eBay UK's big announcement: mandatory free P&P expanded, easier returns
eBay UK have finally made their biannual announcement of changes affecting sellers for spring 2009. Much of the content is the same as the eBay.com announcement made earlier this week, but there are a few tweaks just for the UK.
Free P&P in lots more categories
As of 15th June, sellers in selected categories in Video Games, Mobile & Home Phones, Consumer Electronics, Computing, Photography, and Clothes, Shoes & Accessories will be required to offer free P&P as their first domestic postage option. Currently, this doesn’t apply to all the subcategories of each of those sections, so do read the full list on eBay’s page; for CSA, for example, only the accessories’ subcategories and clothing & shoe care are included.
eBay are sweetening the pill very slightly by offering a 20% Final Value Fee discount to sellers in those categories; we’d hope to see this made a permanent offer, otherwise eBay will rightly be accused of making extra profit on those included P&P charges.
As with other free P&P categories, sellers will be free to offer other, pay-for shipping options.
A new returns process will make it easier for buyers to say they want to return an item, and for sellers to process that return.
- Buyers who pay with PayPal will see a return link (presumably in My eBay) for 35 days after purchase. Note that this is longer than the eBay minimum of 14 days to return an item.
- When a return is requested, sellers will receive an email alert and have the opportunity to accept or reject the return.
- Sellers will be able to set a separate returns address and specify a default message to be shown to buyers returning goods.
- Sellers will be able to refund payment and reclaim FVFs from the same place.
Only items paid for with PayPal will be included in the new returns’ process. We’ll be looking more at returns and the handling of them in the next few days.
eBay Resolutions comes to the UK
eBay UK will have its own version of the eBay Resolutions dispute process revealed on .com earlier in the week. Substantially the same as the current PayPal dispute process, this will roll out over “coming months” and is expected to be available on all transations by Christmas 2009. Intriguingly, eBay UK actually mention that “we will also better monitor and prevent buyer fraud or abuse”, so perhaps those serial lost-in-the-post claimants will be less ready to claim in future.
Variant listings and changes to the choice policy
As announced by Mark Lewis at Catalyst, and as per eBay.com, from 15th June variant listings will be available in the adults’ shoes categories. In “late summer” (Mark said July 15th, so it seems the schedule’s already slipped), the feature will be expanded to selected Clothes, Shoes & Accessories categories, and Home & Garden categories. There’s no mention at all of the rest of eBay in this; I’ve heard roll-out side-wide in 2010 mentioned, but for now, that seems to be just a rumour.
Free photos in Clothing, Shoes & Accessories
CSA sellers will now get free Gallery Plus, Picture Pack, Supersize and additional pictures. With the new view item page pushing seller-generated content further down the page, having more pictures above the fold should be a plus.
A new Copy Web Files tool will make it easier for sellers to import pictures from another web server into eBay Picture Services; scroll to the bottom of this page for the current scanty details. We’ll be watching with interest to see if eBay will just allow the import of any pictures from the internet, or whether they’ll require an FTP connection to the server in question to prove legitimate use.
Smart Answers actually are smart!
There’s more information on how the new Smart FAQs will work; I’m particularly liking the idea that eBay could answer questions for me:
As you’ll have already provided the information about your item to eBay, we use that information to answer your buyers’ questions. This information includes item details, P&P information and transactional details. As long as your item details are up-to-date and accurate, eBay can accurately answer questions for you. For example, if a buyer asks “Do you ship to country X?” we check the shipping destinations provided by you and send the buyer an answer.
As ever, this won’t suit all sellers (you might want to except buyers from your normal requirements, after all) but for some, it will be exceedingly useful.
More product pages
Not quite so extensive through the media categories as on .com, but expect to see product pages expanded in Movies & DVDs, Music, Mobile Phones, Consoles, Digital Cameras and Camcorders.
Changes to some subcategories of CSA, H&G and Collectables. More details on these in early May (so much for 60 days’ notice!). The Cars, Parts & Vehicles category will be split into two categories: Vehicles and Parts.
So, good, bad or indifferent? How will the changes affect your business? Leave us a comment.