Part I/IV — EBay 2015 Fall Seller Update: What You Need to Know

September 10, 2015

Marketplaces Jenny Hock By Jenny Hock

This is a four part series covering eBay’s 2015 Fall Seller release:

1. EBay 2015 Fall Seller Update: What You Need to Know (You are here) : In this post, Jenny Hock, Senior Product Manager, will cover the highlights of the release that will have the most impact for larger sellers and detail ChannelAdvisor’s support.

2. Analysis of eBay 2015 Fall Seller Update: What does this release mean for sellers? In this post, Scot Wingo, Executive Chairman, provides thoughts on what this means for where eBay is taking the marketplace in the post-PayPal-separation world.

3. What’s NOT in the eBay 2015 Fall Seller Update: One of the most telling parts of the release is what is not included.  In this post we’ll look at that and analyze why key changes were not made at this time.

4. EBay Product Identifier (ePI) Update: We’re getting a lot of questions from sellers about ePI and the status of this initiative. In this third post, Scot will give you an update on this key eBay strategic initiative.


It’s that time of year again! Today, eBay announced its second seller update of 2015. If we had to describe the theme in one word, it would be “simplicity.” EBay recognizes that selling on this marketplace can be complex, so they’re taking some initial steps to streamline the process and remove some friction that sellers typically face.  

This move toward simplicity takes a few different forms:

1. Simplified seller standards

2. Consolidated eBay site tools in the eBay Seller Hub

3. Flexible Returns

There are also the standard category and item specific changes that come with most seller updates, as well as an official announcement of the updated mandate for Required Product Identifiers. More on those below.  

Let’s dive into some details on the first three updates. Many of these won’t require immediate action for most sellers  especially ChannelAdvisor customers. However, we’ve included a “Take Action” note where relevant, so please be sure to make a note!  

1. Simplified Seller Standards

Spring of 2014 brought April showers, May flowers and the new Order Defect Rate. We reviewed the new metric in a series of blog posts. We could have created an “Is It a Defect?” game show based on how defects were measured, but eBay has responded to feedback from the seller community and made strides to simplify performance standards and remove some of the subjectivity that has been an ongoing pain point for sellers.  

The new seller standards will focus on two key metrics to determine seller performance: defect rate and on-time shipping. The defect rate will be simplified, and a new on-time shipping measurement will be introduced.  

Defect Rate Changes

Effective February 20, 2016, eBay will exclude the following as defects:

  • Buyer Feedback negative or neutral feedback previously was a defect
  • Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) some low DSRs previously resulted in defects
  • Return requests that are successfully resolved with the buyer
  • Item Not Received requests that are successfully resolved with the buyer

Note: Feedback and DSRs will still be displayed to buyers they just won’t count toward the defect rate.  

The only things that will negatively impact your defect rate will be:

  • Seller-cancelled Transactions (out of stock or items that can’t be fulfilled for any other reason).
    • ChannelAdvisor will continue to protect sellers from incurring a defect for returns that are handled outside of the eBay Returns process. Previously, refunds for legitimate returns were processed without a record of a return request on eBay would result in a defect. ChannelAdvisor recognizes this situation and will continue to automatically submit a mutual cancellation dispute for these returns to prevent unnecessary defects when necessary.  
  • Cases closed without seller resolution (the max allowed is 0.3% of all transactions)

On-Time Shipping

Rather than relying on DSRs for shipping performance, eBay will now use tracking scan information from shipping carriers. Here’s the way this will work:  

EBay will start at the top of the decision tree below and keep going until there’s a signal that the shipment was on time. If not, then the shipment will be considered late and will count against your seller rating.  

ebay on-time shipping
Now that several situations are excluded from causing a defect, eBay will adjust the Top Rated Seller and minimum performance requirement thresholds as follows:

ebay requirement thresholds

Top Rated Sellers will also be required to offer 30-day money back returns starting May 1, 2016. Electronics listings will only require 14-day returns and exceptions apply for other select categories.  A few things of note here:

  • If your defect rate is compliant and the only metric where you fall short is On-Time Shipping, your seller rating is expected to remain unchanged. However, eBay may place restrictions on shipping options, stated handling times, etc.  


  • Offer Tracked Shipping Methods: EBay will use acceptance and delivery scans from shipping carriers to verify on-time shipping.  
  • Review Your Handling Time: Make sure you’re communicating a manageable handling time on your listings. Get those orders out of the door on time!  ChannelAdvisor makes it very easy to build logic (business rules) to determine handling time for each of your items.  Perhaps larger items take longer, or perhaps it is based on the dropshipper?  That’s all easily managed via ChannelAdvisor’s data transformation engine.  
  • Resolve All Cases with Buyers: Good customer service will protect your seller rating.  

2. EBay Seller Hub

In the spirit of simplification, eBay has announced the consolidation of several site tools into one new “hub.” This is primarily catered to smaller sellers using eBay’s free/entry-level listing tools, and seeks to centralize the listing activity, performance measurement and promotional tools in one location. This is for US sellers only at this time.  

3. Returns Management

Many terms have been introduced over the last 2 years with regard to eBay Returns. You may recall “Hassle Free Returns,” “Returns Center/re,” etc. From mid-September, they will all simply be “eBay Returns.”  

The most valuable feature in the new returns management options, that will soon be available, is the ability to automate the acceptance/rejection of return requests based on your business needs.  This will eliminate the need to manually manage each request and provide the opportunity to customize based on rules configured by each seller.  

Sellers that are already using hassle free returns or are handling returns manually aren’t required to change to adopt this process, but it will be available for all sellers in My eBay > Site Preferences > Return Preferences:

ebay returns mgmt


  • Review your current return policies and determine what criteria you use to determine if a return request will be granted. Remember, the better the customer service, the lower the chance of a defect (in the form of an unresolved case)!

4. Category and Item Specifics Changes

Category Changes

Some key category updates will take place in October, so be sure to check the link below to determine if/how your listings will be impacted. This includes Baby, Health & Beauty, Home & Garden, Jewelry & Watches, Musical Instruments & Gear, Sporting Goods, and Motors. The full list is available here:

Item Specific Changes

New and revised item specifics will also be available in October. It’s important to stay on top of these to make sure your listings have the necessary information especially in categories that will be changing. Listings that have well populated item specifics can be automatically re-categorized using this information:


  • Review category changes and item specific changes.  
  • Prepare any new listing data to be sent when the new item specifics fields are available in October.  

EBay CEO Devin Wenig will be stating the official announcement at 1 p.m. PDT via live video at eBay’s Seller Summit. Tune in to the live broadcast here.

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