At the beginning of December eBay introduced steps to reduce counterfeit goods on eBay. It took another two weeks until they made public the new policy “Building Trust by Reducing Counterfeits”.
Since then many sellers have found themselves being restricted from listing and fighting to meet the new criteria for selling. Suddenly finding your account restricted from listing designer goods with no prior notice, while eBay “conduct a review” of your account (which you may or may not pass), can severely cripple an eBay business. If you fail the review there is no published appeal process or even criteria needed to pass.
In general once a seller has jumped through the requisite hoops and passed the unknown “account review” they’ve been free to list and sell again…. or at least that’s your own country.
Cross-border trade for certain types of items that are often subject to counterfeiting will be restricted as follows:
Sellers registered in the UK, U.S., and Germany may post these items worldwide.
Sellers in English-speaking markets â€“ UK, U.S., Australia, and Canada â€“ will be able to list and post these items freely across these sites. For example, a UK registered seller will be able to list an item on the US site.
Sellers in Germany, Switzerland and Austria will be able to list and post these items freely across these sites, with the exception that Austrian sellers won’t be able to post to Switzerland.
Sellers in France and Belgium will be able to list and post these items freely between these sites, with the exception that French sellers won’t be able to post to Belgium
Sellers in all other countries will only be able to list and ship these items domestically.
We’ve been hearing from Spain that eBay businesses are being crippled by the new restrictions. Previously able to trade freely across Europe, Spanish sellers of designer brands are limited to selling on the Spanish site to the Spanish market place.
Rumour has it a meeting is to take place next week with Maria Calvo, General Manager of eBay Spain, Klaus Gottschlich, Director of Category Management and Seller Development and several of the biggest Spanish sellers. The meeting will focus on the state of eBay Spain (currently some 250k listings per day) and why Spanish sellers are unable to sell luxury goods to the rest of Europe.
The situation is so severe that a website proposal has been advanced amongst Spanish PowerSellers as an alternative venue to eBay. The sellers involved all have their own ecommerce ventures but recognise the benefits of a large venue with a greater variety of goods than any one seller stocks. They propose a site only open to Spanish PowerSellers (who would pay a fee to fund the site) specifically to market luxury goods from Spanish sellers to the rest of Europe.
It’s easy to see, with increasing pressure in the UK from programs like BBC Watchdog and around the world with Louis Vuitton & Christian Dior in Europe and Tiffany in the US, why steps to reduce counterfeits would be introduced. However the ramifications may be more draconian than eBay management in the US intended – after all the US, UK and Germany (eBay’s three largest marketplaces) are free to ship worldwide. How much consideration was given to other countries is unknown as eBay have at no time made an official statement or posted on the UK or US announcement boards.
It will be interesting as Meg Whitman continues to gather the management stars from across the eBay marketplaces to San Jose whether growing marketplaces such as Spain receive more attention and are treated more equitably in the future. If they’re not it may be the death knell for worldwide growth as eBay fragments into multiple closed trading venues and international commerce dies.