested” tracking method on untracked orders to lower the “lost” rate).

Update: This is an important note around the reporting of buyers from John in the comments at the bottom of this article:

John says:
I was concerned that reporting a buyer wouldn’t be possible if auto feedback was enabled but eBay tell me that it will be possible to still report dodgy buyers.

A video from the James Stewart, director of eBay’s EU seller team is below where he explains this part up of the update in detail:

The amount of time and money being wasted by eBay businesses due to buyers playing the game must be reaching scary amounts now and while thankfully it remains the few, it’s started to us hurt more and more as time has gone on. Time will tell if eBay stand by the statement of:

eBay UK says:
Based on your report and additional information that eBay has about the buyer, we’ll investigate if there’s a pattern of unreasonable behaviour. If so, we’ll take appropriate actions, including buying restrictions or even suspension of a buyer’s account.”

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.

Note: It has been confirmed that there is no intention currently to allow this to be available in the eBay API (the interface that 3rd party tools use to talk with eBay), as that could undermine the new process through automation tools and that’s the last thing we need. Phew!

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

After a item has been purchased, on the Leave Feedback page here http://feedback.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?LeaveFeedback 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 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

Surely you agree that it has to be a positive system to introduce? I know I have missed a feedback process like this for some time now. What do you think? Let me know in the comments at the bottom.

eBay Buyer Communication Updates

Buyers are now going to be required to contact you through eBay first before they are allowed to start the resolution process for an order and state that it was not received or significantly not as described.

eBay Resolution Centre - Contact Seller First

eBay’s allowed a hefty time frame of 8 days for you to respond to such a request before being allowed to escalate it to eBay. 8 days does seem a lot, but remember we are dealing with a a very broad range of business types and tracking for some goods may not be possible immediately and also this does account for the time to resolve the issue between the buyer and seller.

There are also two important parts to this section of the eBay updates, these are:

  1. Only queries referred to eBay and found in favour of the buyer will be included in your seller performance evaluation
  2. If a buyer asks ‘When am I likely to receive my item?’ before the delivery date has passed, we’ll display a message reminding them of the date.

Both of those are very welcomed, saving both time in customer services demand and making it fairer for you for when you’ve been playing ball.

I was sold on the first line where the buyers are forced to contact the seller, the two extra parts of this update for the validated feedback and better communication of delivery times sealed it for me. What do you think? Let me know in the comments at the bottom.

eBay Gallery View Redesigned Including Colour Swatches!

Images speak a million words, we know that and they are second in the importance list of attributes that effective eBay businesses need to get right on eBay, right after the listing title to allow the potential buyer to find the listing that is.

eBay are known for their split testing across the site, it’s why you see one thing when signed in as one account and something different when signed in as another account when it comes to different parts of the structure of eBay when they’re testing.

eBay UK says: 
“Our trials have shown that previous increases in item image size, have resulted in a significant* increase in sales. And we’re anticipating a similar response to this update.”

No eBay USA Gallery Requirements!
Before we dig into those changes, I know for many of you that you have been concerned that we might have been seeing the same gallery requirements update that the eBay USA site had.

eBay US Gallery Image requirements

eBay USA banned extra text, forced image minimum sizes, disallowed borders in gallery images, gave suggestions on watermarks and generally floored a very useful selling strategy for gallery images (it was quite horrific). The good news is that it is NOT in this update!

The eBay UK Changes
We’re going to be seeing much larger thumbnail images on listings in the gallery view and also a neat little feature where the title will expand to the full title once the title/image area is activated.

This is much better than relying upon the “Alternative text” message that the web-browser gives you and there is more!

eBay Extended Gallery View

We’re going to be seeing the introduction of swatch images for multi variation listings.

This is… sick!

If you’ve not heard of swatches before, these are generally the little colour images that you see on product pages, that help the buyers make the decision on product attribute like colour through instant image recognition because its an image, rather than having to read text from a list of options.

Swatch Examples
To explain this as clearly as possible, let’s use two examples of the extremes from Amazon.co.uk (who have had this feature for years *coff*).

The first example in the image below shows us a dress on Amazon (click to view) where the swatches only have text labels. This means that you have to read the options to make a selection and we know how disastrous that can be when we need buyers to read :D

Amazon Swatch Example - No Swatches

This second example (click to view) has actual colour images for the different variations that the dress is available in. So if you want the red dress, locating it is so much faster for the buyer.

Amazon Swatch Example - With Swatches

eBay variations and Pricing UpdatedIn eBay multi-variation listings buyers are now going to be able to clearly see that there are variations in your listing. You’ve got to agree that the “More Options” that we have currently is not clear to buyers and I know from personal experience, most people do not know what that link does when in the gallery view.

The price range annoyance is being fixed. It’s a feature that has been in dire need of for ages, as before the update if you have a product in a variation listing that ranges from £9.99 to £129.99 the highest price is being shown to buyers.

In this update we’ll be seeing “£9.99 – £129.99” instead, much better, yay.

Gallery Image Swap based Upon Search Terms
And it gets better too! If the variation option is a colour and matches the search criteria the buyer has made, then the image attached to the colour variation in the listing will be shown instead of the main gallery image.

Intelligent searches will show the corresponding variation images

So if you search for a “Pink Shirt” and there is a “Pink” variation for colour, in an eBay listing that has a “pink image” attached, eBay will show this image instead of the main gallery image.

eBay Variation Options With Set Images

Important Notes On This Update
While this is a super cool feature, it does now mean that instead of just working manually on the main listing image that is used in the gallery, the first sub image for each colour variant is going to be just as important, as this image could be your gallery image instead.

The first variation image is going to be as important as the main gallery picture

Also if you look closely in the image above and in the image below, notice the “Colors” attribute. This is being shown as a shade of a colour, just like how Amazon use shades for their colour mapping, so expect some data work to match your items to pending new item specifics and attribute sets.

eBay Variation Colour Shades

Note: Amazon uses colour mapping to group together colours so that it they are able to make better filters on the site, for example you may have a garment that is “burgundy-red”, so the nearest mapping for colour is red. This is very similar to what you can see above.

eBay Checkout Comments Toggle

eBay Checkout Add Message to SellerAt the beginning of this article we had a little story from the CA Catalyst event, in that meeting it was revealed that sellers will now be able to turn off the buyer’s comment box during the checkout process.

I can see how for some businesses (like the ones that use CA who do not support it) would find it most useful, however it would have been better to have the reverse of this option, which is to force the buyer comments box on, so that for customised goods, buyers have to fill the box out.

Not an exciting update for what it could have been, I’m sure some businesses will find it useful and there will be a new toggle option to show/hide this, probably in site preferences.

eBay Fast

eBay Fast and Free ExampleA really sweet edition, that we’re already seeing variations of on eCommerce websites is coming to eBay in October, ready for Christmas we’ll be seeing a new logo under our items called “Fast ‘n’ Free”.

This will appear on listings that 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.

Google Base Requirement Updates

Google Product Identifiers ExampleIt’s been a requirement for sometime now for items to be included in Google Base to include unique identifiers. For those without a clue of what these are, it’s easy, it’s the barcode of the product.

That means you’ll need to be adding an EAN, UPC, JAB, ISBN or GTIN as customer item specific to your listings (if you have no idea on what those are, see this article that explains them all in a handy 5 minute video).

Huge Tip: Remember to use the custom items specific called MPN for the “Manufacturer Part Number”. An excellent example of this in action on Google Product Search is here as shown in the image above.

Duplicate Listing Policy Extended

Prior to this update coming into effect we are able to run 1 fixed price listing and up to 14 auctions that may or may not have a BIN price on them.

eBay UK says:
“In 2011 we reduced duplicate fixed price listings and saw a sales increase across European eBay sites. Fewer duplicates mean more sales for more sellers.”

Post this update we are only going to be able to have one fixed price listing, like before and up to 14 auctions running at the same time, but none of the auctions are allowed to have a “Buy It Now” price on them as eBay are to be considering these as duplicates.

I don’t believe this to be a bad update per-say, rather that if it is viable for your business to lay-down 14 sub auctions, you’ll have to do it without BIN being offered.

Unit Prices Introduced

I’m sure you have seen this before, this has been in the supermarket shelves for some time now. If you add a weight as grams or kilograms to a listing as an item specific, it eBay will soon display and price per weight unit below the item price.

eBay UK says:
“This will help you to better comply with European laws on how the price of certain goods should be displayed”

eBay Unit Prices Shown in Update

A nice update, gotta love the EU at times, but this is not yet supported by the one place you’re likely to see a weight difference, multi-variation listings.

eBay My Messages Enhancements

eBay My Messages Being UpdatedRight this one caused some confusion across the pond, so let’s be super clear here.

eBay are not going to be reading your personal email

Instead, if you are using the reply button in you email application, say Gmail or Outlook rather than using “eBay My Messages” to make replies to queries, then when you hit reply and send a message, your “eBay My Messages” will update so that you know that the message you just replied to in say Gmail, has been replied to in eBay My Messages.

It’s as simple as that, handy eh?

Manufacturer Warranties For New Products

eBay UK says:eBay requires Manufacturer Warranty period to be added
“An increasing number of buyers look for the manufacturer warranty in a listing for extra confidence and reassurance in their purchase. Including these details in your listings can help lead to an increase in sales, especially for higher value items”

 

Is this really a bad thing?  Hardly, this is a super update for buyers.

They’ll know clearly what a warranty is included with their purchase and how long for.

It’ll be a requirement for all business sellers  in late September to fill in the “Manufacturer warranty” eBay item specific.

If you’re using a third party tool, make sure you add this ASAP and update your products before the requirement time is enforced.

Category, item specifics changes & eBay Catalogues Extended

At the time of writing this article, I am not 100% sure which categories are being updated for structure and item specifics, but as soon as I am fully aware I’ll add them here.

Generally all category and item specific updates are a nightmare, especially when it comes to moving data round. This time there will be a few fee increases and odd decrease as categories move entire trees, one of the downsides for having category based fee structures I guess.

Update: The categories that are changing are vast, these are as follows:

  • Art
  • Business, Office & Industrial
  • Cameras & Photography
  • Clothes, Shoes & Accessories
  • Computer/Tablets & Networking
  • DVDs, Films & TV
  • Home & Garden
  • Jewellery & Beauty
  • Music
  • Musical Instruments
  • Vehicle Parts & Accessories
  • Video Games & Consoles
  • Wholesale & Job Lots
  • Everything Else

You can download all the category changes for September 2012 as a PDF and what the new category structure will look like after the structure also as a PDF.

The eBay Catalogue is being extended, but not as widely as it was in the previous update in May, into four categories, these being:

  • CPUs/Processors (category id 164)
  • Server CPUs/Processors (category id 56088)
  • Motherboards (category id 1244)
  • PC Desktops & All-in-Ones (category id 179)

We’ve seen this path developing as the eBay catalogue becomes bigger and as a reality check, it has always been around in the media category with Muse. It’s pretty obvious that given enough time, eBay is migrating to a catalogue structure that we know and love (*coff* hate at times too) similar to Amazon’s, how much impact seller data is going to play in this, is not entirely sure just yet.

Is it a bad update at present? Nope, as long as sellers can retain their uniqueness, rather than just being on a race-to-the-bottom Amazon styled listing format.

Motors Tyre Label for EU Requirement

If you’re listing tyres on eBay UK, you’ll be required to display tyre performance information in lists for tyres manufactured on or after the 1st of July 2012.

Later this season we’ll be seeing eBay enforcing these requirements by making the item specifics compulsory when listing these products on eBay.

eBay Tyre Label Requirements

Customised Item Condition for Non New Items

This is a sweet update if you sell used or refurbished goods, as you’ll be able to add and explain any extra details about the condition of non-new items listed on eBay with a text area, which is going to support around a whopping 1000 characters.

eBay item Condition Note for Non New Items

As eBay are going to be making this custom message more apparent to buyers, they’re suggesting to remove any notes you have on the condition of a product to this field, however we all know what buyers are like and I strongly suggest you put the items condition description in the new field AND in the description area.

Featured First is GONE!

The two stunners in this update, I have saved for last. You better hold on as I was shell-shocked when I found out about this.

eBay’s highest ticket feature upgrade is going in September 2012.

For those who have not heard or used “Featured First”, for £44.95 a week or £134.95 a month, you were (were almost being the right tense) able to promote your items are the very top of the eBay search for matching keywords and thus items with featured first on them would generally make a lot more transactions than a listing without this feature upgrade.

The ability to add such a feature has pretty much always been on the eBay I have known from the days when there was such a thing as homepage featured, to today where featured first is still available.

The playing field is going to be levelled.

I know a large number of businesses that use eBay’s featured first to accelerate the performance of newly listed products. Products that are both new to eBay and new to the sellers and without this boost of activity, the length of time needed for such products to gain traction is going to be significant.

But it’s retired and that is going to be putting a hell of a lot of weight on to getting eBay’s best match working for your eBay listings and while I can see why I can see this as being a good update for buyers, like many of the updates we’ve been through above, this update is scary for sellers as you’re unable to essentially pay to be featured and now the playing field is going to be levelled.

What do you think about Feature First going? Let me know in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

Upgraded eBay International Selling

This isn’t just one update, this is a combination of updates that are going to make selling internationally more easier & more cost effective and there is an epic feature being lined up for 2013.

Postage Prices Per Country
The first part is to allow eBay UK businesses to specify postage costs per country, this feature alone I know many businesses to have been crying out for.

There is always the odd little island like Malta that breaks all the rules for despatch costs and grouping Europe up into one option hasn’t helped with the price differences for couriers across Europe, this part of the update solves this pain and as you can see in the image below, you can now add postage rates per country!

eBay Postage Prices Per Country

Listing Exposure & Translations
The second part of the international selling updates is the change for international buyers to only see listings from eBay.co.uk, eBay.com, eBay.com.au and eBay.ca that will post to their country.

Also to help buyers with translations of product descriptions, eBay will also be including translate button using “Translate” to swap languages to the buyers native language.

New Single Monthly XXL Subscription
The third part of the update for international selling is that eBay are releasing a new single monthly store subscription to allow a single eBay trading ID to listing internationally for one monthly fee.

eBay goes XXL, fries with that sir?

You will be able to list to all the eBay European sites and eBay.com.au at no extra cost for the same price of an anchor eBay UK store subscription at £349.99.

By my reckoning, this is the following EU sites for free:

  • eBay Australia
  • eBay Austria
  • eBay Belgium (French & Dutch)
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • And of course the UK

Note: See the global list of eBay sites here.

The XXL subscription will give you the following:

  • Zero insertion fees for 30-day and Good ‘Til Cancelled fixed price listings on domestic, European and Australian sites
  • $0.03 insertion fee for 30-day and Good ‘Til Cancelled fixed price listings on eBay.com.
  • Final value fees charged according to the site that you list the item on. (You’ll also be charged relevant feature fees.)

And get this, this is in preparation for 2013, eBay are going to be allowing you to create eBay Shop for each site you list on.

I can see some third party software tools falling over with ability to support so many sites, both technically (as that is one complicated inventory structure when you account for ~14 eBay sites) and also instructing how users can leverage so many sites at the same time through a single eBay account and software backend.

I’m also not sure how eBay’s own tools are going to cope with this either, does that really mean you would need to log into ~14 sites to collect sales off each of them or is the backend of eBay going to change to facilitate this somehow.

An eBay account manager had given them an anchor store to help with their “international visibility”.

About 2 months ago, a Bristol based company I spotted had a anchor eBay store. It didn’t make sense as that’s £350 and they had around 200 listings. The threshold is exactly 6,000 listings to warrant am anchor store.

After an email or two, it was revealed that an eBay account manager had given them an anchor store to help with their international visibility. As I had pointed out at the time, that was pointless as it made no difference. Now the logic makes sense, it did not then and the account manager was a little eager maybe? After this update, it will do.

There are a lot of questions unanswered on this topic for the next update in 2013. but £349.99 for listing to so many sites, if you can get around the data requirements, then this could be lethal for the larger businesses on eBay right now.

Autumn 2012 Updates Summary

The Autumn updates are jam-packed with some super updates for both buyers and sellers alike, but I cannot believe “Featured First” is going from eBay UK.

The importance of having “quality” listings has and will never have been so great.

This is going to make it soooo hard for some businesses that use this to expedite sales of products that are new to them, new to eBay or need the competitive advantage against long standing listings that have become welded to the top of search.

The importance of having “quality” listings has and will never have been so great when this update goes live, we have new gallery image sizes, variation listing updates that will need you to work hard to make them become sticky in the search results.

We can work as a community to tackle the scum

Finally we can work as a community to tackle the scum that have been causing us so much trouble with fake loses and abusing the feedback system to their advantage. Even in eBay terms they’re calling them “Bad Buyers”, “problem buyers” might have been less harsh, but either way I as you don’t mind, that is IF eBay deliver on this one and carry through the reports we make as a community.

What do you make of the ability to report buyers, is it enough, do you see it working in the long term? The comments box is below, let me know.

Also where buyers are concerned, they’re being stopped from creating cases where they have not contacted the seller previously and then the seller is given 8 days to respond and deal with the query effectively before they can escalate the case to eBay, that is certainly another welcomed change.

eBay variations and Pricing Updated

The annoying bug with variations is being fixed, so we can see the range of prices and we’re seeing the long awaited introduction of swatch images to variations and the gallery images as a whole will be increased too.

The entire shopping experience for buyers will be better on eBay this Christmas with a easier list of items to view and also clearer messaging for businesses that use expedited delivery options with the inclusion of the “Fast’n’Free” logo appearing on listings that meet the 3 days or less delivery window.

Getting your products into Google Shopping results by including the EAN or identifier is now a requirement and also don’t forget the tip earlier about using MPN to include the manufacturers part number to also help in Google searches.

Did I mention that I cannot believe Featured First is going? Still not over that one, are you?

The link between external email applications so that your My Messages section is now updated when you reply to messages outside of eBay using the respond button is going to help you if you’re using a mixture of the my messages section and email, before you could only really use one without shouting across the office to see which ones were answered.

Besides the above and featured first going, the next largest part of this update is around international selling. No surprise really as it’s been pushed hard over the past few months and finally now we have some tools at our disposal that we can leverage to take advantage of the changes.

A Single fee for all the eBay EU sites AND eBay Australia

I did not expect to seeing that the eBay stores are going to be unified, this was a suggestion we made over a year or more ago, I guess they listen after all. I also did not expect that we would be seeing a one fee to list everywhere and in the detail above, that’s 14 eBay sites by my maths, but the devil will be in the detail and we’ll know fully as more communications from eBay surface on this.

With a single fee for all the eBay EU sites and eBay Australia, the Australian’s are going to be well pissed off with this update. As far as I can see, if you want to expand your UK business, why bother with translation’s, just open up eBay.com.au, its far more easier.

We must not forget that this update also includes $0.03 listing fees for the core eBay.com site as well and I am very curious what is going to happen with the unified eBay shops, even with sub shops as well when it comes to the eBay USA site and listing insertions.

“All in All” an excellent update, no fee increases are always welcomed.

“All in All” an excellent update, no fee increases are always welcomed and we’ve also scored with value back from eBay with the single store subscription fee. For those of you with anchor store subscriptions, it was am exact threshold of 6,000 listings over the period of a month to warrant having an eBay shop.

Now over to you, what do you make of the updates and how do you feel they are going to impact your business over Christmas?

Let me know in the comments box below.

 

PS…

If the above was the most comprehensive guide you have ever seen to an update by eBay ever, I believe you need consider registering for access to the free forums where we work together with any questions you may have about this or any other eCommerce related subject.

Making Sense of the Pending eBay UK Updates in May 2012

This quarter, eBay UK updates are a real mixed bag, on one hand there appears to be a lot taken away and the other little given back.

I’m going to be using a scoring system for each update, +1 if it I feel it’s a positive change for businesses and -1 if I don’t. I wonder what the total is going to be at the end of this article?

I’d love to hear from you, let me know if I have graded each change fairly (or not) and how you would have graded each change. You can let me know in the comments box at the bottom.

 

eBay Video Overview of the Changes

Below is the official video from eBay UK on the May 2012 updates with Angus McCarey


eBay UK Fee Increases x3

No one likes fee increases & there are three punches to the pockets of businesses in the pending update.

In last year’s update the Tech category fees were reduced from 6% and businesses enjoyed a 50% reduction in fees to 3%, this advantage is now gone. The first is the increase in FVF in the technology categories from 3 to 5%.

This now brings eBay UK in-line with Amazon UK electronics category at 7% (as 5% FVF + 1.9% = 6.9%) and make help businesses that are tech-heavy decide that price parity across the channels might be attractive as it was confirmed that Amazon do include eBay as a sales channel (no surprise really) as part of their price parity checks (see earlier article here & here).

Matt’s Rating: -1 as no one likes fee changes.

The second is the eTRS  discounts are being reduced by 10%. eBay are quick to add that the eTRS status does promote businesses in the Best Match, their value of 15% is obviously a site-wide figure, as I know from experience the gain (or loss) of the eTRS status to actually account for a difference of 30-40%.

eBay eTRS Fee Changes
Currently DiscountsNew Discounts
20%10%
25%15%
30%20%

This one is really going to hurt and I really mean hurt. If you’re fees are £10,000 a month, this is a cool £1,000 extra that you’re going to be paying and even at a medium sized business with £5K of eBay fees each month, this is £500 which at any business size will make owners re-evaluate current overheads, which include staff.

You can quickly work out what impact this will have by checking your billing section of eBay here, if you’re a high volume business then you’ll have to download the transactions or use the drop down box at the right to see the history of invoices and look for the “New Fees” value in the report summary and your current discounts are shown as “Discounts”.

Matt’s Rating: -1 as again no one likes fee changes.

eBay Motor Fees Increasing

Also for Business sellers in the Motors category, the insertion fees are changing from £8.00 to £10.00, although you are getting the listing upgrade “Gallery Plus” as part of the update, just like the C2C did in November (see this announcement). The motor fees for business sellers in Ireland they’re seeing the fees increase from 9 to 12 Euros. But they get free gallery plus too.

I’m not sure why eBay aren’t just blunt with the motor fee changes, its a proven fact that listings with images sell more effectively and for a higher sales value than listings with no images. Just a simple inclusion of that fact that “eBay listings with images in the motor category sell for X % more, so we’re making the use of gallery featured compulsory” would have been quite effective.

Matt’s Rating: +1. Yes it’s a fee change, but for the buyers this has to be a positive change.

We’re at -1 for the updates so far. Let’s start digging into the others. Remember if you feel that I have graded one or more of these incorrectly, let me know in the comments box at the bottom.

Note: I’ve used a couple of acronyms in this article, these are explained below

  • eTRS = eBay Top Rated Seller
  • Best Match  = A biasing search mechanism to promote or demote search results
  • FVF = Final Value Fees, which is the fee that you pay when the listing is successful.
  • C2C = Consumer to Consumer or private sales in plain English.

Say Hello to Adverts & Other Sellers Items In Your Listings

Adverts have been in private seller listings for some time now, however in this release business sellers are going to be seeing adverts below their seller credentials on the listing pages and potentially other sellers items above their listings too.

Now if you’ve not seen the bundles functionality a screenshot of this below, expect eBay to be split testing options showing other sellers items, above this, below this and also at the bottom of the listings and if it was me split testing, instead of showing the bundle options too.

An eBay Bundles Example

I’ll be blunt here, if I was a business trading on eBay, then I would see this as a step too far (let me know your thoughts in the comments box at the bottom). The insertion (or via eBay Shop subscription) fees are paid to display my businesses products, not anyone else’s and you could say I’m not a fan of this sacred area being played with when it does not immediate benefit the business directly, like the bundles.

Yes, this is going to be an opt-in and if you allow your listings to show other sellers items, then yours will be shown, that’s nice, but frankly I’d turn it off.

A screenshot of this in action is below:

new merchandising placement

Considering that buyers have already got to scroll a mile downwards to get to the actual product details, this puts extra emphasis on what you do above the fold (this is the top of the page before you scroll down), titles, subtitles, images and multi-variation attributes have never been so important to motivate the buyer to scroll down and get at your product details.

Matt’s Rating: -1 as I feel this is a step too far for business sellers

eBay Buyer Protection Extended

In April the number of categories covered by the eBay Buyer Protection are being extended to:

  • Custom made products
  • Airline flight tickets
  • Licences
  • Anything equivalent to cash
  • Gift certificates

Any process that fits in with the current processes such as the eBay Buyer Protection to help buyers feel more protected has to be a good thing in my book.

Matt’s Rating: +1 Helps buyers feel more comfortable.

KCode Updates

I don’t believe that this in the formal update, but the next update for the KCodes is in April. If you’re in the parts category, look out for these changes.

There is no rating for this, as its not part of the release. If you were wondering, it would get a +1 for keeping them updated.

Category Updates

There are a number of eBay category and item specifics changes in this update. Businesses dislike category and item specific changes, however I see them as an opportunity to adapt quickly and gain a temporary edge over other businesses.

The current list I have of these are below.

  • Baby
  • Clothes, Shoes & Accessories
  • Computing
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Crafts
  • Health & Beauty
  • Home & Garden
  • Jewellery & Watches
  • Musical Instruments
  • Toys & Games

The full list of category changes is in PDF format and you can view them here
http://pics.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/uk/categorychanges/UK_Category_change_May2012.pdf 

Matt’s Rating: +1 This will cause some fun for businesses with products for these categories, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this section, this could give you a temporary edge.

The eBay Catalogue Extended

Its curious that eBay sport the inclusion that “On average, sellers who use the catalogue sell 50% more than sellers who do not use the catalogue” which indicates how effective the new catalogue system as been.

The following product groups have been extended:

DVD & Blu-Ray:

  • Region Free DVD Players
  • Portable DVD Players
  • DVD Players
  • Region 2 DVD Players
  • DVD & VCR Combo Players
  • DVD Recorders
  • Region 2 DVD Recorders
  • Region Free DVD Recorders
  • Other DVD & Home Cinema
  • Blu-Ray Players & Recorders

Home receivers:

  • Tuners
  • Analogue
  • Digital

Multimedia Projectors:

  • Projectors

Home Theatre systems:

  • Home Cinema Systems

Home Theatre Speakers & Subwoofers:

  • Subwoofers
  • Other Speakers
  • HiFi Speakers
  • Bookshelf/ Wall Mount Speakers
  • Floor Standing Speakers
  • Surround/ Home Cinema Speakers
  • Standmount Speakers
  • Speaker Components
  • Portable Speakers

The help file for the eBay catalogue is here and the catalogue adoption tool is covered in a video from eBay here.

Matt’s Rating: +1 I’m not saying its flawless, however this has to help buyers find items more quickly & efficiently. For businesses, adding the EAN or manufacturers part number (MPN) is strongly suggested as it will also help your eBay items be found in Google product search.

Manufacturer Warranties to Item Specifics

Item specifics are going to support manufacturer warranties. I’ve seen this in certain listings where the business has added it as a custom item specific, however by the very nature of it being a custom item specific, that lacks uniformity across the eBay site and by eBay setting a standard field for the inclusion of the warranty period has to be a good thing.

Plus if its used heavily then it’ll appear in the left navigation bar when in search or browse screens and an option to indicate if the current warranty is transferable is a nice addition.

Matt’s Rating: +1 Definitely a change for the better, for both sellers and buyers.

Handling Time Changes – Show Same Day Despatch

This is welcomed addition as many businesses work exceptionally hard at ensuring that their orders are despatched the same day, with the larger ones working with couriers to extend the collection times past 6pm to add efficiency.

Its curious that you’re unable to change the despatch time at a seller level, with eBay’s cut off being midday nor will you be able to change this on a per listing basis just yet (which sucks for pretty much all businesses using a hybrid business model which have a “Just In Time” slice).

Its going to be an account wide setting in your site preferences which once live you can find here.

An interesting addition is the ability to give a reason why a businesses despatch/handling time is longer than normal, this is exceptionally well received because if your business is selling custom made items that take 1-2 weeks to be designed and built, you can let your buyers know in advance.

Matt’s Rating: +1 Definitely a welcome addition. Just hoping that this will be expanded upon at a per listing level.

Automatic 5 Star Rating for Communications

There are a couple of conditions for this to happen which are below:

  1. Tracking is uploaded or the item is marked as dispatched within 1 working day after payment has been received
  2. Stated handling time is 1 working day or same day
  3. The payment method is PayPal, making the payment date visible to eBay.
  4. No communication took place between the buyer and seller from 14 days before the transaction up until the point that Feedback was left. This includes messages within My eBay and any opened cases

If these conditions are met, then when feedback is left you’ll be automatically awarded 5 stars for communication.

Points 1 to 3 are do-able, point 4 is one that will annoy businesses, as we know that eBay buyers are the most vocal of all the sales channels and certain verticals of businesses will rarely meet this fourth condition.

Matt’s Rating: +1 We’re going to have to see how this pans-out. Some businesses will benefit greatly from this, while others won’t notice any difference. Let me know what you think of this change in the comments box at the bottom.

Clarity on Customs

I only work with one business that will benefit greatly from this addition, however as a whole it’s not a bad update, its just extra wording to help the buyer realise that marking goods as gifts is bad practice (oh come on we all know what its referring too!) and there could be delays with the delivery due to customs issues.

Clarity for international buyers on customs

Matt’s Rating: +1 Any extra clarity for buyers has to be a good thing (although that doesn’t mean that buyers will notice it).

Automatic Removal of Non Paying Buyers

Finally, the removal of eBay feedback from buyers that did not pay, if they haven’t left feedback yet then they’re going to be blocked from leaving feedback as well.

The caveat to this is this statement:

This applies whether or not you are using Unpaid Item Assistant as long as you are only offering PayPal and no local pick up is offered.

Matt’s Rating: +1 YAY!

Business Polices

This is going to get another +1, anything that simplifies the policies for businesses and buyers is a good thing. These polices are taken for granted in advanced selling tools such as ChannelAdvisor, ChannelGrabber or eSellerPro, however for businesses without these tools, then they can be a pain.

I’m not going to cover these in any great depth, as the video with Dave Forest below explains them really well.


Matt’s Rating: +1 While this will be helpful for smaller sellers who have a variety of different product types, the extra awareness around return laws has to be a good thing.

eBay As a Payment Processor in Germany

This also applies to eBay Austria as well, but you need to be fully aware of what the implications of this mean to us in the UK. eBay UK is not the second largest eBay site, eBay Germany is and for such a fundamental change to be made on that site, means that we’re likely to be seeing this change in either the next update or the one following.

Currently for eBay UK sales, you can opt to choose a different payment method other than PayPal, say bank transfer or cheque, however in Germany where bank transfers are the norm, eBay are now stepping in as a the payment processor. The customer pays eBay for the order and then eBay pays the seller.

I’m sure the intentions are good, if its been identified that eBay need to step in as the trusted party between the seller & buyer to ensure a smooth transaction, then this can be easily understood, however does this not sound familiar? *coff* Amazon.

There are a couple of topics that we didn’t see in this update.

Bundles
The first is that there was no mention of the pilot bundles facility being release site wide for all businesses to use. This feature is still in pilot mode with several larger businesses on eBay and allows sellers to create “special offers” at the top of their listings.

I checked the eBay API documentation this morning and there is still no sign of this being added to the core trading API, which means that to use these, sellers need to manually upload their bundles via CSV files. Once this hits the API documentation, I suspect we’ll be seeing in the following update, assuming that it does leave the pilot scheme (which it should do).

No eBay Shop Updates
In a previous article I found that there are 400,000 eBay shops currently on eBay UK. While the enterprise businesses have a new structure to the eBay shops (that’s why the outlet stores look and act differently differently to normal eBay shops) the tools & features that are included have not changed for years.

I’ve been waiting for an update for the eBay shops for the past two years, because if you look in the HTML of eBay shops there are three very interesting additions, these are are below:

Meta Tags for search engines

The only way these tags work is that if the domain where they are being served from is in the control of the business, with it being on a eBay domain its clearly not. So will we be seeing CNAME aliases for eBay shops soon or maybe eBay is working with Google & Microsoft just for eBay Shops? I just don’t know. But from the code snippet above, its clear there is something going on with them.

Mobile Optimised descriptions
As an observation, if eBay is experiencing a rapid increase in the number of transactions made via mobile devices (one pound in every ten), would it not be a good idea to ask sellers for a duplicate description that is optimised for mobile devices?

Have you tried viewing an item on eBay on a phone? It looks awful and I personally always end up going to the main site to view the item. I know what I am suggesting, two descriptions for eBay listings, but larger sellers with tools in the background will be easily cope with this and would be easily added to most eBay platform specific tools.

The Final Score

So… Quite a few changes to digest, that’s why I have been keeping track of them using a scoring system, the total count comes in at +7.

There were 3 negatives around the eTRS fees being reduced, the insertion fees going up for Tech and the addition of adverts & other sellers items in item detail pages. I’ve spoken to a couple of businesses already and I asked them what they thought, universally the reply was “fee changes”.

However generally, as shown by the 10 positive scores in this article show that while it may frankly suck that its going to become more expensive to sell on eBay for most, the updates included in the pending release are generally positive overall.

What do You Make of the Changes?

  • Would you have scored eBay at just minus one for the fee increases?
  • Do you agree with the ratings I have given each of the changes?
  • How are the fee increase going to affect your business?

Let me know in the comments box below.