2016 was full of changes for online sellers on eBay, Amazon, and Etsy. We’ve put together a brief overview of the major updates to these marketplaces and other wider ecommerce developments, as well as a look at what’s been announced for the first few months of 2017.
eBay changes in 2016
- On-time delivery metric and changes to how defects are measured - February
The new on-time delivery metric allows for orders to be counted as on time if you add tracking information to eBay and either:
- tracking shows your parcel was ‘accepted’ within your stated dispatch time
- ‘delivered’ within the estimated delivery time
- or the buyer confirms the delivery was made on time.
It also doesn’t count towards your defect rating. Seller-cancelled transactions and cases that are closed without seller resolutions are now the only two reasons you can receive a defect. Find out more about the Spring updates here.
- Product identifiers - February
The number of categories which requires product identifiers expanded, and now all single item listings and listings with variations in these categories must include the following: Brand, Manufacturer Part Number (MPN), Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) (GTIN includes European Article Numbers (EAN) and International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN)). In April, eBay also made it possible for buyers to search for items by entering the GTIN, UPC, EAN, ISBN or MPN.
- Product reviews - Spring
eBay introduced product reviews for certain products to provide buyers with more information before they purchase. Different from seller feedback, these reviews are about the product itself rather than the seller’s experience with an individual buyer. Items have to be associated with an existing product in eBay’s product catalogue to be eligible for reviews.
- 30 day returns for TRS - May
Once you’re a Top-rated Seller you’re eligible for eBay Premium Service (improved visibility in search and 10% final value fee discount), however, to qualify you now have to offer a minimum returns period of 30 days instead of 14 days.
- Mobile descriptions - July
To improve product descriptions on their mobile site and app, eBay now automatically creates a 250 character summary of your item description. If your product description is under 800 characters and uses basic HTML, CSS or text-only, the whole description will be displayed.
- Global Shipping Programme expanded - August
You can now ship to over 40 more countries using the Global Shipping Programme.
- Good ‘Til Cancelled available to everyone - October
All business sellers can now use the Good ‘Til Cancelled listing format, not just Shop subscribers.
- Help to improve seller standards - October
If your account falls Below Standard you’ll be given a specific, detailed explanation of why you’re failing to meet eBay’s minimum seller standards and advice on how to resolve the issues. Performance-based selling limits or restrictions will be deferred for 3-months once you fall Below Standard, however, other restrictions can still be applied such as lower search placement, fund holds and the loss of Featured and Anchor Shop privileges.
Amazon changes in 2016
- GS1 barcodes required - June
Amazon tightened up its Universal Product Code (UPC) and Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) policy. The authenticity of product UPCs will be checked against the GS1 database, and those that don’t match will be considered invalid. Listings with an invalid UPC will be removed, and you could also have your Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) creation or selling privileges temporarily or permanently removed.
- Incentivised reviews restricted - November
Amazon’s community guidelines were updated to prohibit sellers from arranging incentivised reviews for products. Incentivised reviews are now only allowed if they are done through the Amazon Vine programme. The changes apply to all categories apart from books.
- A-to-z guarantee claim response time reduced - October
You now have three calendar days to respond to an A-to-z Guarantee claim, instead of seven.
Etsy changes in 2016
- Etsy Direct Checkout with PayPal - February
Sellers are no longer able to switch between integrated PayPal and standalone PayPal.
- Pattern by Etsy - April
Etsy now offers sellers the ability to set up a standalone hosted ecommerce site that directly integrate with their Etsy shop.
- Location based search results
Changes to Etsy search that meant sellers in the same country as the shopper appear more prominently in search results were extended to France and Germany. This change to search was introduced to the UK in October 2015.
- Weekly deposits for Direct Checkout users - November
Sellers with Direct Checkout now have deposits sent to their bank accounts each week instead of every other week.
Other ecommerce changes in 2016
Royal Mail’s free delivery confirmation for 2D barcode labels
Royal Mail announced that all parcels sent with new 2D barcode labels will eventually have free delivery confirmation. The service is being introduced gradually and account holders will be informed when it’s available to them.
Google ads require GTINs
Online sellers using Google advertising have to include GTINs in their listings for them to appear in Google’s shopping search results. Ads for products that don’t have a GTIN will be rejected if there’s one provided by the manufacturer.
Small businesses exempt from quarterly tax returns
In August, the government announced that small businesses with an annual turnover of less than £10,000 will be exempt from new quarterly, digital tax returns.
New marketplace, ‘OnBuy’
A new British marketplace, OnBuy, launched in November. Currently, the platform is inviting sellers to add their inventory, with a consumer launch planned for early 2017. OnBuy offers a commission-only plan charging a selling fee of 6%, or a £49 per month subscription with no commission.
eBay changes coming in 2017
Product identifiers mandatory - February
eBay will be expanding the types of product identifiers you can use to include Amazon and Google product identifiers, as well as seller-created identifiers. All newly created listings in affected categories must have at least one product identifier, and the number of categories that they’re required for will be expanding. The ‘Does Not Apply’ option will no longer be available when creating listings, and Good ‘Til Cancelled listings without identifiers will need to be updated later in 2017.
Active content no longer allowed - June
Amazon changes coming in 2017
Long term storage fees - August
From August, long term storage fees will be charged on stock that’s spent more than six months in a European FBA warehouse. Items stored for over six months will incur a fee of £441.25 per cubic metre. The exemption for one unit of each ASIN from the fees will also be removed.