This afternoon’s keynote speech at ChannelAdvisor Catalyst by Mark Lewis, MD of eBay UK, and his team had some good news for sellers about changes to come this year.
Perhaps best of all was the news of just how changes will be made in the future: Mark acknowledged that last year’s process of constant alterations to site specifications was difficult for sellers to work with. Vowing that eBay UK wants to be a better business partner and easier to work with, he announced that in future, major changes will be made in two “annual releases”, meaning that sellers can make all necessary changes to their listings in one hit. Better still, eBay UK will aim to announce these changes 60 days in advance, so that sellers have plenty of time both to plan for and to implement them.
This year’s annual releases will take place in June and September: it was acknowledged that these are pretty close together, and in future years, it’s hoped to spread things out more evenly. But there are changes eBay want to make this year: June is just about sixty days away, so the announcements need to be made soon, and September was chosen to be well in advance of the holiday shopping season.
Raphael Orta gave us a sneak preview of some of the changes being announced in the first round.
- Multiple variation listings will finally allow sellers to offer a choice of colours, sizes, fits etc. etc. in their listings. Multi-SKU listings have been on the cards for a long time now, and are something that many sellers have asked for time and again.
- Free pictures
- Smart FAQs will build on the FAQs currently available to sellers to display when potential buyers use “ask seller a question”. There will also be the option to turn off questions altogether.
- Easy returns: eBay will introduce a simple way for buyers to notify sellers that they wish to return an item, and to print off a “returns slip” to send back with their item. I’d guess that “easier returns” will worry some sellers, but I suspect that it won’t increase returns rates much, and that any small increase that does happen will be more than made up for in buyer confidence.
- Free shipping: there are currently visibility incentives to offer free P&P (i.e. advantages in Best Match): financial incentives are also to be offered (no indication of just what these might be). Giving sellers a financial incentive to offer free P&P should finally put to bed the old argument that eBay only want it to push FVFs up, and should encourage more sellers to experiment with including shipping in their item price.
Free shipping will also be mandated in more categories this year: there was no official announcement of which categories this might apply to, though I’m hearing a rumour that tech will be one of those affected.
In response to a question on free P&P, Richard Ambrose said that there are no plans to change DSRs for these transations, either to make a “5” compulsory, or to make the DSR unavailable.
More than the details of the actual changes – which are all pretty sketchy at the moment; a full official announcement is expected in the next few weeks – I have to applaud the sense that’s limiting major eBay changes to just two tranches a year. Last year was a hellish round of constant listing editing for many of us: we can’t and won’t go through that again, and now it seems we don’t have to.