eBay’s Fall Release (SR11.2) – summary, reactions and thoughts

July 18, 2011

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

On July 12th (2011), eBay announced what they call the Fall Seller update, or what we call SR2 for (seller release 2) for the year.  To refresh your memory, the SR1 announcement was dominated by the inclusion of S+H in FVFs which went live in early July.

In this post I wanted to cover three things:

  1. SR2 in a nutshell US+UK- some of the highlights of SR2 and references if you want to learn more
  2. Seller reaction
  3. Analysis/thoughts on the changes and where does eBay need to go from here.

SR2 in a nutshell

Here are the major news items from SR2:

  • Title expansion from 55 to 80 (Early Sept)
  • Buyers have to contact sellers first before cases impact seller reputation scores (August)
  • Links and emails taken out of listings (10/1/11)
  • Updated return policy – 3/7 day options going away (next year)
  • Updated ticket experience -finally integrating with Stubhub
  • GPS devices are forced to use the catalogueueue (9/15/11)
  • Tons of category and item specific changes (a part of daily life in eBayland)
  • (UK) Fitment is coming to the UK’s parts and accessories category
  • (UK) TRS grace period – you will receive a 2-4 month grace period to turn around any blips and not lose your TRS status – unless you dip below Above Standard Seller status, then you are toast
  • (UK) A cross-selling capability (e.g. If you buy this, I recommend you check out this other SKU that I have).

I’m not going to cover the specifics of these as other blogs and eBay themselves have done a great job on that.  Here are some resources if you want more info:

  • eBay’s AB post is here.
  • eBay’s fancy SR2 micro-site is here
  • eBay’s seller checklist is here
  • eBay seller forum for the release is here (always a fun time).

Seller’s reactions to SR2

Seller’s I’ve talked to have generally been very pleased by this release. the extra characters in title are welcome and will help with some of the challenges presented by the duplicate listing policy (DLP in eBay-speak).  The eBay de-dupe engine seems to look at titles primarily and if you have 5 SKUs that are different, but have the same title, this gives you more room to include some differentiation.

Probably the most negative reaction (and even that has been very mild) has been around the return period.  Sellers with the 3/7 day type policy will probably trend towards no returns and other sellers will be fine.

The email and link policy has generated the most questions and we’re still all learning exactly what will be and won’t be allowed going forward.

SR2 analysis and thoughts

I agree with the seller reaction, this is pretty much a minor release coming on the heels of a major economic-impact release which to eBay’s credit is very smart.  The 11.1 release was significant and it’s prudent to not push too many changes into the seller-base which at this time of year can disrupt Q4.

The US changes are a good set of improvements and needed, but I don’t think they are really going to move the needle too much.  Certainly not as much as the 11.1 release will.    Title expansion is good – giving buyers more data is always a good thing.  The return policy change is smart because a 3-7 day return period is so low you might as well have none.  The move to have buyers contact sellers first is also a no-brainer.

We’re particularly excited about the UK changes.  Fitment has been a huge success for buyers and sellers in the US and it’s exciting to see that page of the playbook start to replicate to other regions.  The cross selling beta seems great in concept, we’ll have to see the implementation to see how it does in concert with the cart/basket.

The only negative thing about the UK changes is I wish they were also coming to the US.

The real question about SR2 is what’s missing.

What’s missing?

Thanks for asking! 😉  I’m a bit of a broken record on these topics so I’ll be brief.  There are really two areas that I wish eBay would make much more rapid changes:

  • eTRS/DSRs – The DSR and eTRS programs are in need of desparate revamps.  These programs have issues that are systemic and both allow bad sellers to be eTRS and un-necessarily burden and incorrectly punish great sellers.
  • Search – eBay’s search experience is improving, but at a glacial speed compared to what’s needed to really keep up with the e-commerce standard finding+buying experience. To put it in perspective, Google created a complete competitor to Facebook in the last year while eBay expanded titles and moved the GPS category to the catalogueueue.  eBay has to dramatically improve things

Getting rid of bad sellers is definitely helping.  Free shipping is helping.  Improving the buyer experience on the edges (fitment in P+A) is working, let’s tackle these two big ones and get the good ship eBay going 100% the right direction.

As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these two topics as well as your reactions to the 11.2 release in comments.

SeekingAlpha disclosure – I am long Amazon and Google. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.