eBay SMEs identify barriers to growth in survey

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ebay postage graphiceBay has asked online sellers to rank policies based on their perceived helpfulness to growth over the next 12 months in advance of the General Election.

Here are the results:

1. Lowering taxes for all businesses (48%)
2. Investment in faster broadband (31%)
3. Improved postal and delivery services (27%)
4. Better advice on setting up and running an online business (17%)
5. More police effort to tackle cybercrime and fraud (16%)

And nearly one third (31%) of businesses surveyed by YouGov said that postage costs and delivery logistics will limit the growth of their business in the coming year.

A further 74% said that the cost of overseas shipping stymies their ability to reach customers in new markets and trade outside the UK.

Increasing competition in their sector is also a concern for one in four small businesses (25%) assessing their short term growth prospects. (There is no mention of Chinese sellers in the press release.)

Just 7% of small online businesses surveyed are concerned about a lack of suitable staff, challenging assertions of an apparent skills crisis. Just 10% regard staff wages and pension costs as barriers to growth.

Head of eBay in the UK Tanya Lawler says: “We have been calling on Government and policy makers for years to do more to level the playing field for Britain’s army of SMEs by reducing postal costs and improving delivery and logistics services. These diverse businesses are vital to the UK because they are the engine of our growth at home and abroad, with more than 4 in 5 small businesses on eBay in the UK selling internationally.

“We invest in infrastructure and technology that would be too expensive for small businesses to build for themselves: from Click and Collect with Argos to our Global Shipping platform. It’s time for political parties to listen up and gave these entrepreneurial businesses the attention they deserve.”

As an aside, I don’t much like it when eBay make demands like this. For years they have been utilising every legal tax loophole to minimise their tax liability here in the UK and that means less cash for the British coffers. And that’s money that could be spent on, just say, the broadband network or lowering business taxes for British businesses paying British tax.

It’s acceptable to off-shore to Luxembourg and reduce the tax burden (it’s perfectly legal) but it does irk when such companies then call on the Government to spend more to help them grow their business whilst limiting what they pay in.

And anyway, if eBay is serious about making life a little bit easier for sellers they could look closer to home. A reduction in fees would be seen by many sellers as a very good move and something entirely within eBay’s gift without the need for a General Election.

21 Responses

  1. I’m seething at what this Tanya Lawler has said.

    Agree with Dan’s point about the fees, but what about the other Ebay problems hitting overseas business?

    1. Removal of the basket on .com from overseas listings, preventing buyers making multiples purchases from UK sellers.

    2. Shambolic and arbitrary immediate payment policy – neither buyers or sellers know what is going on.

    How about answers to these questions, Ms Lawler?

    I’ve only mentioned 2 points here, the full list is 18, all of which are problems hitting business on Ebay, which Ebay could fix.

  2. What about international visibility for UK sellers, Ms Lawler?

    You didn’t mention that! Now you see it , now you don’t. With crude attempts to get sellers to pay extra for the global visbility Ebay likes to claim everyone gets anyway.

    Oh, and while you’re at it Ms Lawler, what about the fact the UK sellers can only get Above Standard status on Ebay.com, due to the crazy rule about 90% of transactions requiring tracked delivery for Top Rated status.

    Would love to hear Ms Lawlers comments about ANY of these points.

    Oh, and Ebay taking 10% of postage costs REALLY helps with international transactions, as well. Thanks a lot.

  3. ebay should practice what they preach if they want SME’s to grow. They could take action on all points on the list. For example if the ebay site was less cluttered with advertising it would run faster. If ebay was not so system centric the site would run faster. ebay could remove their tax on shipping costs.

  4. You guys should do a article on now we all subsidise the cost off imports specifically those from. China and HK. How royal mail has to deliver it for free, and how that cost is then adding into charges for UK customers postal charges. Making sending a small package to even Germany stupidity over priced. Let alone all the way back from where it can from.

  5. Also in this article you should mention the services eBay themselves helped set up for Chinese and Hong Kong sellers to serve Europe and America with basically free tracked delivery so they can achieve TRS status.

    Ebay is basically a more expensive aliexpress for goods up to 1kg and say less than £30.

  6. No mention of how Ebay sellers rank Ebay’s own policies, they should really be looking closer to home, i believe they would either be too scared to ask or simply do not care what sellers think of ebay policies. Ebay inhibits its own growth and that of its sellers growth. Heres my suggested survey of what ebay should really be looking at.

    Ask sellers to vote on these points:

    1. Remove excessive number of hoops sellers have to jump through (Simplify and relax the over regulation of sellers as other less regulated marketplaces work better e.g. Amazon)

    2. Allow sellers to have a second chance to meet metrics with an action plan submitted should their selling be restricted on a particular market.

    3. Bring returns, cases and ebay messaging into one system so that communication with customers can be improved with a chat sytle record of all comms.

    4. Clamp down on sellers who sell more than £70K without a verified VAT number that ebay has confirmed belongs to the ebay seller.

    5. Remove stealth fees / taxes on sellers such as no refund on fees after 30 days for customer returns, fees on international shipping and forcing sellers to use ebay’s tracked shipping for returns.

  7. Also how about not charging a fee on the VAT part of a sale ! and having a 3 tier pricing structure eg Private seller, Sole Trader and Full Business Seller (vat reg, Ltd companies etc).

  8. This feels a little to much like the elections for me, all spin and slide of hand, with some finger pointing thrown it.

  9. For me the number one reason I don’t sell overseas is because eBay UK charge FVF on the full amount of postage, yet eBay.com only charge FVF on the first (usually the cheapest) postage option.

    So here in the UK eBay charge an unofficial export tax, unique to eBay sites around the world.

    With regards to the question about staff, I would imagine that a lot of SME don’t have the problem about hiring staff because they’re one-man bands or run by a family all living in the same house.

  10. We refused to be part of this survey as it was obvious eBay were attempting to ‘set the agenda’ on behalf of SMEs with regards to logistics (and promoting their own, flawed, systems) when in fact direct action on transaction fees by eBay would assist SMEs better.

  11. ~
    +1 to points raised here.

    eBay is not an efficient model at the systems level or at the financial level.

    Ms Lawler should first be looking inwards to look outwards.

    Postage costs too high? You bet – look at managed returns.

  12. Look at the business seller forums?

    Sales are down and sellers are not doing the numbers they were two years ago. Hows that for growth.

    Corporate propaganda. The biggest barrier to growth is the lack of visibility provided to UK sellers by cassini and ebays policies which are driving buyers and sellers away in droves.

  13. on behalf of (unofficially) the UK government, i would like to survey SME’s here, as to what eBay could do to help your business and the nation as a whole.

    do you agree that:

    1. ebay should reduce their charges on sellers.
    2. ebay should stop taxing postage.
    3. ebay should pay UK tax, in full.
    4. ebay should be more honest.
    5. ebay should be more transparent.
    6. ebay should remove external advertising.
    7. ebay should make their systems more robust.
    8. ebay should more actively tackle fraud.

  14. The usual Ebay show. Talk a lot but do nothing.

    Lawler wants to reduce Postage costs but taxes every parcel sent on Ebay by 10% !??!?!?

    How about removing this fee first before talking to Postage firms ?

  15. 5. More police effort to tackle cybercrime and fraud (16%)

    eBay could do more to tackle cybercrime and fraud.

    In most cases, they simply refuse to act. Even when alerted to a major problem.

    Many eBay sellers have watched with disbelief this month, as a DVD seller (possibly on a hijacked account) simply stopped sending any goods out, just before Easter weekend. eBay refused to accept reports of the ongoing fraud, and allowed the account to run and to sell for a further 14 days, proudly displaying “TOP RATED SELLER” on all the listings, although it was clear there was a major problem.

    NOTHING happened until the feedback apparently tipped the scales today at 200 negatives: 100 positives (for the last 30 days). The seller continued to sell, with eBay’s TRS recommendation on their items.

    eBay should put its own house in order before blaming the police.

  16. Time and again I have seen it written that Chinese sellers have free or subsidised post, and somehow ebay are complicit. Is this true? Can ayone explain?


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