eBay offers lifeline for small businesses impacted by Coronavirus

By Chris Dawson March 26, 2020 - 8:01 am

eBay have today offered a lifeline for small businesses who don’t currently sell on the marketplace. Many of these businesses are self employed and seen their income plummet as their shops or market stalls have been shut down and yet have stock ready to go. Others will be independent shops, again with shelves stacked full of stock and yet unable to open to the public. It’s worth remembering that despite the huge growth in ecommerce, a massive 82% of retail is still offline.

The eBay lifeline for small businesses can also offer a home to those Amazon sellers who are unable to replenish their FBA stock or have seen delivery dates for stock currently in FBA extended out by a month.

The idea of inviting high street businesses to start trading online was inspired by the Retail Revival pilot launched by eBay in Wolverhampton in 2019 which saw eBay digitally upskill over 60 local businesses and train them on how to sell through eBay. The programme drove a 33% uplift in revenues for the local businesses, adding £7 million to their sales in a year.

eBay lifeline for small businesses

From today, no business joining eBay UK will have to pay any fees to list or sell until the 31st of May 2020. The offer will apply to 250 product listings each month – expected to mean that 99% of every new business-to-consumer seller listing on the site will be fee free until the end of May.

The move, which represents a cashflow lifeline worth millions for hundreds of thousands of small businesses, marks an urgent response to calls for additional support by UK entrepreneurs. Crucially, it provides self-employed retailers and entrepreneurs who rely on bricks and mortar stores a virtual shop window to reach eBay UK’s 26 million customers, without paying any fees until June.

To get started, you can register your business on eBay here.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Britain, but now more than ever, they need our support. If we don’t help them now, we risk losing a generation of successful SMEs and entrepreneurs.
We recognise that the challenges are vast and wide-ranging for SMEs on Britain’s high streets, but while the offline world is on lockdown, a shift to online spending should represent a real growth opportunity and a vital lifeline.
These are unprecedented times, but we must rise to the challenge to help ease the pressure that small businesses currently face. Now’s the time to be there when small businesses need us most, so that they can continue doing what they do best – safely, responsibly, and fairly.”

– Rob Hattrell, VP eBay UK

“With increased isolation and the closing of many business premises, there is a critical need for online sales channels for small businesses that can get up and running fast.

This is why I am really encouraged to see eBay’s great steps to enable small businesses to build alternative sales channels with low cost and low complexity. I hope this will be a lifeline for many small businesses looking for new routes to market.”
– Michelle Ovens MBE, Founder, Small Business Britain

eBay has set up dedicated webpage setting out support provided to buyers, sellers, charities and communities across Britain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures already announced include protection seller status for existing eBay business sellers as well as a 30-day payment holiday on all fees, with a commitment to consider a further holiday at the end of April.

This package of support from eBay will enable key parts of the SME economy to keep moving, although sellers and buyers should apply all the latest guidance on social distancing when visiting post offices or collection points. Alongside the cashflow boost for eBay sellers, eBay has stepped up its crackdown on anyone listing items at unreasonably inflated prices. Over the last week, hundreds of seller accounts have been suspended and thousands of listings removed from the platform.

  • Overall, I’m impressed with the initiative that eBay are taking here.

    However, I would hope that the same offer (no fees for April or May) would be made to SMEs that have been active on, and loyal to, the eBay marketplace over the last few years too. We’re in a similar place with falling sales due to COVID-19 and so would benefit from the assistance this would offer.

    I won’t hold my breath though!

    • Emma
      2 weeks ago

      So if you are a loyal seller, who’s also effected with lower sales not only are you not getting help (apart from putting off fees so you pay double next month) any new seller can undercut you because they have no fees, thanks eBay great of you to put the final nail in the coffin for us loyal sellers

  • Tony
    2 weeks ago

    Exactly, why do they never look after their regulars! We get a part fee payment holiday, so nothing in reality!

  • Mark
    2 weeks ago

    If you do the sums they have suspended half your fees so you get excited as they have offered a payment plan for 30 days.

    Then you hear the virus is here for months and months what a paultry offer.

    That’s good old eBay proving they are doing all they can for themselves.
    As it actually reads in real terms

    “keep paying us something”

  • J R
    2 weeks ago

    Same as most large businesses, love getting new customers, not too fussed about most of the existing ones.

  • jim
    2 weeks ago

    thanks ebay
    ,so where do all the extra buyers come from
    to support this bricks and mortar life line?

  • Caz
    2 weeks ago

    Good spin on it! Ebay are enticing new sellers with no fees, a lot of those new sellers may decide to continue online after May, giving ebay lots of new fee payers. It makes good business sense. But as far as I am aware, right now us existing ebay business sellers that are struggling, are only being offered to defer the fees. They will still need to be paid so for a lot of people they will be in the same position a month or 2 down the line. I appreciate it is something but if they can give no fees for new businesses who have not kept ebay up and running, they can surely also help their long term sellers who help keep ebay profiting. There are plenty of sellers continuing to sell but plenty of others who either can’t, or who morally think taking trips to the post office with non essential items is wrong when we are being told to stay at home. If one of these sellers puts their shop on holiday settings, they still have to pay shop fees and listing fees for any over the monthly allowance, while selling nothing. It would be a knightmare for a lot of these sellers to end their listings and downgrade. Ebay could easily stop any fees for those with holiday settings on where the seller also ticks to hide the listings. I heard a rumour on an ebay forum that those with holiday settings on would not be charged fees. I hope this is true but I see nothing officially suggesting this.

  • Thanks for nothing Ebay. I’ve had 2 shops for years but it seems that this means nothing so I’ll be closing one down since business has nose dived. Hardly a big profit hit to yourselves but every lost customer hurts just that bit more. Disgraceful Corporate behaviour.

  • Don
    2 weeks ago

    New sellers pay no fees, existing sellers pay full fees. They are trying to exploit the situation to get more people to ebay. I think more people to ebay is a good thing, making a marketing move like this look like aid not so much.

    The 50% delayed payment of fees for existing sellers does offer some help. Not enough for many though since it only has an effect in the first couple of weeks. I expect this to last much longer.

  • Chris
    2 weeks ago

    What a deceptive heading. This is pure racketeering in the name of altruism.
    I don’t see ANY lifeline being offered to existing businesses struggling on eBay, you know, ebay’s loyal customers, the ones that have put up with all their many hoops and changes? Ebay are really hitting a new low at a time when other big businesses are actually supporting the community.

  • Trumpton
    2 weeks ago

    As I said in a different thread. eBay is a joke of a company. Well done for annoying your current sellers with a free offer for new ones.

  • ratso
    2 weeks ago

    Ahh – just like when they decided to give private sellers 1000 free listings a month. Just another kick in the soft bits from Ebay for their regular small business sellers-sigh.

  • NorthCrystal
    2 weeks ago

    Ebay must be desperate for new buyers and new sellers. All the extra fees from “premium postage”, returns, promoted listings etc are now depleted and, they’re looking for new ways to keep the cash coming in. As a business owner of 2 shops on this platform I feel offended (politely speaking) by the above “offer”.

    • Jonah
      2 weeks ago

      @North Crystal
      Nothing surprises me with this bunch of clowns. The only reason that many sellers are there is that it used to be a vibrant and profitable place. There is no brand loyalty- a rival platform that could offer the same traffic for the same fees would be inundated with sellers fleeing ebay. The above “offer” if we can call it such is a real slap in the face to it’s existing customer base. It is an unashamed grab, it should be viewed as such, and typical of this despicable underhanded company. Dress it up as they want, it’s still a pig wearing lipstick.

  • J R
    2 weeks ago

    I remember around 10 – 12 years ago when my total Ebay fees were no more than 6%. At that time Ebay was an attractive place to start a business due to the low costs and low risk.

    When all is said and done I now allow around 15 – 17% when I add in promoted listing fees etc. Nobody can now say Ebay is a low cost place to run a business.

    I wonder if this virus will make business sellers ask themselves who they are working for, themselves or Ebay.

    The way the minimum wage is going you will soon be able to make over 20k stacking shelves at Sainsburys.

    Clearing 20k net profit on Ebay is a pretty hard thing to do for many sole traders.

    One way or another something needs to change.

  • Carl
    2 weeks ago

    From what I remember eBay limits new sellers by restricting their income and listing allowances per month, they also delay the receipt of payments for about 21 days. After new sellers have established trust the restrictions were removed and payments could be received instantly (no indications could be provided for when these restrictions would be removed). Is this still the case? If so any new sellers are going to be kept waiting for their income and they will also have a very meager inventory in their shop. Take this with a pinch of salt, I could be completely wrong about this as it has been a while since I looked into it. Does anybody know if the restrictions are still in place?

  • jim
    2 weeks ago

    has ebay considered that courier and mail services may struggle with this potential surge in delivery

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