EBay announces fresh changes to site

LONDON - Auction site eBay has unveiled a string of changes to the site to encourage more fixed-price sellers and help entrepreneurs make the most of fixed-price sales.

In a bid to make the site more attractive to online shoppers looking for everyday goods rather than just bargain hunters, a new fee structure has been introduced for fixed-price items as well as increased financial protection for buyers.

Upfront fees for listing items will be slashed and the fee for a successful sale will be increased in an effort to get buyers to list a wider range of goods.

Despite selling £30bn worth of goods a year and attracting two out of every three internet shoppers in the UK, eBay's active user numbers are barely rising. In the most recent quarter, the figure rose 1.4% to 84.5m million.

Already this year, eBay has tinkered with its fee structure, search results and feedback system.

It also plans to move nearly all transactions to electronic payment methods, making changes to search, shipping and seller standards.

Eventually, cash and cheques will be scrapped and users will have to pay by credit card, PayPal or the credit card processing service ProPay.

The changes have already come under criticism from users who fear it will merely benefit big retail partners rather than smaller traders, but eBay executives insist both can profit from the changes.

EBay's president of marketplace operations, Lorrie Norrington, acknowledged there has been a lot of change this year. But she said the company had carefully considered the moves and believed it was improving buyers' experience because "the best values from trusted sellers become better and better".

Claire Gilmartin, director of marketplaces for eBay in the UK, added: "There's no doubt this year has seen some very, very bold changes - necessarily so and entirely reflective of what our buyers and sellers want."

The changes will come into effect on September 16.