Sellers listing DVDs and movies on eBay.co.uk will be required to offer free shipping to domestic buyers starting Jan. 27, 2009. Additionally, eBay U.K. has set caps on what sellers can charge for domestic shipping on other types of media, as well as video games and mobile and home phones.
The mandate is part of a new policy requiring all sellers to specify Postage and Packaging charges. Previously, the rule applied only to new sellers.
At the same time, eBay is pressuring sellers to minimize shipping costs for certain items offered on its sites, in order to create incentives for buyers to make more purchases.
In the "extremely competitive" DVD category, eBay says, sellers will be required to offer free delivery as their first domestic postage option. The shipping limits will apply to listings appearing on the eBay U.K. site, but sellers will be able to set separate pricing for international postage.
"Excessive P&P costs are cited as a major reason for buyers to spend less online," eBay reports in announcing the policy change. "We believe these changes will enable sellers to continue offering the best value on eBay, and for us to continue serving you with the largest volume of buyers on the Web."
eBay suggests sellers increase their asking prices or starting bids to offset any shipping overages they incur as a result of the capsa strategy some sellers suspect is an attempt by eBay to increase its revenue from final value fees, which are assessed on sale price alone, not shipping costs.
Rival site Amazon has successfully employed shipping caps on its marketplace for years, and is widely considered to be the model for eBay's new policy.
Earlier this month, eBay enacted domestic shipping limits in media categories in the U.S., and announced that a similar policy will take effect on eBay's Australia site in November.
Other Entries by this Author
Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.