If you are a seller on eBay, then you probably know that the digital delivery download market was huge. Sellers could sell eBooks, templates, website designs, software, pictures, and just about anything else they wanted. It was great! Buyers were happy because they got instant access and didn’t have to pay shipping charges. Sellers were happy because they just had to set up a link, list the item, and count the money going into their Paypal account.
However, eBay made a bold move in April and May of 2008. They completely removed the digital delivery platform from the eBay site. Instead, they stated that it was against eBay policy to list digital items in the buy it now or auction format.
If a seller wanted to sell an item, they had to take out a classified ad to do it. Bummer! The problem with that is that the classified ad section is totally different from the auction listing (or fixed price) format. With a classified ad, sellers list items for 30 days at a time at a rate of $9.99.
If a buyer is interested in your “ad,” they must take the time to email you, wait for a response, and then perhaps they will go to your site or send the money via Paypal….IF they feel like it is worth it and don’t shy away from the transaction. But the problem with classified ads is that they really aren’t nearly as effective as a true eBay listing where people can use “buy it now.”
Needless to say, almost every eBay seller that traded digital goods was furious! People were blogging about it, people were on the eBay forums ranting and raving about it, and it made major news headlines. It literally put people out of business. I remember reading on the forums people that sold digital delivery and it was their only source of income. And eBay single-handedly put them right out of business.
Even though you can still sell items on a “CD,” what seller really wants to go to the trouble of burning cd’s all day and then making a package and hauling them off to a post office? And what buyer wants to buy a digital type item, and then wait for 5-8 days to receive it?? And if you think you can outsmart eBay and just let the buyer email or download the item anyways, think again. You will likely be shut down very quickly, and your account will be suspended. They have made it abundantly clear that anyone caught trying to sell digital items via download through the fixed price or auction format will be suspended.
So why did eBay remove digital delivery, and force digital items to be placed in the “classified ads” section? According to eBay, they said it was because of fraud. Hmmm. So you are going to cancel an entire digital delivery section because of a few bad apples? Why not just take down eBay then? Because people will sell fraudulent things in ANY category, not just eBooks, etc.
Anyways, back to the topic. Since this policy went into effect, I personally know several Powersellers that closed their eBay Stores, and even closed their eBay accounts. Many were suspended for rigging the eBay Pulse section as well. This is sad, as it was a great way for nursing students to earn an extra income selling digital items such as designs, and so forth.
Will eBay Ever Bring Back Digital Delivery for eBooks and Software?
That is a great question. EBay has recently flipped flopped on several of their “big decisions.” This is most likely due to the major negative responses for many of the new policies they have been trying to enforce. For example, they changed the feedback system so that neutrals and negatives counted as the same. Yet a few months later (no doubt due to the rage many sellers were voicing), they altered this and made neutrals count as nothing.
They have also canceled several of the updates to policies. They were going to change the links policy, but decided to abandon the changes. They also removed the ability to remove negative feedbacks via a mutual withdrawal request. However, they did bring this back as well several months later (although they did make several changes to it).
So is it possible they will also bring back digital delivery just like they brought back some of the other things? Maybe, and then again maybe not. We have no indication so far that digital delivery will ever return. I wonder if there was more to it than that? Maybe they were getting hit with too many lawsuits due to sellers listing copyrighted info?? Who knows?
One thing is for sure, eBay isn’t what it used to be. They change policies faster than I change clothes. They have raised fees, they have placed too many limitations on sellers. Add to that the complex and changing laws concerning sales tax collection, high and complex shipping rates, and in my opinion eBay can only get worse as time goes on.
In this process, they have really hurt their image, and many sellers have given up selling on the site. Many sellers have either migrated to other selling sites such as Amazon.com, Craigslist.org, or they developed their own website and started driving traffic to it. I think eBay wanted to please buyers thinking it would drive up traffic. Instead, they frustrated their true customers that pay the fees (the sellers), and they are leaving more and more.
All I can say is eBay was a GREAT site to sell stuff (either business or personal). This is no longer as true as it used to be. Sales aren’t that great. Fees are higher, shipping continues to get higher, taxes continue to get more complicated, and more. I still use eBay as a site to sell various tangible goods, but certainly not as much as I used to. I can remember the days of hundreds of listings being active at one time. Not anymore. I usually have less than a hundred.
But I wish they would bring back the digital delivery feature. I think it would really draw a lot more buyers back to eBay, and help sellers increase sales and build passive incomes (as apposed to having to manually ship packages all day).