Guide to eBay Spring 2016 Seller Update
By Ina Steiner
eBay announced its Spring Seller Update on Tuesday, and there's a lot to absorb with a fee increase and changes to policies, the listing page, its listing tool, categories, product reviews, and even changes to the User Agreement.
While eBay Store fees are rising between 25% - 75% depending on the tier, mainstream and tech publications didn't mentioned the fact - instead, they covered the news that eBay spoon-fed them about its branded shipping boxes.
Higher Fees for eBay Stores
While some sellers will see their costs of operating an eBay Store rising by 75%, they only have one month to assess the changes and decide what actions to take, if any. That's troubling, especially in light of eBay's promise to give sellers 60 days advance notice regarding major changes. The announcement came on April 5th, and the higher fees take effect on May 6th.
The rate hike, even with some extra perks thrown in, is also surprising given that sales on eBay were flat last year as it continues to flounder following a security breach and chronic Google-search visibility problems. So while eBay is giving Store sellers more free listings each month, there's no reason to think those listings will have a higher sell-through rate than sellers are currently experiencing. Some sellers are already concerned that the more free listings the company provides to sellers, the harder it is to get visibility in eBay search results.
eBay raised monthly subscription fees 25% for Basic and Premium Stores, and 75% for Anchor Stores. In addition to the increase in free listings, it added some perks, including a quarterly coupon good toward purchasing eBay-branded shipping supplies. Beginning July 1st, eBay will offer dedicated customer service for Anchor Stores.
The jump in costs to run an Anchor Store was concerning to many sellers who believe eBay should add a tier in between Premium and Anchor. Anchor Store fees are currently 233% higher than Premium Stores; as of next month, Anchor Store fees will be 367% higher than Premium Stores.
Many robust store-hosting services cost far less than the $349.95/month eBay will soon charge for an Anchor Store and may give some sellers the incentive to explore such plans and use the savings on advertising and marketing.
Interestingly, 2 days after announcing the rate hike, eBay announced a strategic partnership with one such company - it will soon be even easier for BigCommerce store owners to list on eBay.
Timing for Those Who Will Switch Plans
As we were preparing to publish, a seller raised an interesting question about the timing of the fee changes.
He has an Anchor Store and will be switching to a Premium Store - but he can't figure out exactly when he should make the change so as not to incur unnecessary fees, May 1st (his billing cycle), or May 6 (when the new fees take effect).
We searched boards and the FAQs on eBay, and we're not sure either - here's a link to his letter on the Letters to the Editor blog.
Higher Fees for Optional Upgrades
Effective May 6, 2016, listing upgrade fees for select optional features will increase - but only for items with a list price greater than $150.
For example, adding the optional Bold feature to a listing (so the listing title is bolded in eBay search results) currently costs $2, or $4 for 30-day and Good Til Cancelled. Beginning May 6th, the fee will change to $3 and $6, respectively, but only for items with a list price of $150 or more.
See more information on this page on the eBay website.
eBay Launches Shipping Supplies
As part of the Spring Update, eBay announced, "we'll soon be launching a branded supplies store, featuring eBay branded quality boxes, envelopes and tape - with more items to be added over time." The store is now live on eBay.
eBay didn't provide its own sellers in the shipping-supplies category the opportunity to offer eBay-branded boxes, and some are concerned eBay could begin competing in other categories as well, as readers discussed in the EcommerceBytes Bog.
Brian Shenker of shipping-supply company ULINE said there are hundreds of sellers selling shipping supplies on eBay and warned that merchants are increasingly finding themselves in a position where "the channel becomes your competitor."
As usual, some sellers are impacted more than others. Sellers in the jewelry and vintage clothing categories had lots of concerns over new policy and category changes. Sellers and third-party developers are also impacted by a ban on active content going into effect next year.
And this summer, Seller Hub will be available to all sellers and will become the default tool for managing listings on eBay.
eBay is also giving sellers the ability to better control what appears in the listing descriptions shown to mobile shoppers. "If you want to highlight information that isn't captured in our auto-generated summaries, you can choose the specific listing information you want to show using more advanced HTML options. This functionality is ideal for items that have unique characteristics, such as arts, antiques and collectibles."
We'll have more on this in Newsflash, in the meantime, you can find eBay's announcement about View Item changes on this page.
As we noted, there are lots of changes to absorb - here's a link to more information on eBay's website followed by links to our coverage in EcommerceBytes Newsflash, and we'll continue to cover the impact of the Spring Update on sellers.
EcommerceBytes Newsflash Coverage
eBay Fee Changes Are Part of 2016 Spring Seller Update, April 5, 2016
Can Product Reviews Help eBay Catch Up to Amazon?, April 6, 2016
Will eBay Ban of Active Content Affect Your Listings?, April 6, 2016
eBay Competes with Sellers by Offering Shipping Supplies, April 7, 2016
In speaking about the Spring Seller Update in a blog post on Monday, eBay's head of Marketplaces Hal Lawton said it has been nine months since the management team announced plans to make the seller experience more consistent, predictable and fair. What do you think of the changes eBay has been making, and about the latest set of changes for sellers?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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