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How to do an eBay Seller Release
David Brackin is the managing director of Stuff U Sell, the leading eBay trading assistant in the UK and a regular Tamebay contributor. With an eBay Seller Release due out this Wednesday, David looks ahead to discuss how to address the upcoming changes:
The eBay marketplace has to innovate in order to keep up with changing trends in the ecommerce world and to make fixes and improvements to inadequacies in the existing product. However these changes are too often not fully developed or released without keeping the seller in mind, and so twice a year comes the dreaded day when I check Tamebay and see that there is another seller release with a slew of changes that are going to stop me working on my priorities to source product and delight my customers. Is this an inevitable part of selling on eBay, or could this be done better? I thought I’d capture my thoughts on how I think about the communication and tool requirements the three types of Seller Release change here.
The Compliance Change
This is usually a response to a change in legal or environmental factors, for example a requirement for a VAT number, changes in seller standards or regulations. These changes will usually have a mandate (do this or face listing/account sanctions) and so need to be most clearly worded. We need to know exactly what counts and what does not? Ideally the person sponsoring the change will make themselves available in a session to answer questions and the call centre will be briefed to handle and escalate questions, depending on the complexity of the change. History shows that no matter how much thinking goes on in eBay Towers prior to an announcement there will always be a use-case that has been overlooked, as the sellers of customised items will recall from the off-eBay mandates.
Because of the strictures of the mandate, and how they directly conflict with eBay’s core mission to “have every legitimate offer on the planet”, these should be announced with the longest possible deadline – ideally a year, but 6 months minimum. On the day of announcement, there should be some way for a seller know if and how badly they are affected. In the very best instances, the seller will not be simply left to comply, but there will be tools or processes made available to help with the compliance task (whether this be updating legacy listings etc), as well as a clear indication of whether the changes have succeeded or not.
The Marketing Change
This is typically some method of improving sales, for example Promoted Listings. These changes should never have a mandate, and no matter how important or urgent the product manager feels about them, they are more suited to ongoing communications than one-off launch events. As a seller, I am highly motivated to learn ways to increase sales, but activities need to fit into the great list of other things that I do to increase sales – such as sourcing inventory, managing a team, dealing with suppliers etc. These marketing activities need to be evergreen and ready to go when I’m ready to adopt them – not just on the launch date and the quarter in which the grand annual plan says they are launching. All of the most successful eBay marketing tools are multi-year long-evolving products that take a very long time to become truly effective and widely adopted – for example Best Offer and Promoted Listings.
In terms of tools and support, the issue here is always education on how to easily try out the new tool without already being an expert – simple defaults and clear tutorials are the most important things, together with clear access to further help. Most of these products seem to be launched without any thought of helping the seller understand if they are in fact effective at increasing sale. Reporting should be created with the new user in mind rather than simply an after-thought of whatever data happened to be available.
The Operational Change
These are the other lower-level changes that don’t directly affect selling – they might impact fees or help a seller in completing and delivering sales – for example pricing changes, or the Global Shipping Programme. These need careful explanation and – again – ideally a follow-up Q&A session to refine and clarify the edge-cases. Tools are less frequently needed up front, but ease of use is key. Messaging needs to be clear, helpful and not patronising in the case of fee changes.
Overall, I understand we work in a fast-paced market, but I’d prefer to see fewer changes, better implemented and with longer time-horizons, and with more resources put into maintaining and fixing the old innovations rather than so many bright shiny new things being badly launched each year.
What do you think?