EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 196 - August 05, 2007 - ISSN 1528-6703     2 of 9

Survey: Fees Are Biggest Challenge to Selling on eBay

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The number one challenge online sellers face on eBay is fees, according to a survey conducted by AuctionBytes. Seventy-one percent said it was among the three biggest issues they faced as eBay sellers, and 37% of respondents said it was the single biggest challenge they faced.

AuctionBytes conducted the survey in July 2007, and 988 readers responded. The survey asked sellers about issues and challenges they faced and about their views on recently implemented features and policies on the eBay site. In addition, it asked readers about their sales performance over the previous 2 years in terms of Average Selling Price (ASPs) and sell-through rates (STRs). AuctionBytes is an independent trade publication for online merchants with a focus on the online-auction industry.

Seventy-one percent of survey respondents put "eBay fees" in their top-three biggest challenges faced as eBay sellers, followed by "Reduced store visibility in search" (36%). "Shipping costs" and "Competition" tied for third place with 20% each.

eBay Sales Performance
Thirty-six percent of eBay sellers said their average selling price (ASP) has either remained the same over the past 2 years (18%) or have increased over the past 2 years (18%), while 54% said their ASP has decreased over the past 2 years. Two percent did not know, 3% said the question did not apply to them because they no longer sell on eBay, and 6% said it did not apply because they are relatively new sellers.

More people had a declining sell-through rate (STR), however. Sixty-three percent said their STRs have decreased over the past 2 years. Fourteen percent said STRs have remained the same, while 12 percent said they have increased. Three percent did not know, 2% no longer sell on eBay, and 6% are relatively new sellers.

Best eBay Feature
AuctionBytes listed some new features added by eBay and asked sellers which was the best one it had added to the site in the last 2 years. Forty-six percent said "none" of the options were the best feature added. Thirteen percent said Markdown Manager for eBay Stores, and 10% said Turbo Lister 2, eBay's listing tool. The new Sell Your Item form was selected by 7% of respondents, and the PayPal security key was selected by 6%; eBay Marketplace Research was selected by 3% of respondents, and Reviews & Guides by 3%. Five percent of respondents said "other."

Worst eBay Feature
The same list of features was presented to respondents, who were asked which feature was the worst added to eBay in the last 2 years. Thirty-five percent said Reduced store visibility in search, followed by Feedback 2.0 (27%), eBay Express (11%), and Yahoo/Google ads on listing pages (7%). Six percent of respondents said "other."

Best eBay Policy
AuctionBytes listed new eBay policies and asked sellers which was the best one implemented by eBay in the last 2 years. Thirty-three percent of respondents said "none," followed by "Crackdown on lowest 1-2% of sellers" (30%) and "Anti-counterfeiting initiative (restrictions on sellers and delay of certain listings in search)" (8%).

Worst eBay Policy
AuctionBytes presented the same list of eBay policies and asked sellers which was the worst one implemented by eBay in the last 2 years. According to readers, "Hidden Bidder IDs (eBay's SMI T&S initiative affecting items $200+)" was the worst policy (23%), followed by "none" (17%), "Sorting results by seller quality (Best Match results)" (14%), the "End of auction extenders" (11%), and the "Crackdown on lowest 1-2% of sellers" (9%).

Note: It's interesting to see that 30% believe the crackdown was positive, while 9% believe it was negative. (Here's a link to an editorial in which I reported the crackdown

Who Responded
The survey asked questions about the type of eBay seller responding. Most reside and sell from the US (89%), and 79% list between 1 and 200 items/week on eBay, on average. Forty-two percent report that the value of all items they sold on eBay in the last 12 months was between $5,000 and $50,000. Thirty-five percent are below $5,000 in annual Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV), and 23% have an annual GMV higher than $50,000.

The top categories that best describe the type of item that respondents most frequently list to sell online are: - Collectibles (26%) - Books (11%) - Clothing, Shoes & Accessories (10%) - Jewelry & Watches (6%) - Home & Garden (6%)

We'd like to thank all the participants and also want to hear what you have to say. We've set up a blog post here where you can post your comments on these results. As time permits, we can also post some filtered results (results based on type of product a person sells, or how much they sell annually, etc.)

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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