How the update affects sellers?
In this post I will cover the most crucial elements of the eBay 2017 fall Update as well as insights on why some of these changes are actually fantastic for sellers and how you can leverage them to increase your sales on eBay.
Three elements – Listing visibility, Policy updates, Returns
The first thing you need to know is that the eBay seller fall update is divided into three main groups. Below I have summarized all the crucial elements of each category and afterwards I will explain what this means for you and your eBay business and how you can best be prepared for these changes:
1. Listing Visibility
- Gain additional listings exposure with eBay Guaranteed Delivery
- Markdown Manager is now part of the Promotions Manager
- Promote single-quantity listings in Promoted Listings
- List bundles and lots for greater visibility
- Give buyers information they need with Questions & Answers
2. Policy Updates
- Remove contact info and links that take buyers off eBay
- Secure your listings
- Expanded requirement for product identifiers
- Image policy changes
- Matching new listings to the eBay catalog
- Do not repeat returns information that appears in structured data in your returns policy details
But what do these changes mean practically and how do I benefit as a seller from the eBay Fall seller update 2017?
Now that I explained the structure and gave you a general idea of the updates let’s examine each one individually:
1. Exposure with eBay Guaranteed Delivery
Your listing’s visibility is deeply affected by the delivery times you offer your customers – I will explain this in depth in this section.
Let’s start by talking about Guaranteed Delivery, ebay is rolling out this feature due to increased customer demand – people want to know exactly when their items will arrive and expect them as soon as possible. If you get on the wagon earlier rather than later this can seriously help your products’ visibility as well as increase sales. Ebay will be introducing filters based on delivery dates as well as a Guaranteed Delivery toggle (which is no doubt an important part of the ebay app update 2017) meaning if you offer Guaranteed Delivery then you will enlarge your customer base.
Research shows that delivery time is crucial for shoppers. Take research about online shopping habits commissioned by UPS for example (see the infographic below):
“Transparency of Delivery Dates
- 60% of online shoppers say that an estimated or guaranteed delivery date is important at checkout.
- 42% of online shoppers report abandoning their shopping cart because of an issue with the estimated delivery date.
- 24% of these cart abandoners say they do so because an estimated delivery date was not provided.” – TYCHE Softwares, December 16, 2012
Based on this data, it’s highly likely that a large portion of shoppers will start filtering eBay search results by “guaranteed delivery” – on one hand this will help fast shipping sellers to stand out, even if they don’t have the lowest price / best feedback etc. On the other hand – sellers who won’t be able to offer guaranteed delivery are highly likely to see a decrease in traffic and sales.
2. Markdown Manager
The next eBay seller update is really one of convenience and efficiency both of which are very important when running a successful online store. Ebay has integrated the Markdown Manager with the Promotions Manager tool essentially simplifying and consolidating features. You will be able to mark down items (up to 10,000 items) and create sale events (up to 45 days) automatically using the same tool. This change seems marginal but with the right approach one can leverage this feature to increase sales by better correlating markdowns and sale events.
For those of you who are not yet familiar, this paragraph will explain a bit more about the markdown and promotion managers and (and the difference between them) how you can benefit from them as an eBay seller.
What is eBay Promotions manager?
Essentially the Promotions Manager is a tool which allows you to offer promotions on items to customers. Promotions can mean:
- Incentivizing shoppers by giving them discounts based on how much they spend (the more you buy the less you pay)
- Or codeless coupons which are unique links which usually offer customers a one time discount on specific products.
- You can have an increased revenue by using promotions to sell higher quantities at a time. For example: “Extra 25% off when you buy 4 or more.
You can also use this feature to get exposure and promote your shop since customers love a good bargain and are likely to click on your item even if they aren’t shopping for the item you are selling. Lastly, you can actually save money on postage seeing as if a customer buys larger quantities you can send all their items in the same package.
I’ve recently shared a similar method Cori O’steen from UpaknShip used to grow a $10M/ year business.
This tool is open to all sellers but ebay does note that item eligibility is contingent on the item having been listed without any change to item price, postage price or item description for 14 days before it can be included in a sale.
What is eBay Markdown Manager?
Now there is some confusion among eBay sellers regarding what the difference is between the Markdown Manager and the Promotions Manager and the truth is they are somewhat similar. That is the reason why eBay decided to consolidate them in the the eBay fall seller update 2017.
The Markdown Manager is free to all sellers and gives you two options –
- You can offer a price discount
- A free shipping discount
Price discounts can be applied to a fixed priced listing, for example an item that costs $100 can be marked down 30% or $30. Auction type listings can’t offer price discounts but can offer shipping discounts or free shipping. As I mentioned before discounts and certainty regarding shipment are two key ways to lock in present and future customers.
Promote single-quantity listings in Promoted Listings
What is eBay Promoted Listings?
To clear up the confusion people have expressed – promoted listings are paid for by ebay sellers and this helps them appear at the top of search results. This feature has been criticized by sellers as unfair saying that all ebay sellers should have equal sales opportunities.
I previously explained in detail what eBay promoted listings are, this is a short reminder:
Promoted listings is an advertising service that allows eBay sellers to put the following types of merchandise (from eligible categories) in front of more buyers when they’re actively searching and shopping on eBay:
- Best sellers
- Moderate performers
- New listings
- Seasonal items
This service increases your item’s visibility and the likelihood of a sale.
Similar to Google’s Adwords, eBay promoted listings allow you to push your listings to the top of search results and surpass the competition.
What changed in the recent eBay seller update?
The new eBay seller update has basically unlocked this feature for sellers who have unique and/or single quantity items.
List bundles and lots for greater visibility
A ‘bundle’ is essentially a combination of related items and a ‘lot’ is two or more of the same item being sold together. These types of listings will now be highlighted and stand out visually while shoppers are perusing eBay thereby increasing interest and conversion rates. The most important part of the ebay seller update here is that listings tagged as bundles will be eligible for additional search filters and search results promotions. This means shoppers who look for a bundle will be able to filter search results by “bundled” so tagging your bundles as such will increase traffic and sales.
Give buyers information they need with Questions & Answers
In August 2017, eBay introduced a new Questions & Answers feature on their product pages. This feature enables eBay shoppers to ask sellers and recent buyers questions about products that interest them, allowing shoppers to get the information they need to buy with confidence and keep them shopping on eBay and from your eBay store. We previously wrote an extensive post about the best customer service tips and this new eBay update aligns with one of the these practices.
The Q&A feature is now located on product pages and will be added to View Item pages in October 2017.
Each product will link to a stand-alone “See all Q&A” page. Currently, buyers can only access the Q&A feature on product pages.
In October 2017, buyers will be able to access “See all Q&A” on View Item pages.
Showing the Q&A to all shoppers is aimed towards reducing the amount of questions sellers receive and increasing sales.
In relation to this, The New York times recently published an article entitled: ‘A Revolutionary Marketing Strategy: Answer Customers Questions’. The article talks about a man who ran a medium size fiberglass pool business that was hit hard during the financial crises. He was losing a lot of business and decided to change his marketing strategy. Instead of avoiding questions like most industries tend to do, he decided he was going to answer every single one. And guess what? He was able to turn his business around and increase sales dramatically all due to transparency and addressing his customers’ core questions. This is exactly what the new eBay fall seller update 2017 allows you to do. Take advantage of customer’s questions and address each and every one in a professional and matter of fact manner and you will be adding priceless value to your eBay business.
Remove contact info and links that take buyers off eBay
Here I will summarize the new eBay policy update and implications of the new eBay links policy :
Ebay started implementing its new link policy this summer starting with restrictions regarding seller contact information,such as:
- phone numbers
- social media links within item descriptions.
eBay also announced that it would not allow links to websites other than eBay except for links to product videos, freight shipping services and other legally required information.
Sellers who don’t abide by these strict rules may potentially be removed from search results, barred from submitting new listings containing contact details and/or have non-compliant listings removed.
Now this seems a bit harsh but let’s talk about the benefits to sellers on eBay:
- If sellers can’t link to their websites or contact clients privately neither can the competition.
- According to conversion optimization best practice the less distractions a buyer has when in a ‘purchase state of mind’ the higher the conversion rate i.e. the more shoppers turn into paying customers.
For CrazyLister users –
Here’s how to automatically make all of your listings compliant with the recent eBay policy updates.
Secure your listings
This is how eBay describes secure listings in the eBay seller 2017 update:
“Beginning October 2017, Google Chrome-the browser used by almost half of all eBay buyers-will begin displaying the message “Not secure” in the browser’s address bar when users visit HTTP pages or HTTPS pages that include non-secure HTTP content. In order to protect your sales, your buyer will now see a snippet of the item description and a link that they can click to see the full item description if your listing contains non-secure HTTP content and your buyer is using a desktop computer to view your listing. If you want your listing to show the complete item description, you will need to update the HTTP content. The mobile experience will not change. We’re providing you with an eBay-approved tool to check your listings for HTTP content.”
-ebay.com, 2017 Fall Seller Update
eBay is basically aligning with the new industry security standards by enforcing HTTPS links. Once you have determined that your links are compliant with the previous section (i.e you are not linking to personal information, social media, third party websites etc..) you need to also make sure they meet two technical requirements:
- Links must include a target attribute
- Links must lead to an HTTPS address (not HTTP)
Expanded requirement for product identifiers
According to the eBay policy update sellers will be required to provide product identifiers for newly created or revised listings i.e. brand, manufacturer part number and global trade item numbers (e.g., UPC or ISBN codes).
Most sellers are fuming about this update and rightfully so. This change causes sellers a lot of extra work and anxiety and seems totally unnecessary. I agree with these sentiments but at the end of the day this policy is in the interest of the seller because adding product identifiers helps eBay understand what the item you are selling is exactly and helps present it in more relevant search results to more appropriate ‘target shoppers’ (meaning shoppers who have a high probability of buying the product you are selling are being put face to face with your merchandise). This policy will actually increase discoverability and increase sales.
Note that if your item is manufacturer- unbranded or custom made then ebay suggests you select “Does not apply” in place of an identifier.
Image policy changes
According to the eBay seller update 2017, watermarks are not permitted on images uploaded to eBay listings. The eBay policy update warns that listings that are non – compliant by March 1st, 2018 will be removed from search results.
Why is eBay rolling out this new policy ?
We all know the importance of photos in general, especially in the digital age and specifically when selling a product to a customer who has never met the seller and has not seen the product he is about to purchase. Product photos play a key role in the shopping experience on eBay and it is well established that great photos often translate into great conversion rates helping you boost your sales.
eBay claims this policy will help by:
- ensuring a consistent experience for buyers creating an environment that is conducive to increased sales.
- Making your listings eligible for promotion on Google and Bing which is another way to spread the word about your ebay business and potentially increase sales.
When is this policy kicking in:
- From March 1st 2018, watermarks will no longer be allowed on pictures
- Sellers who continue to include watermarks on images will have their listings removed from search results
Why sellers won’t like this?
Sellers who use watermarks are often the ones who create those images and they sometimes spend time and money on making the images professional. Their way to protect the images is to apply watermark. With the new eBay policy anyone could copy the images and use them on his own eBay listings.
The (real) benefits of complying:
Image recognition technology is evolving, more and more people search the web using images, thus clear images (without watermarks, flags etc.) can be better found on various search engines (Google being most popular). eBay is going to introduce ‘visual search’ by the end of the year and only images with clear backgrounds are going to be displayed in search results, so sellers who comply with this policy are going to have an advantage in terms of discoverability.
Nevertheless, some sellers are furious about this policy as shown in the example below of a seller responding to this new policy on an eBay news site:
Matching new listings to the eBay catalog
The eBay fall seller update 2017 also brings news of what we can expect come spring 2018. The update talks about a new function on eBay that will actually automatically match items from the eBay catalog to new and/or already existing listings that sellers create.
In this context, according to an article in business Insider, eBay is planning to ‘totally overhaul its marketplace’.
The main focus here will be on structured data which essentially helps organize millions of sellers’ ebay listings. When sellers created their own listings in the past using their own words and pictures, their listings did not appear on search results many times because the language used didn’t assimilate shoppers search queries. Structured data uses specific tags and descriptions and will become a requirement for sellers to use.
In addition to seller listings on the results page, users will be able to browse other sections such as bestselling products, guides that help shoppers and item reviews — this content will be generated by machine learning tools. If a shopper is searching for a pair of headphones , for example, this new technology can provide reviews or ratings to help with a purchase decision.
While some shoppers look for “Brand New” item condition as a must, for others value for money is more important, other segments may look for the items with the best reviews or fastest shipping times.
The new structured data format, will make it easier for all shoppers segments to find the exact item they’re looking for.
This upcoming change should benefit sellers as well –
I previously wrote in a post titled – 7 eBay Hacks We Learned Growing eBay Sales from Zero to $100k/ Month:
You can’t be the: lowest priced, best service, best quality, fastest shipper, king of eBay in every possible aspect. Choose ONE and concentrate all your energy in conveying that to the customers. You can’t win them all, but if you concentrate on one strength, you will win customers to whom this aspect is most important.
The upcoming structured data format, should help sellers emphasize their one core strength, their competitive advantage. i.e sellers who ship faster will be featured higher for buyers who are time sensitive. While items from sellers who offer the best value for money will be shown higher under the “best value for money” segment on the new results page.
Take a look at the results page below – shoppers can choose what’s more important for them- the brand / best sellers or value for money.
eBay states in the fall seller update 2017: “Do not repeat returns information that appears in structured data in your returns policy details.”
This change is part of ebay’s attempt to try to make the buyer’s experience as coherent and hassle free as possible. The ebay seller update also discusses the benefits of offering free returns to customers basically saying that you can gain more exposure:
- By highlighting your free return policy.
- You can gain additional customers who specifically filter for ‘free returns’ policies.
For CrazyLister users –
Here’s how to easily remove the return policies from your listings –
- Delete the return policy from your template
- Click SAVE & APPLY ALL to apply the change to all of the listings with this template.
Summing it up
We have seen two major trends in the past couple of years:
eBay is constantly moving towards more and more structured form meaning listings with a clear structure. This is evident in the policies regarding returns which now have to be in a specified returns segment, the demand to have item specifics and the demand to have product identifiers.
eBay is constantly raising the bar for sellers, this is evident with the watermarks removal, active content ban, https compliance and links policy. This typically means bad news for the small sellers who sell on eBay as a part time job, these sellers don’t have the resources, time and money to constantly update their listings to comply with all the policies and eventually some of them will give up and stop selling on eBay. At CrazyLister we see this trend as more and more sellers complain about the inability to keep up with all the changes eBay has made in the past year.
This can actually be an opportunity for eBay alternative marketplaces to lure eBay sellers, we’ll have to wait and see if they capitalize on that.
Over to you
Please share your comments below, are you in favor of the eBay fall update or not?