Sweeping changes ahead as eBay pushes fixed-price selling

SAN JOSE, Calif. (ACNI) – For some time, now, rumors have been circulating quietly within the auction community that eBay was planning to make a gradual shift from – if not completely eliminate – its traditional timed-auction format in favor of a fixed-price platform. While the online giant’s top brass insist that there are no plans to abandon timed auctions, an Aug. 20 statement from Lorrie Norrington, president of eBay Marketplace, confirms that a decided move toward the Buy It Now™ method is firmly on the company’s radar.

In the aforementioned statement, Norrington announces “some bold changes” designed to lower up-front costs and help eBayers to sell more efficiently. If successful, those changes – to be implemented on Sept. 16 – may spirit defectors back to eBay, which has been losing market share to Internet shopping sites. Increasingly, buyers preferring instant gratification, i.e., not having to wait up to 10 days for an eBay auction to end and a selling price to be established, have been turning to other mega-retailers, such as eBay nemesis amazon.com.

Norrington said the plan to be rolled out includes reducing the up-front cost to list an item on eBay, with the bulk of fees shifting to the auction’s close. That way, Norrington said, fees “align with (the seller’s) success.” From Sept. 16, the listing fee for all items entered on eBay via the fixed-price format will be reduced to 35 cents, with even lower fees applying to books, video games and other articles that fall under the Media category. The final value fee is where eBay will make its money.

In addition to the price change, Buy It Now™ listings will now appear on the eBay site for up to 30 days, an increase from the previous seven days. According to Norrington, the combination of lowered up-front fees and longer exposure time on eBay equates to a 70 percent reduction in listing fees on fixed-price items. There will be no changes, however, to auction-style listings. “We believe this format is already a good deal, especially when you list with a low start price,” Norrington said. She also offered the assurance that “auctions will always have a place on eBay – they are a proven way for sellers to get the best value for their unique items, and they continue to receive significant exposure…”

Other features to be introduced this fall include free shipping incentives in all categories, free subtitle listings and a faster, more reliable electronic checkout process that will put an end to payment by check or money order. Those two forms of payment will no longer be accepted on eBay because, Norrington said, history has shown that these methods are “80 percent more likely to result in an item not [being] received” than if paid for with a credit card of PayPal. An exception will be made, at the seller’s discretion, for items that are picked up locally by the purchaser.

As of Nov. 1, sellers will also have to meet a new minimum DSR [Detailed Seller Rating], another protocol intended to reduce the possibility of fraudulent activity in eBay transactions. “Today, only a small fraction of sellers fall below the threshold that will be required of sellers under the new rule, said Norrington, “yet they are responsible for a high percentage of customer complaints…”

EBay hosted a series of Webinars on Aug. 20 and 21 to explain the fine points of upcoming changes. A final Webinar, which is open to the public through eBay’s Web site, will be held on Thursday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. Pacific Time, 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

Click here to read additional information at the Community News section of www.ebay.com.

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