|Tue Feb 28 2012 11:34:28|
eBay's Spring 2012 Update: A Seller's Take
By: Julia Wilkinson
eBay just came out with their 2012 Spring Seller Update, and as always there is bound to be much discussion. There is some good news in this Seller Update but also some things that, from my perspective as a seller, are worrisome.
Pictures: eBay will offer free image hosting starting July 2nd. I use eBay image hosting and often use multiple pictures for my one-of-a-kind items, so that will help my bottom line.
However, starting this fall, all listings will be required to have at least one picture, and "additional quality standards for pictures will also be in effect." Uh-oh. "Additional quality standards" is a worrisome statement. In general, I don't think the "at least one picture" requirement will be a problem for most sellers; almost anything on eBay has at least one picture. The one which may impact some sellers is that when listing a used item, stock photos may no longer be used as the primary item photo for the listing (with the exception of Books, Movies, Music, and Video Game categories).
I don't think this will be a huge problem for sellers, as buyers of pre-owned items don't like surprises. However, it will make for extra work for sellers who use stock photos a lot for used items; and if you compare it to Amazon's model, it's tougher, because sellers of used books and other media frequently just type a description of whatever flaws there are, and piggyback on photos other sellers have provided or stock photos. This is one thing that makes selling on Amazon, from my perspective, so much easier.
Top-Rated Seller Program: 1 or Same-Day Handling Time and 14-Day Minimum Return Policy
Starting June 1, only those listings from Top-rated sellers that include these two services -- "1-day or same-day handling time, and a 14-day or longer return policy with a money-back option, will earn the 20% final value fee discount and the highest average boost in Best Match."
A one-day or less handling time is a pretty tight window (compare it to Amazon's requirement that items be shipped within two business days), but I would be interested in how eBay is going to calculate that one-day window. Will it be from the hour or rounded up? If a buyer orders something at 8 p.m. one night, does that mean the seller better have that thing ready to go for the mail carrier by the time he gets there the next day? (Bearing in mind, I am never sure what time my mailman is going to show up)?
The 14-day minimum return policy has many sellers of items such as clothing concerned. They worry the buyer will use this policy as a free "rental" period; wearing the item and then asking to return it after.
A Very Good Feedback Change: This one was really needed, and I think this is one of the most positive things to come out of this Update: "Feedback for unpaid items: Feedback left by a buyer with an unpaid item recorded for the transaction will be automatically removed from your record."
Great...thank you, eBay, and some might add, it's about time!
Feedback and Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs): "Beginning in April, eBay will give sellers an automatic 5-star DSR for Communication for transactions in which there is no communication between the seller and the buyer" - if the seller both specifies same-day or 1-day handling time, and uploads tracking information by the end of the next business day.
At first glance rewarding "no communication between the seller and the buyer" sounds counter-intuitive. But the assumption is, if all goes smoothly in a transaction, the seller ships on time, and automated notices go out, there should be no further communication needed.
In theory, I don't have a problem with this, but I'm concerned how this will play out in practice. Here's just one example: a buyer of a recent item of mine took longer than two days to pay, but before I was about to contact her with a reminder, she sent me a series of eBay messages to say that she was in fact going to pay, just needed a few more days; also, PayPal did not have her most current address, and could she send it to me, etc. I told her fine; she then paid within the window she'd promised and I got her new address via eBay message. This doesn't happen with every transaction, but sometimes buyers and sellers need to communicate things to each other outside the realm of "this item has shipped."
You can get more information about the specific Spring Seller changes in today's EcommerceBytes NewsFlash.
What is your take on the eBay Spring Seller Update? Do you think it's good, bad, or both, and why? Which changes will impact you the most, and why?