This February, eBay announced it would be doing away with the “Fast ‘N Free” shipping badge and replace it with a new shipping message showing estimated delivery times.
In a blog post published by Shuja Rahman, Director of Product Management at eBay, he explained the reason for changing the Fast’ N Free shipping indicator was that, “Shipping speed and cost are key factors influencing buyers’ purchasing decisions. A transparent and easily understandable shipping signal is a strong conversion driver that makes shopping easier for buyers, improves sales velocity for sellers and builds trust in the marketplace.”
By replacing the old “Fast’ N Free” badge with new shipping messages, eBay feels it removes ambiguity with a more transparent message such as “Free 2 day shipping” or “Free 3 day shipping.”
This seems like a legit reason, but is there more to it?
New Badge and Attempt to Coerce eBay Sellers to Offer Free Shipping
Looking further into Rahman’s post, he says, “This prominent display of shipping speed also incentivizes sellers to offer faster service. eBay’s retail standards threshold is four days in the U.S. and three days in the U.K. and Germany. Since the listing clearly states the number of days it will take for buyers to receive their items (unlike the ambiguous Fast’ N Free badge), sellers who offer faster shipping enjoy the highlight and it motivates them to offer the quickest possible shipping to keep their listings competitive in the modern world.”
While this new shipping messaging may benefit sellers who already list “Fast’ N Free” eligible items, it’s difficult to see how changing the badge with more “transparent” information will improve adaption by sellers who cannot afford to list items with free shipping.
For many years now, eBay has pushed sellers to offer free shipping, but also faced tremendous pushback as can be seen on social media and eBay’s community forums. The real-world shipping costs sellers face often significantly reduce or eliminate profits, making it a no-go proposition for many sellers to offer free shipping, especially when listing low-value or low-margin items.
To be fair, eBay has added a low-cost shipping solution in select categories to help with shipping costs. But in reality, it has done very little to offer up a viable solution to the rising shipping costs sellers face in all categories, even ending a short-lived Amazon-like fulfillment trial.
There is a limit to how far sellers can go, and assuming that changing the badge will somehow entice more sellers to offer listings with free shipping seems farcical and sidesteps the real issue, shipping costs.
The new shipping indicators are now live in the U.S., U.K., and Germany. Additional regions will be added soon and eBay plans to expand the shipping indicators to include messages such as “Free Shipping – Arrives Before the Fourth of July” or “Arrives before Father’s Day.”
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