eBay will be making three major announcement this year and the first is out today. As expected there are changes to the PowerSeller program, lowering the minimum sales requirements. This will allow smaller businesses to qualify for Top Seller Status even though previously they weren’t eligible for PowerSeller status.
PowerSeller program and new minimum performance standards for all sellers
At the same time as lowering the entrance requirements for PowerSellers there are new minimum performance standards for selling on eBay. From April sellers can receive no more than 1% or total of three low ratings for “Item as described”, and no more than 2% or total of three low ratings for “Communication”, “Dispatch Time” and the “P&P charges” DSRs. Falling below this level will incur sanctions such as demotion in search and selling restrictions.
Selling Practices Policy for all sellers
Along with higher selling standards a Selling Practices policy will be introduced which is summarised as:
* Sellers are responsible for ensuring a smooth and professional transaction with their buyers.
* This includes setting buyers’ expectations by providing accurate and consistent details about items and the terms and conditions of sale.
* Sellers also must offer excellent customer service from the time of purchase to item delivery. This includes reasonable postage & packaging charges, clear statement on dispatch time, prompt and professional communication, and ensuring the item is delivered to the buyer as described.
* Business sellers need to offer a return policy which is included in the listing description
* Sellers are expected to live up to their stated terms through all stages of a transaction.
Mandatory Business Information displayed on listings
All business sellers will have to display their business contact information on their eBay listings by the end of March. This will be compulsory but introduces a number of issues, not least of which is that it’s added to the item description as text and can not be bulk edited. Any changes such as a relocation to new premises, change of phone number or email address and change of VAT status will result in every single one of a sellers active listings being incorrect.
Many sellers, especially those that trade from home, will be concerned about having their contact details displayed for buyers to see. My main concern is that the way the contact information is inserted into listings means that there’s no way to make a single edit which will update every live listing on the site and in the long term that’s simply unworkable. eBay need to fix this and allow sellers to make global changes to their Business Seller Information in eBay preferences to make this program viable.
International Site Visibility reinstated
At last the International Visibility listing upgrade is returning to eBay UK, from the end of March sellers will be able to use a listing enhancement to display fixed price listings on eBay.com and eBay.ca. Currently that’s only available for auctions, although US and Canadian sellers are able to use the listing enhancement to display their items on eBay UK.
I imagine for sellers who previously used the feature will be pretty happy that this is returning for fixed price listings, and will be able to save money and simplify stock management by not duplicating listings on multiple eBay sites.
The end of mandatory free postage
Mandatory free postage has been scrapped and is a thing of the past, and will be replaced by shipping caps. From March postage caps will apply to a number of categories and eBay have published a list of maximum shipping charge for each category. The postage caps only apply to the first domestic postage option for UK sales. Postage caps will not apply to overseas sales.
Mandatory free postage has undoubtedly put pressure on margins and restricted the type of postage service sellers have offered to buyers. This change will enable sellers to once again offer a premium postage option as default instead of being forced to offer the cheapest possible and of course it’s the end of paying eBay’s final value fees for free post.
Ending old Good Til Canceled listings
From the end of March a new process will be introduced to which haven’t had a sale for 16 months. These listings will appear in your eBay unsold items and are available to be relisted. I like this move, it gives sellers a prompt to review their items to make sure the title is relevant, that the listing still has pictures and that the price is still competitive. It will also prompt sellers to update item specifics for listings which have been affected by category changes or other updates.
Multi Variation Listings in more categories
Multi Variation Listings will become available in more categories, and from the end of March will appear in some Home and Garden, Sporting Goods and Baby categories.
There will be enhancements to the way that images in eBay listings are watermarked. In the future instead of eBay’s default camera image a seller will be use their . This should mean the end of stolen images from sellers who spend the time to produce quality pictures.
Sellers’ product photos in catalogues
eBay will be improving the quantity and quality of images in product catalogues, and will do so by using . All sellers will be opted in to the program as default, but are able to opt out if they wish. If your photo is used as a catalogue image a credit to your eBay ID and link to your My World page will be added as a credit.
There’s not too much in this announcement to disrupt how sellers do business on eBay, but plenty to please them. Concerns are most likely to be around the display of Business Seller Information, eBay’s use of sellers’ images and of course the new minimum seller standards. There’s much welcome news though, such as the end of mandatory free postage and the re-introduction of International Visibility. Overall it looks pretty good news and more a tidying up of the site and standards than a radical overhaul of the way sellers do business.
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