Changes for eBay sellers are just an inevitable part of life. They are going to happen whether you like it or not. It’s also true that sellers who have been pro-active about these changes have done better than those who haven’t.
I’ve been selling on eBay since 1996 so I’ve been around to see a lot of updates. Over the years certain patterns have emerged. Based on what I’ve seen, here are my 10 predictions about what eBay will change in 1018. Prepare yourself.
#1 Images Will Be Completely Removed From Descriptions
Year after year eBay has shrunk what we are allowed to put in item descriptions. They’ve even gone so far as to partially hide them on on the eBay app and completely hide them on the mobile site. Next I think they’ll just do away with our ability to add photos for to our descriptions.
#2 eBay Stores Will Be Completely Overhauled
This one is well past due. As I pointed out in another article eBay’s store format is neither secure nor mobile friendly. The real question is why they haven’t done it already. My only concern is that eBay will try to spin this as an increased value that will cost us more in subscription fees.
#3 Even More Preference Will Be Given to Chinese Sellers
Just now I did a search for “bird pendant” on eBay. The third item from the top is a Chinese seller with 98.7% feedback and a 16 to 24 day estimated delivery date! eBay, Etsy, and Amazon are all guilty of this trend and there’s no end in sight. It’s just too lucrative for them. Cheaper items equal more sales and more sales equal more fees. More fees equal increased stock value. American sellers are an expendable cog in the corporate machine.
Therefore, I predict that eBay will place even more of these sellers at the top of the search results. It will also intentionally recruit more of them as sellers with incentives in China. If you want to know how this situation got started in the first place, see my article on why there’s so much Cheap Chinese Stuff on eBay.
#4 Free Shipping Will Become Almost Mandatory
This is another trend that’s easy to predict. eBay has been pushing free shipping with various incentives and penalties for years. In the coming year I think they will push items without free shipping all the way to the bottom of the search results. They may even make it mandatory in some categories.
#5 More Penalties Will Be Given to Encourage Faster Shipping
In 2017 we saw the roll out of Guaranteed Delivery. Before that we saw incentives for faster shipping in the Top Rated Seller Program. Now I think we will start seeing penalties since eBay is out of incentives. Listings that don’t offer 1 day shipping will be further demoted in search.
#6 eBay Will Try Again to Ban Watermarks in Photos
In the 2017 Fall Seller Update eBay announced that watermarks would no longer be allowed. That rule was later rescinded in another announcement in Nov 30th. They were faced with the reality that sellers were just not going to edit hundred of thousands of existing photos.
But they’re not going to give up. Most likely a new announcement will be made banning any new photos with watermarks. The existing ones will be allowed to remain.
#7 More Promoted Listings and New Native Ads
eBay launched Promoted Listings in 2017 allowing sellers to buy their way to the top of search rankings. Now it looks like they’re going to sell “native” ads to sellers as well. Those are ads that will appear in the sidebar and on the bottom of pages.
To use a phrase popular with gamers, this is going to be a “pay to win” system. Sellers willing to pay more will sell more. Those that don’t, won’t.
#8 eBay Will Raise Seller Fees Again
It doesn’t take a psychic to see this one coming. They find some way to do it every single year.
#9 More Product Identifiers Will Become Mandatory
Product identifiers are already required for new items. In the 2017 Fall Seller Update we learned that they will also be required for used items beginning in 2018. What’s next? ESIN. The Ebay Standard Identification Number. An identification numbering system for items without UPCs.
#10 Buy Box Style Listings Will Become the Norm
Grouped listings with a buy box are rolling out. Soon they will be the norm, just like Amazon. That part isn’t a prediction, it’s a fact that was announced in October 2017. This is partially why eBay has been pushing the product identifiers.
Frankly, grouped listings on Amazon are a mess. They will be an even bigger mess on eBay. I also sell on Amazon and I can tell you from first hand experience that product identifiers change.
Photos change. Manufacturers change their packaging and products vary slightly from year to year. Most of all, humans make mistakes putting in the identifiers. Customers end up getting things they don’t expect and you are going to get the negative feedback for it.
What to do About the Changes
Adapt. Improvise and don’t give up. Always remember that everyone else has to play by the same new rules that you do. Those that cannot adapt will fail and you’ll have less competition to deal with.