Free Shipping Incentive on eBay – Will sellers take the bait?

As reported by Sue Bailey (Biddy) in Tamebay:

Free shipping incentives

From October to December, sellers who offer free shipping will get free subtitle on their listings, and double PowerSeller discount if they’re eligible for this.

As an incentive for free shipping, this is a little weak...

eBay subtitles have never had much impact on sales as they are not indexed in search. The money spent on subtitles is usually just funds tossed to the wind except in very specific cases, so how does eBay expect a free subtitle incentive offer to inspire knowledgeable sellers to give away free shipping?

Double Powerseller discounts might be a good thing, if one qualifies and if the seller dashboard reports the DSR's correctly.

In my case the seller dashboard says I qualify for a discount, but no discount was applied.  I wonder how many other sellers have encountered this mysterious issue? i.e. These are not factors which can be depended upon for business planning when the seller dashboard can change on a daily basis and the Powerseller discount is grabbed at a date and time that suits eBay for calculation purposes.

Free shipping is a myth

Nothing in life is free and shipping is no exception. The cost of "free" shipping is always added to the final selling price.

In the case of eBay, offering "free" shipping only increases eBays take on every transaction.  Now with the increase in final value fees, offering free shipping increases a sellers costs in two ways. eBay final value fees and PayPal payment fees are both calculated on the final selling price of an item.

Sellers Take The Bait?

Offering a 50 cent incentive for a feature most sellers do not use, in exchange for higher costs on the back end is a crafty way to increase eBays take...

But will sellers take the bait?

Also from Tamebay:

Special deals for Media categories

Until the end of the year, IFs for listings in Media categories which utilise pre-filled information are just 5c. This should help off-set the pain of a 15% FVF for the under-$50 sale price tranche.

Likely to cause more anger amongst Media sellers, however, is the introduction of maximum shipping prices. Perhaps some US Media sellers would like to comment on this, but the prices set seem very low to me: $4 for an antiquarian book looks like an impossibility. Sellers will be required to offer at least one shipping option within the maximum permitted range: they will also be allowed to offer other more expensive options for expedited or international shipping.

Very good points Sue Bailey!

Media sellers may have to subsidize the shipping costs for rare or heavy items in their category, this will only lead to increased pricing and a reduction in competetive advantage (if any existed) with Amazon.com in the media categories.

eBay seems to have a plan and I am all for changing things up... but some of these recent changes may take a while to completely understand.

Free Shipping is Never Free, if sellers are supposed to offer Free shipping, why does eBay not offer free listing?

It costs much more to deliver an item than it does to display that same item on a web page.

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0 Responses to Free Shipping Incentive on eBay – Will sellers take the bait?

  1. Sue @ TameBay August 20, 2008 at 4:12 pm #

    Thanks Scott! I’m all in favour of reasonable shipping prices, but I think these have been set far, far too low, and some items – notably books – are really not suitable for this kind of treatment.

  2. Scott Pooler August 20, 2008 at 4:16 pm #

    @ Sue @ Tamebay

    Always a pleasure to send link love your way Biddy…

    I dunno about the UK Post but here in the USA with the USPS we have Media Mail rates for books. Yet as you rightly point out, no real seller will use Media Mail for a book of any value as it is not the mist secure method of shipment.

    Customers who demand proper service will expect something other than Media Mail for these types of shipments.

  3. steve August 20, 2008 at 7:20 pm #

    Great post Scott!
    I think eBay will upset a lot of people with this new set of announcements.

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