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eBay Adds Feature to Protect Sellers Who Run Out of Stock

eBay is rolling out one of those features that is so basic that it has one wondering what took it so long to implement. The new optional feature eliminates some of the negative consequences sellers face when they run out of stock on a particular item on multi-quantity Good ‘Til Cancelled listings (GTC).

Previously when seller sold out of a GTC listing, eBay would end the listing, and the seller would have to create a brand new listing when they restocked the item. The new “out-of-stock” option helps sellers avoid defects associated with running out of stock, eBay explained. It also helps them avoid being penalized in eBay search results, since the feature saves the item’s sales history on sold-out items, including the number of items sold and number of watchers.

Another important advantage: the listing keeps the same item number, so that links to the listing won’t break. That facilitates search engine optimization and merchandising.

eBay had made the feature available to developers through the API earlier this year, meaning it was sellers who use third-party listing tools who had access to the feature. eBay explained the out-of-stock feature, “On a single SKU item and the quantity is zero, the item does not appear in the Search Results page. If a user has the ItemID, they can go to the View Item page directly. On this page, the Buy It Now and Add to cart buttons are gone, and there is a label showing that the item is out of stock.”

And, “On a multi-SKU item and at least one variation has stock, the item will appear on the Search Results page. Variations with zero quantity will be shown as “out of stock” on the View Item page. When all of the variations have zero quantity, the item will not appear on the Search Results page.”

Sellers who choose to use the feature should be aware it could cost them.

Because a GTC listing with a quantity of 0 is still live even though hidden from search, the GTC automatic renewal will continue every 30 days, and a listing fee will be charged. However, the listing may qualify for an insertion fee credit and a credit of any advanced listing upgrade fees applicable to that period if the listing has a quantity of 0 for an entire 30-day billing period, according to eBay’s description of the feature.

Sellers should also be aware that if a listing with the out of stock feature enabled is out of stock for 3 consecutive billing months, eBay ends the listing at that point.

If you run Good Til Cancelled listings on eBay, take a look at the new out-of-stock option on this eBay help page.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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.