eBay announced major changes that are coming to the site this spring as part of Seller Release 1, the first of two semi-annual updates that impact sellers. eBay made the announcement on Tuesday and provided more details on this Spring Update information page.
While there were technically no fee changes, many sellers will see a change in the fees they pay in one or two ways. First, eBay is providing free image hosting to all sellers (a possible savings), and secondly, it is making it more difficult to achieve the 20 percent discount for Top Rated Sellers (in what is effectively a "fee increase" for some TRS sellers).
Many sellers will find themselves making a significant investment in time to bring listings into compliance with the new policies. For example, along with free photos comes new photo standards to which sellers must adhere. There was some initial confusion about the new photo standards on which EcommerceBytes received clarification - if you're concerned about having to change all of your photos, then this blog post is a must-read.
Some Top Concerns from Sellers
AuctionBytes Blog Editor Julia Wilkinson summarized top concerns from sellers in a blog post on Wednesday. Concerns include the 1-day shipping requirement to get an automatic 5-star DSR (Detailed Seller Rating) and the new communication (or, rather, non-communication) rules; and the 14-day minimum return policy that turns a purchase into a free "rental" for buyers who abuse sellers' return policies.
Sellers of clothing and accessories are especially worried about the stricter return policy requirements because of buyers who, after wearing their eBay purchases, return them - a chronic concern for fashion sellers. Read more on Julia's AuctionBytes Blog post.
New Tracking Requirement
eBay held a Town Hall meeting in which staff fielded questions from sellers. (The recording can be found on this page, and EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor Greg Holden live-blogged the meeting, found on this EcommerceBytes Blog post.)
The most-asked question from callers centered around eBay's requirement that Top Rated Sellers upload tracking information on 90% of their orders. Sellers of low-price, light-weight items such as postcards, stamps, decals and artwork will feel the brunt of this policy.
That's because these sellers literally put items such as postcards into a regular envelope and put a 45-cent stamp on it. According to one caller, there are 1.9 million postcards for sale on eBay, all shipped typically first-class mail without delivery confirmation of any type.
Three separate callers told eBay managers that they might be forced off of eBay once the new policies take effect, because the USPS offers no way for them to add tracking on a first-class letter.
But as Julia wrote on the AuctionBytes Blog on Friday, many sellers are stumped when it comes to finding eBay alternatives.
Guide to eBay Spring Update
eBay set up a special discussion board and fielded questions from sellers on Tuesday and Wednesday (the board is now read-only). eBay also rolled out a Seller Release in the UK, you can read about it on this page.
You can find the EcommerceBytes Guide to eBay Spring 2012 Seller Update in this news article and discuss the changes in this EcommerceBytes Blog post which has nearly 100 comments.