eBay requirements forcing sellers to 3rd party solutions

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I was at the Internet Retailing Expo in Birmingham yesterday and ran into Matthew Dean from eSellerPro. In a rushed two minute conversation he said one very interesting thing – more and more of the changes that eBay are making are forcing sellers towards using 3rd party providers.

Tracking

The latest change is the requirement on eBay.com for future qualification for Top Rated Seller status. Sellers will need to ship 90% of their items with tracking and crucially to enter the tracking numbers into eBay within your stated handling time. For sellers of low value items who haven’t routinely shipped with tracking there’s a cost implication but the real burden of the change is manually entering tracking numbers into eBay. This is something that software can automate.

Emails

Bulk automated emails are now a thing of the past as eBay handle all emails on our behalf. This doesn’t help when sellers need to communicate with their buyers their only option is now templated emails sent manually one by one to buyers.

There are two main reasons why bulk emails are important – The first is emergencies in unforeseen circumstances such as inclement weather or courier strikes when a seller needs to let all their customers know that deliveries may be delayed.

Sellers of custom made items used to use bulk emails to keep buyers updated as to order status. Bulk emails make it so simple to select all orders for example which were requiring proofs to be approved or for requesting images or text for making the product. Lack of bulk emails has increased the workload and again the only solution is to turn to 3rd party solutions.

Inventory management

eBay’s duplicate listing policy now penalises sellers who mistakenly list the same fixed price product twice. Whilst there should be no reason for doing so mistakes happen and again automating the listing process with software is generally more reliable than manually listing items.

Feedback

There is no advantage to not leaving feedback as soon as possible for buyers as sellers can only leave positive feedback. However eBay’s feedback options are out of date. Currently you can automatically leave feedback on receipt of positive feedback from the buyer, or on receipt of payment. A sensible option would be to leave feedback on despatch and again this can be achieved with software.

Messages

eBay messages should really be replied to through the eBay My Messages console to ensure replies are visible to eBay customer support. Replying by email is possible, but in either case routing to multiple employees and keeping track of who is responding to which enquiries is a pain point for larger companies on eBay. Third party solutions can simplify this and ensure that emails are routed to the best person within the company to deal with them at the time the buyer’s message arrives.

As eBay increase the customer care requirements (and in my opinion they’ll focus less on feedback scores and detailed seller ratings and more on customer service metrics in the future), sellers will find it harder and more time consuming to meet the standards needed without using software solutions to ease the workload.

What other automation options would you like to see added to eBay? What causes you the greatest pain and which processes take the most of your time?

17 Responses

  1. Interesting article. We are sure to see the same requirements here in Oz soon too.

    But I think requirements like this, if they do get sellers to think about 3rd party tools, are a good thing. After all, most tools are designed not only to assist with growth but also to improve customer service which is good for buyers and sellers on the platform. This is the reason we developed http://www.Readytoship.com.au, so I hope we get a few extra signups because of this requirement!

    Cheers

  2. An option to automatically remove VAT from orders shipping outside the EU. I’m selling a lot to the US and Australia at the moment and seem to spend half my life refunding VAT through PayPal. (Before anyone comments, yes, I know I could just not bother, but it’s a policy that’s gained me an awful lot of very good customers.)

  3. Silly sods that buy an item then pay then buy another item a day or so later and then ask for combined shipping, is our big time drain,
    is there any software out there that can remotely transplant working brains into the stupid would be a great time saver

  4. I use a 3rd party solution because it offers me what ebay do not offer and all that is stated above apart from the tracking thing. Don’t see the point of Sales Manager Pro now since ebay took over the message system.

    Having to enter tracking manually is a pain in the butt especially with multiple purchase in the same package.

    ebay could link these together and require only 1 input rather than the 10 or more entries that we have to make right now. OK copy and paste works but it is still daft.

  5. Agree that to leave buyer feedback when item dispatched is the perfect option. Yet eBay don’t offer this option. Daft!

    3rd party solution’s do.

    Why don’t ebay take the bull by the horns and pull 3rd party solutions to pieces to see why they are so popular?

    Common sense really.

    It suggests that 3rd party programmers and business analysts are rather more on the ball than ebay’s own which is rather troubling don’t you think?

  6. For larger sellers, I would say give Linnworks a go.

    We use them and its made such a huge difference to the company its amazing.

    It brings all the parts of the business together, from warehouse to customer service to accounts and purchasing to shipping and much much more.

    I think ebay need to think less about the fancy stuff and leave that to the third parties and spend time on the inportant things like getting search working once and for all, never mind best match, we want a ebay where u type in something into the search box and it goes and finds it simple as that, never mind all the other stuff, lets get the basics right first.

    EBAY listen to your customers, us the sellers.

  7. For many years I have advocated charging postage separate to the product cost and promoting multiple purchases by offering postal discount. However the grief factor in communicating with buyers who cant comprehend the procedure of ‘Combining orders at checkout’ has reached the point where everything is now BIN – Instant payment required.

    Chasing up late payers, customers who purchased 2 of the same item when they only wanted 1and many varied stupid questions has finally broken me.
    My policy is now ‘Purchase & pay = shipped’ and please don’t ask me any more stupid questions.

    I don’t want to be your friend or hear any sob story why it is so very, very, very important that your order arrives the next day, and if you have forgotten your Childs birthday and need this item today – tough (and by the way an extra £1 will not cover same day delivery, and will not cover my expenses of making a special trip to the post office.)

  8. That is the massive problem that eBay have. They have moved on and become corporate but their customers have not. They still expect a tailored personal service.

    And this is frustrating for sellers who want to offer the corporate one suite fits all service but at the same time want to maintain feedback at a certain standard.

    eBay corporate systems are unhelpful and do not lend themselves to the flexibility required for a tailored personal service that buyers still expect.

    Amazon don’t have this issue. They don’t differentiate between business and private sellers. Amazon set clear rules foe sellers and enforce them properly and make buyer expectations clear. Big difference here between eBay and amazon.

  9. 3rd Party Solutions should be an option in my opinion. Automation does help business to concentrate on core business activities and many of us have seen the result of automation with third party tools !

    Just keep up with Amazon on automation.

  10. Re; Tracking

    ‘Sellers will need to ship 90% of their items with tracking’.

    Obviously the TRS sellers that sell in the sub £1-4 brackets will now start to loose TRS, or become uncompetitive.

    Royal Mail/s small packets are going to have to be sent Recorded [which is not trackable until delivered].

    Assumably, many will want to resign [if they can??]

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