Part III/IV — What’s NOT in the EBay 2015 Fall Seller Update

September 25, 2015

ChannelAdvisor Scot Wingo By Scot Wingo

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

  1. EBay 2015 Fall Seller Update: What you need to know: In this post, we covered the highlights of the release that have the most impact for larger sellers and details of 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 (you are here): 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 fourth post, Scot will give an update on this key eBay strategic initiative.

What’s NOT in the Release

As mentioned in seller standards, I think it’s interesting to think about what’s not in this release.  

No Fee Changes

As a long-term eBay-watcher, the biggest omission is changes to the fee structure. I think there are three things ‘wrong’ with the eBay fee structure:

1. Too complex Here is the eBay fee page. Seems simple, but go ahead and open the ‘insertion fee,’ ‘final value fee,’ ‘advanced listing upgrades’ and ‘supplemental fee’ pages. Then open up the ‘format’ page and ‘store page.’ That’s more than seven pages of content and nowhere in there is a simple grid that helps you visually see how much you’ll pay. There’s a huge opportunity for simplification here.

2. Insertion fees need to go I’ve been on this bandwagon for 10+ years and don’t have more to say than, “Come on guys, it’s 2015.”

3. Fees too high for eBay’s new targets A C2C seller shouldn’t have to worry about the complexity and also the cost. 10%+ is too much when you look at the other options, and eBay needs to get this much lower for this part of its strategy to have legs.

Over the next 18 months I think eBay’s take rate is going to be under pressure. You have Jet essentially passing 10% back to buyers which should, in theory, give them prices that are 10% lower than eBay’s. You have the Alibaba/Tmall 4% business model which is only in China for now, but Alibaba clearly has aspirations to change that. It would be smart for eBay to start thinking about where take rates are today and what they can do to prepare for the onslaught of new marketplaces with different disruptive business models.

No Search Improvements

Every buyer and seller in the eBay ecosystem knows that the search engine is really, really broken. Search is so bad that the eBay mobile apps do everything they can (collections!, deals!, look over here!) to keep you out of search. While eBay has headwinds from the Google SEO problems and the hack, my theory is the eBay search engine is another headwind that keeps eBay from growing at e-commerce rates. Because quite simply, buyers can’t find the great products that sellers are offering. EBay has made it explicitly clear that a top priority is building the product catalog and we agree this is crucial to getting search, let alone SEO, to work.

Fall Seller Update Conclusion

The fall seller update is largely positive. EBay has, in Lawton, an executive on board who ran a world-class e-commerce retailer is making key changes in attempts to simplify seller’s lives which is great to see. The challenge is with eBay growing at low single digits y/y, compared to e-commerce at 15% and Amazon EGM at 30%+, it feels like eBay is down 10 in the 7th inning stretch and bunting (apologies, it’s baseball playoff season).

In other words, these are very incremental changes and eBay needs to be making substantially large changes and innovations to catch up to the industry. If not, eBay risks being sidelined.

Up Next: Product Identifiers

Finally, in eBay-land we are finding there are a lot of questions surrounding eBay’s structured data initiative, which we call eBay Product Identifiers (ePI) or what eBay calls RPI (Required Product Identifiers). We’ll go over the details of where that initiative is in the fourth and last post in this series.


Written by Scot Wingo, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, ChannelAdvisor

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