eBay UK is making updates in 2 areas – Contact details, and externally-hosted content.
What do you mean, contact details?
Essentially, as of October 2017, in line with the rules already in place on eBay.com, you won’t be allowed to include your direct contact details anywhere other than the “Business Seller Information” section (which is no doubt only being retained because of the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002). Contact details include URLs, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, IM IDs (Skype, WhatsApp).
So the customers can only contact me using eBay’s messaging system?
Yes, that’s a general idea. Disputes are then all logged on their system, including the outcome, and so are queries.
So this affects my Listing Descriptions?
I addition to your Listing Descriptions, you also need to review the written content on your eBay Shop/Store page, any eBay Blogs or Guides you’ve written, and reviews. And don’t forget the Graphics you use in your listings and shops – If they have contact details, web addresses in, they must be revised.
What is the External Content that is banned?
Officially, links to content outside of eBay’s site are banned, and Active Content (Java included) such as Videos.
Videos such as Product demonstration videos, reviews, installation or setup demos CAN be embedded using HTML 5, from sites that support it (YouTube, Vimeo, Ustream and an increasing number of other sites). Usual eBay policies about videos apply – no adult content, contact info, malware links and no external links and web addresses in contravention of their rules.
In addition, you can include links to certain other information outside of eBay – Legally required information about the product, for example, or Delivery Service information to help people select the right options for shipping. eBay has a listing links policy page. The key thing seems to be that links cannot direct customers to pages that encourage people to view, search or purchase items off-eBay. This ties in with the new restrictions on contact details.
What are the consequences of getting caught in violation of these changes?
eBay are classing an instance of contact details or external content in your listings as a Policy Violation. Consequences include a number of potential actions that can be taken by eBay staff, including, but not limited to:
- Cancelling the listings that are in violation.
- Placing limits on your account (No of listings, Total value of listed stock, etc)
- Removal of PowerSeller status from your eBay account
- Suspension of your Account for a period (includes cancellation of active listings).
How can I make this into an opportunity?
If you’re updating your listings and store anyway, this is a good chance to have a bit of a spring clean – Some people may find that the appearance of some of their older listings that still sell well is a little different from newer listings – You can take the opportunity to bring everything into line, so to speak – Consistency is an important part of building your brand identity.
- Are your listings responsive? With a significant proportion of eBay sales happening on mobile browsers and their mobile apps, it’s never been a better time to get a new, responsive web template to make it easier for people to read your listing and more tempting to stick around and click ‘buy’.
- Have you checked to make sure all your listings have as many specifics as possible to improve your search visibility? If you’re updating them anyway, then you might as well take the chance to improve them using what you have learned since they were created.
- At the same time as updating your specifics, make sure you’re using the right words and terms in the description itself – the more people can find you, the cleared your Descriptions are, the more of them will click on ‘buy’.
- Is this a good time for a new store design? Maybe you’ve been thinking about it for a while? In for a penny, in for a pound, or so they say!
It’s not really a problem, it’s just an opportunity with a bad marketing plan!
Ultimately, there are some who will argue against these policies, and some who will argue for, but you have to follow them to sell on eBay after October 2017.
From eBay’s side, they believe that keeping the buyers within eBay maintains a more consistent experience for them, and allows eBay’s policies to protect the customer and the seller. They spend a lot of money on their advertising and their marketplace and feel it creates value for both Seller and Customer.
From the seller’s point of view, however, they want to build a relationship with their customers, and eBay sometimes gets in the way of that – eBay’s loyalty is to get more sales on their marketplaces for A SELLER, not necessarily the same seller. This can cause certain amounts of tension because few sellers can offer the best price for every product in the modern economy, and eBay is happy to show other people’s listings next to your own for the same product – You’re just another seller.
There’s no wrong or right answer at the end of the day, and we’ve seen before that eBay sometimes swings quite far in one direction, only to swing back towards the center later. For the time being, if eBay is a part of your business, you should be working to ensure that you’re not just compliant with their rules on Active Content, but now on external Links and contact info. The sooner you start, the better – I can promise that you’ll find that information in a lot more places than you thought it was!!
But I only sell on eBay!
And if you are thinking this seems like a good time to reduce your reliance on eBay, but you don’t have an ecommerce Website, give us a call – We can talk to you about the Pros and Cons of building your own online store.