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When Argos met eBay it was a profitable match for them both

When Argos met eBay it was a profitable match for them both

Is eBay having a crisis of confidence? They have issued a number of changes this year that seem to stem from their desire that customers ‘build their confidence in eBay’. This suggests that eBay is concerned that buyers are not confident about the website and what it sells and so they are taking steps to address this.

The thing is that all of these changes will affect how you – the small business seller – do business, and of course these changes will affect your time, ratings, costs and profit so it is worth checking them out and reading the small print

Managed Returns

From this September (2014) all UK sellers will have to participate in eBay’s new managed returns process. eBay have set this up because they believe it will improve ‘the returns experience for both buyers and sellers’ and they claim to have had success with the managed returns (MR) process in the US.

How do you use it?

Well you have to opt in, first and foremostly, and you have to be sending goods that weigh less than 10 kg. For most of us that won’t be an issue. The parcels that you send need to have dimensions of 60 x 50 x 50cm or less and they must be sent within the UK. The buyer has to pay with PayPal and then everything is covered.

What you need to do

1. Opt in to the new managed returns process. You can opt in by going to My eBay > Account > Site preferences > Selling preferences
2. Alter the returns information on your listings and edit your returns policy if you have one.
3. Specify who pays return postage.

What happens?

Your buyer will click on ‘return this item’ from the ‘More actions’ drop-down menu next to the transaction in ‘My eBay’. They simply choose a reason and print off a return postage label and packing slip. eBay will automatically notify you. The buyer can also initiate a return by clicking a link under the Customer Support tab on the eBay home page.

eBay will then charge the buyer’s PayPal account or they will add the return postage cost to your next invoice if you have specified that you will pay in your listing.

When you receive the item you can then issue the refund.

What are the benefits?

1. eBay claim that offering ‘a clear returns process and policies’ adds up to 9% on their sales.
2. They also claim that you ‘may see a reduction in customer service costs as there will be less communication with buyers on returns’ but that will only affect you if you’re running a large enterprise not a small one man or one woman business like the majority of you reading this will run.
3. You should receive better feedback ratings.
4. You will receive the final value fee in your next invoice and will not have to pay any relisting fees when you use the new managed returns process – but this was ever the case so is not really a new benefit.
5. You will be protected against abusive buyer behaviour according to eBay. You can report buyers if they’re giving you grief and all returns information is fully recorded and can be reviewed by eBay if you ask them to.
6. Once you opt in to the new managed returns process, it will apply to all of your listings

Other details

eBay have started to use Collect+. This means that the buyers can drop the parcel off at a number of shops or retail outlets that are local to them. This is handy if the local Post Office has been closed down. Collect+ provides tracking information.

Collect at your local Argos

Collect at your local Argos

Click and Collect

Another new initiative eBay are launching in the UK in September 2014 is Click and Collect. This will allow buyers to collect orders from more than 650 Argos stores across the UK. According to eBay this will mean that eligible items will be available for collection on the high street.

Sellers can participate in this by updating listings to offer FAST & FREE delivery with an eligible carrier and service. The thing to watch out for is that you have to be using one of the five eligible Click & Collect carriers.

What you need to do

1. Update your listings and offer Fast and Free
2. Choose an eligible carrier
3. Add the weight and dimension information to your listing
4. From September eBay will automatically opt in eligible listings to Click & Collect.

What happens then?

• From September 2014 eBay will display a Click & Collect option on your eligible listings.
• Buyers choose from the 650 Argos stores to be found in the UK.
• They can then collect their orders.

Who are the approved carriers?

• Royal Mail 24
• Royal Mail 1st Class
• Royal Mail 1st Class Signed For
• Royal Mail Special Delivery ™ 1:00pm
• Royal Mail Special Delivery ™ 9:00am
• Royal Mail Tracked 24
• Parcelforce
• Parcelforce 24
• Parcelforce 48
• UPS Next Day (UPS Express & UPS Standard)
• DPD Next Day, DPD Two Day
• Yodel 24, Yodel 48

Limitations

The item you are sending must be less than 20kg. The maximum length of 120cm and the second-longest side can’t be longer than 76cm, and that includes your packaging. Argos will reject larger items and may take it upon themselves to dispose of them.

Saves the buyer having a parcel left outside in all weathers

Saves the buyer having a parcel left outside in all weathers

How Click & Collect works

You as a small business seller don’t really see a change. You are simply sending your orders out as though they were being delivered to private addresses. They buyer chooses an Argos store that is convenient to them. You will print off a label with a unique 6 digit code that identifies the parcel and notifies the buyer. Argos needs this code so make sure you leave it on the address.

Benefits to your small business

• eBay reckon that within the next 4 years some 50% of material bought online will be collected away from home.
• Buyers sometimes need to be able to collect locally.
• More than 96% of the UK population live within 10 miles of an Argos store. (Typically, I am one of the 4% who does not!)
• Argos offers convenient evening and weekend opening hours.
• Buyers can search for listings that offer Click & Collect.
• Buyers particularly like to use Click and Collect if they are buying higher-priced items. This is especially true around Christmas time.

The main downside is that eBay are controlling your business by insisting that you use one of these five carriers who are not always the most price competitive, and who don’t necessarily offer you – the consumer of their products – the best service.

Managed Returns as a requirement – return postage costs borne by seller

As I’ve shown above the MR process will become optional this Autumn and then a requirement in 2015. This week eBay have announced some updates to the MR process. Mainly this is to do with the fact that they have negotiated with Royal Mail and can offer return postage FROM £2.78.

Quids in? Not you!

Quids in? Not you!

However the big difference that will affect small businesses like you is that all sellers will be required to pay return postage. At the moment you only need to pay if the item was not as described. There is some concern on various forums that the eBay returns policy may be open to abuse.

This is one to keep an eye on as obviously if you’re offering FAST and FREE delivery via Argos or anywhere else, and you then have to fund refunds for items as well – you’ll fast be eating into any profit. If you add that to the cost of your goods for sale on eBay, along with PayPal fees and eBay fees but then try to add those costs to what you sell – you may see a drop in sales as you price yourself out of the market.

So what do you think of the new eBay processes? A change for the better? Will they work for sellers or only benefit buyers? What tips do you have for eBay sellers? Leave a comment below or come and talk to us on Facebook.

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