BAM eBay Buyer Blog

Posts for eBay buyers about buying on eBay

Have Shipping Costs for Some Items Reached a Tipping Point?

Have Shipping Costs for Some Items Reached a Tipping Point?


After choosing to buy a winter coat at a retail store (well, a discount retail store), I considered its heft and wondered if this item would be worth buying online, or if the weight of this type of thing now made it too costly to get a really good deal on a site like eBay. I weighed it in a box to see how much it would cost me to ship if I were a seller, and it came to $25.25 for Priority Mail. 

(If it could have fit in a flat-rate box, it would have been, say, $18.75 for a 2-day Large Flat Rate Box, $13.45 for a Medium Flat-Rate Box, or $6.80 for a Small Flat-Rate Box. (Regional Rate boxes were not applicable in this scenario, according to the USPS. com web site).

You have to figure that even if an online price from a seller on, say, eBay was less than the $25.25, it had been factored into the item's price. Given that I only paid $48.00 for this coat on clearance from the store, and I was able to try it on, I wondered if the appeal of shopping on eBay for a bargain of a winter coat made sense anymore.

Then there are the expectations of shoppers today. Many of them will go for free shipping, especially as it is offered more and more places these days, such as of course, on Amazon Prime items. According to a study by JDA Software Group, Inc., free shipping remains such a high priority for consumers that 69 percent of respondents have spent more than they planned, just to reach the minimum threshold to receive free shipping. "This trend is particularly prevalent during the holiday season, with 80 percent of respondents who shopped primarily online during Black Friday/Cyber Monday last year claiming that they spent more than they intended in order to meet a free shipping threshold," says the JDA press release.

However, when I do a search on women's winter coats, there are lo and behold actually plenty of items that are low-priced and offer free shipping. In fact, the first page of results -- and beyond -- show items offering almost nothing but free shipping, with a few auction items with shipping thrown in. The choices on the first page range from $19.99 for a "Women Ladies Winter Puffer Padded Quilted Zip Up Jacket Coat" and $23.56 for a "Women Long Sleeve Hoodie wool Winter Warm jacket coat trenck parka outwear," up to $199.99 for a name-brand BURBERRY LONDON Parka Women's Down Puffer Winter Coat.

As you drill further down into the listings, you can find other recognizable brand coats that do actually charge shipping, such as a "J CREW Large Wool Cashmere Charcoal Gray Lined Women's Winter Coat - L" for $49.95 plus $12.95 shipping. I also saw a heavier Abercrombie & Fitch fur-lined coat selling with $14.50 in shipping, but in auction format with a starting bid of $10.

So it seems at least with the top pages on eBay, there are few to no shipping prices over about $14.00.  This, however, doesn't mean you won't find them built into the item's price, especially with the name-brand items like the Burberry London one.

What do you think? Is there a line in the sand you won't go over for a shipping price, when it comes to certain heavier items? Do you find that those "free shipping" no-name-brand items such as winter coats from China meet your needs? Or are you wiling to pay more for shipping to get just the right item, such as a certain brand?

And with selling items, are you hesitant to put the real shipping price of a heavier item in, and do you just build it in to the price of the item? Or do you avoid selling heavy items? Post a comment here!


After How Many Days Should an EBay Unpaid Item Dispute Open Automatically?

After How Many Days Should an EBay Unpaid Item Dispute Open Automatically?




Recently an eBayer wrote to the EcommerceBytes Letter to the Editor section about the Unpaid Item Assistant.  The seller had the UPA set to open a claim two days after a sale. But they had sold an item four days ago and noticed that the UPA still had not gone off.

"When I checked my settings they were set to have UIA file after 8 days. I called eBay to ask if it was a glitch and was told that eBay is changing the minimum amount of time to file automatically to 8 days."

However, EcommerceBytes Editor Ina Steiner, who is checking with eBay about the matter, said "The help page on eBay still says four days," and noted that "We'll send an inquiry to eBay. Let us know what you are seeing."

Meantime, some people in the comments had thoughts about opening a claim automatically two days after a sale.

"Personally?" wrote one, "Two days is incredibly short. I would not feel so strongly, except an unpaid item claim can DAMAGE a bidder."

They further added, "There are plenty of valid reasons to NOT use the instant payment function. One that comes to mind first is buying multiple items that can be shipped together. Another is having a question about shipping arrangements (example, seller offers only UPS Ground and I really want and will pay for Priority Mail, for the fragile item I've bought)."

This eBayer also said they "snipe a lot of items, simply because our electric goes off almost routinely, and I have to use DSL and cannot rely on a last second bid to get through in time. So I expect an invoice since the snipe service can't handle an instant payment too."

Another suggested it may be a factor of combined shipping charges. "Ebay hasn't changed anything, this is just a misunderstanding on how this works.  If you offer combined shipping for those that purchase from you in a given period, the UIA can not be set for a time period that is less than your combined shipping rule. For example, if you offer to buyer that you will combine shipping charges for items that are purchased within 7 days, then your UIA can not be set up for anything less than 8 days."

Personally, I like to give buyers plenty of time to pay when buying something.  I do not use the UPA at this time, but if I did, I would probably set it to 8 days to be on the safe side about complying  with any combined shipping that might be a factor.

What do you think is the ideal amount of time for the Unpaid Item Assistant to open an Unpaid Item case? Four days? Fewer days?  Is eight days too long? Post a comment here!

How Do You Think a Marketplace Fairness Act Would Impact You as a Buyer?

How Do You Think a Marketplace Fairness Act Would Impact You as a Buyer?


EBay recently hosted a roundtable with sellers including the owners of eWastedirect and sunrisegolfshop. Among the items discussed with U.S. Rep Eric Swalwell were the Marketplace Fairness Act, which these sellers said would force them to "seriously curtail" their business or close them entirely.

I hadn't heard about the Marketplace Fairness Act in a while, which aims to make certain sellers, such as those making $1,000,000 gross sales, collect sales tax in all states which require a sales tax, regardless of whether the seller has a "nexus" or "physical presence" in that state or not. 

One million dollars may sound like a lot, but when you consider that is gross sales, and is before taking out a seller's costs, you could be talking about quite a few sellers who don't necessarily have a high profit margin.

Obviously online sellers will for the most part be against this, as it may bog them down in a quagmire of paperwork regarding the sales taxes, and collecting it. 

But how do you feel as a buyer having to also pay a sales tax to a place where you previously did not have to? Would that impact your purchase choice, or would you take it all in stride? 

According to this entry at the TaxJar blog, sellers would likely struggle trying to figure out which of the 10,000 sales tax destinations their customer was in.  And, suggests the blog, the seller may even decide to stop selling into certain states. Now, that this might mean for you as a buyer is you no longer have access to purchase that item online, at least from that certain seller.

The Marketplace Fairness Act certainly does seem a quagmire from my perspective. And one wonders how the large online selling sites would handle it, and whether the costs to figure that out and implement it would also ultimately get handed down to the consumer. 

How do you feel about the Marketplace Fairness Act as a buyer? Is it the idea of paying some amount more money in tax that bothers you, or the whole concept, or are you for the tax?  Post a comment here! 


Will Image Search Become a Thing on eBay with Its Acquisition of Corrigon?

Will Image Search Become a Thing on eBay with Its Acquisition of Corrigon?


There has always been a ton of stuff to search for on eBay.  Now it looks like there will be coming a new way to search, by image. Image searching is something people have been doing via Google's search for a while now when they have an item that they can't find by searching on words describing it.  If you have a "whatzit," as the Kovels used to call it, or a thing that you don't know what it is, you could plop the image into the Google search and select "images."

In the announcement of the acquisition, eBay said, "eBay has signed an agreement to acquire Corrigon Ltd., a pioneer of visual search technologies. Corrigon helps identify objects within an image, matching both visual and textual elements to ensure that the image is recognized, correctly classified and best-matched to its corresponding product. With more than one billion live listings on eBay’s platform, Corrigon's expertise and technology will help match the best images to their products so that shoppers can be confident that what they buy is exactly what they see."

And, "As we continue to evolve the eBay shopping experience, Corrigon's technology and expertise will help buyers find the best results when shopping on eBay through experiences that were not possible a year ago, before our investments in structured data,” said Amit Menipaz, Vice President and General Manager of Structured Data at eBay. “Corrigon represents eBay’s third acquisition in the structured data space this year, further underscoring our commitment to powering deeper inventory insights for our sellers and compelling new user experiences for our buyers.”

Sometimes words alone cannot describe a thing adequately, and that's where image search comes in. There also may be some subtle differences between, say, one type of antique sword and another, and that's where the image search technology could come in to help someone find just the item they are looking for,

I have sometimes advised friends to do an image search on Google if they are not sure what that item they picked up at an estate sale is.  What do you think the acquisition of Corrigon and its move into visual search will mean for you as a shopper? Or even as a seller? Is it something you anticipate using?  Post a comment here! 

EBay Tips on How Buyers Can Benefit This Holiday Season

EBay Tips on How Buyers Can Benefit This Holiday Season



In eBay's Holiday Selling Hub for sellers, buyers can read through the lines to get tips on how to benefit themselves this holiday season. Sellers are being prompted to offer great deals and selection, and other incentives. Here are a few ways you can benefit when doing your holiday shopping this season:

- Ask for a Better Price and Look for Markdowns.

EBay is encouraging sellers to create markdowns on prices and special promotions: "Research shows it's the items that include a promotional offer that tend to get the sale, so consider adding compelling offers to your listings via eBay Stores tools like Promotions Manager."  If you don't see a markdown, and the item has Best Offer, go ahead and make a fair offer.

- Free Shipping
Another thing eBay is pushing is free shipping. You should be able to find many items available with free shipping, though bear in mind sellers will often build that in to their base price.

- Expedited Shipping

Need it faster, especially as it gets close to Christmas? Go ahead and ask the seller if they offer expedited shipping. Depending on the item and its weight, you may be able to get it for little extra cost.

- Shop Early

Worried those holiday items won't be listed yet? EBay is pushing sellers to get all that holiday merchandise up now. Here are some interesting stats:

- 20% of U.S. internet users started their holiday shopping during the summer
- 40% of consumers planned to shop on Thanksgiving Day
So go ahead and buy those Christmas ornament gifts early and check those off your shopping list!

- Selection

EBay is also encouraging sellers to offer a wide selection. Don't see something in the color you want, or style? Try asking the seller if they can offer it...some sellers do custom orders. (Custom orders are also something Etsy is known for, so consider looking at that site for some unique gift ideas).

- Gift Wrap

Many sellers are willing to gift wrap an item. Don't see the option on the listing? You can still ask the seller if they are willing to gift wrap or a least include a special little bag or box for the item, such as jewelry.

So be sure and leverage all that sellers are being encouraged to offer this season.