eBay is raising fees on May 1st, and in a bizarre twist, said it would use the revenue toward its marketing campaigns and to provide incentives to sellers to participate in its advertising program.
Also bizarre is the decision to increase costs for its best
sellers - Store subscribers and Top Rated Sellers who offer buyer-friendly policies that qualify them for TRS Plus discounts. There are no fee changes for non-Store or "Above Average" sellers, though there is a hefty fee increase for sellers who fall "Below Average." (See details of the changes in Tuesday's EcommerceBytes Blog post
"So I guess the message is-average performance is to be rewarded. Excellence will be punished," wrote one reader. "Typical eBay mentality."
As sellers slammed eBay's decision to raise fees, the company began refining its message about the reason for doing so. The initial messaging was vague and implied the higher fees were at the request of sellers:
"eBay Top Rated Sellers have told us they want more tools and options to grow their business. The changes we're making reflect our ongoing investment in helping them do just that and to ensure the best marketplace health and competition."
But as sellers (unsurprisingly) protested the higher fees, eBay said it planned to use the revenue to increase velocity and traffic in two ways:
- conducting more marketing to drive buyers to the site;
- and removing PLA ads that take shoppers off of the eBay site to sites like Norstrom, QVC, and Target.
Some sellers said eBay shouldn't need to raise their fees to fund its marketing campaigns, though many felt removing ads from search and listing pages that took sellers off of eBay was a positive development.
One reader, noting that fact that eBay's marketing tends to drive traffic to big brands, wrote "(eBay) is making small (eBay) businesses and hobby sellers pay for virtually all these marketing campaigns when it's the enterprise sellers who will benefit most."
Promoted Listings from eBay sellers will replace the PLA ads, and eBay threw Top Rated Sellers a bone, promising what amounts to a $10/month credit if they choose to advertise on its site. (Only Store subscribers and Top Rated Sellers will be able to buy Promoted Listing ads.)
The Spring Seller Update pages explain what's changing, but you'll have to watch the webcast
eBay held the day after the announcement to hear how executives explained the reasons behind the fee changes.
Perhaps because of eBay's nebulous messaging about the impact of the Spring Seller Update on fees, none of the usual tech publications that cover eBay picked up on the fee increases.
But the higher cost of selling on eBay come May 1st is sticking in sellers' craws. As one seller said, "Let's see. They beg us to sign a petition to lower shipping fees..all the while raising their fees."