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eBay 2016 Changes

A recap on 2016 changes

Over the last 12 months eBay has made some significant changes, from an overhaul of the feedback and defects system to the Product identifiers requirements, and has provided some notice of further changes to come in the next few months.

As 2017 looms, here’s a recap of what’s changed, the implications, what we know is coming soon and what you need to do to be prepared in plenty of time.

Change Date Reason for the change Implications for you To do
Feedback and defect system overhauled February 2016 As only around 25% of buyers leave feedback now, and as a disproportionate number of those are dissatisfied, the old system had less and less value. Your seller value and status is determined on only a few criteria, plus timely (and tracked) delivery rates. The priorities now are never officially cancelling as out of stock; dealing promptly with buyer complaints; and posting out/delivering within stated times and preferably by tracked means. Keep a close eye on the seller dashboard to make sure defects are picked up quickly.
Product Identifiers introduced February 2016 Google and the Internet generally is relying on product identifiers to organise data and match what searchers are looking for. If you have Barcodes available, then they need to be added in to listings. If no barcodes, “Does not apply” needs to be added. This change is now completed and fully implemented.
Product Reviews introduced Spring 2016 Buyers are strongly influenced by peer pressure, and reviews encourage them to buy. If you don’t have product identifiers, then buyers can’t leave reviews and are more likely to buy a competitor’s product which does have reviews. It’s worth encouraging buyers to leave a review, preferably as a comment on a packing slip, or as a follow up email.
30 Day returns for TRS becomes mandatory May 2016 Buyers are encouraged to buy if they see a simple and generous returns policy. Anecdotal evidence indicates that 30 days is an optimal balance between providing reassurance without increasing the number of returns. Offering a longer returns window provides a great buyer experience and could give you an advantage over sellers with a less competitive returns policy.

30 days’ returns is one of the requirements for Top rated Seller Status which gives increased search visibility.

Offer 30 day returns.
Mini descriptions start appearing on mobile devices July 2016 On mobiles, buyers often don’t click through to the description so eBay is providing a mini description. When first implemented the mini descriptions were often nonsensical, but the bots have become more sophisticated and now the mini descriptions are reasonable. Check how your listings appear on a smartphone and make changes accordingly.
Seller Hub

Rolled out

Autumn 2016 The older My eBay has been upgraded and improved. The Seller Hub is still optional now but will eventually be compulsory. It needs to be learned as the layout is different but all the information is still there, plus more besides. Set time aside to become familiar with the Hub and the tools within it.
GTC now available without a shop subscription October 2016 eBay wants to encourage micro businesses as part of its USP is to offer a wide variety of unusual items. Shops offer other advantages such as free listing insertion and building a brand, but for a micro seller it’s a helpful way to enter the eBay market. Work out if a shop is the right position for your business.
Seller coaching and leeway introduced October 2016 eBay wants to educate sellers and help them improve rather than simply punish. eBay also wants to give good sellers a chance to turn around low seller status within 3 months. Makes selling a little easier as eBay will not reduce selling allowances automatically if Below Average. Search results still affected. Bear in mind that extra effort to regain Above average or Top Rated Seller status is now rewarded
Product Identifiers become mandatory for new listings in many categories February 2017 eBay needs to keep up with other platforms and search engines which are increasingly dependent on product identifiers. It also helps eBay spot duplicates and match buyer searches with appropriate products. New listings in many categories will need either manufacturer EANs or MPNs; Amazon ASINs, or EPIDS (eBay’s own catalogue numbers). You can also create your own but the “Does Not Apply” option will disappear from many categories. Check here

to see if your categories are affected and make plans to add product identifiers


Active Content no longer allowed June 2017 Across the Internet mobile usage is still climbing steadily, so eBay wants to make sure buyers have an optimal experience on the platform. Listing template designs need to be clean and easy to read – not just without Active Content but also having the correct font size etc.

Fussy and tiny templates will not be as successful.

Check here to see how well your template stacks up.

If less than optimal, your templates will need to be replaced by June 2017 latest, but sales may be affected before then.

If you have enjoyed reading this post, check out my other insights into eBay here –  eBay Blog

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