Author: Jessica McDonald

7 Questions to ask your eBay designer about active content compliant design.

eBay active content compliant design

It is the role of a designer to create something useful and beautiful, within the constraints of the medium they are working with. No matter how wonderful a four colour advert may be, it would be a poor design for a black and white newspaper.

Changes to eBay’s active content policy have meant that eBay designers have had to re adjust the specifications they work to.

Ebay’s new active content policy does not restrict design. The new policy acts as a guideline to ensure that all design on the eBay platform is high quality, fast loading, mobile compatible and secure. There is no need for sellers to sacrifice any of the design features which help them to brand and personalise their listings and encourage increased sales.

We know that without technical design knowledge, it can be difficult to know if you are getting the most for your money within this new specification. That is why we have put together this brief list of seven essential questions to ask any eBay designer, to help you make the best-informed decision for your business

1. Do you offer active content free design?

This is probably the most important question at the moment, as design on eBay listings using JavaScript, flash and html forms will be blocked by eBay from June 2017. If you want your design to last beyond June, it needs to be active content free.

2. Will my new design still have automated dynamic categories or will it be hardcoded?

No doubt over the course of your business you will be adding and removing categories. This is a common practice when introducing new product lines, or removing old ones. In a store with hard coded categories, this would mean taking down each product listing, and adjusting each one manually. This would cost you time and worse still, delete your sales history and ranking.

3. Will my new design have automated dynamic cross promotion or will it be hardcoded?

Cross selling features in eBay designs can be dynamic, or hard coded. There is a very non technical reason why it matters which you choose.

Dynamic cross promotion scans through your live listings, and automatically shows related products, based on the rules you set. The rules could be size, colour, any relevant feature. It will only connect listings which are relevant and live.

4. Will I need to cut and paste html into listings?

Having to cut and paste html to revise listings is not just massively inconvenient and time consuming the first time your apply the listing design, it is a continuous time drain. Each time you want to make a simple amendment such as your shipping or returns policy text, you would need to manually edit every one of your listings.

5. Would I have to provide you with my login details for my eBay account?

You should never risk the security of the login details for the platform where you run your business, and handle sales and payments. Here at Frooition, we install our designs using eBay’s API. This means that you never need to hand over any sensitive information or login details; guaranteeing the integrity of your eBay security.

6. Do you store my new design, graphics and CSS on a dedicated server using Multi location data-centres?

This may sound alarmingly technical, but it’s really very simple and  important for anyone buying an eBay design to understand. Ebay designs which sit on a single server in house are not stable. Because when the server goes down, (which they sometimes do) your eBay listings will be broken until the server issue is fixed. It is common for servers to be down for a whole day. Ask yourself how much revenue would you lose if none of your customers could purchase your products for a day? Worse still, if it happens on a Friday evening, your listings could be down all weekend.

With Frooition servers, your template load from a node closest to where your customer is located, meaning quicker load times. If that server fails, it simply relocates to the next available node. This service maintains 99.9% uptime.  Meaning no downtime for your listings

7. Is the new design applied to my existing items?

This is a huge deal. It can take days or weeks to manually insert a design into your eBay listings, and even longer if you already have a design applied. Worse still, your listings may contain old active content, which would need to be removed before you even started applying the new design. Here at Frooition, we do all the work for you. If your listings are in eBay’s standard format (meaning you don’t have a design), Frooition will install the design into your live listings, no matter how many listings you have. In most cases, even if you have an active content within your existing design, we can clear that out for you, and insert your brand new design as a part of the service. Saving you valuable time and money.

Video in e-commerce

simple color line flat design of video marketing, modern vector illustration

Face book live, vloggers and branded content on Snapchat are some of the most powerful, fastest growing internet channels. Martha Stewart opened Channel Advisor’s Catalyst 2017 in Nashville last week saying that she can get up to 500,000 people viewing facebook live videos which she creates using just her phone. Consumers and brands can’t get enough of video content. Video is a growing trend, and it is becoming increasingly important in e- commerce.

As our internet experience is becoming faster and increasingly mobile, we are wanting information quicker and with less effort. Videos allow us to absorb more information, faster than any other content form. The amount of time users spend watching video online has increased by 38.5% in the past two years.

Video increases time on site.

Video content makes customers spend up to 88% more time on your site.

The more time they spend on your site, the more likely they are to purchase your products. According to Invodo, over two thirds of shoppers who play video on retail sites watch video to at least 80% completion.
Video reviews are probably the most powerful form of social proof, and increase session duration by 340% when featured on product pages.

Video is good for search.

Video appears in 14% of internet search results.

According to Buffer, pages with video content see an increase of 157% in organic traffic from search engines. Google also says video campaigns will soon be grouped just like any other ad through AdWords. That means videos will soon be even more likely to show up in Google searches.

Video is good for buyer decisions.

Consumers feel 57% more confident when they encounter video content on their shopping journey.

Product videos offer the 360 degree look-and-feel of a product that is normally lost in e-commerce. This offers your customers the same feeling they’d have in a brick and mortar store and helps them trust your product and your e-commerce. 73% of consumers say they are more likely to buy a product after watching videos that explain how it works.

Videos help customers to understand what they’re buying, so they are less likely to be surprised by the products when they arrive. In this way, videos help to minimise product returns refunds. 57% of consumers say that videos make them more confident in products they buy and less likely to return their orders.

Video is a powerful sales tool, and as the way we use the internet is changing, its influence is growing. More than half, or about 57%, of consumers around the world watch videos on their mobile phones every day. The mobile phone is becoming the “default device” for Web access, and the number of mobile-only internet users will reach 52.3 million by 2021, up from 40.7 million this year.

Customer behaviour is shifting towards mobile, with visual content being favoured over text. In response to this, Frooition have developed an active content free, cost effective method to embed video content into eBay listings. Book a talk with one of our integrations specialists to discuss how you could harness the power of video in mobile compatible, active content free listings.

How to write a returns policy that converts.


An ecommerce return policy can make or break a sale.

It can be the difference between a visitor and a customer for life. One of the biggest contributors to a sale is how you deal with a potential buyer’s questions, especially regarding what you’ll do if they don’t like what they purchased.

In a survey by comScore and UPS, 63% of American consumers check the return policy before making a purchase and 48% would shop more with retailers that offer hassle-free returns. These policies can have an even greater impact on international consumers, most notably in Germany where 72% of consumers would give more business to stores with hassle-free returns.

A clear returns, refunds, and exchanges policy shows that you are confident in your product and customer service experience. It is one of the many “wow” factors you can provide shoppers who may be a little concerned about buying online rather than in person.

One study featured in the Journal of Marketing found that customers who received free shipping on returns increased their purchases over the next two years by 58 to 357%.

Your returns policy is an opportunity to build trust, and to differentiate yourself.

Don’t hide your policy.

You customers should never have to search to find delivery and returns information on your store. Keep returns procedure in a prominent position on your main menu. Or, if you’re comfortable, shout it from the rooftops by placing it in places like your promo boxes and banners throughout your store. Be sure to include it in your confirmation emails on purchases. Let those who have already bought know that you are dedicated to them liking their product, and that if they don’t, they can always return it. Being your customers biggest advocate is a great way to foster lifetime loyalty.

Write your own.

This goes for anything on your site (especially product descriptions), but a returns and exchange policy is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Personalize it to your business and target audience. Make it engaging and reiterate your commitment to your customers. Include, if possible, customer reviews of the experience as well. Use this page as a testimonial spot on your site. Let it prove to potential customers that not only do people love your products, but that even when they don’t, you still treat everyone with respect and fairness.

Keep it simple.

Yes, you want to talk to your target audience, but avoid complicated wording. You don’t want to confuse anyone. Keep wording simple, use bullet points, incorporate real customer feedback. and make it skim read friendly.

Don’t be scary.

Try not to use phrases like “you must” and “you are required” or the worst… “we are not responsible for.” Make your returns process easy. Returns process should be as easy as purchase process.

Set clear expectations.

Do you exchange, offer store credit or refund their money? Every merchant has their own preference, and you shouldn’t feel pressured offer only a full refund. Many customers are very happy with an exchange, but setting clear expectations is the essential thing.

What’s the procedure for a return or exchange? Does the customer need to use your packaging or can they use their own? Do they need to include the order slip? Is there a limited time in which a return or exchange can be completed? Who pays for shipping? You or your customer? Outline the specific process and guidelines. Make your ecommerce shipping policy and returns understandable and straight-forward. By allaying customers’ fears, and encouraging trust, you are encouraging sales.

Make it low effort.

The biggest cause of customer disloyalty is a high effort experience. Easy returns keep customers coming back in the future. Tailor your return experience to the target market of your business. Consider the lifestyle of your customer, and how much they value their time. Also, consider the nature of your product. Generally, the larger an item, or the higher value, the more hesitant a customer will be about purchasing due to worries about potential returns. The clearer you make your policy for these people, the more likely you are to convert and sell to them.

96% of customers reporting high-effort experiences do not become repeat purchasers, compared with only 9% of those with low-effort experiences.

Survay by Comscore and UPS

Some key points to consider:

  • Who will pay for the return shipping?
  • Who will organise the return?
  • How many steps there are in the process of organising a return for your customer?

Keeping customers informed on the status of their return is also important to an effortless experience. Let them know (or provide tracking numbers) when their item has made it back to you, when the refund has been processed, or the replacement sent out.

Great refund policies encourage customers to commit to a purchase, and allow them to shop without fear of consequence.

Boden is a great example of a return policy done well. Their willingness to accept refunds and fun way of communicating that policy means they make fans for life.

Bottom line; the easier you make returns, the more you sell.

Mobile commerce and eBay

mobile commerce

Two thirds of people now own a smart phone. Anyone who owns one will know, they are incredibly addictive devices. We check them around 40 times a day on average. The top uses for them are checking social media, banking, and shopping. As the internet landscape is fast changing into a more mobile one, Google now ranks mobile friendly sites above their non-optimised competition.

Fastest growing e-commerce segment

The most online shopping in the UK is now done via smart phones and tablets. Ebay Q2 results for 2016 showed that over 50% of eBay sales now involve a mobile device. Mobile commerce is the fastest growing sector of e commerce, with 15% yearly growth.

Retail experts credit the increase in mobile commerce to increasing smart phone screen size, improved mobile internet speeds and more retailers optimizing sites for mobile customers.

Mark Felix, online sales director at John Lewis says: “mobile commerce is undoubtedly our fastest growing sales channel.”

Second screen shopping

Using minute-by-minute data information and by breaking down user activity by device, eBay tracked shopper behaviour at precise TV moments, and gained valuable insights into how mobile devices are used to shop on eBay.

During the season 7 premiere of The Great British Bake Off in August 2016, eBay saw a 67% rise in consumer interest in baking products while the show was on air. This soared to 133% during the hour immediately afterwards. The day after the finale of season six of Game of Thrones aired, eBay UK recorded a sixfold increase in searches for Game of Thrones merchandise. (eBay UK retail report 2016)

71% of these searches were via mobile. People were watching television, picking up their phones and tablets and searching for items associated to what they were watching, as they were watching it. The convenience of mobile devices makes mobile commerce far better for impulse buys.

But many retailers are still missing out on mobile commerce. According to research by Centre for Retail Research (CRR) and, the UK retail industry is sacrificing £6.6bn per year due to lack of investment into its mobile offering.

The same research found that 73% of UK shoppers predict they will spend more on mobile this year, and 15% now use mobile as their primary shopping device. 40% of those consumers said that they feel the mobile experience could be improved.

Data from Walker Sands revealed that while cash use is on the decline and mobile payments are on the rise, eight out of 10 consumers have concerns about mobile payment services, with the most popular concerns being security (57%) and privacy (48%).

e-commerce is becomming m-commerce

EBay know that mobile is the future of online shopping, and are working to make sure that they offer customers the best mobile shopping experience they can. The eBay app now shows an automatically generated summary description of your product, making it easier for customers to browse and buy quickly. Changes are also being made to eBay’s active content policy, so that from June 2017, eBay will be free from potentially risky active content. Addressing customer’s primary fears of security and privacy of mobile transactions is undoubtedly a smart move, and will encourage more to buy from eBay using mobile devices.

So with sales from mobile devices set to account for 45% of all ecommerce by 2020, translating to $248 billion, what can you do to ensure your store doesn’t miss out on mobile sales?

Consider button size

It is no good having a mobile site with buttons so small that they are difficult to read or click without accidently clicking onto something else

Words – less is more

People scroll a product description less on a mobile device than on any other kind of device. Be sure that your product description sells the product benefits without long paragraphs. Consider using bullet points.

Everything in its place

Don’t make the description extra long by tagging on information about postage or returns. EBay have areas for this. Repeating them in the description will only risk boring and disengaging customers.

Test on multiple devices

Check how your store looks on different sized screens, on the ebay app and in a browser. Frooition eBay designs are all fully dynamic, meaning that they work across a range of devices.

Remove active content

If your listings contain active content, this will need to be removed and replaced with active content policy compliant elements. Active content poses security risks and gives a poor experience for mobile customers, and so eBay are banning it.  From June 2017, active elements will not be rendered by eBay as intended. Frooition have been working closely with eBay on active content policy changes. We continue to offer the following great features on listings without any use of Flash, JavaScript, Form Actions or plug-ins:

  • Responsive mobile design
  • Zooming image gallery
  • Product information tabs
  • Dynamic store categories that update across all listings
  • Dynamic, intelligent, cross promotion that offer related items, not random un-related products

We are also offering listing rescue service for sellers with a non Frooition design. We can strip Active Content from their existing listings and applying the new design on behalf of the seller, saving them weeks or months of work.

Confidence in mobile commerce is growing, and eBay are planning for dramatic growth in this area.

Active Content and eBay – debunking the myths

ebay active content compliant design

Ebay’s fall seller release in 2016 announced that active content would be taken out of eBay. Seller forums were set alight with questions and speculation. Frooition customers have been supported through the changes, but there has been a wealth of misinformation spread about this topic, and so as eBay official certified partners, we are taking the top myths, and debunking them with the truth.

Myth 1:

Active content ban means a ban on design

Ebay have not said that they want to remove design. Ebay themselves had us create them a listing design for their packaging supplies store. At eBay open in July 2016, Shan Vosseller, eBay’s senior director of product, pointed out that it was still important for sellers to brand and merchandise themselves well. Alternatives to active content can create stunning designs. All of our eBay designs for the past six months have been created active content free. This includes feature rich designs.

active content compliant design   active content  ebay active content compliant design ebaystore

Myth 2:

Listings are ok as long as they don’t have video

Active content is not just videos. In fact, moving images are not necessarily active content. Active content consists of scripts and plugins that add functionality to a page. Sellers who use listing services or custom listing templates may have Active Content. In terms of content, active does not specifically refer to movement on screen.  In eBay’s context, it refers to the ability to change page content after the page has finished loading. Animated GIF images do not fall under that classification and will still be allowed in eBay listings under the current guidelines. While some video formats will no longer function, eBay is currently allowing videos that use the MP4 format and the <video> tag. Moving animation that can be created using pure CSS will still be allowed.

Myth 3:

No active content means a return to hard coded HTML

Many content policy compliant designs are made up of cut and paste html with hard coded categories and cross promotion features. These are time consuming to maintain, unscalable and potentialy harmful to an eBay business. The Frooition development team have put a lot of time in, alongside eBay, to create software that supports dynamic catagories and cross promotions that automaticaly update and can be edited by sellers with just a click of a button.

Myth 4:

Ebay will clear listings for sellers

Ebay worked closely with Frooition, as their their official certified third party design provider, to find active content free solutions for sellers. But it is the responsibility of every seller to make the decision on what is the best course of action for their own business, and to have those changes implemented. Content can be removed either manually, or with the automated listing rescue service, listings can be left plain, an active content free template can be applied, or a full bespoke active content free design can be put into place. There are many options, but it is up to each seller to decide on action for themselves. Ebay will not be fixing listings.

Active content can inhibit mobile purchasing, creating longer load times, increase security vulnerabilities, and have a negative impact on the overall user experience. For these reasons, eBay are stopping its use in listings from June 2017. JavaScript, Flash, Plug-ins and form actions will all be blocked. These changes to active content are to enhance customer experience and encourage people to buy on eBay. Ultimately, these changes will help eBay sellers to make more money from eBay.

If you are unsure about active content and your eBay store, contact us for your free listing review.