Recently eBay launched its new “eBay Express” and it’s almost certain to be a major profit center to eBay sellers.
As everyone knows, eBay began as an auction site. Catering to small, mom and pop sellers, eBay evolved into a more traditional online shopping channel with its stores and such features as Buy It Now (BIN) which allows buyers to purchase merchandise immediately, rather than waiting for an auction to end.
With eBay Express this transition to online store is complete, although eBay will certainly retain the auction format for which it is most famous.
In 2005 eBay bought shopping.com and the similarity in format between the two is apparent. The format is almost identical although there are far more items on eBay Express than shopping.com. For instance, this morning in ‘women’s apparel’ there were “469,207 matches found” on Express and “79,000 items from 525 stores” on shopping.com.
One great difference: with the eBay Express system every purchase goes to the same shopping cart, even though there are thousands of merchants. The shopping site, on the other hand, leads directly to the individual store that owns the displayed merchandise.
eBay sellers cannot sign up for eBay Express, although they can opt out. Instead, the merchandise is automatically listed if it’s in the BIN format or if it’s listed in an eBay store. At this time, there is no charge for this dual listing on eBay and eBay Express, although I feel certain that this will change in the future and that eBay will charge for this service.
Sellers will receive not only more exposure for each item listed, but there are other benefits as well:
1. Buyers can choose to purchase multiple items all in one transaction, just like any traditional store. If the buyer wants eight different items, it can be handled in one transaction, with one payment and one shipping charge. This is so much simpler than dealing with eight different auctions, eight different sellers and eight different shipping fees that it’s almost certain to encourage multiple sales.
2. This will, in turn, solve one of the biggest gripes of eBay sellers: the dreaded Non Paying Bidder! For reasons known only to themselves, there are multiple dead beats who deliberately win an auction – but never pay the seller. Usually they don’t even respond to repeated emails. This is very costly to sellers – not only in the obvious sense of unpaid merchandise but also because of the loss of other buyers who were legitimately interested in the merchandise but have most likely gone elsewhere. With eBay Express, everything will be paid in advance so the buyer won’t withdraw her merchandise from the market yet never be paid for it.
3. There is a shopping cart for eBay Express and it includes multiple ways to pay.
4. eBay has promised to aggressively promote eBay Express in the search engines and there is every reason to trust that promise. After all, it is in eBay’s interest to use their considerable muscle to ensure the success of eBay Express. This is certain to mean more traffic to sellers.
Although the starting point of seller participation is either an eBay store or Buy It Now items, there are additional requirements:
* At this time, the Express is only available to American and Canadian sellers. If eBay Express is a success, this is very likely going to expand to other countries.
* The items for sale must physically be in the US
* There are PayPal conditions: the seller must be either a PayPal Business or a PayPal Premier participant
* Every item listed in eBay Express must include a picture
* If applicable, the “condition” field must indicate whether the merchandise is Used/New/Refurbished
* Such items as books, movies and DVDs have a “pre-filled item information” component to their listings and this must be used
* There are three choices for shipping on eBay and these must be clearly indicated in the ‘shipping’ field of each listing in order to be included in eBay Express
– A flat fee of “X” amount of dollars
– No cost for shipping
* Sellers feedback must be a minimum of 100 points
* Seller feedback must have at least a 98% approval rate
Items will be listed in up to three different locations on eBay Express. According to eBay’s president:
“Results are sorted on relevancy against the buyer’s search by default. Searching brings back listings that may not be an exact keyword match and sorts them based on a range of factors. The buyer is able to re-sort by total cost, i.e. item price plus shipping cost.”
With all these exciting promises, there are eBay seller gripes about one feature and that is that sellers will sometimes be presented with orders from unconfirmed PayPal addresses. This is significant because PayPal offers some fraud protection but only if the merchandise is shipped to an address that has been confirmed by PayPal. If the address is not confirmed and the buyer is a fraud, sellers will lose out.
In spite of all the outrage over this provision, it isn’t that different from online sellers who have their own merchant account.
In the United States, for example, there is an Address Verification System. If we, for instance, receive an order from an address that doesn’t match the address on the buyer’s credit card, we know that we are taking a much larger risk than normal. In fact, many merchant account providers forbid turning off the AVS and breaking this rule can cost the merchant his account. In this case, all orders that don’t have an address match are automatically rejected.
If eBay sellers don’t want to agree to these terms, they have two choices:
1. The first seller choice involves opting out of eBay Express entirely. This seems to me to be a foolish choice. Yes, there is added risk but the possibility of increased business will most likely more than make up for an occasional bad transaction.
It’s imperative that we make it easy for buyers to do business with us. Perhaps the strongest example I’ve ever seen of eBay fear was a notice by a seller that we had to mail him and get permission to bid on one of his items! Undoubtedly he had been burned by an unscrupulous buyer and tried so hard to protect himself that he most likely destroyed his business. I seriously doubt that people are willing to do as he requested (unless his merchandise was irresistible – and it wasn’t!)
2. There is an option to decide on a case-by-case basis if the transaction should be honored. This might be useful in the event of very expensive merchandise, but it could quickly grow to be a problem in the event of many sales.
Most everything that eBay touches turns to gold and eBay Express will likely be the same. We cannot know the results as yet, but the increased sales will probably far outweigh the increased risk. We cannot know without testing but sellers would be wise to concentrate on these exciting new opportunities rather than focusing on fear of loss.
Wandering around eBay Express as a buyer, I cannot help but be pleased with what I find. I have the option of viewing up to 90 items on each page, the volume is gigantic, the pictures are great, and I can buy whatever I want with only one payment. It’s more like Amazon than eBay. With the vast resources behind this new selling venue, success is the most likely possibility and this seller doesn’t intend to miss out!