4 Problems with eBay shipping that need fixing

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It’s Sunday morning and I should be sanding down some door frames ready to repaint, but luckily I have a distraction – writing about the sand paper I bought on eBay instead of using it.

eBay Mobile Search

I decided on Thursday night that if I was going to get any work done over the weekend I’d really need buy the sand paper – sheets for my mouse orbital sander. Naturally I grabbed my mobile and headed to the eBay app.

Buying problem #1: Finding a listing with the right carrier option

eBay have no method of filtering for shipping options. On the eBay app the only shipping option I was given was to select ‘Free Post’ items.

eBay offered loads of buying choices with lots of sellers having similar items for sale. What they didn’t offer was an easy way to find a listing that would ship on Friday via 1st Class Royal Mail (It had to be Royal Mail as couriers don’t generally deliver on Saturday).

I had to click into about 15 listings before I could find the service I wanted. On a desktop it’s annoying, on the eBay mobile it really is a tedious process.

eBay buying problem #2: Amazon are so much better

eBay Shipping vs Amazon ShippingLooking at eBay today, most listings are offering “Get it by Wed. 17. Feb”.

I have to contrast eBay with Amazon who are currently offering me “Order within 9hr 12min to get it: Mon” (For Fulfilment by Amazon items with free shipping under their Prime program). eBay sellers generally can’t compete with this, but could at least offer delivery by Tuesday.

eBay’s slow shipping is caused by a push towards free postage for the first shipping option listed. This makes the item cost appear low which is beneficial in best match but at the same time results in eBay highlighting the worst (slowest) service a seller can offer.

eBay buying problem #3: FAST & FREE

Frankly eBay should scrap their “FAST & FREE” program. It may offer free shipping but in 2016 it’s not fast. Fast is buy today receive tomorrow, fast is Amazon’s buy on Sunday receive on Monday. eBay’s buy Sunday and receive four days later on Wednesday is “FAST & SLOW”.

eBay don’t highlight sellers who offer a genuinely fast service. In today’s world fast shipping should mean next working day delivery and if you buy on a Sunday that means delivery on Tuesday.

eBay buying problem #4: Premium postage options accidentally discouraged by eBay

We know that eBay sellers can’t ship as fast as Amazon, generally smaller retailers can’t ship on Sunday. Amazon is already better which means eBay simply has to try harder.

eBay’s historical mandates for free postage still mean that sellers aren’t offering fast postage as the default option. It’s advantageous to have the cheapest possible price in search results so sellers default to the cheapest service and then offer additional services at a higher price.

Worse still are the sellers who purposefully add on a day or two to their despatch times so that they under promise and over delivery. Generally this is a fear of feedback, but it makes finding a product which will be shipped fast even harder.

What we need from eBay

Taking all factors into account, we’ve ended up with an eBay which offers a second class shipping experience and makes it difficult to find items with first class shipping for those buyers willing to pay for it.

Even on the desktop site, eBay display the “Get it by….” message for the first delivery option the seller has set. eBay don’t highlight that the same seller might offer faster delivery.

What we need is for a buyer to be able to filter search results to say “I want to get it by…..” and select a date. If that date is tomorrow then eBay should only show items and postage options that can be delivered tomorrow. How hard can it be?

9 Responses

  1. It’s really frustrating when sellers attach a USPS tracking number, and then not ship for days and day, when they often say ships within two days of cleared payment.

    Also, there is another insidious little problem going on with ebay.
    Let’s say you buy an item for $10.00. When it arrives, it’s broken.
    Your only recourse is to send it back, if you want to recover the ten bucks. Factor in time, gas, and cost of return shipping and it’s simply not worth the hassle. I believe there are sellers that know this, and leverage it to dump useless/broken products on the market.

    Lastly…and, this is not an ebay problem, but it’s frustrating none the less…I almost always meet my carrier and receive my mail in my hand. I was tracking a package, and expected it to be delivered on day “X”. The carrier scanned a couple packages, handed them to me, and I asked where the third package was. “No more packages for you”was the reply. It was shipped tracking number, and insured. The post office uses time stamped GPS. Their records show it was scanned at the same time as my other packages. They washed their hands of it, case closed. Now, with Amazon contracting to USPS, I had a package that originated with Amazon disappear just a few days ago. Maybe there needs to be a feedback button through Amazon that advises them that USPS has lost packages, so Amazon can monitor the loss rate.

  2. Due to recent ebay changes I offer First Class shipping (as I always have) but now advertise it as Second Class. Absurd really, but can’t be avoided.

  3. If ebay kept their estimates and penalties to theirself ,sellers might be more willing to offer options

  4. You haven’t mentioned the fact that many buyers can’t work out how to buy multiple items.

    This means many more single sales for sellers instead of multiples with combined postage/shipping.

    There are confusing multiple checkouts going on at the same time, with no guidance for buyers, who are funelled to pay now instead of using the basket.

    The basket has also been taken away from overseas Ebay sites when they view UK items.

    The answer is to log in to Ebay UK and add to the basket, which will then reappear.


  5. Ebay’s insistence on a free delivery option was always based on a fallacy. Of course buyers ask for free delivery, but it doesn’t exist. Even Amazon charge you an annual fee for Prime, and their shipping costs are minimal compared to most smaller sellers (who Ebay apparently want to encourage). No doubt Amazon have done the calculation that Prime customers pay enough fees to make their free shipping offer either a good economic proposition, or if not, a viable loss leader to tie buyers into buying from Amazon. Everyone knows sellers amortise their cost into the apparent free p&p price. They have no option unless they sell very high margin or want to go out of business.

    Ebay need to rethink this. But it isn’t all as gloomy as you say. I offer Fast and Free using First Class. I regularly receive good feedback comments on how fast customers receive a package – and by the way it is Buy Sunday, Receive Tuesday, not Wednesday. But what this feedback says, is that either customers don’t pay attention to the estimate (I am simply meeting my commitment), or that the overall experience of internet shopping is that packages usually take longer than this. This is a different perception to the constant spin we receive from marketplaces, courier companies, Tamebay etc that customers expect and are used to quick delivery.

  6. This is an excellent analysis of the shipping issues on eBay. Some of these points I was only partially aware of until this article. I will be posting a link from our Twitter page. Good work.

  7. i have bought off amazon on saturday, and recieved sunday!

    amazing prime service there, and got the bit of cabling / networking i needed done! (i needed some cable connections, which i only realised late sat afternoon / early evening)

    i must admit i feel in the miniority, i never expected this delivery till monday, and was pleasantly surprised to recieve on a sunday, but most buyers other than myself EXPECT this! even from a small seller!


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