Some Solutions for Digital Product Sellers on eBay
eBay Ends Instant Digital Download Products, Including Patterns
igital product sellers represent a huge group of eBay sellers and are searching for ways to stay in business on eBay. eBay recently announced it will no longer support instant digital downloading of products within their active listings or store inventories. This is putting hundreds of digital products sellers scrambling for new ways to conduct business.
Update: Even though eBay's announcement was made quite awhile ago, it remains a lacking element to the eBay experience. eBay has often tried to duplicate the Amazon shopping experience. Amazon is now selling more digital goods than anything else! I'm not holding my breath, but I think in time eBay might see the light. Unfortunately they're usually late to the party.
To read the full announcement, go to eBay's General Announcement page.
How will this change affect sales and customers?
My listings are typical of other digital sellers on eBay. My patterns are still available from Vintage Home Arts on eBay, but will now be printed and mailed to customers. In addition to receiving a printed pattern, customers will receive a link to the digital download when I acknowledge receipt of payment. If a customer wants to save shipping and receive a digital file only, they will need to order from my business site off of eBay VintageHomeArts.com for future orders. But unfortunately this in no way recaptures the lost business from customers no longer able to locate what they are looking for in a simple eBay search.
Sellers Are Given Only One Week to Reorganize Their Digital Business
Sellers Light Up eBay's Discussion Boards and Forums
uming, confused and disgusted are good adjectives for sellers whose businesses are being booted off eBay. From unbelief to total outrage, only a few see a silver lining, and that's in the form of, "Oh, well, I had just about had it here anyway. This is what I needed to finally get started somewhere else."
Here are a few links to the most active discussion threads:
And the threads are shrinking as many of the comments are being monitored and deleted by eBay.
eBay's Update to Their Announcement , which selectively answers some questions, leaving many important ones unanswered, and really doesn't help most sellers. We're still scrambling to change our entire business structures by Monday, and not informed of whether we'll be penalized for having eBay remove our listings, which is what they advise us to do in order to recoup our listing fees.
Auction Bytes ran a timely article by Ina Steiner.
My Own Opinion on the Subject
No One Can Second Guess eBay
bay is definitely on it's own agenda. Everyone has an opinion of what that is, but nobody really knows, as eBay makes one decision after another that alienates yet another group of sellers.
I will continue to list my non-digital items on eBay IF they sell. But 90% of my customers want them only in instant digital format. I've set up other venues for my digital customers so they can continue to get the quality products and customer service they're used to. But they're also used to finding me on eBay, and eBay prohibits links to other selling venues.
Making Do With What We're Given
or most digital goods sellers, using eBay's Classified Ads, which is eBay's one-size-fits-all solution, is not a viable option for a multitude of reasons that I won't cover here.
What I've come up with for my business doesn't come close to recuperating the loss of my previous sales, but it does make it worth keeping a store on eBay while trying to build a business independent of eBay.
I list my patterns and ebooks as printed hard copies. Some digital sellers have switched to CDs, but for me it's just easier and cheaper to print and mail. As soon as I receive payment from my customer, I send them an email thanking them for their purchase, telling them when it will ship, and inviting them to use an included link to access the digital version RIGHT NOW. This is not against eBay's rules because I didn't advertise digital delivery in the listing, and I always mail the item as described. eBay can't control (so far) your communication to your customer as you're fulfilling their order. In the same email I also invite them to visit my off eBay business where they can find all of my inventory in instant digital download, minus shipping charges. I also send the same information to them when I send their pattern. In this way I use eBay as a means to funnel business to my website where I can offer them better goods and services than I can in my eBay store.
There is no really good solution, but you have to work with what you've got.
UPDATE: eBay is now ending email contact with customers. All communication will go through eBay's message center. So that probably means that referring them to a website will be prohibited by eBay. More on this as we get the new "rules".
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Helpful Legal and Copyright Information For Your Digital Download Business
Some of My Remaining Listings on eBay - My non-digital items on eBay
My patterns in hard copy format will remain on eBay, but if someone wants a pattern in instant digital .pdf format, they will have to contact me through eBay's Ask Seller a Question, or visit one of my other venues.