eBay sellers should make sure the tools they use aren't slated for the chopping block as the company prepares to shut down the eBay app store
, aka the eBay Apps Center.
eBay had opened its platform to third-party developers in 2008 through a program called Open eBay Apps so that its buyers and sellers wouldn't have to leave eBay to use third-party tools - a revolutionary move for the company at the time. Ten years later, it's killing the program.
eBay sent an email to developers on Friday informing them it would begin notifying sellers of the program's closure this week. In its letter, eBay said it had decided to end the program "for business reasons," saying its ability to maintain the eBay Apps Center had declined.
Some developers will be impacted more than others. One developer who did not wish to be named said sellers would have to find his company's solutions on its website since they won't be available on the eBay app store. His company plans to end some tools and add others as a result. A big advantage to the program was that the apps were approved and verified by eBay, which acted as an endorsement, he said.
Christian Little, a spokesperson for inkFrog, said his company's tools can be accessed directly on the inkFrog
website. In addition, inkFrog is available on the app stores of other ecommerce platforms, including Shopify and BigCommerce, he noted.
"There are some truly amazing apps in Open eBay Apps and I'm sure most of the creators of them have ways to people to continue using them without relying on eBay to make them available," Little said. "I would recommend to all sellers who are using apps found in Open eBay Apps to contact the creator of the app in question and see if they have alternative ways to continue using them."
eBay explained in its letter to developers that it had launched Seller Hub in 2016 and has been investing in and reinvigorating the eBay Developers Program with new APIs and technology. "We have continued to build on these new platforms to provide exceptional experiences for buyers, sellers, and developers."
"We know this is short notice," eBay continued in the email, "but there is nothing we can do about the hardware decommissioning." eBay recommended developers help subscribers migrate to their externally hosted application and advised them to make sure they had their own subscription and billing capabilities.
The Apps Center offered developers some obvious advantages in addition to subscription-management: it offered the promise of new-customer acquisition.
Little said some users came to inkFrog through Open eBay Apps, but it was not a huge amount. "I believe part of the problem was the apps were not really promoted or highlighted to eBay sellers," he said. "I think in theory it was a fantastic idea to have an app marketplace for eBay sellers and I hope that in the future eBay will revisit the idea but put more focus on making sellers more aware of its existence."
Brian Lawe, founder of MyStoreCredit.com, said his company's tool called MyStoreMaps
was one of the most popular tools on the eBay Open Apps platform. However, despite offering a free version, it has "thousands" of eBay sellers using MyStoreMaps - not "tens of thousands."
Lawe said he anticipated eBay's decision to close the program. "About three years ago, we built a duplicate path for our seller subscribers. We offered sign-up options on eBay as well as off-eBay," he said. "This strategy is paying off today because we can very quickly migrate all our eBay Open App sellers to our website service in two simple steps (setting their password on our site and completing a PayPal billing authorization on our site)."
was also prepared for this eventuality. Natasha Burns, Auctiva Product Manager, said her company had provided several apps through the eBay program over the years including an Auctiva Shipping Insurance and Auctiva Find & Replace app. "However, a few months ago when eBay made us aware of these changes, we discontinued those eBay Apps because we provide those services directly through Auctiva.com."
"We understand this can be quite a devastating announcement to some sellers," Burns said. "However for those who did use the Auctiva Insurance, or Find & Replace app, I'm glad to announce they can still get those services with any of Auctiva's plans."
eBay informed developers it would block new subscriptions to their Open eBay Apps on September 15th, and Open eBay APIs will cease to work shortly after October 1st. The program will be terminated entirely in late November.
eBay will inform subscribers (its buyers and sellers) about the program shutdown beginning this week and will direct them to the Apps Center landing pages to gain access to the externally hosted versions of the applications they use. eBay did not say for how long it would keep the eBay Apps Center landing pages active.
eBay did not respond to our inquiry asking how many sellers would be affected and how sellers could determine if the tool they use would be impacted by the closure of the eBay app store. Presumably they can check their eBay invoices, and anyone in doubt should contact the company offering the tool directly.
Note: David asked me to remind readers that you can find eBay tools through our EcommerceBytes Ratings hub, which allows users to rate and review ecommerce services and online marketplaces. Developers can submit and update their listings - use the Contact Us button if you have any difficulties updating your listing. This section is provided as a service to sellers. Update 9/7/18: A seller told us eBay customer service could not confirm the company was shutting the Apps Center, here's a link to the page eBay provided to developers.