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Recently, eBay launched the Summer 2018 update and with it came a raft of changes, most of which stemmed from the Spring 2018 Seller Update outlined in our recent post. With this update, eBay has revamped the user shopping experience to help buyers find their products, automated returns to save processing time, and offered new eBay Stores subscriber discounts and benefits. The main objective of this release is simplified selling on eBay. 

This particular update focuses on four areas, which are:

 

  • Inventory Optimization
  • Selling Metrics & Shipping
  • eBay Stores
  • Simplified Returns

Inventory Optimization: Categorize Everything

With the launch of eBay’s Spring Seller update, eBay began transitioning to a product-based shopping experience, starting with assigning products to categories. With this update, eBay have released the remaining set of categories that listings can be classified under.

Don’t worry too much about which category to classify your products into since eBay’s free-to-use Seller Hub and My eBay will show recommendations on your existing listings that need to be updated in order to comply with the new requirement of the categories below:

  • Cardio Equipment
  • Cell Phones & Smartphones
  • Computers/Tablets, Networking Tablets & eBook Readers
  • Humidifiers
  • Internet & Media Streamers
  • Major Appliances
  • Portable Fans
  • Programmable Thermostats
  • Small Kitchen Appliances
  • Space Heaters
  • TV, Video & Home Audio: Internet & Media Streamers
  • TVs
  • Voice-Enabled Smart Assistants

From mid-August 2018, eBay will provide sellers with the ability to suggest edits in the catalog to products that they may feel are inaccurate or missing critical information. Sellers will also be able to suggest new products to be added to the eBay catalog.

Note: eBay will require catalog adoption starting mid-September 2018 so it is strongly advised for sellers to update their listings in order to avoid any disruptions.

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A cheat-sheet for using the new category option by eBay.

Category changes including additions, removals, and renames will go into effect July 31, 2018. According to eBay, the purpose of the category changes is to provide a more intuitive buying, selling, and search experience.

For those interested, if you have a listing in a category impacted by these changes, eBay will automatically move your listing to the most relevant category. Click on the category name below here to view category and item specifics changes.

What happens if you want to change the category of a listing? Not to worry, eBay has a provided a short guide on how to do this which can be found here.

Selling Metrics & Shipping: Improved Feedback & Analytics

 

From the Spring Seller Update, eBay started providing sellers with increased visibility into their buyers’ after-sale requests. The purpose of this was to help sellers identify listings which weren’t meeting buyer expectations. Starting in July 2018, eBay will enhance this feature by providing competitive insights using service metrics and peer benchmarks that will help sellers assess their performance. This will be found in a new section in Seller Hub called Service Metrics. The metrics will show you:

 

  • How often you receive return requests for “items not as described.”
  • How often you receive buyer requests for “items not received.”
  • Peer benchmarks—comparisons to sellers of similar items.
  • Insights into why buyers are making after-sale requests, and tips to reduce requests.

 

We advise sellers to take full advantage of these metrics as they will help you reduce after-sale buyer requests, which are time-consuming, costly to service, and often result in refunded sales.

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A sneak-peak into eBay’s new seller performance metrics.
From September 2018, if sellers have very high occurrences of poor buyer experiences, they will be notified via email and may be subject to extended estimated delivery times and additional fees.

To make sure you’re meeting eBay’s minimum selling requirements, check your seller dashboard regularly.

Be aware, buyers expect to receive their orders on time, especially when they pay additional fees for expedited shipping services. So before you create a listing, always determine the cost, tracking availability, and delivery speed of the shipping service option(s) you plan to offer. For example, you should know the differences between One Day, Expedited, Standard, and Economy shipping options and understand free default shipping and paid shipping options that you want to offer in your listings.

Starting July 31, 2018, all sellers will be required to provide a valid zip code for their item’s shipping location when they list. The reason for this is that eBay believes valid zip codes will help provide buyers with more accurate delivery estimates.

Note: If the item you’re selling is located in multiple locations, outside of the US, or you use freight, you will not be required to provide zip codes in your listings.

eBay Stores: Standardized Selling on eBay

 

From May 2018, eBay started moving Stores without custom content to the new Stores experience. Stores falling into this category will be updated to a new URL: https://www.ebay.com/str/StoreName. If this applies to you, you might be wondering if you will need to manually change your old store’s URL links. The answer is “no”. Your previous Store URL will automatically redirect to the new URL with no action required on your part.

Stores with custom pages will be updated to the new experience later this year. While, stores with custom storefronts will be updated in 2019. This means now is your last chance to customize your store using 3Dsellers’ Store Designer and give your business a competitive advantage over those who missed out. Furthermore, all sellers using eBay’s new store layout will have sponsored areas of other shoppers which no seller wants. Therefore, it’s a great opportunity to use store designs we provide within this limited window of opportunity.

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An example of what’s on offer in 3DSellers Store Designer.

As noted in our last article, from June 2018 eBay will provide eBay Stores subscribers valuable new features that will help them manage their Store. They include:

 

  • New merchandising opportunities
  • Enhanced mobile experience
  • HTTPS security

 

eBay have also added new benefits and discount programs with no additional cost to all Stores subscribers, the most notable of which is free marketing support. This will give sellers free co-branded promotional material for their physical storefront from eBay Always Open and support to help drive online traffic to their eBay Store. You can read more of these benefits and discounts here – note that most of these are for add-on services with a free trial period.

From late-June 2018, the following features will be removed because the functionality is either outdated or included in the new Stores management experience:

 

  • Recommendations
  • HTML builder
  • Search Engine Keywords
  • Promotional flyer
  • Favorite Seller Top Picks
  • RSS feeds
  • Promote similar items

 

Starting on June 25, 2018, all sellers will be required to list their item for 14 calendar days at the same price before they can create a markdown sale event with Promotions Manager. We recommend to list your item at a competitive price before you create a markdown sale event.

Simplified Returns: Domestic vs International Policies

From July 2018, eBay will automate two steps in the returns process for buyers and sellers. The changes will reportedly save up to a week of processing time for sellers and buyers.

ebay update
An overview of eBay’s new return procedure.
Another advantage of this new process is that it delivers a streamlined returns experience for buyers by providing them immediate access to return labels and faster refunds. There are two changes to the returns process sellers should be aware of:

1. eBay is expanding their returns automation and may immediately accept a return request by providing a return shipping label to a buyer when sellers receive a return request.

2. Sellers will now have two business days to review a returned item and issue a refund. If no action is taken, eBay may automatically issue a refund on the sellers’ behalf two business days after the tracking number shows a confirmed delivery status. At that time, eBay will close the return for the seller with no impact on the seller’s performance.

 

 

Sellers, however, can continue to control the efficiency of their returns process by creating rules in their Return Preferences to automatically approve returns or send immediate refunds without requiring the buyer to send the item back. 

Note: From August 2018, listings that have not been updated to one of the new returns policy options, including Good ‘Til Cancelled, will automatically be updated for sellers.

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An outline of eBay’s old return policy vs the new return policy.

 

Certain product categories have unique retail standards and sellers of those products will be able to offer variations on the updated returns policy options. Categories that will continue to have the option to offer 14-day returns include Collectibles & Art, Cameras & Photo and Medical, Mobility & Disability Equipment.

As noted in our 2018 Spring Seller Update article, when sellers offer free returns, they can now decide to issue partial refunds to buyers when the item is returned in an altered condition.

If sellers do not offer free returns, they will still be able to issue a partial refund for items returned in an altered condition in select categories including Business & Industrial, Parts & Accessories, Collectibles & Art, Cameras & Photo, Medical, Mobility & Disability Equipment, Home Improvement, Furniture, Musical Instruments & Gear, and Yard, Garden & Outdoor.

Starting late May 2018, sellers will have the flexibility to set separate return policies for their international transactions by updating their return options when they create or update a listing. For example, sellers can choose to offer free returns domestically, and in the same listing, offer paid returns to international buyers.

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A screenshot of eBay’s new Return Policy settings.


All in all, this update builds from the raft of changes initiated with the recent Spring Seller update. The main takeaways from this update are to ensure all listings are catalogued correctly, understanding how to use the new seller metrics to improve store performance, and learning to incorporate eBay’s new returns policy to domestic and international buyers. What is clear with this change is that eBay have successfully transformed its website to that of a virtual retail experience. Whether this update improves the buyer experience and increases the business of sellers, however, only time will tell. Happy selling everyone!

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