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From the Editor – June 10, 2018


EcommerceBytesHandmade and vintage marketplace Etsy is turning 13 (time flies!) and is celebrating this month with a sales event kicking off on June 18th and running through June 22nd – sellers can participate by putting their items on sale.

Meanwhile the mother of all sales events is fast approaching – Amazon Prime Day – or should we say Amazon Prime Day Week – is expected to take place the second week in July. The Prime Day shopping holiday is another effort to attract and retain members, with the higher membership fee taking effect June 16 for renewals ($119, up from $99).

Amazon runs its own sales (and heavily promotes its hardware devices) as well as giving some third-party sellers the opportunity to submit Prime Day deals – sellers had until May 18th to submit Prime Day deals, vendors had until May 31st.

Some stats from last year: Amazon sales on Prime Day 2017 (July 11) surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and Prime Day sales were up 60% over 2016’s event. Another statistic: over 3.5 million toys were purchased by Amazon customers worldwide on Prime Day 2017.

There’s something known as a “halo effect” that benefits Amazon’s rivals – shoppers are whipped up to a frenzy and seek deals on other sites during Prime Day week. Bloomberg reported that eBay had its two best sales days ever for July during Amazon’s 2017 event, “according to a person familiar with the matter.”

eBay itself continues to run periodic flash sales where it, rather than sellers, picks up the tab for discounted items. eBay ran a 20% off Father’s Day sitewide sale in the US on Wednesday, and a 20% off flash sale in certain-categories in the UK on Friday.

While many sellers are happy to use the coupons to make purchases, many have debated the impact of flash sales on their own items. One reader pointed out the potential for such sales to acutally be detrimental on sellers of lower-priced goods, stating:

“It’s possible even that some sellers may actually encounter a decrease in their daily sales during one of these events as savvy buyers focus on exploiting the coupon’s max return on discretionary items and gifts – DJI Mavic Pro Drones, Xbox One Xs, PS4s, SSD drives, Oculus Rift VR Headsets, High-end Nvidia & Radeon PC Gaming cards, Desktop & Laptop Computers, Android and iPhones, etc. etc. These are the types items that many consumers go out of their way to splurge on with these flash sale coupons.”

An eBay executive told attendees of a Wall Street conference last week that eBay uses such promotional events “to drive velocity on the platform, which ultimately is a benefit to our sellers as well.” Scott Cutler, who heads eBay Marketplaces Americas, told attendees to expect eBay to continue to experiment using different levers and channels.

eBay announced its Summer Seller Update on May 22nd, you can find a summary of some key changes in this EcommerceBytes Blog post. In today’s issue, we remind readers of the new eBay Item Location policy in which sellers must include their item’s zip code by July 31st or face severe consequences.

In Wednesday’s weekly chat, sellers raised another policy change that will roll out in September: sellers who have high rates of after-sale requests will face the following penalties:

Item not as described:
An additional 4% fee in affected categories. Note this is not across-the-board. As an eBay moderator explained, “So if you are over in Clothing, but not collectibles, you would see the 4% on clothing items, but not on collectibles.”

Item not received:
Time added to buyer-facing delivery estimates for affected shipping destinations

A savvy seller pointed out that the additional 4% fee is not a 4% increase in fees, but rather, a 40% increase. For example, on a $100 item, sellers would pay an average10% in Final Value Fees ($10) – with the 4% penalty, they’d pay 14% in Final Values ($14). Sure enough, going from $10 to $14 is a 40% increase in fees.

Shipping is all-important to online sellers, no matter their size. But international shipping poses additional challenges. In today’s issues, we talk to Rafael Zimberoff about opening up to global sales. Raf is Vice President of Product Development for ShipRush, now a division of Descartes.

Raf explains how to evaluate products to determine if they’re good candidates for international sales, which can boost sales by between 10 and 25 percent, along with some other solid tips.

Also in this issue, we dig into the archives for a piece that ran in 2007 on handbags and purses, a category on our minds this week as we learned of the death of fashion designer Kate Spade, very sad news for her family, friends, and fans, also true of chef, writer and television host Anthony Bourdain, who passed away on Thursday. We hope delving into the world of vintage handbags in this Collectors Corner “golden oldie” will provide a pleasant diversion.

As always, 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
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/.