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Online Sellers Guide to eBay Spring Update 2019

eBay Spring Seller Update 2019
Online Sellers Guide to eBay Spring Update 2019

With each new season, sellers brace themselves for eBay’s updates, wondering what changes may be in store for them. This month, sellers are processing news from the latest Spring update announced on April 30, 2019, that includes fees changes, seller protections, auto-relists of returned and cancelled orders, and more.

eBay didn’t call attention to new fees, but they are particularly noteworthy:

  • One fee change impacts Store owners: “Starting on June 1, 2019, we will increase the final value fee cap for Basic and Premium eBay Stores from $250 to $350. The final value fee cap for Anchor and Enterprise Stores will not change.”
  • Another affects the penalty fee eBay began charging sellers in October 2018 for excessive claims and for under-performance. In June, eBay will hike those fees from 4% of the selling price (plus shipping costs) to 5%.

Does raising the penalty fee to 5% really act as more of a deterrent to poor seller performance than the current 4% penalty? Sellers weighed in on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

Another change that isn’t exactly a fee increase but will no doubt result in higher selling fees for some: eBay has begun automatically relisting cancelled items and remorse returns for single-quantity listings – unless a seller proactively opts out on a case-by-case basis. You can learn more and see how sellers reacted on this EcommerceBytes blog post.

The fact that it’s opt-out instead of opt-in is concerning to many sellers, and the new policy also raises the issue of timing. eBay had committed to providing sellers advance notice of changes that would impact their businesses, but it gave sellers only a few days’ notice with regard to the auto-relisting policy.

Another change impacting sellers: the expansion of eBay’s Promoted Listings program: it’s now making Promoted Listings available to all sellers in good standing instead of being available only for eBay Store subscribers.

Some sellers will welcome the opportunity to pay for added exposure for their listings, but the fact remains that everyone is left fighting even harder for visibility by having to compete with more Promoted Listing ads.

eBay had promised seller protections were coming in 2019, but when it announced them as part of the Spring Seller Update on April 30th, many sellers appeared underwhelmed, with some wondering why eBay hadn’t already been protecting them and wondering what exactly would be changing. eBay also promised additional protections this summer.

Here’s what many are keying in on: “If eBay finds that a buyer’s behavior is abusive, you’re protected.” That is a high bar – sellers want to be protected on each individual transaction, not be forced to wait for eBay to detect a pattern of behavior from a buyer.

The Spring Seller Update included some good-news / bad-news regarding the recently implemented Good Til Cancelled (GTC) mandate.

First the bad news – the unpopular policy announced in the “Early” Seller Update in February is staying in place. In a thread on the board dedicated to the Spring Seller Update, sellers vented their frustration that eBay did not remove the mandate that eliminates listing durations and institutes recurring billing for all fixed-price listings. (eBay didn’t respond to sellers on the thread, ironic given its title: “Not listening to veteran sellers.”)

The “good” news: eBay fixed a problem with the Good Til Cancelled mandate: Beginning in July, eBay will only charge for GTC listings once per calendar month. eBay had flubbed the initial launch, not anticipating that it resulted in sellers paying listing fees twice in a month for some months.

Be sure to skim the Growth Tools section, you might find some helpful nuggets to help you sell more.

eBay also addressed an issue that apparently peeves buyers – the problem of ordering an item on eBay and receiving it in an Amazon box. While eBay will allow sellers to dropship from wholesalers, it will prohibit sellers from fulfilling eBay orders through retailers or marketplaces.

eBay updated sellers on Managed Payments, which it’s expanding this year and will eventually be mandatory for all sellers. As a reminder, eBay grants itself permission to collect any fees you owe through the Managed Payments system. Readers are advised to read the Terms of Use carefully and review them periodically.

eBay provided the following schedule of when the Spring Update changes will go live:

eBay Spring 2019 Seller Update Calendar

eBay announced the Spring Update in five sections, we’ve included below a breakdown of the changes – be sure to visit eBay’s website for complete information and to read the FAQs it has provided in each section.

Seller Protections

eBay said it was implementing stronger measures against buyers who don’t follow eBay’s abusive buyer policy and that it was also making it easier for sellers to report bad buyers. Here’s the announcement:

New abusive buyer protections and reporting feature update
We’re implementing stronger measures against buyers who don’t follow eBay’s abusive buyer policy. We’re introducing new measures to proactively find abusive buyers, prevent them from filing return requests, and in some cases suspend them. When we find that a buyer violated the policy, we will remove any feedback and defects, including opened cases in service metrics.

We’ve also made it easier for you to report buyers who violate eBay policies. Now when you report a buyer, you can more clearly describe what the buyer is doing to help us investigate potential policy violations and take actions to protect you.

eBay also promised more protections for sellers coming this summer: “This summer, we will announce new seller protections that will be based on your track record and how we will protect you when you provide great service to buyers.”

For some reason eBay put the drop-shipping policy in the Seller Protection section:

Reduced search visibility for sellers who use a retailer to ship directly to buyers
Sellers who use retailers or marketplaces to ship directly to buyers are in violation of our drop shipping policy and will be lowered in search results, giving sellers who own their own inventory or drop ship from wholesalers greater search visibility.

Link to Seller Protections Page

Marketplace Update

There is a hodgepodge of changes outlined under the Marketplace Update section, from changes to the new GTC mandate, to sales tax requirements. Fee changes are also included in this section, and eBay announced new “order numbers.”

1) New calendar-month renewal schedule for Good ‘Til Cancelled listings
Starting July 1, 2019, we will change the Good ‘Til Cancelled renewal schedule from every 30 days to once per calendar month. The new monthly renewal date for a Good ‘Til Cancelled listing will be based on the listing start date. The updated renewal schedule should make it easier for you to manage your business by aligning with monthly billing cycles and promotions.

Manage your Good ‘Til Cancelled listings in Seller Hub
In addition to the new calendar-month renewal for Good ‘Til Cancelled listings, the “Start date” column on the Seller Hub Active Listings page now includes not only the date you listed the item, but also the length of time the listing has been active. Most sellers cannot see the “Start date” column because it’s not visible by default. To make the column visible, you must customize your Active Listings page. Another column that may not be visible by default but which you can also customize is an “End date” column, which, for Good ‘Til Cancelled listings, means the auto-renewal date.

2) Easily relist cancelled items and remorse returns for single-quantity listings
Starting in May 2019, when you successfully complete a cancelled item or remorse return for a single-quantity listing we’ll provide you with a more convenient way to relist the item, which will help you resell the item and manage your business more efficiently. Upon completing a return or cancellation, a checkbox will be preselected for you that defaults to an automatic relisting of your item.

3) State sales tax exemption is now available
If you buy on eBay and qualify for a tax exemption (e.g., resellers and charitable organizations), our buyer exemption system allows you to submit tax exemption information so that you can make purchases in marketplace responsibility states without paying sales tax. In order to verify tax exemptions applicable to your business for purchases on eBay, you will need to provide a valid state sales tax exemption certificate.

State sales tax requirement update
In October 2018, we announced that several states passed laws that require eBay and other online marketplaces to collect sales tax on taxable items mailed to addresses in those states. You can find current information about affected states on our Help page.

We collect the sales tax at checkout and itemize how much tax we collected and remitted in our Orders Report. The sales tax is collected automatically. There are no fees associated with these functions. For more information on eBay’s tax policy and your obligations, see our Tax policy and User Agreement.

4) Easier order management with updated order numbers
Starting in Summer 2019, we’ll introduce a more user-friendly order number format. We’ll attach the updated order numbers to each transaction on eBay, which will follow the transactions through their entire life cycles. The updated order numbers will appear in the “order details” section of your View Order Details page, Seller Hub, reports, emails, APIs, post-transaction records, and other locations over time, so you can efficiently track and manage your orders.

5) Final value fee cap increase for Basic and Premium Stores
Starting on June 1, 2019, we will increase the final value fee cap for Basic and Premium eBay Stores from $250 to $350. The final value fee cap for Anchor and Enterprise Stores will not change. Some exclusions may apply.

Final value fee increase for sellers not meeting performance expectations
Starting on June 20, 2019, we will increase the additional final value fees charged to sellers who have very high rates of “item not as described” returns and sellers who are not meeting minimum performance standards from 4% to 5%. See our selling fees article for information about how we calculate final value fees.

Link to Marketplace Update Page

Growth Tools

Don’t skip over this section – some of the changes could be helpful in attracting sales.

1) Expanded access to Promoted Listings plus new Seller Hub enhancements
Promoted Listings is now available to all sellers in good standing, even if you don’t have an eBay Store subscription. In addition, you can now create Promoted Listings campaigns quickly and easily on the Active listings page in Seller Hub, and monitor which items have sold via Promoted Listings on your Orders page. Promoted Listings can help boost your listings visibility on eBay and may help improve chances of conversion.

In addition, it’s faster and easier to promote listings when you “sell similar” or relist items that you previously promoted. Now your previous Promoted Listings settings will automatically apply when you “sell similar” or relist items, reducing steps and saving time.

You select your Promoted Listings ad rate and pay only when your item sells
A Promoted Listings fee is charged based on the ad rate you choose, which is a percentage of your item’s final sale price (excluding shipping and taxes). The fee is only charged when a buyer clicks on a promoted listing and purchases the item within 30 days of that click. Our guidance tools remove the guesswork by suggesting items to promote and at what cost. Detailed campaign metrics and sales reports are available to help you monitor and fine tune your Promoted Listings campaigns.

2) Best Offer and “Offer to buyers” enhancements in Seller Hub
Starting in May 2019, we’re making several improvements to help you take advantage of these features. Please check Seller Hub often for updates to your account.

New Best Offer and “Offer to buyers” features include:

  • Edit Best Offer in bulk. Apply Best Offer to multiple listings at one time in Seller Hub. When you enable Best Offer in bulk, you’ll also be able to set auto-accept and auto-decline thresholds. The auto-accept and auto-decline price you set using the bulk function will not change when you change the price.
  • Best Offer filter. Filter listings eligible for Best Offer on your Active Listings page in Seller Hub.
  • “Offer to buyers” filter. Filter listings eligible for “Offer to buyers” on your Active Listings page in Seller Hub.
  • Bulk “Offer to buyers.” Apply “Offer to buyers” to eligible listings in bulk on your Active Listings page in Seller Hub.

Note that readers may also wish to view this announcement about Seller Initiated Offers eBay announced on Thursday, May 9th.

3) New Volume Pricing listing and promotion features
With Volume Pricing, you can incentivize buyers to purchase two or more identical items at once by setting meaningful discounts for multi-quantity purchases (e.g., save 5% when you buy 2, 10% when you buy 3, etc.). We’re continuously enhancing Volume Pricing because it improves both seller and buyer experiences on eBay by driving multi-quantity purchases for sellers while helping buyers save money.

Sellers have asked us to give them the ability to edit and select the inventory they usually list with the Volume Pricing feature. Now you can add or remove inventory, and select your standard inventory from a convenient dropdown menu. An updated user interface makes it easier for you to create Volume Pricing promotions—even in the listing flow.

In addition, you can now create Volume Pricing promotions for similar items with multiple variations (e.g., color or size) in a single listing, and set discounts for minimum quantity purchases, even if the purchases are not for identical items.

Link to Growth Tools Page

Managed Payments

eBay used the opportunity the Spring update provided to update sellers on Managed Payments.

We’re expanding managed payments with new payment options and features
In 2018, we announced our commitment to simplifying the buying and selling experience on eBay with managed payments, which will enable you to manage your payments information and operations all in one place on eBay, and offer buyers more ways to pay when they purchase your items. Managed payments is currently available on a limited, invitation-only basis and we will expand the experience to more sellers in the future.

We’ll continue to add new payment options to existing methods that already include credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, and ApplePay. We recently added Google Pay to managed payments, and we are now making PayPal and PayPal Credit available. We’re starting small and, in the coming weeks, we’ll continue to test and scale PayPal to ensure a seamless and successful seller and buyer experience.

Additional support for seller refunds
Starting in July 2019, you will also be able to issue a refund to a buyer for a percentage of the order amount of your choice, up to 100%. You can do this directly from Seller Hub or our APIs. This feature will give you flexibility to manage refunds in addition to how you manage cancellation requests or send a partial refund through a return request today.

Another piece of news regarding Managed Payments: “Starting in July 2019, you will also be able to issue a refund to a buyer for a percentage of the order amount of your choice, up to 100%. You can do this directly from Seller Hub or our APIs. This feature will give you flexibility to manage refunds in addition to how you manage cancellation requests or send a partial refund through a return request today.”

See the full announcement on the following page.

Link to Managed Payments Page

Inventory Optimization

eBay announced category changes and item specifics updates. Sellers who list in “Other Books” and in the Home & Garden category should pay special attention to new requirements.

Category changes and item specifics updates
Starting on June 10, 2019, category changes including additions, removals, and renames, and new and recommended item specifics in some categories will go into effect. Category and item specifics updates will create more intuitive buying, selling, and search experiences and bring eBay into closer alignment with industry-standard classifications. The updates will also help international buyers find your items.

If you listed an item on eBay.com in any of the below categories, you may be impacted by changes, in which case eBay will automatically move your listing to the most relevant category.

Business & Industrial
Cell Phones & Accessories
Computers/Tablets & Networking
Consumer Electronics
Everything Else
Home & Garden
Pet Supplies
Sporting Goods
Video Games & Consoles

Starting on June 10, 2019, we’ll no longer accept new or revised listings in the Other Books category. The majority of books listed in Other Books would be better placed in a more relevant category, such as fiction or nonfiction. By choosing the “best fit” category for your books, your listings will be more visible and relevant to buyers.

See the full announcement on the following page:

Link to Inventory Optimization Page

More Information on the Spring Seller Update

eBay provided an overview in its April 30th announcement board post, introducing the changes as follows: “In the 2019 Spring Seller Update, we’re expanding our seller protections, introducing powerful marketing tool enhancements, giving buyers more ways to pay, and making it easy to relist returns. We’re also helping you manage your business on eBay more efficiently with greater Seller Hub convenience so you’ll have more time to focus on growing your business.”

You can listen to an April 30th podcast about the Spring Update changes featuring Jay Hanson (VP and COO, eBay Americas); Harry Temkin (VP of Seller Experience); Alyssa Cutright (VP Global Payments); Kristi Diemoz (Sr. Manager, Go To Market Strategy); and Gary Fullmer Sr. Director, Global Trust. And you can view three Facebook Live videos from May 1st.

Link to the main eBay Spring 2019 Update page

Forums Dedicated to Spring Update
This is worth perusing to understand the questions and concerns sellers expressed about the latest eBay Seller Update.

Updates to the eBay User Agreement (April 30, 2019)

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/.