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eBay Policy Update – Sellers Must Remove Watermarks from Images

September 21, 2017

In eBay’s Autumn 2017 Sellers News release, they are introducing further policy updates, including a likely unwelcome change to product images.

Read our updated article here >

eBay Policy Update

So what is the eBay Policy update?

From March 2018, eBay will no longer allow the use of watermarks in product images. Sellers will soon begin receiving notifications when eBay identifies images with a watermark. In addition, they have until the 1st March 2018 to make the changes, otherwise product listings will automatically disappear.

With previous image policy updates including the removal of graphical decorations, eBay has been moving towards a clearer image policy. This is in-line with many other marketplaces and shopping comparison sites such as Amazon and Google Shopping.

eBay believes cleaner and clearer images ‘help to create an intuitive browsing experience for shoppers’. Besides, it also allows eBay to promote seller’s items on other websites and search engines who adopt similar image policies.

Many sellers will understand the benefits of this update. But there are many who are ‘up in arms’ and are highly critical of removing the watermark, and how it will affect their businesses.

Main objections include the time necessary for replacing the images. For example, by either having to upload new images per listing, or in the worse cases, having to re-shoot their whole product photography. Also, sellers who invest a lot of time and money photographing products, often add watermarks as a way of stopping competitors from stealing their images.

Their fury is certainly understandable:

“This is madness! I spend a huge amount of time and money taking pictures of the products I sell, and always add a small discrete watermark to my images to protect them. So now I have to use my images, totally unprotected from theft! Why would eBay do this?”

“I sell postcards and photographs, many of which are one off, totally unique images. If I cannot protect them from being copied, then I dont have a business as most potential customers will simply right click – Save Image as – and wont bother buying it.”

I believe these comments are valid, but what can you do? Unfortunately, not a lot when it comes to other sellers taking your images. However, this isn’t exactly an uncommon practice and online retailers have been managing this for many years.

When selling images such as graphics and postcodes, it becomes a bit more problematic due to easily copying images. So, the way forward is to develop new photographic angles and to list the image at the lowest acceptable resolution, so to stop print use.

Other sellers just feel the updates are a mistake and eBay has gone too far:

“They no longer want sellers as individuals. It is nothing but a price war. They want to let other sellers to use, sell the same items at a lower price. What matters if the picture is the same for a particular product? Only the price. If all sellers sell the same with the same picture the buyer will go for the lower price. It makes Ebay more unified. It makes Ebay a webshop where all glory (and fees) go to Ebay and all problems diverted to the seller.”

“I quite literally spent months resizing all my thousands of images to be minimum 500px and as soon as this was done, I had to add product identifiers which took many more months. Then I was expected to check and remove any active content, and now they want me to spend months removing watermarks! I’m trying to run a frigging business here, but I cant grow and expand this business when I spend all my time editing my listing to your stupid rules.”

eBay’s policy updates have come thick and fast over the last few months. As a result, it causes a lot of headaches for many retailers, and so these comments are what you’d expect. There will be a few more on the way so we will inform you of these.

For more information on eBay Contact and Link’s policy update, please read our recent article here.

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