How has Coronavirus impacted eBay dropshipping?

24 April 2020
Chris Garrett

As a result of coronavirus, many eBay and dropshipping supplier policies have changed.

 

To make it easy for you to understand how this could impact you, we’ve grouped together all the latest announcements and updates from eBay, Amazon, AliExpress, Walmart, Home Depot and Costco into this one article.

 

This has been written in April 2020, and things are very fast-moving. In addition to reading this, be sure to continue to regularly check eBay’s website and that of your suppliers for the very latest information.

 

Article Contents:

 

Looking for something in particular? Click below to skip to a specific section

 

 

The impact on eBay 

Online Amazon to eBay Arbitrage Software

How has coronavirus impacted sales for eBay dropshippers?

 

Using Salefreaks internal data, we mapped the % change in eBay sales for our dropshippers over the period of 1st February 2020 – 15th April 2020.

 

As you can see from the trend line, as the full force of COVID-19 is starting to hit the western world in April 2020, sales on eBay have risen sharply

 

Taking March 1st 2020 as a baseline of “100%”, sales on April 14th, 15th and 16th were all roughly 50% higher than a month earlier. For Salefreaks, that translates to thousands more orders processed for eBay dropshippers, but for eBay as a whole, that is likely to be many millions more orders being placed.

 

A summary of eBay’s new coronavirus policies and how it could impact you

 

Here’s an overview of eBay’s updated policies, and how they could impact you.

 

Banning the use of words related to Coronavirus in your titles or listings

 

The policy: You are banned from using titles and item descriptions containing health claims or terms such as “Coronavirus”, “COVID-19”, ‘Virus”, “epidemic” etc

 

How this impacts you: 

  • If you’re caught using terms like these, your listing will be removed and you could be subject to a restriction or suspension. 
  • Salefreaks has added these terms to our buIlt-in VeRO filter to ensure you don’t accidentally breach this policy. 

 

Price gouging / Excessive profiteering

 

The policy:

 

eBay is very clear under their disaster and tragedy policy that listings or items that attempt to profit from human tragedy or suffering are not allowed.

 

Clearly the COVID-19 pandemic fits under this. As such, as of April 2nd, eBay has removed over 5 million listings of essential products that are at an unreasonably high-profit margin.

 

 

How this impacts you: 

 

  • Don’t price gouge or try to excessively profiteer. Not only is it unethical and immoral, but as above, it’s also against eBay’s rules and you can be suspended for doing this.
  • Review all the items listed in your store. Pay special attention to make sure the items you are selling are not essential goods at an excessive profit margin. As most people bulk upload 100’s of items at a time, our advice is to stick to product categories which comprise of non-essential goods.
  • If you’re using Salefreaks repricer, or another repricer, implement a reasonable maximum profit margin. This will help to ensure you don’t accidentally fall foul of this policy.

 

 

Item restrictions – ban on listing items deemed essential

 

The policy:

 

eBay has updated its policies to restrict the sale of a number of items deemed essential. For an indefinite period, only business sellers will be permitted to continue trading these items and only at appropriate prices.

Private sellers attempting to sell these items will find their listings blocked or removed and their account may be suspended.

 

The items include:

  • Facemasks
  • Tampons
  • Baby wipes
  • Nappies
  • Baby formula/milk
  • Toilet roll
  • Hand sanitiser 
  • Cleaning wipes and pads

 

 

How this impacts you: 

  • We highly advise against dropshipping any of these items. You should review your store and make sure you are not currently listing any of these items. 
  • Possible enforcement action. Authorities in the U.K. and U.S. are looking very closely into this and failure to comply with eBay’s policies could result in harsh consequences not just from them but from government bodies. Source: The Guardian

 

Fee deferral

 

The policy: 

 

Both eBay U.K. and eBay U.S. offered a fee deferral scheme, allowing you to defer paying most seller fees for a period of 30 days. However, this was not automatic. Instead, eBay was taking requests from business sellers and allowing them to defer 50% of their eligible fees on their current invoice until the next billing cycle, and the remaining 50% to be deferred to their next subsequent billing cycle.

 

It’s important to mention that this scheme had an application deadline of Saturday 11 April, 6:59 am BST in the U.K. and of Friday, April 10, 11:59 pm PT in the U.S. Therefore if you haven’t already applied for this, it’s too late.

 

How this impacts you: 

  • As the deadline for applications has expired, it’s unlikely to impact you. However, there’s nothing to stop you asking eBay’s support team if they could make an exception.

 

Protection of seller performance

 

The policy: 

 

Both eBay U.K. and eBay U.S. are protecting your seller performance standards between 20th March 2020 – 20th June 2020.

 

In practice, this means that your seller performance will not be downgraded, even if your performance metrics slip during this period. On the other hand, if your performance increases, for example, from “above standard” to “top-rated seller”, you will still be upgraded to this tier.

 

How this impacts you: 

 

  • This helps protect your account against late deliveries from suppliers. 
  • There is nothing you need to do. This will be applied to your eBay accounts automatically, there is no opt-in.

 

New eBay promotions

 

The policy: 

 

eBay U.S.  – 50,000 free fixed price listings

 

Until April 30th 2020, eBay is offering store subscribers up to 50,000 free fixed listings.

 

Be aware that eBay is only waiving the insertion fee – not the final value fee or any other fees that you may still need to pay. Also, this promotion doesn’t change your existing seller limits. 

 

 

How this impacts you: 

  • To take part, you need to opt-in. You can do so on this page.
  • You could save a lot of money, depending on your current store subscription, and usage.

 

 

Above is the normal comparison table for store subscriptions. With the promotion, additional fixed price listings, beyond your allowance will be free, instead of between $0.30 – $0.05 extra.

 

eBay U.K. – 250 free listings/mo for new businesses

 

The policy: 

 

Any new eBay U.K. business seller that registers after 26th March 2020, will be given 250 free listings every month until 31st May 2020.

 

This includes both insertion fees and final value fees.

 

To take part, you simply register a new account and the offer is automatically applied

 

Full terms for this promotion are here

 

 

How this impacts you: 

  • New sellers have a big cost advantage. Without insertion or final value fees, their listings will be far more price competitive.
  • If you’re looking to open a new eBay U.K. account, now is the time. Particularly for non-API users that rely on having a small number of listings, and growing slowly.

 

More leeway on deliveries, returns and refunds

 

The policy: 

 

Both on eBay U.S. and eBay U.K. the amount of time given to process returns and refunds has been increased.

 

  • Buyers—Buyers now have up to 21 business days to ship a return, starting the moment you accept a return request and the buyer receives a return label.
  • Sellers—Sellers now have up to 5 business days to issue a refund, starting on the date that shipment tracking confirms the item was delivered back to you.

 

In addition, while eBay U.S. states that impact on deliveries has been minimal, on eBay U.K. they’ve added a further 1-2 days of lead-time to estimates. For example, Royal Mail 2nd Class would display as a “2 to 4 day” service rather than “2 to 3 days”. 

 

 

How this impacts you: 

  • You’re already protected against late deliveries by eBay’s updated seller protection policy but this adds some further help for U.K. sellers. 
  • Buyers may message asking to return items far later than usual

 

How has coronavirus impacted eBay dropshipping suppliers?

 

The impact on Amazon

amazon Dropshipping

 

U.K. COVID-19 Page

U.S. COVID-19 Page

 

Longer delivery estimates for non-essential goods

 

Amazon is prioritising the delivery of essential goods, such as household staples and medical supplies above all other orders. As such, they have increased delivery estimates (in some cases, quite dramatically) for lots of non-essential orders.

 

 

Having said that, as of April 2020, things seem to be improving at Amazon. Reports say that they’ve begun hiring more than 100,000 new temporary workers to cope with increased demand, and while many orders do show long time estimates, they are usually dispatched far quicker than expected.

 

Furthermore, Amazon has now started to re-allow 3rd party FBA sellers to restock non-essential goods, helping to alleviate supply issues and reduce delivery times further.

 

What is Amazon doing to prevent price gouging from sellers?

 

Here’s the problem. If an Amazon seller is price gouging, and you list their product in your eBay store (+ add your own margin), then you’ll accidentally be price gouging too. Much like eBay, Amazon says they’re working to prevent price gouging on their platform, but with millions of products, it’s very hard to police it effectively. Reports (such as this one) suggest widespread price gouging on products that help you work from home such as webcams and desks.

 

The bottom line is, continue to keep a close eye on all the products you’re selling. And if you come across something in your store with what seems a particularly high price, you could check the sales history with market research software such as Terapeak, ZIK Analytics or Chili Hunter.

 

What if buyers report they haven’t received their item from Amazon?

 

Amazon is allowing their couriers to deliver items without obtaining a signature, meaning customers will start to see an increased amount of items left in a safe place. If one of your buyers says they haven’t received their order, but their tracking says they have, explain the situation and ask them to search for places around their house that the delivery driver may have left it.

 

Bonus for Salefreaks Customers: Salefreaks has implemented a way to automatically increase the shipping speed of selected Amazon orders without needing to cancel and re-order! 

 

 

The impact on AliExpress

Online Amazon to eBay Arbitrage Software

 

Between January 2020 – March 2020, many Chinese factories shut down in a bid to stem the flow of COVID-19, causing delays to many goods being shipped.

 

However, as of April 2020, nearly all factories in China are open and operational again.

 

As such, there shouldn’t be any delay in orders leaving China.

 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean all goods will arrive on-time. Remember, once products are shipped from China, they travel through many countries and postal services before reaching their final destination.

 

Some countries are struggling to cope with COVID-19 more than others and are suffering different rates of worker absenteeism, causing delays in customs clearance and delivery. In addition, there’s been a reduction in passenger flights worldwide, often carrying cargo in their hold.

 

It’s worth noting that some AliExpress products ship from the U.S. too, and while U.S. postal services don’t seem to have been majorly affected so far, this isn’t to say they won’t be in the future.

 

In general, there’s no reason you can’t currently use AliExpress as a supplier for your dropshipping business, but if you want to be extra cautious:

 

  • You could message suppliers to check they are operating as normal.
  • You could message customers to say that items should be dispatched on-time, but there could be potential delays receiving items.

 

 

The impact on Walmart

 

Slightly longer delivery estimates

 

As of April 2020, due to high demand, next-day delivery services are temporarily unavailable.

 

However, most items are still arriving within a week of being ordered.

 

You can check for the latest information here.

 

 

The impact on Home Depot

 

Slightly longer delivery estimates

 

As of April 2020, Home Depot continues to allow online orders and home delivery, although they say there may be some delays due to increased demand.

 

They still offer a limited amount of next-day and 2-day delivery services, but some orders are being processed slower than normal. They’ve also extended their returns period to 180 days.

 

You can check for the latest information here.

 

 

The impact on Costco (U.S.)

 

Slightly longer delivery estimates

 

As of April 2020, Costco is largely operating as normal. However, they say that due to the “overwhelming increase in sales of personal care items, non-perishable food and electronics, some orders may experience a fulfilment/shipping delay”. 

 

In reality, this seems to vary from item to item. For now, you can continue ordering items from Costco, just make sure to increase your shipping time by a few days and message your customers about any potential delays.

 

You can check for the latest information here

 

Looking to start an eBay dropshipping business? Here are some articles that might help!

 

 

Strategy & Gameplan: How to build a non-API eBay dropshipping business

 

How to Start Dropshipping from Amazon to eBay – A Step-by-Step Guide

 

Any information you think we’ve missed or needs updating? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Chris Garrett
Content Editor

Chris is Salefreaks’ rockstar content editor. In addition to his work as a SaaS copywriter for various software clients, he enjoys playing chess and travelling. All views expressed in the articles are that of the company.

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