There have been rumors spreading that eBay.com are about to restrict the number of duplicate auctions a seller can have running concurrently. The story started on the US eBay chatboards and has been picked up by Auctionbytes and then Scot Wingo of ChannelAdvisor although neither has confirmed the story.
Currently, a seller on eBay.com can have a maximum of one fixed price listing (or five if the product fitted multiple items under a “fitment” clause), but the policy didn’t apply to auctions. Under the rumored change sellers will be limited to a single auction style listing and have any duplicate auctions ended unless they have at least a 30% sell through rate. The change would be considered part of eBay’s “Search and browse manipulation policy”.
“If sellers are listing multiple auctions and selling very few or none then clogging up search results is a poor buyer experience.”
This does make a certain amount of sense, if sellers are listing multiple auctions and selling very few or none then clogging up search results is a poor buyer experience. Although five doesn’t seem like a large number of duplicate listings, if they’re not selling when multiplied by the many thousands of sellers on eBay that results in a huge number of products which are of little interest to buyers.
This will severely affect the selling strategy of some sellers. For many years it’s been an accepted strategy to list auctions to drive traffic to your eBay shop and your fixed price listings. Although “signpost” listings aren’t allowed, what is permitted is a genuine auction with links to your eBay shop to showcase your other listings, and strong promotion within listings is one of the many benefits of a Frooition listing design.
Typically, a sellers strategy might be to list an item on auction knowing that it would rise to the top of search results giving a surety of visibility, and then buyers could click a link from that listing in order to make an immediate purchase from a long duration fixed price listing for the same product. In the past, sellers weren’t too concerned if the auction failed to sell if it achieved the intended desire of driving traffic to fixed price items.
If you currently list multiple auctions for the same product, you need to be aware that the new policy would apply the 30% sell through rate over a seven day period. Best advice would be if you are listing duplicate auctions, that you don’t list them in batches all to finish at roughly the same time and day, as that will limit the likelihood of a high sell through rate.
Assess the days of the week and times of day that you sell the least of your products and target your auctions to the periods with the highest sell through rates. Don’t have auctions finishing every hour of every day if there are times that you rarely sell a particular product. You can use tools such as Terapeak to help you establish the best selling periods for your items.
You also need to remember that on eBay.com duplicate listings are still considered duplicates if they’re listed across more than one eBay User ID. Remember, that this will now include auction listings as well as fixed price items.
In theory, if the change is successful it will result in sellers saving money – rather than paying for multiple auction listings they’ll be able to put their products on a single fixed price listing. Often sellers have been driven to list duplicate auctions and flood categories with their products purely because their competition is doing likewise and without the visibility they’d be unable to win sales. With the change to a 30% minimum sell through rate no single seller will be able to dominate search results unless they’re items are selling successfully.
This is a change to listing policy which will fundamentally change the selling strategy for a large number of sellers. If you sell on eBay.com, it’s likely to come into effect in the near future, but if you sell on other eBay sites start to assess the impact that a similar policy would have on your business if introduced to the country sites that you list on.
It looks very much like the future of eBay will be a fixed price marketplace and sellers will be reliant on Best Match and Recent Sales in order to achieve visibility for their items.