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How Sellers Can Succeed on eBay in 2017

Sellers are no longer limited to foot traffic. Today you can reach massive amounts of buyers worldwide through online marketplaces.

But selling through marketplaces comes with its own challenges — you have to be aware of the rules of the platform. For marketplaces to maintain their busy site traffic, they have to monitor and update their policies and features to keep consumers satisfied and loyal.

This is especially true for eBay, where sellers have the opportunity to sell a huge breadth of items—more so than other online marketplaces. To maintain a useful and trustworthy marketplace with such a wide range of potential for sales, eBay has rolled out many seller updates in 2017. Sellers need to stay in the loop on eBay’s updates to create the best possible experience for their customers.

Without implementing eBay’s changes to provide buyers with the highest-quality service, sellers hurt their reputation and drive customers away.

To help sellers navigate eBay’s changes, we’ve created a guide to cover the most important updates of 2017. We’ve organized our guide by three update categories: customer service, seller fees, and product visibility.

Staying up to date on the changes in each of these areas will allow you to keep buyers happy and sell more products on eBay.

Customer Service Updates

With 170 million active users, eBay knows how to keep and grow buyers on their marketplace. One way eBay successfully retains users is by constantly iterating on their platform to improve the customer journey. The marketplace has already made several changes in 2017 to create a more seamless and safe buying experience, such as expanding guaranteed delivery service, facilitating returns, and updating buyer-seller communication tools.

Guaranteed delivery expanding

eBay announced in their Fall updates that they are expanding Guaranteed Delivery to all buyers. With Guaranteed Delivery, buyers know with certainty when their purchased eBay items will arrive.

eBay has updated their search options so that buyers can filter their results by guaranteed delivery dates. Mobile users will be able to use a toggle to filter their searches for Guaranteed Delivery-backed searches.

  • What’s important: Guaranteed Delivery allows sellers to keep customers happy with on-time deliveries. With the feature now being searchable by buyers, having listings with Guaranteed Delivery will also mean more product visibility for sellers.
  • How sellers should respond: To attract buyers who want definite delivery dates, sellers should consider qualifying for Guaranteed Delivery by checking out the feature’s requirements.

Automatic return requests

Beginning in October 2017, eBay will automatically accept requests and provide buyers with a return shipping label for buyers that have paid for return shipping. If you provide free shipping or have opted to pay for shipping labels, eBay will only automatically accept return requests if the seller hasn’t responded to the request within three business days.

  • What’s important: Though eBay may automatically accept a return request for products with a return policy, sellers can still list products as non-returnable. However, sellers who do not allow returns risk losing potential buyers given the demand for easy online shopping returns.
  • How sellers should respond: Sellers should review their return preferences and customize their automatic return and refund settings for their needs. For example, sellers can create a basic rule to always accept returns on clothing items that don’t fit.

Only use eBay messaging for buyer-seller communication

Beginning this month, sellers are no longer allowed to include their contact information (such as email addresses, phone numbers, and social media profile links) in their item listings, titles, or other eBay pages. Instead, buyers and sellers should only communicate through eBay messaging services.

  • What’s important: With this update, eBay is making their marketplace safer by reducing the chance of personal information being exploited.
  • How sellers should respond: Sellers should remove any prohibited contact information from their listings (otherwise eBay will prevent them from being relisted) and familiarize themselves with eBay messaging. Sellers can communicate with other eBay users by clicking the Messages tab under their My eBay profile.

If you have trouble remembering to check your eBay messaging, avoid hurting your seller performance by setting a daily reminder to respond to buyer messages.

Seller Fee Updates

eBay can’t maintain the high level of activity and the safety of its marketplace at zero cost. According to the company’s website, eBay raised final value fee rates and decreased seller discounts in 2017 to invest more in enhancing their buyers’ and sellers’ experiences on the platform.

While these changes may seem like a slight blow to sellers, the updates will help eBay support activity and safety and improve the customer experience. In the long run, they will enable sellers to be even more successful on eBay.

Final value fee increases

Final value fees increased for eBay store subscribers in May in 4 of the 5 product categories.

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eBay also increased the final value fees by 4% for sellers who don’t meet their performance standards.

  • What’s important: Though a .15% increase may seem minimal, these fee changes will add up for sellers who have multiple listings.
  • How sellers should respond: Store subscriber sellers should revise their budgets to fit these fee increases. Sellers who are charged higher final value fees due to poor performance should make a plan for meeting eBay’s minimum seller requirements. Two initial steps might be reading and following eBay’s selling best practices and setting a reminder to check your seller dashboard regularly and monitor your performance.

Restocking fees no longer allowed with free returns

Starting in 2018, sellers will no longer be permitted to charge restocking fees with free returns. Sellers who do not offer free returns will still be able to charge a 10%, 15%, or 20% restocking fee.

  • What’s important: By prohibiting restocking fees with free returns, eBay is trying to maintain their consumers’ trust. Buyers usually don’t appreciate being charged a restocking fee for a “free” return item.
  • How sellers should respond: Sellers who offer free returns should update their budget to not reflect the removal of restocking fees.

Decrease in eBay top seller discount

eBay decreased the Top Rated seller discount on final value fees from 20% to 10% this spring.

  • What’s important: To justify the update, eBay stated that the change reflects their investment in helping sellers grow their business. Still, top rated sellers might be annoyed at getting their discount cut in half in return for their stellar performance.
  • How sellers should respond: Top rated sellers should adjust their budgets to reflect this cut in the final value fee discount.

With these updates, sellers need to check how these fee changes will impact their budget and plan accordingly.

Product Visibility Updates

Most products on eBay are not one-of-a-kind — they are competing with plenty of other listings featuring the same or similar products. To stay afloat in this competition, sellers have to find ways to increase the exposure of their products and make them stand out to buyers.

Luckily, eBay has released several search and product listing changes that will make it easier for sellers to increase their listings’ visibility.

Increased visibility for special return listings

Starting this summer, eBay began increasing exposure for listings with free returns or 30 and 60 day returns with two updates: allowing buyers to search for and filter by these return options, and by featuring listings with these return policies in eBay marketing campaigns.

  • What’s important: eBay recognizes that there is a strong buyer demand for listings that accept returns. To keep attracting consumers, the marketplace is incentivizing accepting returns on your products with this update.
  • How should sellers respond: Sellers who aren’t currently offering free returns or 30 and 60 day returns should consider adopting these policies. Being able to return online products has become a norm, so sellers offering some sort of return will keep their listings attractive to buyers. Not to mention, eBay’s increased exposure for listings with these return policies is a huge plus for sellers.

Promoted listings now available for single items

Promoted listings used to be limited to multiple-quantity listings, but now sellers can promote fixed price single-quantity listings in the following categories: Sports Mem, Cards & Fan Shop, Stamps, Antiques, Consumer Electronics, Art, Video Games & Consoles, Musical Instruments & Gear.

  • What’s important: Expanding eligible promoted listings to single items will allow more sellers greater product visibility. With promoted listings, sellers’ products are displayed in front of more active shoppers.

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eBay’s promoted listings are easy and risk-free— you only pay if your ad results in a sale.

  • How should sellers respond: To use Promoted Listings, you have to be an eBay store subscriber or a Top Rated Seller. Sellers who qualify can set up campaigns manually or in bulk and use eBay’s dashboard metrics to measure ad results.

Third-party product listing ads replaced by promoted listings

Starting in May, eBay removed third-party product listing ads across the marketplace. These ads were replaced with eBay sellers’ promoted listings.

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  • What’s important: It should be noted that eBay is removing third-party product listing ads, not all third-party ads. Still, this update will benefit sellers by creating more opportunities for product exposure.
  • How sellers should respond: This update is another great reason for sellers to start using Promoted Listings, if they aren’t already. Sellers can learn more about the eligibility requirements for Promoted Listings here.

Stay Up-to-Date to Sell More

Without knowing where eBay has made changes for improvement, sellers can’t fully utilize the marketplace for providing the best customer service. Staying informed on the marketplace’s updates allows sellers to make any necessary adjustments. By refining their practices and strategies based on eBay’s changes, sellers can take advantage of the benefits of selling on eBay and create the best possible experience for their customers.

Michael Ugino Michael Ugino is the co-founder & CMO of Sellbrite. A former IR 300 merchant, Michael hails from South Carolina but now lives in California. He'd be delighted for you to connect with him on Twitter.