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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2873 - August 20, 2012 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 3

eBay Drops Listing Fees for Sports Collectibles

By Ina Steiner
August 20, 2012

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eBay is making it free to list sports collectibles on its Marketplaces in both auction and fixed-price format through the end of the year - with some limitations. The move came as a surprise to eBay sellers, and some were skeptical about the reasons for the free listings.

"I think this is some kind of controlled test of the free listing model to see what it does to the category," wrote one EcommerceBytes reader. "Will a long term dump of free listings improve product availability in the category? Will listing volume be dominated with quality items that will sell through or will the listing volume generate mostly junk put up by vendors who are simply using eBay's free listings to dumping stale inventory?"

He also wondered if eBay was testing to see if buyers would spend more time searching, and if it would help or hurt pricing.

eBay Reacting to Amazon's Encroachment?
There has been speculation for years that eBay might consider dropping listing fees, and earlier this month, the issue was raised again, this time by Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, who said that if eBay eliminated its lucrative listing fees, it could disrupt Amazon's ecosystem. She called it a "radical change that would give Amazon a run for its money."

But rather than a proactive move to challenge Amazon, the pricing promotion may be reactive. Six months ago, Amazon opened a Sports Collectibles store that is still in beta. Collectors can find autographed trading cards, baseball gloves, game-worn jerseys - the kind of items sold on eBay, niche marketplaces or at auction, not mainstream retailers - and they can filter items by authenticator, including such firms as Beckett, PSA, Steiner Sports and UpperDeck.

Another theory is that eBay is looking to increase listings now that it is monetizing the site through ad revenue - eBay places ads directly on sellers' product listing pages, and more listings mean more "ad inventory."

eBay Is Already Free to Some Sellers
Of course, not all eBay sellers are required to pay listing fees. eBay negotiates with high-volume sellers, called "Diamond" PowerSellers, including national retail chain-stores and brands.

In addition, eBay waives listing fees for up to 50 auction listings a month for sellers without Store subscriptions.

Should eBay Drop Listing Fees?
EcommerceBytes conducted a poll this month to see if readers thought eBay should move to a free-listing model. Almost 80% said eBay should drop listing (insertion) fees, while 21% said they should not. Of the readers taking the survey, 54% said their average selling prices on eBay had decreased over the past 2 years, and 64% said their average sell-through rates on eBay had decreased over the past 2 years.

Read more about the survey results in this article in today's issue.

The seller quoted above said he believes eBay will test search during the listing period so that it can see how its latest algorithms work. "With free listings, they do not have to worry as much about sellers carping if their listings can't be seen," he said.

eBay's Sports Collectibles Promotion - the Fine Print
Under the new free-listing promotion, "Basic" Store owners can list up to 5,000 items in the Sports Memorabilia, Cards & Fan Shop with zero insertion fees; Premium and Anchor Stores can list up to 10,000 items with zero insertion fees; and sellers with no Store subscription can list up to 500 items per month with no insertion fees.

Auction items listed for free in the Sports Memorabilia, Cards & Fan Shop will also be eligible to offer the optional Buy It Now feature to at no additional charge. And sellers who qualify for 50 free Auction-style insertion fees a month can take advantage of the promotion and still get their 50 free listings per month.

All other fees apply, readers should visit the eBay website for details and restrictions.

eBay is only committing to free listings through the end of 2012.

You can read what sellers think about whether eBay dropping listing fees on this EcommerceBytes Blog post and leave a comment of your own.

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 ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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