COVID-19 has changed the way we live, eat, sleep and work. So naturally, it’s changed the way we shop too, with online platforms like eBay growing ever more popular.
Back in March, UK lockdown forced non-essential brick and mortar shops to close their doors, leaving just supermarkets, pharmacies, hardware shops, pet shops and newsagents free to trade.
Confined to home with round-the-clock access to laptops and mobiles, or shielding/self-isolating and unable to get out to the shops, many consumers switched to shopping online.
Statistics prop this up. According to data by Statista, UK online orders in May soared by 161%, compared to the year before.
This spike in online trade paved the way for a new generation of e-retailers, who seized the opportunity to launch new enterprises from their bedrooms, living rooms and garages.
Sold on the idea of selling
eBay, the UK’s second-largest selling platform, reported a 335% surge in new businesses signing up in June alone.
For some of these sellers, the coronavirus pandemic has given them the chance to find their business feet while turning their passion for vintage car parts/Star Wars figures/sustainable fashion etc into profit.
For others, it’s the difference between breaking even and going bust.
Many of eBay’s latest newcomers are independent retailers, who’ve traded their physical shop front for a virtual one to keep stock moving and stop their business from going under.
eBay has done its bit to support them, offering new sellers up to 100 free listings until 31 December 2020 as part of their ‘Pay As You Grow’ scheme.
To these brave new entrepreneurs, selling on eBay is some guarantee against an uncertain future.
Even so, it’s not a risk-free one, as we’ll explain. And that's where eBay seller's insurance comes into the mix.
New market, old risks
Clearly, the e-commerce market is ripe for picking, which begs the question: why get eBay seller’s insurance?
It’s a question worth asking because, although the e-retail market has changed recently, the risks have broadly stayed the same (with a few extra surprises thrown in).
More traffic doesn’t automatically equal more sales. And while demand for certain goods has risen (think office, sports, garden and leisure equipment), others have slumped.
International supply chain disruption, stock shortages and postal delays throughout lockdown meant some customers were left waiting for weeks, or even months, for their goods to arrive.
While eBay business insurance can’t fix all these problems, it helps with other things: like stock that does harm, stock that gets trashed or disappears, staff complaints, or injuries to someone your business comes into contact with (surprisingly possible even with social distancing).
eBay in a nutshell
A bit of background on eBay first, though.
It’s one of the world’s largest e-marketplaces, with an estimated 27 million customers and 300,000 sellers in the UK alone.
As such, it appeals to all types of people, from those looking to make a few quid from clearing out their wardrobe, to the seasoned seller with a fully-fledged online shop.
You can sell almost anything, from brand-new hot tubs to used electronics and antique furniture.
There’s also flexibility in how you sell. You can set a fixed price for your items or you can auction them off, whichever suits your business.
eBay has multiple seller tools, depending on how much you sell and how you want to sell. Switching between them is relatively easy, so you can find which platform works best for you.
Do you need eBay seller's insurance?
eBay doesn’t require insurance for its sellers as a condition of trading, but it’s definitely something worth looking into.
Particularly if you’re just getting started or operating under slim profit margins, and you’re wary of any hiccups that could derail your business.
More often than not, a comprehensive eBay business insurance policy includes:
- Product liability insurance to cover any accusations of negligence should the goods you sell damage a customer’s property, injure them or make them ill.
- Public liability insurance to cover damages for any third parties who are injured while coming into contact with your business (couriers, suppliers, market stall browsers etc.)
- Employers’ liability insurance to cover the people who work with/for you, including employees, volunteers and apprentices, for illness and/or injury.
- Stock and property insurance to cover your stock if it gets damaged or stolen. This often goes hand-in-hand with business interruption insurance, which covers you if a fire, flood or other unexpected event (hopefully not all three) prevents you from trading from your usual business premises.
Risk tips for eBay sellers
While eBay seller’s insurance covers a lot, your best scenario is obviously one where you don’t need to claim on your policy at all.
To mitigate your risks for running into a claim, try these on for size:
- Check the safety of your products. How well wrapped up and sealed are your products when you send them? Are any loose parts individually bubble wrapped? Do any items present a choking hazard and if so, are they labelled as such? Are any sharp edges encased in foam protectors to prevent injury?
- Take steps to safeguard your stock. Where do you keep your stock? If the answer is a garage, shed or exterior building, is it waterproofed and safely locked up at night? If you have an alarm, is the service agreement still in date? If you have to leave a delivery in the boot of your car while you run an errand, make sure it’s hidden out of sight, with the parcel shelf in place.
- Train your staff in safety procedures. Have they had basic first aid training? Do they have the right safety equipment? Is their workspace free from loose cables and wires?
- Protect your business premises. Are all electrical items and wires checked regularly? Are your gutters and drains cleared to minimise floods? Are you living and working in a flood risk area? If so, have you signed up for local flood watch warnings?
- Clear the path for the postman. Have you removed all trip hazards/dangerous dogs from your front garden? Your time-pressed posties and couriers will thank you for it. And you’ll avoid a claim for injury or damage.
For advice and guidance on eBay seller’s insurance, call us on 0345 222 5391. Or click here for more information.
Image used under license from Shutterstock.online retailers