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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2749 - February 28, 2012 - ISSN 1539-5065    3 of 4

EcommerceBytes Guide to eBay Spring 2012 Seller Update

By Ina Steiner
February 28, 2012

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There are a lot of changes coming to eBay in 2012, and you can find an overview in Tuesday's Newsflash newsletter. To help answer sellers questions, EcommerceBytes has put together a guide to eBay's first Seller Release of the year.

While at first glance, the changes do not appear as dire as previous announcements, many sellers will find the changes will mean an investment of many hours to get listings into compliance with new policies. Some sellers will find they are excluded from the "good news" portion of the announcement, and a number of sellers may find the changes to be a deal breaker for them.

Interestingly, eBay made no announcement of advertising now appearing in sellers' paid listings. Found in one of the FAQs for the 2012 Spring Seller Release was found a note that eBay would be "improving the Item page," though no further information about the improvements could be found.

Readers are already sharing their thoughts about SR1 2012 in the EcommerceBytes Blog, where you will also find updates as we continue to follow today's news.

Free Photos and New Photo Policy
Starting July 2, pictures will be free for all sellers. Images are already free for eBay Store owners and in a few collectibles categories. Here's how eBay calculates the potential savings for everyone else: "If you're paying for pictures now, this change can mean significant savings. For example, on Auction-style listings with 8 pictures, free pictures can mean a savings of 16% on an item that sells for $60."

eBay is also rolling out a new policy. Starting this fall, all listings will be required to have a picture, and there will be new restrictions imposed. For example, borders around pictures and text added to pictures will no longer be allowed, though watermarks for attribution purposes only will continue to be allowed.

Link to information about Free Photos

Link to information about new Photo Standards

Changes to Top Rated Seller Program
Starting with the June 20 evaluation cycle, sellers must upload tracking information or a Delivery Confirmation number to eBay on at least 90% of their shipments to U.S. buyers within their stated handling time in order to achieve and keep Top-rated seller status.

Beginning June 1, only those listings from Top Rated Sellers that include 1-day or same day handling and a 14-day or longer return policy with a money-back option will qualify for the greatest average boost in Best Match and 20% final value fee discount.

Also starting June 1, the annual sales requirement for Top-rated status will be lowered from $3,000 to $1,000 to expand eligibility to more sellers who provide great service.

Link to information about changes to eBay Top Rated Seller program

Changes to Feedback and Seller Protection
Starting in April, eBay will give sellers an automatic 5-star DSR for Communication for transactions in which sellers specify same-day or 1-day handling time, upload tracking information by the end of the next business day, and there is no communication between the seller and the buyer.

Starting April 23, all Feedback and related DSRs left by a buyer for a transaction where the buyer had an unpaid item recorded will automatically be removed, whether or not sellers use Unpaid Item Assistant, as long as they required eBay Checkout, an eBay approved electronic payment method, and local pick up was not offered.

In addition, any feedback from buyers that only reference customs issues will qualify for Feedback Removal.

Link to information about eBay Feedback and Seller Protection changes

Shipping Changes
eBay to Fix Classification of First Class Mail: For some reason, eBay had been advertising listings that offered USPS First-Class as "Expedited" shipping, causing unrealistic buyer expectations. As part of the Spring changes, eBay will reclassify First Class mail as "Standard," which may help sellers protect their shipping time DSRs. eBay states, "In general, buyers do not perceive USPS First-Class as an expedited service" - something sellers have been telling the company for years.

eBay will also make it easier for sellers to specify same-day shipping.

Starting the week of May 28, buyers will see a message on the Item page for extended handling time for all listings with greater than 3 days handling time. Sellers will be able to use a new "business policies" feature to easily provide reasons in cases where handling time exceeds 3 days.

Link to information about eBay Shipping changes

Starting this spring, sellers who accept returns will be required to have a minimum 14-day return window and offer a money-back option. They will also be able to opt into a new way to manage returns right from My eBay that "virtually eliminates back-and-forth with buyers." This new method will see eBay paying for return shipping upfront and then either charging the buyer's PayPal account or adding it to the seller's next invoice, depending on who the seller specified pays for shipping.

The new Returns functionality will be introduced starting the week of May 28, and sellers must opt in from the All Selling or Site Preferences page in My eBay.

Link to information about eBay Returns policy changes

Duplicate Listings and Other Listing Requirement Changes
eBay is rolling out changes to its Duplicate Listing policy. Auction listings with a Buy It Now option will now be treated as a Fixed Price listing under eBay's Duplicate Listing policy. Sellers with a Fixed Price listing for an item will be unable to list an identical item in an Auction-style format with the Buy It Now option.

In addition, sellers with an Auction-style listing with the Buy It Now option for an item will be unable to list an identical item in the Fixed Price format. Sellers will also be unable to create duplicate Auction-style listings with the Buy It Now option for identical items.

eBay has updated its Duplicate Listing policy to include guidelines specifying that Auction-style duplicate listings may be removed or be given less visibility in search results.

Link to information about eBay Dupe Listing and other listing policy changes

Changes to Categories and Item Specifics
eBay announced category changes and changes to Item Specifics (product attributes) as part of the Spring Seller Release.

Link to information about Category Changes and Items Specific changes

eBay will hold a Town Hall to discuss the changes on Wednesday February 29th at 3:30pm PST.

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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