Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Apr 27 2015 20:42:49

As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?

By: Ina Steiner

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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?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?   As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Apr 27 21:11:12 2015

No.

They could, but they won't.

Otherwise they lose an opportunity to demote Top Rated Sellers and remove their discounts.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Apr 27 21:13:30 2015

Ina's hypothesis about delivery time and its effect on buyers is logical and well thought out.

Ebay, on the other hand, is seldom if ever logical and greed dominates their 'thinking' rather than common sense or logic.

They're hopeless.

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by: ebayclosed2016 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 27 22:41:29 2015

No, they don't care and why should they. WE take the hit. I did ask a few weeks ago how 3 day handling and 2 day delivery equals "delivered in 4 days" the answer was that was the information received from FEDEX. I was told to call FEDEX and ask them to change my handling time.... CLUELESS!  

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by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 27 23:08:20 2015

No, something is definitely up here. We just received an INR because the item wasn't there in 2 days via fast and free. We called Ebay and they indeed said there is a glitch right now that is showing free 2 day shipping on many listings. You guys better check your listings.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 27 23:26:54 2015

Thankfully, we are in NYC (Brooklyn) and our post office (11230 Midwood) is one of the busiest in regards to home based business. USPS takes special care of the hundreds of people dropping off packages. They are very rarely late or unscanned.

That being said - we are LUCKY - based on reports from other sellers I've seen reported here.

HOWEVER since the other 1/2 of this topic is eBay, AGAIN doing something WRONG ... I guess everyone knows the answers.

Everyone ALWAYS compares eBay to Amazon. Except that they ARENT the same. Amazon sells merchandise, eBay does NOT.

eBay lives or dies based on what their sellers do ... or dont do. eBay, having no "skin" in the game has ONE AND ONLY ONE plan. This is where that MONKEY that Meg once spoke of comes into play - blame the seller.

When ever ANYTHING goes wrong its never eBays fault. eBay is Teflon, always.

Got a skirt that doesnt fit - sellers fault.

USPS slow in delivering - sellers fault.

Google catch eBay doing it wrong - sellers fault.

Marketplaces sales dropping - must be the sellers fault.

Its a tired old broken record. eBay can easily adjust its estimates - but like with VERO and Shill Bidding, Fake items for sale in its listings, Theft ridden Returns Policy - they dont "have to", so they dont.

Why should eBay do ANYTHING except raise fees when they dont have to? When something goes wrong - just blame your seller - its that easy.

I print and ship everything same or next day - the end. What ever happens after that - I dont worry about. VERO and now Returns give me enough grey hair and high blood pressure - never mind ship times to eBays prissy customers.

Perminate Link for As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?   As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?

by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 00:28:22 2015

As usual, the perceptive Ming has it nailed right off the bat. eBay mis-management wouldn't give up a weapon they use against sellers.

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by: BobNJ This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 00:28:57 2015

Why should eBay give any expected delivery info? Why not just publish the tracking number like they do and leave the delivery estimate to the delivery service when the buyer checks the status. Then the delivery service can add delay info in the status as well.

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by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 00:37:38 2015

This glitch I'm talking about seems to be limited to those using Firefox.

Perminate Link for As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?   As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?

by: jazzbaby73 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 01:40:17 2015

I've notice my First Class mail has slowed dramatically. From 3 to 4 days to over 7.
I've also seen a huge upswing in handling errors. I've been selling for 18 years on ebay. Never had problems in the past. Now I'm encountering numerous packages going to wrong states, cities or limbo. It's becoming routine.
The USPS has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Their response to the problems is to ship Priority so that the packages are covered. Ebay and buyers push for cheap, fast postage. The post office pushes the more expensive option to be covered. We are all in a no win situation.

Perminate Link for As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?   As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?

by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 01:46:55 2015

A local sort facility is closing. The collection time moved from 5:30pm to 2:15pm (next town over moved from 8pm to 3:15pm). Now instead of getting orders together at 3pm, I have to start a little after noon. And anything after about 1:45pm probably isn't going to make it out the same day.

And whats with returns? I never used to get returns, now I get a "return request" about 3 out of 70 orders a month. When I specifically state in my listings to "contact me if there is an issue before opening a return request". Things that there might have been a misunderstanding or maybe I need to ship a replacement or a part, its just "DEFECTIVE - SELLER PAYS!!!"

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This user has validated their user name. by: SalesBoy

Tue Apr 28 03:00:12 2015

I am a relatively small-time seller compared with the eBay Chi-Com junk retailers.  I ship out of the SE CT shoreline area, and I have had a virtually flawless history with USPS First Class & Priority shipments.  Based on many comments I've read here over the years it would seem I am just very, very lucky.

But, I'm an old geezer and believe in luck and coincidence less and less as the years go by.  I am fastidious in my shipment method.  I write a short personalized note on the invoice which I ALWAYS include in the package.  I make sure to get the packages out fast - very often on the same day.  I write ''Thank You'' on the label and highlight it. I put a decorative sticker on each package - often directly related to the item purchased.  My invoice also includes a pre-printed notice that my shipping rates are as low as the rising costs allow and that I have no control over the transit time.

Finally, I'll often take a quick look at the tracking for recent sales, and I'll email the buyer if the USPS is being slow or has misdirected the package - but this, truly, is rarely an issue.

All this probably sounds like overkill to many sellers. But, I think it all is just my way of spelling ''lucky''.

Perminate Link for As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?   As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?

by: AgendaSwallowsAll This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 04:09:09 2015

As of now all of our First Class packages are delivered in 2 days unless a weekend is involved and a once in a blue moon issue with Priority. There have been issues with Parcel Select so we try not to offer that service utilizing FedEx  instead even though it requires a drive for drop-off.

Not a defense of JD & Co., it's not their place to be making any guarantee on a delivery date as such an action among many others now set in place says we're employees of the company. We can be demoted ( listings buried ), have payments held and/or be banned from selling ( fired ) over the unreasonable expectations JD & Co. has planted in just enough minds to create such for even the best of sellers who made the site at a time we actually ran our own business.JD & Co. runs our businesses now, I can assure you that makes us employees, not entrepreneurs, not independent business people or anything closely or even remotely related.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Apr 28 06:57:05 2015

My local news did a story on this last night as well.  USPS is clearly missing the mark on their promised delivery times.  People should be raising he** about this as it really affects their business and their metrics.

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by: MLG Jewelry This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 07:03:45 2015

No they cant get the delivery estimate right, they set sellers up to fail.  

We have items that have 5 day handling time on them and they show buyers they will have them in 3 days.  Its not clear if they are setting sellers up to fail, buyers up to be disappointed or both.  

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 07:06:32 2015

ebay cannot get anything right.  I doubt that they even try or care.

Perminate Link for As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?   As Mail Slows, Can eBay Get Delivery Estimates Right?

by: MrEdsDeals This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 07:57:56 2015

I know I just had a First Class Shipment go from  CA to NY, to San Antonio, TX, and then finally to Colorado, 11 days to get to the customer. The long round about way.
Thank goodness the customer was very understanding.
Also when I ship First Class Postage in the past it would be in the tracking system the same day. Now it show as if I delivered it to the Post Office the next day as opposed to the day that it was actually shipped. Goes to a different distribution center then inputted by the Post Office is what I was told by Postal Service.
I have had no issues with eBay over this in regards to not shipping in time!!!
Also I am a very small seller here, just to let you all know. I have not really had any bad experiences with eBay as stated by others.

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by: ewegolf This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 08:05:36 2015

It would also help if USPS.com quit stating First-class mail and parcels was 1 - 3 days.  The closing of sort centers is having a negative effect on other services.  Four of my last 5 two-day Priority Parcels (from Utah) to the San Diego area have taken three days.  

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by: WhoKnewIt This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 08:29:39 2015

In the last month I made 2 purchases and sent 1 package.  The first purchase was going from New Jersey to Michigan, First Class....it took 11 days to get there.  The package sat in the Post Office in NJ for a week.  The second package was going from Florida to Michigan.  THAT package arrived in 14 days...IT "sat" in a Post Office in FL for 9 days.  The package I mailed (Priority and heavily insured) was going from Missouri to Tucson Arizona....it ended up in Provo Utah.  The zip codes are nothing alike.  It took myself and my local Post Office Manager 3 weeks to "find" it.  When I requested a refund from the Post Office because the package did NOT arrive in the time stated when I purchased the Priority 1-3 day postage the answer I got was "no, we don't refund on that because the package DID arrive".  "When Priority states 1-3 days it doesn't MEAN that it can't be late".  HUH?  Needless to say, I didn't get my money back.  I'm sending my next mail via Homing Pigeon...at least I know it'll get there.....completely disgusted with the P.O.  And FedEX is pulling a close second on that list...

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by: Dragonfyree This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 28 08:40:06 2015

My first class mail is also taking longer to be delivered.

The big question is ''Why is Ebay even putting delivery times out there?''  

As long as the seller is mailing withing their listed time period, Ebay should mind its' own business and stay out of it, until it goes into the INR area.    

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 28 09:07:55 2015

I personally don't see any point in giving out delivery estimates. Most of the ones I've seen are wrong. If a seller wants to give a broad estimate to a buyer, that is one thing, but for the venue to do so it is something different. None of the venues know if your PO closes at noon or 5 on Saturdays. Then don't know that immediately upon receipt of an order a fierce storm has hit. During the wicked winter we just had, I was able to get my mail into the mail stream, but that didn't mean the PO trucks could actually get the mail through in certain areas with its usual speed.

Ecrater never gives any buyer an estimated delivery date. If a buyer asks how long something will take then I give them a rough estimate, but delivery times are just that; rough estimates. And I tell them to follow along with the DC#.

I had an email on Saturday demanding a cancellation of an order that had shipped several days before. The buyer had misread the estimated delivery times as the estimated ship times and she didn't want to wait that long for the item to SHIP. When I checked USPS tracking I found that her item had been delivered less than 2 hours after she had written to me. She had the DC number and could have looked it up to see what was happening, but choose what to her apparently was the easiest route. Because another venue gave her estimated dates she wanted to cancel an order. I wonder how many other sellers end up with the same problem, but don't get told by the buyer the real reason they want to cancel or want a refund or return. BTW the lady’s package had an estimated delivery date starting at tomorrow and going on into May sometime. So she got her package almost 5 days PRIOR to the first estimated delivery date!

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