Nick has been affected by the unanounced changes to visibility of UK listings on eBay.com and today shares how it has affected his business and the steps he’s taken to minimise the impact.
US Visibility, two words that now send a shiver down my spine and bring me out in a cold sweat.
Let me take you back a couple of months to February. Our eBay sales were growing by 20% on the previous year and we had just had our best Christmas sales period since I started the business in 2003. Plans were in place to increase the product range on offer to our customers and maybe employ some staff to cope with the expected growth to come. In short everything was going as well as we had hoped and planned for.
Then, overnight our US sales stopped! This was a serious blow as 30% of our sales went to our US customers.
Faced with the real possibility that my business would not survive a 30% drop in sales I contacted our auction management provider Marketworks for a solution. I was informed that it was not possible to list items to both eBay.co.uk & eBay.com with the same eBay user name with one Marketworks account.
I then contacted Channel Advisor (CA) as I had already made contingency plans to change our auction management provider from Marketworks to Channel Advisor due to support and reliability issues.
CA confirmed that it was possible to list to both sites with the same eBay user name with one CA account. So I decided to jump ship and move the business to CA. This was not an easy decision to make bearing in mind the huge amount of extra work this would entail.
I am happy to report that we now have our US customers back. Sales are back on track but there are still issues.
As we are listing items in both Pounds Sterling and US Dollars, customers that buy multiple items in both currencies find that they can’t checkout. This means a lot of extra work contacting customers and manually adjusting orders.
Our UK sales have also dropped. I am not sure why this as happened but I suspect that some UK customers now think that we are based in the US as many of our items show a Dollar price.
The financial cost to my business has been very high. Lost sales for two months, set up fees for Channel Advisor and our merchant account. We are also duplicating listings as our most popular items are being listed on both sites, which of course means, an increase in our eBay fees.
We have been trading on eBay long enough to know that eBay policies and the market changes frequently but we usually get some period of notice. On this occasion eBay did not inform its sellers or buyers until after it had taken place! Which quite frankly is unacceptable.
I watched the interview with an eBay representative on the BBC Programme working lunch but I am afraid that the reasons behind the decision and worse, the lack of notice just did not stack up for me.
Fairness. UK sellers were getting two bites of the cherry.
First of all, this has been the case for years so why dump it on the community without any notice?
Secondly eBay.com has far more registered users than eBay.co.uk so many of us could not survive by selling on eBay.co.uk alone. Sellers based in the US have a much larger customer base so being able to sell to the UK is not an issue.
Looking after US Buyers. The .com site is being flooded with unwanted UK goods.
Again, no real reason to bring this change without notice.
If the .com site is being flooded with unwanted items eBay could simply make a small charge for opting into US visibility. This would cut out most of the unwanted items, as no seller would willingly pay extra to have items listed if they were unwanted and were not going to sell.
I do hope that eBay changes its policy. To allow UK sellers, which have a demand for its products in the US, to sell to that market.
Finally, if I could, I would give eBay a negative and zero stars out of five for its lack of communication and forethought.