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eBay Sellers Not Impressed with Implementation of New Business Policies

At the end of January, eBay began turning on a new feature called Business Policies on some accounts, causing chaos for some sellers who had been in the dark about the feature. On Friday, eBay finally announced it was automatically turning on the feature on some seller accounts.

While designed to be a helpful time-saving feature, eBay’s implementation of Business Policies is being given a thumbs down by some of the sellers who’ve encountered it when listing items for sale.

The Business Policies functionality allows sellers to quickly and easily create, edit, and manage shipping, payment, and return policies for all their listings from one location. For sellers who list items in multiple categories, it allows them to create one policy for each type of item they sell – for example, a seller might have a more restrictive returns policy for clothing, and they may have a different shipping policy for oversized items. When they wish to update those policies, the changes will be applied globally.

It’s a common feature on other listing and inventory management services and had been much requested by some eBay sellers over the years.

So why the poor reception? As initially described in this February 5th, EcommerceBytes Newsflash article, sellers suddenly encountered a drop down menu containing a great number of policies that had long codes that were incomprehensible. “I have a payment policy, and a shipping policy, and a return policy,” wrote one seller at the time. “Now, I get prompts. Having no idea now what this is, I open the drop-down and see about 50 different long-numbered “policies.””

After being opted in, another seller said the feature interferes with the listing flow – those who haven’t set up policies have to leave the listing, go into their My eBay, navigate to Business Policies, set up the new policies, and then return to listing. “Did eBay do usability testing before rolling this mess out,” they wondered.

Another seller said they set up set up a shipping policy under “my business policies” for local, national and international. “I called ebay earlier this week about a shipping issue and they resolved it by removing all my policies. I cannot find how to set up policies any more. Help please?”

In fact, eBay has struggled to launch Business Policies. It was originally announced in 2012, was delayed until 2013, and every seller was supposed to be able to opt in to Business Policies last summer.

Sellers should get used to Business Policies, since they will become mandatory: “Later this year, business policies will be the only way to define these policies for your listings, so we encourage you to start using them now,” according to eBay. Sellers can edit their business policies by going to My eBay > Account and clicking on the Business Policies link, or from the “Manage My Business Policies” page in Selling Manager or Selling Manger Pro.

For sellers who have not been opted into the new feature yet, they can opt in by going to My eBay > Activity > All Selling (or Selling Manager/Selling Manager Pro) and look for an invitation.

eBay is allowing sellers to opt out for now: “If you prefer not to use business policies now, you can temporarily opt out by going to My eBay > Accounts> Business Policies. Once you opt out, you will no longer see an area for business policies when you list.”

Business Policies may become one of sellers’ favorite features, but right now, confusion reigns. Here are some tips from eBay:

  • Consolidate your policies. Every time you change even one policy detail in a listing, a new business policy is created. To keep things manageable, consolidate your policies into a short list of just a few that make the most sense for your business.
  • Before deleting policies or making changes, understand how your policies are being used. You can see which listings are using a specific policy on the “Manage your business policies” page in Selling Manager or Selling Manager Pro.
  • Give each policy a name that makes sense to you. To save time, give each of your policies a name that makes sense to you. You might also rename those created automatically from your existing listings. Add a brief description to make it quick and easy to select the right policy when you’re listing.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.