Radical changes to fees are also being weighed up.
eBay Australia is contemplating allowing free listings for items which can be picked up locally as one of a range of measures designed to see off competition from rival sites and charity shops.
Historically, eBay has made most of its money by charging fees to list items and a percentage of the final value for successful sales. Fees for listing items have been assessed on a sliding scale (the higher the initial price, the higher the fee).
However, that model might be about to shift. Members of the company's eSayers online survey panel, which provides ongoing feedback about eBay's operations, have been asked to comment on proposed changes that could see major changes in how eBay charges its customers.
"eBay.com.au is considering making changes to the way you sell items on eBay," the survey notes. "This includes potential changes to listing format, delivery options, listing duration, payment options and pricing."
The concept which appears the most advanced would allow customers to use a simplified approach to list items which would only be available for local pick-up. "This would involve an easy one page, 4 step listing process for items you would like to offer to buyers as pick-up only," the survey says. Such a change would potentially allow eBay to attract customers who dismiss using the site because they don't want the hassle of calculating postage charges, or who find the multi-step process involved in listing an item too complicated.
One option presented includes be no listing fee up-front for such sales, though eBay would continue to charge a final value fee. Other survey questions suggest a range of alternative charging options, such as a flat listing fee for all items, different pricing for local pick-up items versus items sent through the mail, and a standard percentage for all final value calculations While it's unlikely that all of these will be introduced, any which rate well in the survey will doubtless get serious consideration.
eBay remains the dominant force in the Australian online auctions market, but its rate of growth has slowed and it has been hit by a number of PR disasters, most notable its failed attempt to force all customers to use eBay-owned PayPal as the main method of payment. While eBay argued this would improve security, long-time sellers felt it was a blatant grab for even more money, and the plan in its original form was eventually dropped.
In the wake of that debacle, the company's local MD and security director both moved on. The current survey (managed by i-Link Research rather than using the existing eSayers system) suggests that any future changes will be heavily researched before introduction to avoid a repeat of the customer outcry that greeted the compulsory PayPal plan.
The survey also suggests that eBay is feeling competition from people choosing to give second-hand items to charity shops, with several questions focusing on how people get rid of unwanted items. At the same time, PayPal has been encouraging charities to make greater use of its services.