eBay Sign

As is typical for eBay, just a few hours after launching the UK and European seller updates, the company released the eBay.com or U.S. Spring Seller Update.

Here are the highlights for U.S. eBay Sellers:

Inventory Optimization

  • Listing using the eBay catalog will be required for select products in the eBay catalog in order to provide buyers with a streamlined, product-based shopping experience.
  • Category changes including additions, removals, and renames will go into effect and impacted listings will be automatically moved to the most relevant categories.
  • When sellers list an item in two or more categories, the highest final value fee will apply when the item sells.

To meet buyers’ continuously evolving expectations, eBay is transitioning many categories to a product-based shopping experience where all listings for the same product are grouped together.

By adopting the eBay catalog seller items will be a part of a retail-standard experience that today’s buyers expect. Buyers will be able to easily find merchandise that meets their search criteria and quickly decide which products they want to purchase.

Throughout 2018 and 2019, eBay will expand the eBay catalog in phases. The company says it will provide sellers with sufficient advance notice and tools to list with the catalog efficiently and effectively.

With each phase, eBay will invite sellers to contribute their expertise and suggest edits to improve the catalog and help ensure that products in the catalog are accurate and up-to-date.

If you sell inventory in one of the Phase 1 product lines below, here’s what you need to do:

Today, products are already available in the catalog for sellers to use when they create new listings or edit existing listings for items in the product lines below.

Seller Hub users can suggest changes to catalog product information in the listing process by clicking the flag icon next to the product in question.

  • Starting mid-March, sellers should check Seller Hub and My eBay to see recommendations for any existing listings that need to be updated to comply with the new requirement.
  • By the end of April, sellers need to associate existing listings to the eBay catalog so that the inventory will continue to be visible to buyers. See FAQs for step by step guidance.
  • Starting in May, when a seller attempts to modify existing listings, relist existing listings (including Good ‘til Cancelled), or create a new listing for an item in any condition within the Phase 1 product lines, and that item is not associated with a product from the eBay catalog, the seller will be unable to complete the listing. For both new and existing listings in product lines with multi-variations (multi-SKU), sellers will be required to provide a GTIN (UPC, EAN, or ISBN) for each variation. The new shopping experience will only display listings that are associated with a product in the eBay catalog.

Phase I items that require adoption of the eBay catalog are:

eBay will expand this catalog in phases over future Seller Updates. The company explains the process in more details here and also provides information about category changes and how buyers will see the new catalog information.

Shipping Enhancements

eBay Guaranteed Delivery will be available to more sellers. The company is releasing more streamlined and simplified eBay label purchase, printing, shipping service selection and shipping cost comparison features.

With eBay Guaranteed Delivery, sellers increase their items’ visibility and buyers get their purchases in 3 days or less, guaranteed.

With the handling time guarantee, sellers guarantee same-day or 1-day handling, and eBay calculates and guarantees the delivery date to the buyer within the shopping experience. Items backed by eBay Guaranteed Delivery benefit from greater exposure on eBay because buyers can filter for them in their searches.

Starting in March 2018, eBay Guaranteed Delivery’s handling time guarantee will be available to more sellers. The company will reduce the average number of transactions required for eligibility to 100 transactions within the previous 12 months.

Sellers will need to maintain a late shipment rate of 3% or lower to qualify. Qualified eBay sellers will be notified of their eligibility via email and can check the on-time shipping metric in their Seller Dashboard.

Through June 30 phase-in period, eBay will cover any late deliveries to buyers if they raise a case. This means eBay will provide the buyer the choice of “make it right” options per the program terms and conditions.

After June 30, eBay will continue to cover late deliveries as long as sellers meet your handling time commitment.

To provide sellers more flexibility to use the labels platform of their choice, the company has removed one of the existing requirements. Starting March 2018, sellers will no longer be required to use eBay shipping labels to participate in the eBay Guaranteed Delivery handling time option.

However, sellers must still upload on-time validated tracking for at least 95% of their transactions to remain in the program.

Starting in March 2018, the Guaranteed Delivery bulk editing tool will be available in Seller Hub. This give sellers the opportunity to use the tool to determine which listings are not yet eligible for eBay Guaranteed Delivery and make changes to their listings.

Coming this summer, purchasing and printing labels on eBay will become even easier and more intuitive. eBay is updating the in-house shipping labels experience by adding powerful new features that will help sellers make informed shipping choices quickly and easily.

New features will include estimated delivery dates based on shipping service and easy shipping service and pricing comparisons. eBay will continue to provide sellers with substantial discounts on shipping services and automatically update tracking on orders.

The transition from the current eBay labels experience to the new experience will be seamless, and sellers can continue to use their preferred shipping services without interruption.

Growth Tools

eBay is providing enhanced pricing guidance for Seller Hub users, and a new Marketplace Insights API will be available to third-party providers and high-volume sellers.

Promoted listings placements will appear on eBay’s home page and enhanced reports will be available on the campaign management dashboard. The company is also adding new visibility into the status of buyers’ after-sale requests in Seller Hub.

To help you achieve the best results from promoted listings campaigns, starting March 2018, eBay will provide guidance on which items to promote and make it easier for sellers to monitor what items sold through their campaigns. The company is also increasing exposure of promoted listings by adding new placements on the eBay home page.

eBay Top Rated Sellers and Store subscribers with fixed price listings can access the new promoted listings features now. Starting in May 2018, promoted listings will be available to Starter and Enterprise Store subscribers.

eBay is also changing a few seller metrics. When a buyer notifies the seller that they have not received their item, or that it was not as described, seller performance standard rating may be affected if sellers do not resolve the buyer request in a timely manner.

Starting in June 2018, eBay will provide sellers with additional visibility into the status of buyers’ after-sale requests in Seller Hub, which will help sellers identify any listings that aren’t meeting buyer expectations.

The metrics will also show how often sellers receive these requests compared to sellers of similar items and circumstances.

eBay Stores

eBay is releasing new Starter and Enterprise eBay Stores subscription plans and a fee update. eBay Stores will be updated to provide a new and enhanced shopping experience, and improve search engine and mobile web optimization.

eBay currently offers three eBay Store subscriptions: Basic, Premium, and Anchor. Starting May 1, 2018, the company will introduce two new eBay Stores subscriptions — Starter and Enterprise. The expanded spectrum of Store subscriptions will provide sellers with a Store subscription option that meets their specific business needs and goals.

For beginning sellers that list more than 50 items each month, the new Starter Store subscription will provide the necessary tools to grow a seller’s business.

Yearly Subscription: $4.95 / month
Monthly Subscription: $7.95 / month
Monthly Zero Insertion Fee Listings: 100

The Enterprise Store subscription will provide high-volume sellers with an upgrade option and additional benefits.

Yearly Subscription: $2999.95 / month
Monthly Zero Insertion Fee Listings: 100,000 fixed price listings
Monthly Zero Insertion Fee Listings in Collectibles and Fashion: 2,500 auction-style listings

Enterprise Store subscribers will also be able to purchase additional zero insertion fee listings in add-on bundles for fixed price listings if they intend to list more than 100,000 items per month.

10,000 Additional Zero Insertion Fee Listings: $250 / month
50,000 Additional Zero Insertion Fee Listings: $1,000 / month

Some existing store plans will have pricing changes.

Starting May 1, 2018, the yearly fee for a Basic Store subscription will change from $19.95/month to $21.95/month. The monthly fee for a Basic Store subscription will change from $24.95/month to $27.95/month.

  • Non-Store subscribers that exceed their 50 zero insertion fee listing allocation will see the insertion fee change from $0.30 to $0.35.
  • Starter Store subscribers that exceed their 100 zero insertion fee listing allocation will continue to pay an insertion fee per listing of $0.30.
  • Basic Store subscribers that exceed their 250 zero insertion fee listing allocation in fixed price listings will see the insertion fee for each fixed price listing change from $0.20 to $0.25.

There is no change to Premium and Anchor Store subscriptions.

New eBay Stores shopping experience

Starting in May 2018, eBay will begin updating eBay Stores to provide a new shopping experience. The newly-designed experience is intended to improve search engine optimization (SEO), enhance the mobile web experience, and provide new merchandising opportunities for eBay Stores subscribers.

The new experience will also be active content-free and HTTPS-ready.

Key benefits include:

  • Optimized mobile web experience.
  • Enhanced SEO and traffic benefits.
  • Showcases more relevant products for buyers.
  • Provides the highest security standard.

The new eBay Stores design will look similar to eBay’s home page and other category pages. Below is an example of the new eBay Stores shopping experience in mobile.

The majority of sellers’ Stores will be updated automatically starting in May 2018. If a seller uses custom pages or have HTML in their Store, they will be able to move to the new experience at the same time or eBay will automatically move them to the new experience at a later date.

In other words, don’t wait for eBay to change to the new store experience to avoid any problems with store designs and functionality.

Simplified Returns

Starting in May 2018, eBay will streamline the returns policy options. According to eBay, Buyers’ expectations are continuously evolving and they want to deliver a returns experience that they believe is consistent and competitive with the changing marketplace.

The simplified return policy options will help drive a retail-standard returns experience for buyers and may boost seller’s sales. The company recommends that sellers begin changing their returns policies now.

The five return policy options will be:

  • No returns accepted
  • 30-day buyer-paid returns
  • 30-day free returns
  • 60-day buyer-paid returns
  • 60-day free returns

Restocking fees will no longer be a return option.

Starting June 1, 2018, sellers that offer free returns will have greater control to manage their business, and they can decide to issue partial refunds to buyers.

Certain product categories have unique retail standards and sellers will be able to offer variations on the new returns policy options. Categories that will continue have the option to offer 14-day returns include Collectibles & Art, Cameras & Photo and Medical, Mobility & Disability Equipment.

Sellers will also be able to issue a partial refund for all returns where the item is returned used or damaged in select categories, including Business & Industrial, Parts & Accessories, Collectibles & Art, Cameras & Photo, Medical, Mobility & Disability Equipment, Home Improvement, Furniture, Musical Instruments & Gear, and Yard, Garden & Outdoor.

Sellers will also have the flexibility to set different return policies for domestic and international returns. For example, a seller can choose to offer free returns domestically, and in the same listing, offer paid returns to international buyers.

Because eBay is standardizing returns, it will remove the “additional return policy details” field that some sellers may use to detail their returns policies. Removal of the field will simplify returns for buyers.

Top Rated Plus update

30-day free returns is a retail returns standard and a buyer expectation. Starting June 1, 2018, Top Rated Sellers will be required to offer 30-day free returns to be eligible to receive Top Rated Plus benefits.

eBay Top Rated Sellers earn those benefits by offering an elevated experience to their buyers.

Exceptions

While 30-day free returns is required for most categories to be eligible for Top Rated Plus status, there are exceptions in select categories.

Sellers will be required to offer 30-day returns (not free, but paid by buyer) in the following categories to be eligible to receive Top Rated Plus benefits:

  • Parts & Accessories
  • Musical Instruments & Gear
  • Listings with Freight Shipping Specified
  • Media

For products in Collectibles & Art categories to be eligible to receive Top Rated Plus benefits if sellers offer 14-day free returns.

Sellers are not required to offer free returns in some existing categories to receive Top Rated Plus benefits. eBay will expand this exception to include the following categories:

  • Prepaid Phone Cards
  • Virtual Currency

And finally, Starting June 1, 2018, when sellers offer free returns, they will have greater control to manage their business and can decide to issue partial refunds to buyers.

By offering free returns, sellers will have the flexibility to set their shipping and returns policies. If a buyer asks for something different or extra, or if eBay identify a buyer who frequently returns items, eBay states they will step in and protect sellers.

Seller Protection

To expand on the last point in the previous section, starting June 1, 2018 if a buyer escalates a case, eBay will take care of it for sellers and will protect a seller’s reputation from any negative feedback.

eBay is a bit vague on what this means. But then they specifically stated they will protect sellers from events outside of their control.

  • When you ship an item on time and provide tracking, and it arrives late.
  • If you’re impacted by carrier disruptions or severe weather.
  • If your buyer retracts their bid or doesn’t pay.
  • If a buyer changes their order or requests something extra.
  • From buyers that have an unusual rate of complaints or returns.
  • If the buyer returns an item after they opened it, used it, or sent it back in a condition other than the one you sent it in.

Much of this was supposedly already in place. However, on the last point of opened and used products, previously, eBay often favored buyers. Is this a change in policy?

Payments Intermediation (Move Payments to Adyen)

This most intriguing topic from the last month received no real news in this seller update.

We had hoped to learn more, but mostly the company just restated public statements from before about this subject.

So here is the information provided in the seller update as provided by eBay:

“In today’s ecommerce landscape, shoppers expect to be able to check out and pay on the site where they’re shopping. As we intermediate payments, shoppers will be able to complete their purchases all within eBay, streamlining the end-to-end experience for both buyers and sellers.

Payments intermediation means eBay will manage the payments flow in the Marketplace and simplify the payments experience for everyone buying and selling on eBay.

Most sellers can expect a simplified pricing structure and more predictable access to funds, and most can expect their costs of payments processing to be reduced after they transition to eBay’s intermediated payments model.

eBay is working on solutions to provide sellers with information about their eBay business in one place, including payments information, so sellers can easily track and manage all their transactions and customer interactions on eBay.

By offering buyers more choice in how they pay and expanding payment options into more geographies, we believe sellers will be able to reach more buyers and improve conversion.

The transition to full payments intermediation will be a multi-year journey. We will begin payments intermediation on a small scale starting in the second half of 2018, expanding in 2019. In 2021, we expect to have transitioned a majority of customers to the new payments experience.

To enable intermediated payments for their eBay accounts, sellers should expect to provide eBay with some additional payments-related data and to transition to a new relationship with eBay that includes integrated payments capabilities.

As we make this transition, eBay will work closely with sellers to ensure that the new payment capabilities reflect their needs. We’ll continue to share more details about this process and next steps for sellers as payments intermediation moves forward.

Sellers will be required to complete these steps in order to continue selling on eBay, and it is anticipated that this transition for sellers will occur no later than one year after the expiration of the Operating Agreement with PayPal, i.e. by July 2021.

In the meantime, sellers can contact eBay now at [email protected] to stay up-to-date on eBay’s payments efforts and timing, share feedback, and ask questions.”

Much of the U.S. update is similar to the UK and other marketplace updates published earlier today. The one area of payments appears now to become a topic for the Summer Seller update.

We will publish our take on the updates for the U.S. and UK by Wednesday when we get a chance to digest it all.

For the full 2018 U.S. Spring Seller Update with all the details and FAQs, click here.

Head over to our Facebook Discussion Group or use the comments section below to voice your thoughts on this 2018 eBay U.S. Seller Update.

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5 Comments

  1. Here is my fear: ebay will have too many “filters” that will limit what the buyer sees and if they don’t see what they want they will go elsewhere. As a buyer I never use filters because I want to see everything available and make my own choice.

    1. eBay will still show all choices, the same way Amazon shows all choices for a single product. The issue is how eBay selects the top choices as typically most buyers will pick from what eBay serves up first and is less likely to go 10 pages deep. I do agree with you that eBay needs to offer either a no-filter option, although one could argue that hasn’t been the case in over a decade, or make sure that buyers are aware how the items were filtered and then allow for a mechanism to individually uncheck specific filters.

      Thank you for your comment, it brought up a very good point!

      Richard

  2. That’s disheartening. Last month I had a spell of returns. While I understand that I sell in a niche where that is a greater risk, all those returns, plus the fact that one week of illness cost me TRS benefits for the last serval months, pushed me to drop free returns and lower my return time to 14 days. Essentially, you could “rent” electronics from me for well over a month, then return it. After 4 large refunds in one week, at the end of the month, I couldn’t even afford to get any of it back. Now, after changing around 300 listings, I will have to either offer 30 days or none (which I DON’T want…I’m not THAT mad!)

    1. Thank you for your comments. There is a huge danger with these liberal return policies as consumers now expect to be able to return everything. I am not sure what the good middle-ground will be, but we suspected since last year return policies are the new battle ground in eCommerce and for the short term, it will be worse before it gets better.

      Richard

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