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eBay Shopping Cart Hinders Cross Border Trade

There’s something wrong with eBay.com’s shopping cart – and aside from frustrating U.S. buyers looking to purchase items internationally, it is sellers in Canada who may be suffering the most from the feature’s problems.

“eBay’s shopping cart has prevented shoppers logged onto eBay.com from adding more than one item to their cart if it is listed on eBay.ca,” a reader from Canada wrote to us. “As a result, multiple item orders have dropped off dramatically for Canadian sellers.”

A moderator on the eBay Canada discussion boards confirmed the problem last month, explaining that Canadian sellers who list on eBay.ca and offer combined shipping discounts on Buy It Now items end up in a situations where buyers on eBay.com cannot get their orders combined.

But it doesn’t end there – there is also a glitch that is compounding the problem for U.S. buyers and international sellers.

The Canadian reader who wrote to us explained, “Sometimes, an American buyer is persistent enough to contact the Canadian sellers and do the transaction through direct PayPal invoice or other means. Others buy items one by one with the expectation that shipping excess will be refunded. The seller still pays eBay the FVF on those shipping charges unless they wish to spend time on the phone with eBay’s horrid customer service department.”

As we had explained early last year, shopping carts on eBay.com and eBay UK were “currency specific,” so shoppers on those sites could not add foreign items into their cart. That meant U.S. shoppers signed in to eBay.com were unable to add items from eBay Canada into their shopping cart.

eBay has since added a “universal” shopping cart to eBay Canada that can take any items listed on any eBay site in any currency, regardless of who or where the buyer is.

But remarkably, it appears the eBay.com cart is still not a universal shopping cart. So while eBay Canada has a superior shopping cart, sellers there are suffering because U.S. shoppers are having problems with the eBay.com shopping cart for eBay Canada purchases.

Making the problem worse is an apparent glitch. The reader told us that a seller in Canada discovered that eBay.com buyers are being routed to a completely nonfunctional shopping cart where they are erroneously informed that the item they wish to buy is not available.

Our reader forwarded an email he received from a U.S. buyer describing that very problem: “Hi, I’m trying to buy several more of you (items) but some won’t let me add to cart, then when I click buy it now and add to cart, it tells me the item is no longer available and is now up for auction. How would you suggest I go about placing the order?”

“We have been informed that eBay Canada is too small to warrant priority and the problem is likely to remain for the forseeable future,” the reader said. “We are not worth the time and expense to create a fix, yet eBay continues to take my full store fee every month, removing $2,000-plus from my pocket every year.”

The suggested workaround for Canadian sellers is to list on eBay.com. But, the reader says, that would mean no free listings. He’s also concerned that, not only are Canadian sellers losing out as a result, but buyers who encounter this problem may leave eBay and purchase items elsewhere.

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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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). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.