End of year review with Murray Lambell, eBay UK GM

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This week I caught up with Murray Lambell, General Manager of eBay UK for an end of year review, after what’s been one of the most turbulent times in ecommerce since eBay first launched in the UK over 22 years ago.

Ever since the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, Murray is rightly proud of the support that eBay has given UK merchants, who have worked hard throughout the crisis, and tried to make the most of the new world order. Whilst offline retail has been hit particularly hard, online has for the most part prospered as consumers turned to the online world – and eBay in particular – first for survival, and then to alleviate the boredom of lock down. These same consumers now have turned into habitual online shoppers to an extent could never have foreseen in the previous pandemic free world.

In 2020 eBay rolled out a raft of measures including delaying the payment of fees and even suspension of shop fees for those who were unable to continue trading during lockdown. But 2021 was a year when eBay stepped up with new measures to help them to grow their businesses. These included everything from launching Capital for eBay Business Sellers to inject funds into growing businesses, introducing eBay fulfilment by Orange Connex, and growing the eBay Academy.

eBay has also sought to build confidence amongst buyers – which in turn helps sellers – through implementing programmes such as Authenticity Guarantee and Certified Refurbished, which help build trust not only within these categories, but also with shopping on eBay more generally. Similarly, it has strengthened protections such as reducing unpaid items, and improved the detection of abusive buyers, to enhance overall selling experience.

eBay also continued to expand Brand Outlet, and showcase the ‘hero’ SMBs who make up the majority of its seller base. These are all measures designed to assist sellers to accelerate their businesses and take full advantage of the pandemic impact’s surge in online shopping – but there’s more to come.

Murray spoke about the need for seller education and today over 5,000 sellers have been through the eBay ProTrader programme, where mentoring looks at all aspects of an individual business giving practical advice and actions to grow. Similarly, the eBay ‘Start Up Scale Up’ programme assisted new businesses to eBay to give them a jump start on marketplace trading. Now, to make eBay education more widely available the eBay Academy is open to all and even the most experienced traders that have been through the scheme say that lessons learned are already accelerating their growth.

eBay education is something that Murray is passionate about and he’s proud of the steps taken in 2021 (I personally can’t remember a time when so much support was available from eBay to help sellers succeed). The pandemic has created opportunities for many and accessing the eBay Academy gives a path to short cut the learning process – if you’ve not checked out the Academy you can sign up here and get started today.

eBay’s Global Shipping Programme is another initiative Murray highlights, a massive saviour for many in a post Brexit world. While legislation and red tape have made selling around the world and even to our close neighbours in Europe more onerous, those using eBay GSP have been able to largely bypass the impacts and let eBay carry the burden of export/import paperwork on behalf of millions of consumers.

Finally, as 2021 draws to a close, Murray says:

“The challenges of 2021 are well documented, but here at eBay we’re pleased to have been able to play a supporting role in helping our sellers to respond to in innovative ways, and ultimately to help them grow their businesses online.

As a marketplace we are in a unique position where we can elevate businesses despite an ever-unpredictable reality, and in 2022 we want to build on a long list of changes and improvements that keep our sellers at the heart of what we do. Thank you to all our sellers for partnering with us, and we hope to see many Tamebay readers next year!”
– Murray Lambell

We’re planning to catch up with Murray again as soon as the Christmas break is over where we’ll be looking at the year ahead and how businesses partnering with eBay can prosper in 2022.

29 Responses

  1. Not sure how ebay can come out and say they help support small businesses.
    Returns are horrendous on the site with the amount of false claims they allow, the worst of which sellers get punished with service metrics for doing nothing wrong. The time it takes to deal with returns on ebay due to the amount of errors with ebay systems with regards to tracking. No transparency with credits when reporting buyers. ebay giving the wrong labels out to buyers and then telling sellers to sort it or will refund buyer without them needing to return the item. When you deduct a part refund for damaged or used item, buyer opens case which ebay fund as too afraid to tell a buyer they are in the wrong even when clear evidence supports buyer has used or damaged the item.

    ebay part funded coupons as part of pro trader programme which hardly cost ebay anything as they charge full fees, seller pays VAT for the full amount and also part funds, so when you work it all out more like a 80/20 split

    Waste so much time filling in all the extra item specifics compared to Shopify/Google or Amazon

    At one point ebay was the only place I sold on, but with all the policies, issues with returns, metrics, time it takes to create a listing. ebay is now 3rd choice behind own store on Shopify and Amazon.

    Communication is poor, messages saying return should be received back now and to refund the buyer, check tracking and not even been sent. Offers that don’t apply or not relevant. Site is full of private sellers running a business or Amazon sellers using their Prime account to “run a business” on the site

    Lots of work still to do Murray

  2. One of the biggest problems for me was receiving a return opening the box and simply getting “refund please”. Buyer not using ebay label, no address or USER ID. No indication which ebay shop they had purchased on (I had more than 1 shop). Then you become Sherlock Holmes trying to figure out which buyer the return was from. I used to spend 20 hours plus a week on this. It would take a buyer seconds to put a note in the box saying WHO the return was from.

    The scammers were a big problem. Buying multiple pairs of wedding shoes only to return them after the event – worn off course.

    I am not sure what ebay can do about this though. Its not their fault and they need to comply with the law. The problem is educating the buyers and make them aware the damage they are doing to small business. I am sure a lot of buyers would think twice if they knew the consequences of their flippant returns.

    I used to get buyers order multiple sizes so they could try them on – and then open returns for the pairs that dont fit. On talking to them it was obvious that they did not understand, and thought this was ok.

    I concluded that new shoes – especially shoes for formal occasions and events were very problematic. The service metric category was comparing me to peers who were selling slippers – that simply does not give an accurate measurement. I am pretty good at ebay and I had difficulty making it work.

    However, ebay need to comply with the law and I do think the returns process is better than any other platforms. Its a difficult if not impossible problem to solve, keep buyers and sellers content while simultaneously complying with the law.

    I like this new guy, the evidence is there that he is making a genuine effort to improve the platform.

  3. Ebay has, in our opinion, am evem worse approach to it’s sellers than Amazon. Now that’s saying something. The problem is these platforms forget where they get their income from and they forget that we need to make a margin as well. It’s hard to smell the crap when you’re in your Ivory Tower, after all the champagne and caviar masks the smell.

    Murray, go a step further than your predecessor, who promised he’d improve things for us small sellers (his situation got much better!, ours didn’t) by actually working with us to make the polatform a viable alternative to the beast.

  4. Sadly despite all the promises to deal with the outrageously high fees on low value items – now up to 49% for non-VAT registered sellers, absolutely niothing has been announced.

    A temporary promotion on fees for low-value items (available to some sellers only) ends in 11 days and no word on an extension.

    I feel utterly let-down by the company.

  5. Its a waste of time selling on eBay now because of the fees on low value items and also cannot sell overseas as shipping fees end up costing more than the item itself so puts buyers off. I have been with eBay for over 21 years.

  6. What a lot of poo… He doesn’t have even a slightest idea what is really happening on eBay, how hard is to sell.

    Search is completely BROKEN and MANIPULATED 🙁 listings are treated as IRRELEVANT and hidden for no reason.

    When I search “xxx yyy zzz” – I get ONE result – when I reverse search phrase as “zzz yyy xxx” – I get 20 results?!?!

  7. the global shipping service is very good
    though ebay could do more to educate or even restrict some buyers ,
    as we receive quite a few cancellations once buyers get their GSP invoice

  8. “But 2021 was a year when eBay stepped up with new measures to help them to grow their businesses”

    Rubbish Ebay has massively put there seller fee’s on low value items as mentioned by numerous other sellers, to around 20% on item less than a £10 verse 8% on Amazon. Try finding a clear 1-page summary management report that clearly shows you how much Ebay are charging seller per month, you can’t as they obscore and hide there fee structure from seller thinking we notice that they have massively put seller fee’s. Whilst on the ebay managed payment they give examples of how seller fee’s have been lowered, which is is true if you sell stuff around £100 mark, where as the vast majority of sales on Ebay are much less then £10!!! Do they think we wouldn’t notice!!!!

  9. More corporate blah blah blah….as they say.
    eBay is what it is a cash cow for investors. It is a school for online selling and good place to start but it is not a great place for the old important margins.
    We had to pump up the stealth fees just for coverage and to move things which they did at cost to margin.
    Am out of it now more or less after 15 years ( the last 3 have been painful it is just a margin squeeze less customers more expensive and we can’t use GSP so no EU sales not eBays fault but it is a killer.
    The wife is keeping it going along with our store which is going well while she has kids to bring up for some extra income.

  10. @Alan P

    Quote “ I am pretty good at ebay and I had difficulty making it work.”

    Alan I know you know what your doing regards eBay- and herein lies some of the problem. If you can’t make it work (by that I assume you were talking about service metrics) then what hope do some of the rest of us have? eBay have metrics measuring metrics – we are all human and no matter how hard you try sometimes things don’t go to plan. What defence do we have? How do we protect our businesses from these ridiculous measures? Ebay haven’t listened and still refuse to do so.

    Fee increases, metrics and the new ridiculous item specifics are now a real turn off for any prospective serious seller. I can create four listings on my own website in the time it takes me to create one eBay listing.

    And then the search …….. what an absolute horror show. I tried to search for some Christmas toys for my children on eBay. I gave up after 10 minutes as I couldn’t find a thing and went to Amazon where I bought what I wanted to in 2 minutes flat.

    How great is that Mr Lambell ?

    I have no loyalty to eBay anymore- after all they deserted my small business years ago.

  11. 3 tips for you Murray:

    1. Stop telling buyers their order will arrive in 3 days when 3 days is just what I’ve set the HANDLING time to – not the delivery time.
    2. Stop telling buyers than Royal Mail 2nd Class is a 2-day service. It quite obviously is not. Just earlier today (20th Dec) the Post Office told me my 2nd class parcels would not be arriving by Christmas. So that’s 5+ working days in total.
    3. Stop punishing me for buyers getting a “late delivery” due to the above 2 reasons, and also as Royal Mail’s services vary across the land, especially lately. It’s not my fault if half the staff at one sorting office are off sick, and that happens to be where my buyer’s parcel is stuck.

    Basically get rid of these ridiculous delivery metrics. Stop promising buyers the Earth and stop trying to compete directly with Amazon.

  12. Mike –

    I don’t know what size your business is and whether you would qualify, but if you can switch from 2nd class post to RM48, that could solve your late delivery metric problems.

    It’s the way I set it up here and ebay automatically remove the vast majority of counts from the late delivery report. Right now, It should be 9.5%, but instead, it’s 0.15%. That’s using click and drop and having a daily collection from Royal Mail. I don’t know if it would work the same if you were dropping things off at the local PO, but worth a shot if it stops the problem.

  13. @Jonty, yes that was my point and the reason I despise the metric system. Having said that I was trying to point out in my post that it was particularly bad for the type of product I chose to sell. Foolishly I tried to stick with this product thinking I was remaining focussed. What I SHOULD have done is change product and adapt.

    I have many, many friends i network with and although they all hate service metrics it is not affecting them to the extent that it would affect their business. All of them are enjoying a nice profit from ebay with absolute minimal hassle.

    I do believe success on ebay is down to (mainly) 3 things:

    1. Your attitude towards the platform. If sellers hate the platform it aint gonna work for them.
    2. The product you choose to sell and your ability to adapt and grow.
    3. Common sense, which is surprisingly uncommon with a lot of sellers.

    Equipment (off course you will need a device to log in) and a bit of capital are important too but I have seen sellers make a success with a starting capital of less than £100.

    All this hatred and animosity that sellers have towards ebay – maybe these sellers should give up now. But know this …. the sellers that are making it work are out there, they are enjoying what they are doing and they are making a profit. Why dont you hear their voices on here? Because they are working on their business and find posts claiming that “ebay doesnt work” as simply preposterous.

    Some of my colleagues have came on here in the past and defended ebay only to get trolled and verbally abused. What SHOULD be happening is when the opportunity arises to talk to a successful seller – get advice, ask questions. Its as if some sellers have programmed themselves to fail. All the sellers I know that are making a success of ebay would be glad to help – its is meant to be a community after all.

    But one thing is certain….. the way service metrics are calculated sucks. No debates there.

    And just to be clear – the service metrics didnt kill my business – it was a combination of my health and my reaction to the service metrics (to those who dont know i got 70 INR in one day long story). Ebay did offer to protect me.

  14. @ Mike,

    I cant believe that your post is giving accurate information. I have never seen the ebay platform get confused between delivery time and handling time.
    You say that ebay is telling buyers 2 days for second class. ebay has always advertised 2nd class as a 2/3 day service and what you are stating about 2nd class at Christmas is just complete poppycock. Late last week ebay adjusted the delivery times for second class to early Jan (even though the Post Office cut off for Christmas was 18th.
    I think that if Murray does read any of these posts it is important to keep the complaints “realistic”.

  15. Were super successful selling on ebay
    For more than 2 decades
    We know ebay inside out, its far from perfect,
    because we find frustrating flaws with ebay That should be addressed.
    our experience and expertise should not be discounted as hate

  16. @ r – let me re-read a cross section of posts over the past few years ………….

    yep, its hate. I could give you some quotes and links but from past experience I suspect you wont read them.

    My wording is accurate.

  17. @ r , I rest my case.

    First you call me an “evangelist” (in a derogatory sense), now a “biggot”.

    Your previous posts on other threads were certainly directing hatred at me AND ebay.

    Thank you for proving my point.

    And its great that you are “super successful”, maybe you should try acting like it, instead of a child.

  18. @ r your absolutely right, it is – but not sure the relevance here.

    I must remind myself that I am talking to a “super successful seller” who “knows ebay inside out”. I see you have reduced your claim of how long you have been on ebay to 2 decades. In a previous post you had claimed 23 years which I felt was absolutely fantastic that you were selling in UK before ebay launched in UK. Few sellers have been able to achieve such a feat.

    So I apologies, as I did not realise that you were a “super successful seller”. From your previous posts – especially on that other thread I could have swore you did not have a clue what you were talking about.

    I did not realise that you were “super successful ebayer” that “knows ebay inside out”. I will really listen intently and study what you say from now on.

  19. @ Alan, you need to work on your sarcasm. Its improving but you still havent quite got the knack of it.

    I am one of the sellers Alan is talking about. I earn a full time income from part time hours. Over the pandemic ebay has been a God-send. ebay has some glitches but nothing that would seriously hold back your business.

    Last year I had a knock at the door and it was a delivery driver with hundreds of £ worth of free packing materials from ebay. Apparently when you reach a certain level ebay send you all this for FREE! Nobody talks about these things, everyone seems to dwell on the bad stuff. Thats 1 example, there is a stack of stuff ebay have done.

  20. @ r

    “sophist” ? ……. mmmmmmmmmm……. not heard of that word. Neither has Google.

    Do you mean “sophisticated”? Does it mean I am good at sitting on a sofa? If so, I claim to be both.

    @ Carolyn, unusual to see you on here. I have in fact perfected my sarcasm. I am now one of the funniest, most sarcastic people in the UK, when the need arises. I was even thinking of doing stand up – if the venues were open and I could actually stand up………

    But listen to me……… I am starting to talk as much shit as “r”, me being a sophist an all.

    a person who uses clever or quibbling arguments that are fundamentally unsound,

  22. @Carolyn
    Great to hear your doing well. Can you tell me how to obtain the free packing materials please? I’ve never received anything from ebay free apart from free advice on how to improve my selling by going to one day dispatch. Sadly we live in a very rural area and this would be suicide at winter time.
    I’ve always fancy anything for free – you must have been delighted ?

  23. @ r , thank you for that explanation. I much preferred my interpretation. I must email Google and Collins with the definition.

    And this coming from the person who claimed that Global Warming has no connection with buying habits online. And the carbon emissions of ebay (an almost carbon neutral company).

    Do you know the work “irony”?

  24. @ Jonty

    The packaging just turned up on day. No notice or indication from ebay. Not even an email or message.

    It was a new shop that I had opened that year for my new product. It looked like it only applied to NEW accounts. My old ebay account I opened a few years ago – i got nothing from that.

    So it seemed to be a new account that had just qualified for Top Rated Seller. Sent out automatically. I am guessing existing accounts dont qualify. It was not a small amount of packaging and it was all ebay branded. But there was no paperwork or application to apply for it – the “gift” seemed to be automatic and seemed to coincide with my new Top Rated Seller status on my new shop.

    Yes, when i realised it wasnt a mistake yes I was over the moon, although I was struggling where to put it as i work from home lol.

    ebay has been really good for me over the past couple of years. I keep it small, keep it tight with very few overheads or expenses. I do POD on one shop and order from Aliexpress to re-sell on my other shop. Its like a hobby that I am getting paid for.

  25. How was 2021 for us? As always with Ebay, there is both good and bad.

    The bad first.

    The changes they’ve made to collectables categories have been disastrous. In our category, sales have been almost cut in half as buyers struggle to refine searches to find items. All in the name of “harmonising” with .com.

    Managed payments have increased our fees and delayed getting the funds into the account. Ebay also adds a fvf fee onto the taxes they levy from overseas sales which is totally unfair and should be stopped immediately.

    Constantly rising international postage especially by Royal Mail is now pricing us out of many overseas sales and since Brexit our EU sales have halved.

    Site visibility is now completely random and even having thousands of decent listings does not guarantee sales. You constantly have to tweak things to get any traction at all. Five years ago, there were 50,000 business sellers in our categories, according to Ebay’s own insights data, there were just 953 as of today, which says it all.

    So onto the good.

    Ebay CS is mainly really good. Yes, I have to admit it. Twice they’ve refunded my anchor shop fees in response to problems and/or sudden unexplained drops in sales. When you get to speak to their Ireland team on the phone they are polite and helpful and do everything they can to help. The fact that Ebay’s general direction is clueless isn’t their fault.

    We are still trading, Yes, given the pandemic and Ebay’s constant earthquakes, that has to be a plus. For 2022 we are diversifying in what we sell to pivot out of the categories most impacted by the Ebay changes and are also enjoying discovering new platforms to try selling on, as well as the selling power of social media.

    So best wishes for the New Year to all at Tamebay and here’s to a better 2022 for us all.


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