eBay have changed the returns process, sellers should now be specifying who pays return postage when they list their item, rather than in their “Return Policy Details” or withing their Item Description.
The new options in the listing flow enable sellers to specify that they’ll accept returns for 14, 30 or 60 days from receipt of the item, and also allow you to specify whether you’ll pick up the tab for the return postage or if the buyer will need to pay.
14 days is a pretty generous minimum return window, the minimum the law currently mandates is 7 working days (effectively 10 days). However it’s expected that the EU will mandate 14 days from the end of 2013, eBay have chosen to adopt this early. Not only will this save sellers having to update listings twice in a year, but eBay’s aim is to be ecommerce leaders – expect to see more standard raising programs during 2013.
It would be logical for eBay to put processes into place to manage and monitor returns (they have it in the States), just last week they announced a change to the eBay User Agreement for items not received and significantly not as described. Communications will take place in the Resolution Centre rather than relying on My Messages and contacts from buyers will no longer count against a seller’s performance rating unless escalated to eBay for resolution.
However the one gaping hole in eBay’s return process (and likely to remain so) is exchanges – It’s fairly easy to return an item and for the seller to credit it, but as eBay have limited visibility of a seller’s stock exchanging a faulty product or swapping for a different size or colour will remain troublesome and probably a manual process for the seller.
Don’t expect this to be the only tweak on shipping and returns processes this year – eBay have whole new teams in place and we already know about the Global Shipping Beta Program and that eBay are negotiating courier and postal discounts which we’re expecting to be announced sometime towards the summer. If eBay do get deep discounts on shipping rates it would make sense not only to make these available for sellers but also open them up to buyers when they wish to return an item for exchange or refund.