I apologize for the length of this post but it is important to give you the full story.

As the title indicates, there are more changes coming to eBay.co.uk and eBay.ie. No doubt all of the eBay sites will soon make the same changes, if they haven’t already done so.

Over the last few months eBay have been making more policy changes. To list in some categories you must list the items with FREE P&P. They are now extending the policy changes to other categories. As of 19th October 2009 sellers listing in selected media categories will also be required to offer free P&P as their first domestic postage option.

The reason for this is that eBay claim that P&P costs are a major reason for buyers spending less on eBay, especially in the media categories.

Those categories are:
Books, Comics & Magazines
• Accessories
• Annuals
• Antiquarian & Collectable
• Audio Books
• Children’s Books
• Collections & Lots
• Comics
• Educational/ Textbooks
• Fiction Books
• Magazines
• Modern Maps & Atlases
• Non-Fiction Books

DVD, Film & TV
• Accessories/ Storage
• Film Memorabilia
• Other Film Formats
• TV Memorabilia
• Videos: VHS

Music
• Accessories/ Storage
• Cassettes
• CDs
• Music Memorabilia
• Other Music Formats
• Records

The following categories already require free P&P:

DVD, Film & TV
• DVDs

Video Games
• Accessories
• Games
• Internet Game Accessories
• Merchandise/ Books
• Other Video Games

So if you are a seller listing in any of those categories you MUST make your 1st domestic postal service free of charge. You can then add an alternative service and charge for it, but I doubt very much that anyone would opt to pay for 1st class postage when 2nd class is free, unless they needed the item by a specific time.

To soften the blow and ‘help sellers absorb the extra expense’ eBay are offering Final Value Fee promotions to eBay Shop owners. From 20 August to 30 September 2009, eBay Shop owners will qualify for a 20% Final Value Fee discount when they offer free P&P in any Media category.

What I find strange is that eBay are offering the 20% discount, up until 30th September and yet the latest policy change isn’t due until 19th October. Maybe they’ll offer more closer to the time, we can only wait and see.

eBay have been capping the P&P charges for some time now. Book sellers, for example, are currently only allowed to charge a maximum of £2.75 for P&P regardless of the true cost of postage.

I sell Books and eBooks (on disc) on eBay and find their latest changes hard to swallow. Sure, I can absorb the cost on some items like thin paperbacks that are quite light and aren’t very expensive to post. But at the other end of the scale I have some very heavy encyclopaedias that cost me £8.22 to post via Royal Mail. Their offer of a 20% discount on Final Value Fees just isn’t enough to compensate. I sell the encyclopaedias at £6.95 and the FVF is 60p, 20% of that is just 12p. Meaning eBay will grant me a 12p discount for every £8.22 that I lose in postage for that item.

If you also sell heavy items in the affected categories I would recommend that you lower your prices NOW and make as many sales as possible before the deadline, when we will have no option but to pay the postage for these items. Either way, you will have to lose money to make sales of such items, or get stuck with the stock.

eBay seem to have forgotten the people that helped build their business to what it is today and seem to be focusing their policies on accommodating the big businesses. They also seem to have overlooked the fact that there’s a world wide recession at the moment, which is the main reason for the reduced sales.

If you’re just getting started on eBay then you MUST look into this before you go and spend your money on stock. The last thing you want to do is buy a bulk order thinking that you have a good mark up only to find that YOU have to cover the P&P costs as they will put a large dent in your profits.

For fixed price listings, you only need to work the postage costs into the price, with Auction items however, you need to be cautious as you don’t know what the end price will be.

This policy change is sure to affect your international sales.
For example, if you currently list an item at £3.95 with £1.95 P&P (UK postage) you will soon need to list it for £5.90 with free P&P. International buyers are far less likely to bid on your item as they won’t know that your domestic postage is included in the price.

To help you ‘TRY’ and make sales you could amend your international postage charges by deducting the £1.95 (that you have included in the price to cover the free postage) from the International shipping cost. So if you currently charge £4.75 for international postage you could amend it to £2.80 when the new policy is introduced.

I also need to point out that your final value fees will be increased, as you’ll be paying a % of the Total price which includes postage costs.

It’s no good huffing and puffing or stamping your feet. When eBay change their policies they don’t often change them back. All we can do is try and work with them or around them.

If you have any tips that other readers may find useful please leave a comment and share those tips for others to use.

An example tip: If you list your items now in the Fixed Price format as GTC (Good unTil Cancelled) and include the P&P charges then the listing will remain active until you’ve sold them all. But you will not be able to revise the listing without changing the P&P to comply with the new policy.
Update on this tip
: eBay are now ending GTC listings in the affected categories. So you DO need to offer free post in them all.

More news as and when ebay release it.

Until next time, take care

Filed under: eBay

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