Amazon & eBay Updates for Retailers - Q1 2020

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    With marketplaces continuing to adapt and push forward, it is important to stay on top of the latest developments. This becomes especially important now, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

     

    Marketplaces have been forced to adapt at an even faster rate than normal. So what main changes have we seen from marketplaces in the first quarter of 2020? And how have they adapted to deal with an influx of orders in the short term?

     

     

    Table of Contents:

     

    Amazon Updates

    Increase in IPI threshold for storage limits

    Temporary pause of removal operations

    Period for returns extended

    Product video engagement metrics now in Seller Central

    Paused account suspensions for order performance

    eBay Updates

    New categories 

    Photo backgrounds removed 

    New Terapeak features 

    Enhancements in offers to buyers section 

    Final Thoughts


    Amazon Updates

     

    Like most marketplaces during Q1, Amazon’s main aim seems to be to endure as well as possible during COVID-19. It aims to do this by supporting smallers sellers, by loosening restrictions. Amazon is also encouraging the burst of eCommerce use by offering buyers similarly loosened restrictions.

     

     

    Increase in IPI threshold for storage limits

     

    IPI is Amazon’s way of measuring a seller's ability to manage their inventory efficiently. Sellers receive a score between 1-1000.  Due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, Amazon has increased its IPI (Inventory performance index) threshold for storage limits to 400. 

     

    Previously, the threshold was 350. For sellers, a score below threshold means storage capacity will be limited by Amazon. The increase in the threshold may lead to more sellers having limited storage.

     

    It is believed Amazon introduced this policy change to keep the selling platform as fair as possible. With the sudden influx and rise of people buying online, the change was made with the aim of maintaining balance. 

     

    Should you wish to increase the threshold to ensure you maintain unlimited storage, it is best to keep track of your data. Ensure you have sufficient stock but not excess, whilst organising returns effectively. 

     


    Temporary pause of removal operations

     

    To ensure Amazon can maximize its capacity to provide essential household and medical supplies, removal operations (the removal of items from a seller's inventory) have been temporarily halted. Consequently, long term storage fees for April 15th have been waived for the following nations:

     

    United States
    United Kingdom
    Germany
    France
    Italy
    Spain
    Poland
    Czech Republic

     


    Period for returns extended

     

    Amazon has also extended it’s returns period, temporarily. This is only for orders placed on Amazon.com and does not apply to every item. Therefore you should check Amazon’s policies. 

     

    Most items ordered from Amazon or our Seller partners between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020 can be returned until May 31.

     

    For items purchased after April 30, 2020, the normal return window will apply, which is usually 30 days from the date of receipt of shipment.

     


    Product video engagement metrics now in Seller Central

     

    Video metrics can now be seen in your video management and this means a seriously big opportunity for advertisers. 

     

    Setting up your Amazon Video Ads requires working with an Amazon Advertising expert. If you already have a managed advertising account with Amazon, you should contact your account liaison directly.

     


    amazon-video-viewssource: tinuiti

     

     

    You can now see how videos uploaded via Inventory (Upload & Manage Videos section) influence your viewership engagement. It’s essential to track views and engagement data and create content that may drive sales.

     

    Videos can contain product details, customer testimonials, brand information, and more. Amazon recommends keeping your video at around 15 seconds of length for maximum impact and combining video with other types of ads. For better results retailers can mix video ads together with on-site display ads, sponsored ads etc.

     


    Paused account suspensions for order performance

     

    Due to the issues Coronavirus has caused many businesses, Amazon has paused account suspensions for order performance.

     

    This means that those businesses who are having to cancel a lot of orders, or are shipping them late are not punished. These changes are active from March 20th. 

     

    Amazon stopped accepting most inbound shipments from sellers so it could focus on fulfilling high-demand goods such as medical supplies and household staples. In addition, Amazon has also paused account suspensions for high order defect rates, from March 15th.

     

     

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    eBay Updates

     

    With its Q1 updates, eBay’s focus is mainly on lessening the impact of Coronavirus. With leniency for buyers, and some for sellers. Sellers may contrastingly find that some restrictions have been tightened to ensure issues are resolved quickly. 

     

    However, those changes should not affect sellers who are responsible with their sales. Unlike Amazon, eBay has also made a few changes that are non-coronavirus related. Many of these changes are aimed at making the interface more friendly for sellers, whilst making data more accessible. 

     

    eBay has made a number of changes this Spring. Here are some of the most important:


     

    New categories 

     

    4 new categories have been introduced so buyers can find items with greater ease. These are Business & Industrial, Watches, Home & Garden, and Sporting Goods. 

     

    These categories will be introduced from the beginning of May and will be available from the usual drop down category box (which is used when listing a product for sale.) The categories are new optional choices. 

     

    Merchants who previously sold items under different, broader categories can choose to change categories, or not. If you wish to change the category in DataFeedWatch, it can be done under the categories tab.

     

    ebay-categories


     

    Photo backgrounds removed 

     

    60% of US digital shoppers said they needed to see an average of three or four images when shopping online while 83% of US smartphone users surveyed found product images and photos to be "very" and "extremely" influential.

     

    The removal of the background is a great opportunity for sellers to showcase their produce as the center of the advertisement. The change highlights eBay’s attempt to resolve the issue of poor quality photos being uploaded, which often deter potential buyers. Optimizing images on eBay will now take on a similar look to that of Google Shopping.

     

    Backgrounds from your photos will now instantly be changed to white. Prior to the addition of this feature, backgrounds were inconsistent. They required the seller to take time removing the background themselves for the best results. The background change is done automatically for every photo and is not optional.


     

    New Terapeak features 

     

    Terapeak is an exclusive eBay tool that collects and uses supply, demand and pricing data to help provide insight. With Terapeak you can spot patterns in data, and recognize what competitors are doing. It is a great way to improve your own listing. 

     

    Terapeak features can be found under the research tab in the seller hub. The features are available to all users on a basic package or more.

     

    eBay’s latest Terapeak features that will allow for:

    • Easier categorization (view only transactions that occurred in a specific eBay category)

    • Data analysis (such as market trends, share and sales)

    • Type-ahead component (recommends categories based on frequent seller searches)

     

    As of March, other new Terapeak features will include a type ahead component, data visualizations and a listing report for all active listings.


     

    Enhancements in offers to buyers section 

     

    The “Offer to buyers” feature in favor of interacting with buyers who show interest but haven’t yet completed their transactions. You can now offer your products to ‘watchers’ at a discounted price and even negotiate with them. 

     

    According to eBay around 30% more watchers turn into buyers when they receive an offer from a seller. 

     

    Previously you could only reach 10 buyers at one time with an offer. This has now been upgraded to 40 buyers. 

     

    To initiate the negotiation process with those interested, simply send watchers a counteroffer. The maximum number of negotiations per potential buyer is 5.

     

     

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    Final Thoughts

     

    Leniency and efficiency are currently the unsuspected face of eCommerce. Due to the ever changing situation during Q1, many marketplace amendments are aimed at resolving delivery and supply chain issues. 

     

    Whilst helping small businesses with their own supply and delivery issues has also become a necessity. And with no sign of the need for eCommerce relenting, marketplaces will need to keep adapting their processes well into Q2.

     

     

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