The Web Retailer News Digest for February 18, 2022
February 9 was a busy day for eBay and marketplace sellers, as the 2022 Winter Seller Update dropped along with an email announcement of an updated User Agreement, effective March 11. Additionally, there have been other significant eBay developments in the news since then, including policy changes on volume discounts for UK business sellers and an ongoing security situation involving potentially fraudulent tax forms.
There’s a lot to unpack, with significant good and not-so-good changes for sellers as we move full speed into 2022. We’ll start with the Winter Seller Update, dive into the new User Agreement, and finish with a news roundup.
Ebay 2022 updates – what’s changed, and are fees higher?
Ebay 2022 updates – what’s changed, and are fees higher?
We will hit the highlights here, give you more details on the critical fee increases, and provide links to the rest. Per eBay’s official announcement, what you need to know about are:
- Selling Manager Pro features are now available free of charge
- Promoted Listings updates and expansions
- Reducing unpaid items for accepted offers
- Updates to how feedback is displayed and collected
- Updates to fee credits and Below Standard final value fees – increasing additional final value fees from 5% to 6% for Below Standard sellers.
- New messaging experience in the eBay app
- Final value fee change across categories – final value fees for Store sellers will increase 0.3% in most categories, and Final value fees for sellers without a Store will increase 0.35% in most categories.
Subtitle listing upgrade fee for fixed price and auction listings – increasing the fee for the optional Subtitle listing upgrade for items with an auction start price or Buy it Now price up to $150. For auction listings, the new fee will be $1.50. Previously, the fee was $1.00. For fixed price listings, the new fee will be $2.00. Previously, the fee was $1.50.
New eBay User Agreement
Effective March 11 for existing users, here are the highlights of the new User Agreement eBay sellers need to know about and the links to learn more. As always, be sure to read the agreement completely before agreeing.
- The ways eBay can use your personal data are now aligned with the User Privacy Notice.
- Sellers are now prohibited from sharing credentials with third parties.
- Your listings may be published and promoted by Ebay on platforms owned by other eBay corporate family members and/or third parties.
- eBay’s Authentication Guarantee programs have had their transaction terms changed.
- Returns and cancellation policies have been updated.
One interesting note: all references to PayPal are removed from the UA, a breakup that began in 2018 and the final move to managed payments.
eBay News Roundup
Finally, two additional eBay stories of note to kickoff an eventful couple weeks:
- Starting next month, eBay will no longer offer volume discounts on selling fees for business sellers in the UK, thus hiking rates for everyone but the smallest sellers. Volume discounts will be ending beginning March 20.
- An unusual seller ID security situation is in progress at eBay, wherein sellers (and non-sellers!) are receiving fraudulent or erroneous 1099-K US tax forms. If you receive a 1099-K from eBay that contains someone else’s tax information, contact eBay’s Payments department first, followed by Trust & Safety, along with the IRS. Ebay has released no information on the issues, but social media is flooded with stories. At this time, it’s unknown whether hackers, faulty tech, or other issues are behind the bizarre situation.
Email campaigns to Amazon brand followers are now available
It wasn’t so long ago that Amazon made it nearly impossible for sellers to contact their customers within the bounds of terms and conditions. According to Amazon, you may now conduct email campaigns to followers of your brand. It’s the first time Amazon has offered brand owners the ability to email potential customers before they purchase a product. Prior to this, all emails were done post-purchase. Amazon also announced new holiday-themed templates, to “suggest gifts for upcoming holidays, New Year resolutions, travel adventures, game day, and other occasions.”
The rollout of these new features to the Customer Engagement tool (BETA), which allowed Brand Registry-brands and other brands with followers to send direct emails, changes the game for brands with over 1000 followers. Promising new templates to be launched monthly, it seems that the usefulness of this service is finally improving for sellers.
However, there are still strict limitations. Emails may only be sent to followers of the brand, not to all existing customers or potential customers. Only three kinds of email can be sent – announcements for a new product launch, holiday-themed email, or product spotlight email. You also cannot send them whenever you want. Delivery times are in set intervals chosen by Amazon, about two weeks in advance.
As you might expect, sellers have opinions on the Customer Engagement updates such as:
While the concern over followers vs. customers is well-placed, we’ll have a better idea of how effective the changes to Customer Engagement are for sellers once the Q4 2022 holiday season rolls around.
Read more at Amazon.
Shopify now half Amazon marketplace’s size – what’s next?
It seems like everybody’s moved into ecommerce these days. We know this is true because Shopify has grown to be nearly half of the Amazon marketplace’s size. According to a new report from Marketplace Pulse:
“Sellers on Amazon transacted $390 billion worth of goods in 2021. Shopify merchants reached $175 billion combined GMV. Shopify’s GMV was 45% as big as Amazon Marketplace for the whole year. However, it reached an all-time high of 48% in the fourth quarter. Shopify merchants as a group have been growing faster than Amazon third-party sellers for the past few years.”
Of course, Amazon and Shopify cannot be directly compared. Shopify merchants are individually in charge of their own channel. Amazon’s third-party sellers all sell through the same channel: Amazon. Shopify’s increased scale shows that companies are more ready than ever to sell directly to consumers. This dynamis is partly a result of the pandemic and partly a result of competing for sales with Amazon, other online marketplaces, and other D2C options such as WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and more.
Shopify has shown ambitions of late to compete with Amazon more directly. It recently announced changes to the Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) with the goals of offering affordable two-day delivery, simplified customer returns, and potentially even owning distribution centers in the near future. It will be interesting to see how Shopify continues to expand, and what they will offer sellers. Perhaps more sellers will opt to leave the Amazon platform for Shopify, where they have more control over their business operations.
Read more at Marketplace Pulse.
Want to be a millionaire Amazon Seller? Here are your odds
Who wants to be a millionaire Amazon seller? Almost everybody. Who gets to be a millionaire Amazon seller? Very, very few. A recent study from Marketplace Pulse has estimated that the total number of Amazon sellers who went over $1 million in sales last year is 60,000. There are 9.7 million Amazon sellers globally, with 1.9 million actively selling on the platform. That means the total percentage of sellers who sold over $1 million is <checks math> 3% of active sellers and .6% of all sellers. Yikes.
However, it’s not all that bleak. It turns out that over the last three years, the number of $1 million+ sellers has doubled. Interestingly, the number of sellers over $1 million increased at a faster rate over the last 3 years than the number of sellers above $100,000. It may simply be a case of the rich getting richer because they have more resources to create scale. It may also be due to the increase in the number of Amazon aggregators, some of which are selling in the billions. Geography also helps – the United States is home to more than half of the sellers over $100,000.
The report is a fascinating snapshot into a seller’s chances to make it big in the marketplace, how sales are distributed across active sellers and marketplaces, and perhaps may serve as a reality check for a few aspiring entrepreneurs.
Read more at Marketplace Pulse.
Also in the news
- Amazon updates to customer returns policy for international sales. Amazon UK.
- Amazon University adds courses on selling restricted products. EcommerceBytes.
- eBay UK promo – lower selling fees on all sneakers through February 21. eBay.
- Etsy updates to listing categories and attributes. Etsy.
- BBC watchdog exposes mass-produced items on Etsy. EcommerceBytes.
- Amazon and Visa agree to end global dispute over credit card fees. CNBC.
Ship backup at Southern California ports is receding. Wall Street Journal.
Webinars in the week ahead
February 23: eBay Q4 2021 Earnings Call. eBayVarious dates: Amazon advertising’s global webinar program rolls on with 20+ webinars scheduled, covering Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, reporting, optimization, and tips. Amazon.
For US sellers
February 22:The Opportunity is Now for B2B Marketplace Success. Digital Commerce 360.
No love for eBay’s “Cubid” this Valentine’s Day
And finally, we hope your Valentine’s Day went better than eBay’s this week. The platform teamed with marketing agency McCann London to give birth to a bouncing baby Cupid clone – the unfortunately misspelled “Cubid” – to celebrate the holiday.
The idea was that this sassy character was going to take over eBay Twitter and create a buzz. “Cubid” apparently offered giveaways to people who tagged posts of items they wanted from eBay with #eBayCubid – although all the details were never made explicitly clear. It all went about as well as you might expect, which is not so well at all.
Some diligent Twitterati were rewarded with vouchers for purchases.
Others struggled to understand what was actually going on with the promotion.
The Twitter visit from “Cubid” seemed to cause more confusion than Valentine’s Day joy. Yes, numerous tweets thanked “Cubid” for vouchers received for eBay purchases. But there were just as many tweets questioning the choice of such a hacky, hipster Cupid knock-off in sunglasses and a puffer to boost eBay sales. The character was also seen as a major misstep for McCann.
The situation ultimately dissolved into an agency posting sponsored tweets to create the appearance the campaign had gone viral – yet here we are, still talking about “Cubid.” So, maybe the whole thing was a success? Clearly, “Cubid” created a bit of Valentine’s Day attraction, but we wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “love thing.” All we know for sure is to avoid Twitter around Valentine’s Day next year.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Read more at Value Added Resource.