Why delivery matters and how eBay’s changes to Premium Listings are putting buyers first
Partner Article by Matthew Windsor, Digital Marketing Executive at Khaos Control Cloud
Delivery in eCommerce is becoming increasingly competitive, with many online retailers offering next day delivery as standard. In a recent blog, Parcelhub discovered that “shipping is now one of the key differentiators between many online competitors”. As the race to provide even better customer service heats up, more and more online retailers are fighting to provide the best service they possibly can to entice buyers to continue using their service. eBay, one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, are one of these companies that is stepping up their game with customer service by making changes to their Premium Service listing.
The Premium Service listing on eBay is something that all sellers on the marketplace should strive for as it helps them to sell more products and gives buyers confidence in the seller. Previously, sellers have found ways of attaining Premium Listing status which benefited them, however buyers were losing out. As of July 1st, eBay has changed its Premium Service delivery criteria, effectively offering greater protection for buyers and meaning sellers now have to offer certain specific delivery options if they want to quality for Premium Service. In this blog I’m going to look at why these changes were brought in, and what this means for sellers and buyers alike.
What is eBay’s Premium Service?
Premium Service is a way for eBay sellers to stand out from the crowd. If, as a seller, you provide exceptional service and delivery options that benefit the buyer, then you enjoy the advantages of having the Premium Service badge on your profile. Sellers with Premium Service have maximum visibility across the site, meaning their products are seen by more people and therefore have a higher chance of selling their goods quickly. Buyers benefit by being able to shop with confidence knowing that the seller is reputable and will offer a good service and sellers benefit from increased visibility which can have a dramatic impact on sales.
eBay have commented on how important delivery is and how it can be a real factor in a person’s buying decision. As delivery is such a crucial factor in the buying process, it makes sense that eBay reward those sellers who provide excellent delivery, which keeps people on eBay rather than going elsewhere. This is why eBay provide these sellers with the Premium Service badge.
What are the changes?
Previously, in order to qualify for Premium Service sellers had to offer a free domestic service and a paid next day service. The problem was that these guidelines were rather vague and allowed too much scope for this system to be abused by less reputable sellers. Now, in order to qualify for eBay Premium Service, sellers will need to amend their listings to meet all of the following criteria:
• Offer a free domestic delivery option within 3 working days
• Offer an express delivery option within 2 working days for no more than £10
• For items over £20, all the delivery services must be designated tracked services and valid tracking must be uploaded within the despatch time (this includes auction-style listings and Best Offers where the final price is over £20)
Why the changes?
While eBay haven’t explicitly said this is why they have implemented these changes, it is likely that these have been brought in to combat sellers trying to cheat the system. In doing this eBay are also protecting buyers on the site.
Under the old criteria sellers were able to offer ridiculous delivery terms that ended up hurting the buyer. A seller could set terms offering next day delivery at extortionate rates or free delivery that could take weeks to arrive, yet still qualify for the Premium Service.
Buyers being ripped off on delivery by so called “Premium Listed” sellers is a problem for eBay. The chances are, these buyers will feel less confident about shopping on eBay and will therefore become more likely to stop using the marketplace and go elsewhere. These disgruntled buyers could then be seen venting their frustration on social media, which could prevent further people from shopping with eBay. When competition from companies such as Amazon is so fierce, eBay needed to act quickly in order to stop them losing business to their competitors.
In 2016, Infoplus conducted some research on buyer behaviour. In their report they found that “44% of online shoppers said faster delivery would increase their trust in a brand”, Which highlights the importance of providing a robust delivery service in order to keep customers on board with your brand. The new criteria is a step towards ensuring that sellers have to provide effective delivery which not only protects buyers, but also protects eBay.
What this means for sellers
eBay’s new delivery criteria isn’t aimed at trying to harm sellers or to discourage them; ultimately eBay wants you to sell on their website so that they receive their commission. In reality these changes should benefit all parties. As such, eBay have made it incredibly easy for sellers to comply with the new Premium Service criteria.
To find out exactly what kind of impact this has had on sellers, I spoke to one.
Jason runs a successful business selling model trains and other wares on eBay. He previously qualified for Premium Service and since the changes has met the criteria to be listed under the Premium Service again.
“I’ve always strived to offer a good service to my customers I certainly think Premium service is a good thing for both sellers and buyers. From my point of view, I get more sales from the increased visibility and the 10% discount off eBay’s commission certainly helps.”
When asked about the changes to Premium Service, Jason commented “It’s different from before as there are some more options you need to offer your buyer. On the surface it might seem like you have to do a lot to comply with the new criteria, like going in and changing all your listings individually. However, all I did was call eBay and ask them to update all my listings so they qualify for Premium Listing, gave them the authority and they did it all for me. So actually eBay make it really easy to meet the new criteria”.
“I think the changes are a positive thing, I think it’s about creating that great experience for your customer which all businesses should strive for. I always aim to provide this for my customers, from maintaining accurate stock levels to ensuring I never oversell, to switching to triangular packages so that items don’t get damaged. For me, complying with the new criteria was a no-brainer”.
While Jason’s experience has been positive, sellers will ultimately have to decide for themselves whether or not they want to qualify for Premium Service again. While obtaining the Premium Service badge can be widely beneficial, for some sellers it simply isn’t necessary. If the items that are being sold are quite niche and there aren’t many other sellers offering this product, then demand is unlikely to be affected by Premium Service. Having said this, the visibility gained from the Premium Service badge gives that extra boost that can mean selling goods even quicker.
What this means for buyers
For buyers this move is overwhelmingly positive. As previously mentioned, these changes were introduced because eBay was aware that buyers were losing out from less-than-reputable sellers. These sellers were offering extortionate express delivery rates and a free delivery service that meant the buyer had to wait an unacceptable amount of time before they received their goods.
While the changes could be perceived as eBay simply trying to protect their revenue by keeping buyers on their website, the new criteria offers much greater protection for buyers so that they can continue to shop on eBay with confidence and receive their goods on time. Having items over £20 designated tracked is also a nice touch that offers buyers that extra level of security when buying higher priced goods.
The move to update their existing Premium Listing policy to protect buyers demonstrates eBay’s commitment to maintaining positive customer relations, and shows that eBay intend to remain competitive in the eCommerce market. Previously the Premium Listing badge may have been marred in the eyes of some buyers by these sellers trying to game the system, however now they can once again be confident that a Premium listed seller will actually offer a premium service.
Ultimately, the changes to eBay’s Premium Listing rules are mutually beneficial for all parties involved. The only people who are really losing out here are sellers who are trying to force buyers in to paying extortionate amounts for next day delivery, or offer a free service that can take days, even weeks to arrive. And let’s face it, we want those people to lose out!
Buyers on the site can shop with confidence knowing that a Premium listed seller is going to provide a delivery service where the goods arrive in a timely fashion and they will not be paying ridiculous amounts of money for express delivery.
For the sellers, while there may be additional hoops to jump through, eBay has made it very easy to adhere to the new criteria and it means they can continue to enjoy the benefits of the Premium Service badge.
For eBay, these changes demonstrate their commitment to protecting buyers on their website and their commitment to remaining competitive at a time when competition is fierce, and only going to get fiercer.
For more information on the changes to eBay’s Premium Listing service, visit the website here.
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