Managing buyer expectations is critical, especially on a marketplace like eBay where buyer-seller tensions can run high, and sellers live and die by the feedback they receive. So informing buyers of when they can expect their item to be delivered is all-important.
But is eBay getting it right?
In the past week alone, we've heard from eBay sellers who have problems with the way the marketplace displays delivery estimates to shoppers. One pointed to this article in the Washington Post
that talks about the slowdown in first class mail delivery.
Referencing the article, the seller wrote. "I am a very small seller on eBay and have certainly noticed an uptick in complaints from folks about longer delivery times. I am not sure if eBay had adjusted their delivery time estimates, which now seem rather unrealistic. They might consider doing so."
It's not just the USPS slowdown from processing-plant closures that impact speed of delivery. Weather, holidays, glitches and mistakes can all conspire to slow shipments - and can throw off eBay estimated delivery dates significantly.
Today's Washington Post article noted, "Postal officials have said that severe winter storms had a significant impact on performance results for many service standards, slowing trucks from driving mail to post offices or airports, where it was flown out."
Holidays can also impact delivery time, and eBay famously goofed
recently, acknowledging on its UK announcement board on March 31st that it had forgotten to account for the Easter holiday when calculating shipping dates in sellers' listings.
A seller posted an Ecommerce EKG report
of a technical issue on Thursday - they noticed eBay was promising 2-day shipping on all of the listings they studied (on Sunday, they said the problem appeared to be limited to shoppers using Google Chrome on a Windows XP machine).
Interestingly eBay takes into account the buyer and seller location when estimating delivery. When eBay announced
it would introduce that factor in calculations in the UK, it explained, "We are making this change to improve the accuracy of delivery estimates. The delivery address postcode used to estimate the date of delivery will be shown along with the item estimated delivery date on the view item page."
Clearly if eBay is too optimistic with delivery estimates, that can lead to buyer disappointment and negative feedback for sellers. But on the other hand, if eBay is too conservative with delivery estimates, it could reduce sales if shoppers determine it will take too long to receive their items.
Do you think eBay should be displaying an estimated delivery date to shoppers at all? Or should it be left up to sellers to indicate in their listings how long it takes them to ship?
What other shipping issues are you encountering, and what are your tips and techniques for dealing with them?