The Professional eBay Sellers Alliance is expressing outrage over a recent global change to eBay’s product image policy. eBay says the change is necessary.
As of July 1, 2017, online marketplace eBay has implemented a change to its product image usage policy, removing the ability for sellers to opt out of sharing images with the eBay product catalogue.
The eBay website states that, “To help provide a consistent buying experience and enable a faster and more accurate listing process, eBay uses images provided by our sellers in our catalogue. eBay’s catalogue is made available to sellers for use in listings on eBay sites.
“It also provides images that illustrate product browsing pages on eBay. Sellers will no longer be able to opt out of sharing their images with the catalogue, and all images that you make available to eBay will be considered for possible inclusion in the catalogue.”
The change has caused major concern within Australia’s Professional eBay Sellers Alliance, which President Tim Davies describes as a grab for sellers’ intellectual property.
The key concern for sellers is that their original product images featured on eBay will automatically be included in the eBay product catalogue, “thereby making them freely available to competitors”. With the opt-out removed, the choices for sellers now are to share images featured on eBay, or remove images they don’t wish to share. PeSA is upset at a lack of consultation over the change, and says that eBay rejected an appeal to defer the new image policy pending seller community consultation.
However, a spokesperson for eBay Australia said that this change is a global change, and a decision taken by eBay worldwide to improve eBay’s competitiveness with other global marketplaces.
“The objective is to match industry standards, and improve the overall marketplace experience,” said the spokesperson. “With over a billion listings on eBay, the discovery experience is crucial and eBay globally considered this an absolutely necessary step to improve the buyer and seller experience, not detract from it.”
eBay also said that Australian retail sellers on the marketplace account for less than 0.12% of all sellers, so the likelihood of their images appearing in the catalogue are extraordinarily slim. The company also noted that the majority of sellers do not choose to opt out of having images shared.
With respect to consulting local sellers, eBay acknowledges this particular decision was not a consultative process but one taken with the greater good of the overall marketplace in mind.
“We are very mindful of sellers’ concerns but in reality this change is very unlikely to affect Australian sellers at all, and will provide broader benefits to all sellers and the marketplace as a whole,” said eBay.
Nonetheless, the change has created serious concern at PeSA, who continue to call for change with one prominent online retailer, Adore Beauty, closing its eBay store in protest at the change.
“eBay’s new image policy does not respect our intellectual property, or our need for differentiation, said Kate Morris, founder of Adore Beauty and a PeSA Board Member. “It has confirmed what we have been thinking lately – that perhaps this sort of marketplace is not a good strategic fit for a business like ours.”
However, eBay reiterates that the seller experience and the protection of their intellectual property is top of mind, and that this change is not at all designed to create a “free-for-all”, but to enhance the overall marketplace experience.
“The global catalogue features one photo per item, which means there is no impediment to sellers differentiating their listing by offering other unique images on their listings,” said eBay’s spokesperson. “This is still very much eBay’s recommendation to sellers.”