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From the Editor – October 15, 2017

EcommerceBytes

EcommerceByteseBay stirred up a debate about auctions last week, evidence that many buyers and sellers still enjoy the auction format on eBay.

The discussions began after eBay rolled out a new feature on auction listings without any notice (the company has been springing a lot of surprises since the summer, reducing sellers’ productivity while increasing their blood pressure). Suddenly shoppers discovered they could make an offer on an auction listing, something that many buyers and sellers said made no sense to them (the make an offer feature is designed for fixed price listings). Sellers were also distressed that eBay had forced the feature on their listings without notice

After a day of confusion with customer service reps providing conflicting information, eBay sent an email to sellers telling them it was an error. The following day, an eBay moderator posted another explanation: the feature was applied in error – but eBay *is* going to be testing it in the coming weeks. Sellers who found eBay’s response buried in discussion board threads remained confused and apprehensive at the response. (eBay did not respond to our inquiry seeking clarification.) It’s also noteworthy that eBay offered no compensation to sellers who were impacted by the error.

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You can read about the Make an Offer in eBay auctions in these posts:

Is eBay Trying to Kill Auctions with Make Offer? (Tuesday, Oct. 10)

eBay Sorry for Testing Haggling But Will Continue (Friday, Oct. 13)

eBay glitches aren’t unusual, but one that occurred this month may have been quite costly. eBay ran a promotion tied to the Comic Con held in New York, but while it was meant to apply to a select group of collectibles, eBay accidentally added **all** Collectibles listings to the 20-percent off promotion. eBay abruptly ended the sale early once it was brought to their attention.

The financial burden of glitches and bugs usually fall on sellers’ shoulders, but this glitch is a reminder to eBay that it could find itself on the hook financially when its engineers goof up – will the incident motivate the company to be more careful?

Its history of technical issues and policy bombshells may hinder eBay’s latest management idea: an Amazon FBA-style fulfillment service. A recent survey revealed its intentions: “eBay is working to create fulfillment options that are faster, more affordable and more reliable for buyers. This next exercise will help us understand your preferences for a third-party fulfillment solution.”

Speaking of costs, the rates for mailing packages are going up for all three major US carriers in January. The USPS filed for a  rate increase on October 6th that could see Priority Mail and First Class Package Services go up by quite a bit in 2018 – an average of 6% for those who print Priority Mail shipping labels online. UPS and FedEx are also raising rates an average of 4.9% (plus surcharge increases) in January. And don’t forget that UPS and FedEx are also increasing surcharges for shipments during the holiday shopping season – look for extra charges beginning November 19th.

While sellers may pass along higher shipping costs to buyers, it makes it hard for low-volume sellers to compete on price with larger merchants who can negotiate volume discounts. And since eBay charges Final Value Fees (commissions) on shipping, the annual rise in shipping costs each January is a built-in fee increase, without the company having to actually announce a hike in selling fees. It may be wise to do the math on whether to raise the price of your products in January to keep up with rising costs (including the payment processing fees on the shipping portion of the transaction amount).

Online sellers are also dealing with more changes after eBay announced the Fall Seller Update last month – in today’s issue, we take a look at how it impacts sellers.

It’s getting increasingly difficult to communicate with shoppers, even with customers who have purchased with you in the past. In today’s issue, we tackle some ways to improve the deliverability of your emails.

It’s also impacting people trying to visit your website. In the last issue, we told you eBay was prepping for a change that Google is rolling out to its Chrome web browser – eBay believes Google Chrome warning message to users who visit pages with HTTP links (rather than HTTPS) will deter shoppers.

This impacts every site on the internet, and other browsers are starting to or will start to issue warning notices. Tthere are also compatibility issues that affect the accessibility and user experience of websites. What might look good in Google’s Chrome browser may not look good to Internet Explorer or Firefox. Remember that when you encounter problems accessing sites or website features, you might try a different browser to see if it helps.

Also in today’s issue we write about a new Competitive Intelligence Tool for eBay sellers that can help you sell smarter; we cover tips on how to attract shoppers using Instagram. Collectors Corner examines Dr. Seuss collectibles, and we wrap up with letters to the editor.

Thanks for reading.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


One thought on “From the Editor – October 15, 2017”

  1. I never understood this bs with returns. You purchase something, it’s either broken or not to your liking, return it, get your money back. Buyer pays for return shipping. Done. Why should be offer free returns? Kissing ass again with sellers. Someone out there needs to start a new selling platform. Amazon is getting just as bad.

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