Top 5 Marketplace Takeaways of the Week #6

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Welcome to this week’s round-up where we take a look at eBay’s new returns policies, penalties and protections, its AI to suppress low quality offers, Alibaba’s talks with BT and more!

eBay’s new returns policies

ebay logoeBay is now pushing sellers to offer 30-day free returns by reducing its current returns options for sellers. eBay explains on its website that sellers are now only able to choose from the following returns policies: no returns accepted, 30-day buyer-paid returns, 30-day free returns, 60-day buyer paid returns and 60-day free returns. Some certain categories will still have the option of 14-day returns including Collectible & Art, Cameras & Photo and Medical, Mobility & Disability Equipment. If sellers have not manually changed the returns option on their listings, starting in August eBay will do so automatically to one of the new returns policies, including on Good ‘Til Cancelled listings. eBay is also introducing automation in the returns process, stating: “starting July 2018, we will automate two steps in the returns process for buyers and sellers…You can continue to control the efficiency of your returns process by creating rules in your Return Preferences to automatically approve returns or send immediate refunds without requiring the buyer to send the item back.”

Whilst the returns policies are becoming more generous, they are also becoming more costly. Sellers will no longer be able to charge restocking fees and could also be charged a penalty fee of 4% of the selling price if eBay sees an uptake in certain types of returns. eBay has mentioned: “starting in September 2018, if you have very high occurrences of these poor buyer experiences, you will be notified via email and may be subject to extended estimated delivery times and additional fees.”

eBay to use AI to suppress low-quality offers

eBay is looking to stamp down on ‘bad offers’ currently filling its marketplace. Vice president of seller & marketplace operations at eBay, Bob Kupbens, has said that bad offers undermine consumer confidence in the platform, such as saving £1 on a £500 listing. Kupbens has mentioned that ‘the problem with showing bad offers is that buyers see them, realise they’re not an attractive proposition, and start to subconsciously ignore the red offer flash on all listings.’ If consumers stop paying attention to the offer banner then it will impact genuine sellers with genuine offers, hence why eBay is looking to crack down on this. eBay is implementing AI and machine learning to gather intelligence, determine what is a good offer and what is a poor one and then suppress the poor offers.

The long and short of this latest news from eBay is that sellers need to ensure that any offers that they put on products are genuinely enticing for people and likely to help improve conversion, anything else is likely to fall foul of eBay’s AI and inevitably end up with the listing offer suppressed.

eBay pulls listing for 6-year old McDonald’s burger

A Canadian man has had his listing for a 6-year old McDonald’s cheeseburger and chips taken down by eBay. Dave Alexander listed the cheeseburger meal on eBay with various pictures showing just how little it had changed over the years and amazingly the listing had received lots of interest and bids had reached $150 by the time eBay intervened. eBay pulled the listing from its site as it doesn’t comply with its food policy that requires any food item listed to have a “clearly marked expiration or use by date.”

The moral of this story isn’t that burgers from McDonald’s do not ‘go bad’ but that eBay does keep an eye on what is listed on its site and will intervene if it finds something which contravenes its rules and regulations! So for anyone thinking of selling something a bit on the edge…be warned… eBay will be watching!

Amazon is increasing its promotion fees for Prime Day sellers

amazon packagingPrime has fast become one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, however, for many sellers, it is becoming more and more expensive to take part. For the second year in a row, sellers in the US have been faced with increased registration fees to run Lightning Deals on Prime Day, with costs now $750 per Lightning Deal (still $500 for Vendors), up from $500 last year. Whilst the additional costs may seem as though Amazon is forcing sellers out of Prime Day, what it is actually doing is ensuring that those who do take part are up to a certain standard and are sure that their products will sell well with Prime shoppers. This helps Amazon (with greater referral fee commission & Lightning Deal fees), sellers (less ‘noise’ from third-parties muscling in and consumers (less low-quality sellers means greater deals). Whilst not as high as those in the USA, you can be sure that Lightning Deal fees in the UK will also be increased for Prime Day.

Alibaba in talks with BT for cloud partnership

It has been reported that Alibaba is in talks with BT Group about a cloud partnership with the Chinese internet firm looking to take on Amazon in Europe. A deal between Alibaba and BT could be similar to that of Alibaba’s existing arrangement with Vodafone in Germany. Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) dominates cloud computing and Alibaba wants to take it on in Europe, which has become key to its success outside of its home country of China. Alibaba isn’t starting from scratch though, Alibaba Cloud is already the fourth-biggest global provider of cloud infrastructure and related service, behind only Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

Alibaba Cloud’s agreement with Vodafone in Germany began in 2016 and just last week it expanded into the French market agreeing to work with transport and communications company Bollore SA. Whether or not a deal between Alibaba and BT can be reached remains to be seen, however, if it can then it could have a huge impact for not only these two companies but also Amazon. It’s definitely one to keep an eye on!

If you have any questions or queries regarding marketplaces including Amazon, eBay, Alibaba or JD.com then feel free to get in touch with us to see how we can help.

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