Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fulfillment by eBay? eBay to Acquire GSI Commerce for $2.4 Billion

In a move that is being spun by many as an attempt to get more competitive with amazon.com, eBay is acquiring GSI commerce for $2.4 billion.

GSI Commerce, according to their web site, helps "companies of all sizes" to "help deliver an exceptional and engaging e-commerce shopping experience to their customers." Those companies of all sizes include the fairly large retailers Toys R Us, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, and Bath & Body Works.

"The number of retailers, large and small, that have come to us saying 'We are grappling with how you deal with mobile commerce, we are grappling with how to deal in a social-commerce world, we are grappling with how to go global' has been striking," said eBay Chief Executive John Donahoe to The Wall Street Journal.

Channel Advisor's David Spitz said, "EBay is clearly going on the offensive. This is definitely a step toward offering a broader array of services for the marketplace." EBay has a minority investment in ChannelAdvisor. (Read the whole Journal article at at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704471904576228532935603752.html#ixzz1I1z4vzj8)

My take on the acquisition? It seems to me (granted, not a financial analyst...just a longtime eBay seller) that it does seem a reaction specifically to amazon.com's FBA, or Fulfillment by Amazon, program, which many eBay sellers have flocked to. As far as I know, they have not used it *instead of* eBay, but *in addition to*.

I use FBA myself, and it has boosted my amazon sales a good deal, in addition to allowed me to clear unmanageable amounts of inventory -- mostly books, but also CDs, games, DVDs, etc. -- out of my house.

I'm trying to wrap my brain around eBay having a similar "fulfillment by" program. Will it only be offered to high-volume sellers, professional retailer sellers, top-rated sellers, or some combination thereof? Would I ship off a huge box of, say, golf shirts, for them to fulfill for me via some kind of eBay "Prime" shipping service for buyers? Would the shipping cost be low enough to make it worth it for me?

It may be a good thing if it takes a load off sellers at a feasible cost, and makes buyers happier. eBay is still my go-to place for the unique, special, quirky..and the high-dollar value...such as a very special, collectible book that requires photos from many angles and very detailed description.

I hope that in becoming more like amazon, eBay does not cannibalize what makes it special.

eBay Q&A: Are Army APO Addresses Domestic Shipping?

eBay sellers: when you get a buyer who has an army APO address, can you send the item via regular domestic mail or do you have to buy international postage?

Good news...you can simply send it domestic mail. Army APO addresses are considered domestic addresses and have a domestic zip code.

APO packages do have a couple limits: they can't exceed 70 pounds or 130 inches in combined length and girth.

And make sure you pack the items well so they don't break in transit. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Different Kind of Garage Sale Finder site

I just added a new link to the Yard Salers web site at http://yardsalers.net/.

It's called Garage Sale Finder...the logo is below, and an explanation of how it differs from other sites, courtesy of its founder, Valerie:

Garages Sale Finder Logo

"It's a mapping site of my own design, with some differences from the others out there: sales are color-coded by type of sale (multi-family, estate sale, group sale, etc.).
"And I include the whole country, not just major metropolitan areas. Visitors can print out turn-by-turn directions to the sales of their choice or even export the sale data to their personal GPS device.
"Listings come from online sources, such as craigslist and the major newspaper in my area, as well as individually submitted listings. Soon we'll also be importing listings from dozens of major newspapers across the country as well. Because of the organic nature of classified ads, we only import sales data that meets a strong accuracy check, so we don't send people on wild goose chases. (that's the equivalent of following an old sign, IMO!)"

So check it out when you get a chance. Hey wait; it's Friday! Yard sale prepping day..a perfect day to try it out.

Monday, March 21, 2011

eBay Clarifies New Fees Policy for Angry Sellers

eBay held an online forum for sellers who had questions about the Spring Seller Update, including the new fees where sellers will be charged on their shipping costs in their final value fees. I read over the first several pages of the transcript of the board to see what people were saying.

In general, the folks on the board were pretty upset about the new fees on shipping. Mostly they said they were already trying to keep shipping costs down, and sometimes they even lost money on shipping for more fragile items such as pottery and glass.

One lady said she understood eBay was essentially targeting this new fee at sellers who would charge like $0.01 for an item and then $20.00 in shipping in order to get around eBay's original final value fees, but this was not the way to go about it. Below is a summary first of some of eBay staff's clarifications and answers to questions asked, and below that a sampling of some of the complaints.

I wonder if it might make more sense for eBay to set maximum shipping fees based on weight of items, rather than to charge sellers a percentage of their shipping fees. I haven't thought that through, as I'm not sure how eBay would enforce it. But there may be other creative solutions that allow them to address that problem, such as simply dinging those sellers who are clearly misrepresenting their shipping cost to get around eBay's fees.

Some of eBay's answers:

Q's answered:

"For your international sales, if the buyer chooses international shipping, the final value fee will be charged on the cheaper of first domestic cost which is not one-day or international shipping cost.
So if you have offered free shipping as your first domestic option, there will be no final value fee on shipping.
Thank You

"The new FVF calculation will not include state taxes.
It will include cost of the item, shipping, and any other fees a seller may charge (for example engraving or gift wrapping), excluding any sales tax.
Pricing team"

"Under the new Standard Fees, you can list up to 50 items - at any start price and pay only if your item sells. You can also add a Buy It Now price for free and set the price you want.
Thank you,

"eBay recognizes combined shipping discounts only when it goes through the checkout flow. We encourage buyers to go through the combined shipping flow so we know exactly the reduced shipping amount and can appropriately calculate the FVF on shipping cost.
Pricing Team"

For calculated shipping, can I add a handling charge as a percentage rather than a fixed price as is done now?[/quote]
Hi xcergy,
You can add handling charge as a percentage or fixed amount. The final value fee will be charged on total sale amount of the item including shipping, handling, and any other cost to the buyer excluding the sales taxes.
Thank you

Now a sampling of the complaints:

Will there be any mechanism to receive a credit on FVF fees for partial refunds?

Customers who purchase multiple items often do not wait for a combined invoice before paying, and receive a refund of shipping overcharges via Pay Pal. Combined shipping/discount rules don't cover every situation so this happens pretty frequently.

"Re: Fee update questions? Post them on this thread.
And this fee increase is supposed to help our bottom line HOW?
I will have to raise my shipping prices to cover your new fees. It's bad enough that UPS has/will be increasing the fuel surcharge.
The economy is still off track. My sales are down 30%. Increasing prices will drive more customers away, and higher shipping prices will ding stars. I have not raised shipping prices in over three years. This fee increase is unfair to eBay BUYERS "

"Bad idea to make the final value fee include shipping. Last year I sold a set of patio furniture and shipped via greyhound from Michigan to Montana. The freight was $95. I make no profit on shipping so I am now losing profit. With this action, eBay has forced me to either only sell with pickup only or choose Craigslist. I won't pay money for something I shold not have to."

"Well the 50 free listings are a good thing, Although the past few months you have given 100 free listings. (What about Free listings in March???) Being charged a % on shipping? BIG DISLIKE!!!!! That is just another way for ebay to squeeze another dollar out of the seller! Most people do keep their prices low on shipping, so that is just an excuse. As a seller-Now I will have to raise my price on shipping to the customer to offset your cut of it. So you are not helping the customer you are hurting the customer. That is economics 101."

"I strongly disagree with final value fees applied to shipping costs. I currently lose money with my shipping costs just to keep competitive, now ebay wants to take a chunk of that from me? It makes it erroneous to sell any low dollar items in quantity as they were barely worth it before, and now we lose even more money to ship it? Is it worth spending $3.49 (while charging 2.99) with shipping, confirmation, and a bubble envelope for a $1-3 item, with ebay taking a fee on all of it? That means I'm making about 30 cents to $2.30 to drive my item to the post office and ship it, (time and gas). Not worth it. I am going to have to raise my shipping cost $1 to make up for the fee, not lower it."

"Wow...stunning. So, now Ebay will include our shipping fees to calculate Final Value Fee on our sold items!
Outrageous. I've always offered low ship fees with a .50 handling charge for shipping materials but including this to calculate FVF?
I don't see how shipping charges = FINAL VALUE. Final value is the sale $$ of the purchased item!
I will be done selling on Ebay once I sell out my current inventory.
It will not be worth my while to sell here as my profit margin has shrunk once again."

"Yes, it looks like I will be raising my shipping prices to cover the increase in fees. Whoever came up with this brilliant idea - without asking the sellers - thought that it would have the opposite effect. Whoever the genius who proposed this thought that in order to save fees the sellers would decrease the shipping to pay less. I don't make profit on shipping and there is no wiggle room, especially in this economy. This selling venue gets worse and worse for the buyers with time. Now, I am tasked with adjusting my shipping fees upward on over 1,000 items. Like I don't have enough to do with my time."

"Too often, I believe, these "fee changes" only consider a certain type of sale (i.e. widget "A") that is sold in mass quantity where putting the shipping price in the cost is easier to do. It has never worked well with antiques and collectibles and honestly, we too, cannot continue to take the financial "hits" eBay continues to place on us.
I'm doing my best to make ends meet and with all the extra things I now have to do to meet eBay's criteria, I've had to hire 2 part time workers or I'd be up 24 hours a day.
I have grown weary of changes that eBay promotes as being good for their customers. I'm a customer and they are not good for me!"

"Re: Fee update questions? Post them on this thread.
I really don't see how this is supposed to encourage cheaper shipping. All I see is the need to increase my handling fee (currently set to usually cover the PP fee for the shipping amount) to cover this. Also, why would I offer faster shipping (such as priority) rather than forcing slower cheaper shipping (such as media) if the former costs me more?
I really don't like this as a buyer either. I tend to buy glass--I want it packed WELL and I really don't like more incentives to sellers to cut corners on packaging."

"Re: Fee update questions? Post them on this thread.
Mar 15, 2011 8:49 AM
I am horrified at the new Policy to charge Fees on Shipping - l am an Overseas Seller in a country with high shipping costs - which l already subsidise to stay competitive. Paying fees on Shipping means l either lose money hand over fist or put up the Shipping costs & lose my customers!
I object to being in effect 'forced' to open an E-Bay Store that l dont want if l want to remain selling with E-Bay. I am sorry, but this is Daylight robbery & coertion & loses all goodwill from E-Bay sellers. Buyers are not going to be happy either when costs have to be passed on to them. I usually pay around $400 -$500 a month in fees already - asking for more is just greedy."

"Re: Fee update questions? Post them on this thread.
Mar 15, 2011 8:53 AM
Okay, so here is a typical low-priced sale for me. Item (book) sells for .99 plus 3.50 media shipping. Final Value fee would be .40 and PayPal fee would be .43 (both fees based on cost plus shipping). If my shipping actually costs 3.50 (which is usually does, since I don't jack up my shipping prices), I am left with .16 profit for at least 30 minutes of work. Not worth it! I will have to either charge much more for the item or for the shipping and then get negative feedback for charging too much shipping. This seems to be a NO-WIN situation."

"This is a horrible way to get after those sellers who sell items for $.01 and charge $20.00 $50.00 for shipping. It's a flagrant way that some sellers have been going around the fees in order to make the most of the profits. I saw it a lot during the Christmas season when I was selling toys. I actually sent an email to Ebay to complain about it because it seemed unfair to those of us who are following your rules.

It seems as though this new Fees increase to include shipping and handling charges are trying to solve this issue. How about instead, you just kick those sellers off of Ebay?

I charge shipping based on weight, with a small handling fee to cover shipping costs such as bubble wrap, boxes, styrophome, insurance, etc. I make ABSOLUTELY no profit within my shipping charges.

I really feel that you should look into this issue a bit more thoroughly"

"Re: Fee update questions? Post them on this thread.
Mar 15, 2011 8:55 AM
I'm just trying to figure out how it's fair to charge FVF on shipping, which is money we don't keep - I understand that there are price gougers who WAY overcharge on shipping, but this is going to kill those of us who sell pottery and glass because shipping is sometimes more than the bidder pays for the item.
We're being charged to accept shipping money and then spend it on behalf of the buyer and that seems wrong."

"I can not believe that shipping costs will be added to the final value fee. Most of my sales are International and the shipping is considerably higher than in the USA. This is absolutely ridiculous, aren't the 5 star ratings enough to keep the cost of shipping fair? I feel ebay is just trying to make it seem like we are getting a deal when in reality it is just more profit for ebay. Without sellers there will be no buyers and ebay should keep this in mind, there are plenty of other sites to sell on."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

eBay Fees Change for Spring 2011; Final Value Fee Charge on Shipping

eBay announced a new fees structure, as it is wont to do every Spring. While the good news is they are making insertion fees free for Auction-style listings, they are now charging the 9.0% Final Value Fee (FVF) on shipping charges as well as the amount of the sale. (Before, shipping charges were not included in the FVF calculation).

The intention behind this, as they have stated, is to keep shipping fees down. But keeping shipping fees down is an ongoing challenge for eBay sellers, as they keep going up in the real world; for the U.S. Postal Service as well as other services.

We'll crunch some numbers for a common listing in a moment; for now, here's the chart of the change for Auction-style listings:

Fee Charts

Auction-style Standard Fees
Effective April 19, 2011
Starting PriceInsertion Fees
$0.01 - $0.99
$1.00 - $9.99
$10.00 - $24.99
$25.00 - $49.99
$50.00 - $199.99
Final Value Fee9.0% and applied to the total amount of the sale —including shipping (capped at $100)
Buy it Now featureFREE (Up to 50)**
Top-rated Seller Discount20% off Final Value Fees (on item price portion only – no change)
* Up to 50 per month. After your 50th item, Insertion Fees will be charged. See Auction-style Insertion fees eBay Store Subscribers below for reference.

** When used with Free Auction-style Insertion Fee listings. Additional optional feature fees apply when added to your listings (for example, Subtitle, Bold, etc.).

OK, so let's look at what happens to fees for an Auction-style item that sells for $9.95 plus $4.95 shipping. This is an example of the kind of price and shipping I might charge on a golf shirt, selling for a very low price based on its acquisition cost, and leaving a little bit of wiggle room on shipping, if you use First Class USPS.

Under the Old eBay Fees Structure:

Insertion Fee: $0.25; Final Value Fee = 9.0% x $9.95; which is $.90. The seller is paying $.90 plus $0.25 insertion fees, which is $1.15. (We won't even talk about PayPal or extra picture fees for purpose of this analysis)

Now, they were charging $4.95 for shipping, which if we say costs $3.10 first class, they are making up $1.85 in shipping. Let's say they acquire the shirt at a thrift store for $3.50.

They are making $9.95 - $1.15 in fees, which is $8.80; and then they make an additional $1.85 in shipping, which brings it to $10.65. Now they bought the item for $3.50, so they are really making $7.15 in gross profit per item

Under the new fees structure, it would go like this:

Free insertion fee, FVF = 9.0% of ($9.95 +$4.95 shipping); = 9.0% of $14.90, = $1.34.

So here they are making $9.95 - $1.34 in fees, which is $8.61; and then adding the $1.85 they are still making on shipping (assuming they don't change their shipping charges), and they are making $10.46.

So overall, they are making a little less; from $10.65 to $10.46; or $.19 less.

Of course, this amount is going to vary a lot depending on what you are selling and how much you charge for shipping.

I understand eBay is doing this (at least one reason they are doing this) is to encourage sellers to keep their shipping fees low. I do understand that; but I also think many sellers already are keeping shipping fees low, and in some cases losing money..such as the example of a heavy set of books which they can charge $4.00 media mail maximum.

There have been many instances where I have sold heavy, antique books (or even heavy newer books such as textbooks or reference books) and only been able to charge $4.00 maximum; I may have to pay $8, $10 or more on shipping. And that's without any handling fees.

In general, I have avoided charging any handling fees over my whole career selling on eBay; I only recently started charging the $4.95 because the golf shirts can make so little profit per item; everyone expects a great bargain.

So I think overall these fees will make sellers' margins tighter; they will either bite the bullet to make a little less, or they may sell higher-dollar-value items so the margin doesn't pinch. Or they may change their selling habits. I think it's a good idea to sell on multiple venues so you won't be tied to any one venue.

How will these fee changes affect you? Will you change your selling habits, or will the effect be negligible, or do you foresee it even being positive, with more potential buyers? I'd love to hear about it; post a comment here or email me at juliawilk@aol.com.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Estatesales.org: New Links Added to Juliasauctionlinks.com

I've added a new link to JuliasAuctionLinks.com: EstateSales.org, a site that lets you search for estate sales in your area. There is also a big map of the US, so you can just click on your state.

This might be a good time to explain the purpose of my JuliasAuctionLinks.com site. I thought it would be useful to have one page with links to all things online-selling related. There are eBay-related links, amazon links, yard sale links, estate sale links, and specialty selling site links, all with a one-line description of what they're about.

Check it out, and email me if you want to suggest a link.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

iPad 2: All New Design, Lighter, Thinner, and...So Is Steve Jobs?

Well the wait is finally over..we got to hear about the new iPad, the iPad 2:

Among the changes:

- all new design

- front and back cameras

- dual core A5 chip

- faster

I must say, though, I was a bit worried about the appearance of Steve Jobs; he did look very thin. Steve, I am sending "pink light" your way, and thanks for your continuing innovation!

More details at:

Stamps.com v. 8.8 has New Batch Processing Features for Amazon & eBay Sellers

This just in from Stamps.com..new features that should make it easier to ship eBay and amazon orders:

"View Order Details

  • Review the order details for orders imported from Amazon.com®, eBay® and other web stores and shopping carts
  • View item level details for each order including the Item ID, Description, Price, Quantity, and Total

Print Packing Slips

  • Print a packing slip from Batch along with postage
  • Customize the packing slip with logos and personalized messages

Customize Shipment Notification Emails

  • Send professional emails in HTML format
  • Customize the From, Subject, and Message fields
  • Include available order details

Choose Optional Tracking

  • Select the no tracking option when sending select First-Class, Parcel Post®, and Media Mail shipments to domestic addresses
  • Print postage for First-Class and Media Mail Large Envelopes & Flats on various print media including 4"x6" and 2"x7½" labels (i.e. SDC-1200 and SDC-4100)

Utilize the New 4"x5" Shipping Label (SDC-4650)

  • Print up to 4 labels per letter-sized sheet
  • Available for all major mail classes, including First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, Express Mail, Parcel Post, and Media Mail"

Good eBay News: Edit Price Right on the Relisting Screen

I just experienced one of the best changes to eBay I've seen recently as an eBay seller: I went to relist three items, and I saw eBay has now given us the ability to edit the relisting price for all the auctions or listings right there on the relisting screen (rather than having to go in later and edit each listing separately on a later screen).

This is a real timesaver and I thank eBay for making the change.