In an unusual move, eBay announced a raft of changes in addition to their standard spring and autumn changes. Some of these are very important and have significant implications.
1. From August 1st 2017 eBay will charge VAT on all eBay fees.
IMPACT: If you are VAT registered already this won’t make much difference as the VAT will be shown separately and will be an input on your VAT returns.
For smaller business sellers this will have more impact, as they won’t be able to reclaim the VAT.
The real losers will be those “businesses” who are registered with eBay as a business seller but are not registered with HMRC – they will also have to pay the VAT and not be able to reclaim it. This may hopefully reduce the numbers and therefore the competition.
2. More changes to listing and shop template rules:
The first big deadline for Active content is June 7th – on that date listings with Active Content will not have those elements shown. Later in the year eBay has stated that it will end listings with Active Content but we haven’t had a date yet.
IMPACT: As long as your template has no Active Content there is no impact
3. From September 2017 eBay will no longer allow any contact details to be shown in either the listing or shop front templates. Many people rely on this phone and email facility in order to speak directly to customers, and this move will have a big impression. Contact details will still be available at the bottom of every listing in the business seller details section, but these are not obvious, particularly on mobile.
IMPACT: If there are any details in your existing template and shop front then these will need to be amended before September.
4. There has been clarification about some code links, namely the target=blank issue.
IMPACT: Any templates without this attribute will have to be changed so that any links open in a new window, even links to another eBay page (for instance your shop front).
5. From autumn this year eBay will reward sellers with higher search results if they offer FREE 30 DAY RETURNS. 30 day returns are already important to attain Top Rated Seller status, but adding in free returns (when buyers change their minds) is an extra step. Listings with this return policy will be highlighted in search results and buyers will be able to filter results by this policy too.
IMPACT: Buyers very clearly find free returns an attractive proposition, and the research across the Internet shows that it is an important factor in buyers making a decision on whether or not to buy in the first place. It’s one of the things they check before deciding on a purchase.
6. From August 2017 the late delivery rate requirement for eBay Top-rated Sellers will drop from 4% to 3%. Your seller standards dashboard status preview will reflect the new threshold starting from 20 July.
IMPACT: This should not make too much difference to good sellers who stay below the maximum at the moment, and will impact most on sellers who don’t pay much attention to this metric anyway. So it’s good news for good sellers.
7. Changes to Delivery metrics- International:
From August 1st, eBay will only count each transaction towards EITHER your global standards OR your UK, USA etc standards – not both. Also they will drop the bar down regarding deliveries to emerging markets, “provided you let eBay know the item has been dispatched on time and make it right with the buyer if any problems occur.”
IMPACT: This is a bit vague, as we don’t have a list of emerging markets countries, nor clarification of making things right with the buyer, but it’s a step in the right direction.
8. eBay is migrating all sellers to the Seller Hub this autumn.
IMPACT: Minimal disruption as most sellers are already using this useful interface.
9. From 31 July 2017, eBay are removing the option for sellers to opt their images out of the eBay catalogue. This is a similar system to Amazon, where most images are available to all sellers. eBay are doing this to encourage sellers to use the catalogue, and also to allow them to promote the site using your images.
IMPACT: This change will need some analysing – on the one hand there’s not much you can do about it, and there may be an upside – if your images are good they could be chosen to represent a category or product to a very wide audience through Google or TV advertising. On the downside, it means other sellers will be able to use your images if they are in the eBay catalogue. This may contravene the UK Copyright law, and rumours say there are some legal challenges being prepared by bigger sellers who have invested heavily in product photography.
One option may be to obviously watermark your images, but apart from then presenting an unattractive and possibly confusing image, it won’t stop some unscrupulous sellers using the image anyway. This then leads to confusion from buyers as to who is actually selling the item.