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March 19, 2013

Part I/II: eBay Announces Spring 2013 Changes - Seller and Fee Changes

Today (March 19, 2013) , eBay announced their first big 'release' of 2013 - internally they call it 13.1 (the 13 is the year and the dot is the release number, e.g. 13.2 will be next, etc.).   

There's a lot of changes in the release including a big change to the eBay fee structure, so we are going to do a two part series:

  • Part I/II - (you are here) - we'll provide an overview of the changes and detailed the non-fee changes for sellers that eBay is rolling out this Spring.
  • Part II/II - (here) The 13.1 release marks the biggest changes that eBay has made (in the US) to the fee structure since April 2011 when they started charging final-value-fees on shipping-and-handling.  We believe that sellers are going to really want to understand these change so have devoted a whole post to just the fee change portion of the 13.1 release.

We are also planning to host a webinar detailing these changes and answering any questions you have this Friday at 10am ET.  Details are here (www.channeladvisor.com/resource-library/webinars).

Putting the release in perspective - it's all about the seller

In 2012, most of the changes to eBay were really focused on the buyer experience.  In addition to updating the logo, they introduced the feed system and other buyer-facing initiatives.  For sellers, there were some 2012 new additions such as the Global Shipping Program (GSP) and expansion of Fast-N-Free, but 2012 was skewed towards buyer changes.

Looking at the 13.1 package of changes, you can tell the focus is on improving the seller experience.  We were briefed on the changes by Michael Jones, eBay's VP of Merchant Development, and he summarized the changes:

"The selling community is the heart of what eBay was built on, and it's extremely important that we continue to partner deeply with sellers to help them continue to reach buyers around the world and grow their businesses.  This is the start of a new eBay for sellers - drastically simpler and more consistent - with the intent of being the most competitive commerce platform int he U.S."

With that backdrop, let's dig into the non-fee related changes (we cover the fee changes in part II).

Non-fee oriented highlights from 13.1 for sellers
Seller protections - Ever since introducing all of the great buyer protections, many eBay sellers have feel that eBay leaves them out in the cold whenever there is a claim.   Large sellers know there are definitely 'bad buyers' on eBay that use all kinds of trickery to try and get discounts, work around return policies and even more nefarious outcomes such as getting product for free (fraud).
  • Un-Paid-Items: UPI - In May, eBay will release a bunch of changes that will improve the UPI problems that plague sellers today.  UPI's are unique to eBay and go back to the days before eBay even had a checkout, much less a cart.  The consumer would go through a two phase commitment - commit to pay, and then actually pay.  The overall UPI rate on eBay has come down substantially, but you do occasionally see high ASP categories (watches, jewelry, art, etc.) where the rates can be as high as 20-30%, causing a lot of friction and extra busy-work for those sellers.  With 13.1 eBay has introduced features such as immediate pay that have helped dramatically with this issue and going forward they are going to help sellers with UPIs by:
  1. Until the buyer pays, the items will still be available (this helps as it keeps you from locking up 'zombie' inventory waiting for payment.
  2. Cut UPI claim filing times down by two days.
  • Feedback - Another source of frustration for sellers is they receive negative feedback/DSRs, work with a buyer to resolve a problem and not able to get that feedback 'changed'.  With 13.1 eBay is going to help with two changes:
  1. Starting May 1, feedback (p/n/n) will be removed for transactions where's there's a eBay Buyer Protection case that the seller wins.
  2. Related comments and DSRs will also be removed.

Picture requirements - Starting July 1, 2013, eBay will begin enforcing these new picture requirements:

  • No borders
  • At least 500 pixels wide on the longest side.
  • No seller added text, artwork or watermarks
  • If not listing in BMV, you must list your own picture, not the eBay catalog photo
  • Sellers must already include one photo per listing (already a requirement)

Pictures are key to a great experience for buyers and also help the mobile experiment, so we believe these are all good moves.

Business policies - eBay will allow sellers to update their shipping, payment and return policies in one centralized location.  This has been announced as 'coming' for a while, and will be available mid-June 2013.

Same-day handling - In late May, eBay will allow sellers to select 'same day' from the handling options as well as exact order cut-off times.  This will allow sellers to give buyers much more consistent and accurate delivery estimates.   For example, a seller can say, ships today if ordered by 2pm ET.

Conclusion and Analysis

Those are the non-fee related highlights of the 13.1 release.  Each of these changes address specific seller pain points that have been around for quite some time.  It's great to see eBay address seller concerns in a concerted way and let seller's know that they haven't forgotten about their needs.

Finally, as part of this release it looks like eBay is really coming out swinging against Amazon's marketplace (and others) as they are saying phrases such as: "we don't compete with our sellers" and we are the "most competitive platform".

This blog post was written by Scot Wingo, CEO, ChannelAdvisor. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor.

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