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Online Sellers Guide to eBay Fall Seller Update 2020 Part 1

Online Sellers Guide to eBay Fall Seller Update 2020 Part 1

eBay announced the Fall Seller Update on September 9th, and some eBay sellers were surprised to receive a call from eBay about it. Reps were calling to ask whether sellers were aware of the new seller update and whether they had any questions or opinions.

There are some changes sellers should pay particular attention to: changes to Seller Protection; a new Time Away feature that replaces vacation settings; and the anonymization of both buyer and seller email addresses.

It’s also worth taking a look at changes to the eBay Seller Hub and the Promoted Listing advertising program.

A number of the changes eBay announced on September 9th had been previously rolled out or been announced – not exactly how Seller Updates are supposed to work – including the following:

  • Returns mandate for sellers enrolled in Managed Payments (link);
  • Required Item Specifics in additional categories (link);
  • Anonymization of email addresses (link);
  • Availability of UPS Shipping Labels (link);
  • More free listings (link);
  • Reduced commissions (Final Value fees) for luxury watches (link).

One recent change eBay made that was not included in the Fall Update – the addition of a “Great Price” badge in search results.

eBay said it had seen an increase in buyer engagement with Great Price items; “To become part of this program, we encourage you to adopt the eBay catalog, price your listings competitively, and offer a great service for your buyers.” You can view an image of the badge on the eBay announcement post. And on Friday (September 11), the eBay Inc. Tech blog wrote about the feature again, and said, “To become part of this program, we encourage sellers to adopt the eBay catalog, price your listings competitively and offer a great service for your buyers!”

As it usually does, eBay classified the Seller Update changes into “buckets.” We’ve hyperlinked the Fall Update’s four sections so you can go straight to the page on eBay where the changes are described in full detail:

In Part 1 of today’s guide, we cover 5 of the changes, and in Part 2, we cover an additional 9 changes. We scanned the eBay forums and included some questions and concerns sellers noted.

Part 1

1) Seller Protection Change
2) Time Away
3) Anonymized Email Addresses
4) Automating “Offers to Buyers” Feature
5) Availability of UPS in eBay Shipping Labels

Part 2

1) More Free Listings
2) Automated Returns Mandate
3) Seller Hub & Terapeak Updates
4) Promoted Listing Ads: Restricting Below-Standard Sellers
5) Promoted Listings Ads: Suggested Rates, Dashboard
6) Multi-User Account Access (MUAA) Authentication Requirement
7) Reduced fees for luxury watches
8) Managed Payments Update
9) Category and Item Specific Changes

1) Seller Protection Change

eBay is raising the bar for Money Back Guarantee protection. Currently eBay protects sellers from Item Not Received claims if they upload tracking by the required deadline. For items that sell for $750 or more, Signature Confirmation is required in order for the seller to be protected.

Starting October 19, 2020, the provision governing items $750 or more will no longer be calculated based on the item selling price, but rather, it will be based the order total – that will include all items purchased, taxes, and postage costs.

eBay told sellers, “Although you don’t need to take any action for this change, you may wish to consider the added costs when calculating your shipping pricing. If you don’t wish to purchase signature confirmation, you risk losing an eBay Money Back Guarantee case on that order.”

eBay classified this change under “Shipping,” you can find details on this page.

2) Time Away

eBay’s Vacation settings were notoriously inadequate, with sellers complaining for many years about being penalized for problems stemming from the feature’s shortcomings.

Now eBay has a fix: Time Away. It describes the benefits as follows:

The new Time Away settings give you new options when planning ahead to take a break from your eBay business or if you have to take an unexpected pause.

  • Unlike its predecessor, vacation settings, the Time Away settings are now available to all sellers.
  • With Time Away, you can hide and resurface your listings in almost real-time and reduce any time delay to a minimum which could negatively impact your business.
  • A new scheduling functionality will enable you to plan ahead and prepare well in advance.
  • Estimated delivery dates and dispatch due times will be adjusted when Time Away is scheduled for active listings. This means your buyers will receive realistic estimated delivery dates automatically without you having to manually change the time yourself.
  • Negative feedback related to shipments will automatically be removed when Time Away is turned on, provided you post any items by the updated estimated delivery date. If you need to take time off unexpectedly, you can set your Time Away to start immediately and within a few hours your estimated delivery date will be extended and your listings will be hidden, if you choose that option. It is important to remember to fulfil any prior selling obligations.

The FAQs describe an additional benefit: Buyers can send messages to you while you are away, but you can set an out- of-office auto responder.

Reaction to the new feature was positive, though keep in mind it only applies to fixed priced listings.

We do have one quibble with eBay’s statement that sellers can set the estimated delivery dates that are displayed to buyers. eBay wrote: “This means your buyers will receive realistic estimated delivery dates automatically without you having to manually change the time yourself.” In reality, sellers are unable to set estimated delivery dates on their listings – eBay uses an algorithm that considers a number of factors, including buyer and seller location, although some sellers have tried to influence the date by extending their handling times.

eBay said that as of the end of September, sellers will be able to access the new Time Away functionality by going to: Account Settings > Selling > Time Away.

You can find the FAQs on this page, and take a look at seller reaction on this thread on the Seller forums.

3) Anonymized Email Addresses

eBay will no longer share buyer and seller email addresses with each other in a transaction. eBay said it was making the change “as part of our ongoing effort to combat spam and phishing attacks and protect the privacy of eBay buyers and sellers.”

Instead, eBay will share an alias email address. “Now you can contact buyers using their alias email addresses and your “from” email address will also be hidden by an alias email address.”

Key to understanding the change: “Unique alias email addresses will be used for each buyer transaction. The same alias email address will be used for all transactions with the same buyer. Your seller ID will not be impacted.”

Some key points you may have missed in skimming the news:

  • eBay will anonymize seller email addresses as well as buyers’.
  • In the future, eBay will start to filter out spam and unsolicited emails, according to an eBay moderator.

We also noted an interesting exchange on the eBay discussion boards where a seller asked, “How long will the alias email address be active? I have cases where an item is not delivered internationally (or the customer didn’t pay the taxes) and it comes back to me 6 months later. I am not able to contact the buyer thru eBay messages that long after a sale so I rely on the email address on the customs form to contact them and use it to send them a refund.”

An eBay moderator responded, “Buyer/Seller email alias combinations will active for one year.”

In another exchange, a third-party developer asked, “International carriers typically ask for a recipient phone number or email for customs clearance and delivery. Many sellers still ship directly overseas on their own carrier accounts, rather than using GSP or eBay’s Intl shipping. Can the obfuscated email be used by the carrier? Will the recipient be able to respond directly to the carrier in response to such an email?”

To which the eBay moderator responded, “The carriers will be able to use the email alias to send an email to the buyers. However, the recipient won’t be able to correspond with the carrier.”

That could make international orders more challenging!

We first wrote about eBay’s new practice in this August blog post.

eBay covered the announcement on this page.

4) Automating “Offers to Buyers” Feature

eBay will allow sellers to automate the “Offers to Buyers” feature, allowing them to send more offers to buyers who have shown an in interest in their items.

“The new feature will also help you save time and steps by enabling you to continuously send offers to new and existing buyers. You will be able to set this option in the Send Offer flow with a simple toggle.”

eBay pointed to the Offers to Buyers help page, but a moderator noted on the forums that the page won’t be updated until the end of the week of September 13th.

If you’re not familiar with Offers to Buyers, you can watch this November 2019 video, though it doesn’t include information about the new automation feature.

eBay classified this update under Listing & Promoting, more details are available on this page.

5) Availability of UPS in eBay Shipping Labels

eBay is integrating domestic UPS shipping options (UPS Ground Shipping, Overnight Delivery and 2nd Day Air) into its shipping-label program. In case you missed the September 2nd announcement, eBay explained:

“When you go to My eBay, you will be able to print a UPS label on eBay.com the same way you print USPS and FedEx labels now. Tracking will automatically upload and you will be invoiced via your eBay monthly invoice.

“UPS rates through eBay Labels offer competitive pricing options and can help you save on UPS shipping costs.”

Sellers had a few questions that went unanswered on the eBay discussion board. One seller asked if the shipping cost would be an estimate, or if it would include all surcharges and possible surprise fees, writing, “In my experience with UPS shipping, they have done the same, attempting to charge me after the fact for surcharges that were not disclosed when I purchased the label and shipped the package.” And Shipscript went further, asking for additional clarification that went unanswered.

UPS shipping labels will be available to all sellers by late September, and it posted FAQs on this page.

Link to Online Sellers Guide to eBay Fall Seller Update 2020 Part 2

Links to eBay Fall Seller Update Announcement and Resources

eBay Fall Seller Update 2020 Announcement (September 9, 2020)

Main eBay Fall Update 2020 Landing Page

eBay Fall Update 2020 Timeline

eBay Fall Update 2020 Discussion Board

Do you have thoughts about the Fall Seller Update? Comment on this September 9th EcommerceBytes Blog post.

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/.

2 thoughts on “Online Sellers Guide to eBay Fall Seller Update 2020 Part 1”

  1. Greedbay is so funny. They call to find out if you have any questions and when you ask one they tell you they will get back with you in 48 hours with the answer. HA HA HA HA HA Their 48 hours are different than the 48 hours for the rest of us. STILL WAITING.

  2. I like how the UK eBay for Business YouTube channel accepts comments, and actually answers questions. The US eBay for Business channel blocks comments because they have no answers to give.

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