It is an uncertain time in the eCommerce world. Some sellers are seeing big spikes in orders as Self Isolation boredom kicks in, while others have seen sales virtually disappear or they have taken the decision to shut their online business for the short term.
For the latter, this is a tough period, so what are the marketplaces like eBay and Amazon doing to support their sellers?
We took a look around their support pages and various news feeds to try and gather some information.
Unlike Amazon, eBay are reliant on their sellers in order to make money themselves (advertising aside), so you would expect them to be a little more "customer focussed" than their main rival.
eBay has a good support page for sellers to access information on a variety of questions. The support page can be accessed here
They also have a dedicated page for advice to sellers during the COVID-19 period which can be found here
Here are a few articles and help pages that we found:
Refunds on Shop Subscriptions if you close your eBay shop
For April and May (either or both), if you hide all your fixed price listings for the full month using the "holiday settings", eBay will credit back your shop subscription fee for that month.
If you do the same for part of a month (13 days or more between the 1st and 25th of a month) then eBay will credit 50% of the subscription fee.
You need to "opt in" to be eligible for this and details on how to do this are found in the eBay statement in the link below.
You can see the full statement here
eBay has announced a 30-day payment holiday for 300,000 business sellers registered on its site.
"We want to relieve some of the pressure you’re telling us you’re facing and give you the flexibility needed to sustain your business."
More details on this can be found here
eBay has seen a tiny minority of sellers attempting to exploit other users at this difficult time by listing items at unreasonably inflated prices. eBay are clear that they do not support this activity and have been quick to remove such listings and have suspended some seller accounts.
"Our teams are working around the clock to ensure our site remains a safe and fair place to buy and sell, and so far we have removed over 350,000 Coronavirus related items and suspended hundreds of rogue accounts."
The full article is available here
Changes to the out-of-stock duration
This is an uncertain time as suppliers face their own struggles to supply goods to eBay sellers. To allow for this, eBay have announced changes to the time period you can have your listing "out of stock".
You can currently have your "Good 'Til Cancelled" listings that have 0 inventory hidden from search results for 90 days before they will end and you lose sales history.
eBay have now doubled this period to 180 days to allow for increased supply issues during this period.
More information can be found here
Unlike eBay, Amazon sell and ship their own range of goods so the impact to them of reduced seller performance is not as great as it is for eBay.
We have already seen FBA inbound shipments greatly reduced except for items that are classed as "essential".
That said, Amazon have offered greater assistance, more lenience and guidance to its sellers to still fulfill orders through SFP (Seller Fulfilled Prime) and Merchant Fulfilled orders. More information on this can be found here
Relaxed Policies for Shipping Related Performance Metrics
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on sellers, Amazon have taken steps to reduce the impact on the "health" of your Seller Account.
They have relaxed current policies for shipping related performance metrics, specifically those relating to late shipping or canceling orders.
In the help article, Amazon have specifically answered the following questions:
1. What should I do if I am unable to fulfill any orders?
2. How do I cancel an order that I accepted, but I am suddenly unable to fulfill?
3. What do I do if a buyer requests that I cancel an order?
The full help article can be seen here
Amazon (Europe) Referral and FBA Fee changes
Amazon have just announced that referral and FBA fee changes go into effect on April 1, 2020, except where otherwise noted. For complete details, visit 2020 Referral and Fulfilment by Amazon fee changes summary (Europe)
Temporary pause in removal orders and long-term storage fee waiver
To continue to be able to support the FBA operations for essential items, Amazon have temporarily paused removal operations in some of their fulfilment centres. This could mean that sellers stock is now "locked" in an FBA centre and unable to be sold.
You can continue to create removal orders, but there will be delays in completing the requests.
To compensate for this, Amazon are waiving the April 15 long-term storage fees for inventory stored in theUnited Kingdom FBA centres.
Further information can be found here
Temporary return window extension
To give customers more time to return items during this period, Amazon have temporarily extended the return window of their returns policy.
For orders on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, Amazon.nl, and Amazon.com.tr, most items ordered on any of these websites between 15 February 2020 and 30 April 2020 can now be returned until 31 May 2020.
More details can be found here
In these unprecedented times it is good to see the marketplaces doing their bit to help their sellers.
Each marketplace is offering good advice but some of the help needs you to be proactive and register, so please look at all the advice and take the necessary actions to help your business through this period.
One again, the links to the main help pages for each marketplace can be found by clicking the links below:
Stay safe and take care.