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Putting the eBay Fall Seller Update 2017 into Context

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eBay logoeBay announced its Fall 2017 Seller Update on September 19th, and sellers will once again find themselves editing their listings to comply with new requirements.

Non-fee Changes that Will Prove Costly
Some might come away believing there’s no fee hike, and technically that’s true. However, eBay has made a revolutionary change that does have an impact on fees – it can charge sellers Final Value Fees merely for including contact information in their listings – even if the seller has not sold the item on or off eBay. You can read more in this EcommerceBytes Blog post.

Another couple of changes that may cost sellers but aren’t strictly speaking “fees” involve Returns:

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1) “Beginning this fall, refund up to 50% of the item price if the return is damaged or missing parts.” eBay actually spun this as a benefit: “Starting Fall 2017, you will have added protection when you offer free returns. You can deduct up to 50% of the item price if the returned item is damaged or missing parts.” That would indicate eBay had previously given sellers no recourse in the event of a damaged item, so it could be that the new policy is an improvement.

2) “Starting in 2018, you will no longer be able to charge restocking fees when you offer free returns.” Ouch!

eBay also said it would begin automatically accept a return request when the buyer pays for return shipping. On the face of it, that seems less than ideal – often sellers can satisfy an unhappy buyer through communicating with them, making all parties happier.

Note that if you offer free returns or if you’re required to pay for the return shipping label, automatic acceptance will only occur if you have not replied to the buyer return request within three business days.

Policy Changes
There are five policy changes that you should become familiar with immediately.

1) Removal of off-eBay links, listings security, product identifier expansion, image guidelines, and eBay Catalog update.

2) In October 2017, convert HTTP content to HTTPS for a secure buying experience.

3) Effective October 19, 2017, product identifiers will be required for new or revised listings for Seller Refurbished condition and, in some categories, Used condition.

4) Effective March 1, 2018, eBay will prohibit watermarks on images and you should begin removing watermarks now to comply with the change.

Note: The new watermarking policy is something that we’re hearing a lot of distress and pushback from sellers who don’t want other sellers to be able to “steal” their images and who don’t want to edit thousands of images to remove watermarks (or retake photos) in order to comply with the policy. During an eBay for Business Facebook webcast after the Seller Update announcement, eBay staff recommended sellers join its VeRO program if they had such concerns.

Also worth noting, eBay’s Brian Burke wrote on the Seller Update forum, “next year you will have to use the stock photo if the item is new, but can add other items in addition to the stock photo.”

5) Beginning in Spring 2018, new and existing listings will be matched to product entries in the eBay catalog.

Clearly eBay will be using product identifiers to help it match your listings to product entries. While eBay didn’t provide much more information than that, you can take a look at eBay’s new catalog product pages to get an idea of how this works – the pages include an Amazon-style Buy Box, which we wrote about last month and blogged about here.

Visibility in Search
eBay is making changes that will impact sellers’ visibility in search – see this page for details. An obvious change has to do with eBay Guaranteed Delivery.

eBay also said it will give greater exposure to listings that offer free 30-day returns. As it had previously announced, it’s giving buyers options to search for and filter by free returns policies.

Resources
Here’s the eBay announcement of the Fall Seller Update on the eBay announcement board, and here’s the updates to the eBay User Agreement announced the same day.

Readers discussed the changes on the EcommerceBytes Blog. It’s been over 3 weeks since the announcement, let us know what you think now that you’ve had time to absorb the changes.

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.


2 thoughts on “Putting the eBay Fall Seller Update 2017 into Context”

  1. One solution here is not to opt into the Free Returns program.

    And EBay wants those whose images are stolen to join the “Pay For Play” VeRo program. I am rolling on the floor laughing. So if someone steals my photos, I am supposed to give EBay money to file a claim against them, and take them to court? Biggest non-answer ever, and extremely insulting.

    Also, next Spring, all listings will be matched to an (incomplete and malfunctioning) catalog?? Another laugher. When their business goes even more in the toilet because of these changes, it will be confirmed that EBay has made a big mistake here.

  2. “Beginning this fall, refund up to 50% of the item price if the return is damaged or missing parts.”

    well the scammers are already on that one for jewelry – they get it – they wear it or don’t like it – they simply pop out a stone and claim damaged – this is going to be anightmare

    AND steal my pictures? ROFL nobody would even want to steal mine – I never set out in life to be a photographer but I do keep plugging away at it. I’ll be the one benefiting over that

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