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From the Editor – November 10, 2019

EcommerceBytes Editor Ina Steiner
EcommerceBytes Editor Ina Steiner

John Donahoe stepped down as CEO of eBay in July of 2015 and got a gig at ServiceNow, an enterprise cloud company. Last month came the surprising news that he is taking over the top spot at Nike.

Meanwhile returning eBay executive Jordan Sweetnam posted a second direct message to sellers through the eBay Announcement Board. As we pointed out on the EcommerceBytes Blog, he said the company allows sellers to build their brand on eBay. That raised eyebrows, and we opened it up to discussion to see if sellers agreed.

Sellers also discussed the news on Facebook, and the following excerpt from one seller’s comment shows some people are willing to give eBay the benefit of the doubt:

“Back in the day, power seller store owners were given a personal eBay rep who was also a seller. We would be called once a month for brainstorming sessions, what works, what doesn’t, ways to grow, etc. Those sessions and information were invaluable and really helped our business grow.We’re hoping with this announcement and the right people in place, we’ll return to eBay and its sellers (customers), working hand in hand. We still have faith after 22 years.”

Here’s your chance to weigh in on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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Small sellers are dealing with numerous challenges – ever higher shipping costs, the hassles of online sales tax, pressure to offer free shipping and generous return policies – all these things squeeze already tight margins.

PayPal jumped on the bandwagon, rolling out a new costly refund policy last month – but we learned during the company’s quarterly earnings call with Wall Street investors that some large merchants are exempt from the policy.

Sellers must also compete with Promoted Listing Ads as they struggle to get visibility in search results. In today’s issue, we talk to Kenshoo Senior Vice President Margo Kahnrose to see if ads are becoming a necessity for sellers on eBay, Etsy, Amazon.

Believe it or not, it’s time to talk about holiday shipping deadlines! Four weeks from Friday (December 13) is the deadline for shipping packages via UPS Ground in order to arrive before Christmas. Because the holiday falls on a Wednesday this year, sellers may reasonably accept orders up until Monday the December 23rd if they offer expedited shipping. However, some sellers close their online shops well before then, not wanting to deal with cranky shoppers (or cranky marketplaces).

Right after the holiday shopping season comes the season of annual rate increases, including rate hikes from the three major shipping carriers. In January 2020, USPS is raising Priority Mail rates an average of 4.1%; FCPS is going up by 2.6% on average, and USPS Retail Ground is going up by 3.9%.

UPS, meanwhile, is working hard to offer online sellers an alternative to the popular USPS services through its UPS Digital Access Program, reaching sellers through online platforms and shipping service providers. UPS is also now promoting UPS Simple Rate. In today’s issue, we take a closer look and pick the brains of some experts to find out when sellers should consider shipping using flat rate services.

Today’s Collectors Corner column looks at Belsnickel (if you’re a fan of The Office, you may be familiar with this Christmas character), and we end with letters to the editor.

Don’t forget there’s no mail delivery in the US and Canada on Monday. Happy Veterans Day, Happy Remembrance Day, Happy Armistice Day! 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). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.