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Survey: eBay Sellers Explain the Impact of GTC Mandate

Survey eBay Sellers Explain the Impact of GTC Mandate

Our recent survey shows some sellers are hopeful that eBay’s new GTC mandate (making all fixed-price listings Good Til Cancelled) will have a positive impact, while others see it as having negative consequences. eBay announced the GTC mandate on February 26, 2019 as part of the Early Seller Update, and it will take effect in the coming weeks (“mid-March”).

Unlike other marketplaces, eBay charges listing fees every time a Good Til Cancelled listing auto-renews – every 30 days. Not surprisingly, costs were top of mind for many respondents. In some cases, sellers currently rotate their listings to stay under their free-listings allowance, so the GTC feature adds either to their fees or to their workload.

We asked survey respondents to leave comments to better understand the reasons behind their responses. They range from the positive – “I believe the new GTC policy will help clean up eBay’s search results and make it less “cluttered” with short duration listings” – to the negative – “This is going to hurt my sales a lot since I will have to delete so many items to avoid extra fees. If I was making great sales the extra fees might not hurt, but when you barely have sales, those extra fees will hurt a lot.”

Some sellers said it was a neutral change, some said they just didn’t know what kind of impact to expect, and then there were the sellers who felt it was another instance of eBay blindsiding them, such as the seller who wrote, “As with most changes eBay makes, the biggest impact to me is emotional. It is a disruption to my business, which makes me worry about how trustworthy eBay is as my main “business partner”. I am diversifying and hope that will make my business and my emotional state more stable. Again, the deal breaker for me will be managed payments.”

One seller hoped the new policy would have a positive impact by “breathing some life into auctions again.”

Another wondered, “Why wouldn’t they offer incentives to get sellers to try it?”

One respondent said they believed the GTC mandate would have a positive effect for some sellers and a negative impact on others. “I believe there are some sellers that are concerned about this change right now that when they actually learn how to use them correctly they will enjoy the change and grow because of it. But for others I think this will be a disaster for them. Too big of a change to their business structure and they will leave eBay. I also think this will cause an even bigger over crowding of listings in some categories since more listings will be GTC.”

One seller explained the various reasons why they liked their fixed-price listings to end after 30 days:

“Before I relist, I like to review the listing. I may change the price, the title, change shipping, choose a different picture for the gallery image, or add completely new pictures. I list through Auctiva and prefer to do this through their site.

“When a listing ends, I may decide not to relist to make room for seasonal or new inventory. GTC will take away the ability to rotate the listings I want to post each month.

“If something hasn’t sold at the end of 30 days, I may decide I want to combine an item with other items and list as a lot.

“I will now have to remember to end listings at the end of the month or risk not having enough free listings for the next month. It will prevent me from listing new inventory. I am not going to pay listing fees. The fees are bad enough the way it is. I am very unhappy about this change.”

Another reason cited by sellers: “any sense of urgency due to a regular fixed price item ending soon is lost if customers know they will simply be automatically relisted.”

eBay implemented the change in Australia last month with zero notice to sellers as we reported one week before eBay announced the GTC mandate in the US. One Australian seller who took the survey explained the hardship they endured as a result:

“My items are one-off collectibles. Some seasonal. I have 10,000 items and my store is limited to 1,500 “free” listings. I had just taken up a “list as many items in 7 days with no insertion fees” offer and now find I have 10,000 listings running GTC! I’m in Australia and had no idea about the forced change from fixed 30 days to GTC. NO ONE with eBay Australia accounts has been informed. If I don’t cancel these myself, I’ll be hit with $2,000 in insertion fees every month. This is incredibly wrong. I’m hoping there will be a class action against eBay and I’ll be the first to sign up.”

Below you’ll find additional comments sellers left when taking the survey. You can find the survey results in today’s issue of the EcommerceBytes Update newsletter along with a guide to all of the Seller Update changes.

eBay GTC Mandate Survey Results: The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Hopefully this is part of eBay’s efforts to sort out their various Google issues. Having static listing landing pages means that they can stop using their intermediate pages where they intercept a click through to cross sell an unrelated product from another seller – which google penalizes and which is not in the interest of the seller whose listing created the original click through. So potentially very good news, if this is what it’s about.

Like many eBay sellers, I already use GTC. I’ve been using it since last Fall, no problems. I sell primarily antiques, collectibles and used stuff. It’s easy to revise listings, and I can manually end them to relist should I choose to do so.

I review all my items (avg 500 per month) every 30 days. I keep a excel spreadsheet on every item I have listed, (date listed, cost, etc). Then I can sort anyway I want and make decisions on pricing. Sellers need to remember that an item is worth what a buyer is willing to pay!

The “mid-March” date is insufficient information. The idea that an eBay support rep doesn’t understand why we need the exact date is an indicator of how little eBay staff knows about selling. The impact may be in the areas they never thought of and haven’t told us about because they just don’t know. So it’s hard to know exactly how this will impact me.

I’ve already seen a small uptick in sales due to my items now appearing more in Google search. eBay’s previous failure to purchase advertising on Google for my items or to make the appropriate deals with Google to show our items, caused my sales to be unnecessarily low the last several years. Just recently, eBay must have reached an agreement with Google because now my items are showing up on Google in a matter of days (instead of after a month or never) and I am seeing a small uptick in sales. I believe the change to GTC for fixed price listings to have that permanent URL for Google to use for the item was part of the agreement with Google to resume showing our items, so it’s a necessary part of increasing our sales. I’m all in favor of this change.

I’m hopeful, but expect it to be painful

I only list GTC already because I want as many days as possible for my listing fee. (Decreased visibility and increased fees have already caused me to downsize my listings from 12K/month to about 2K/month) As a seller, this change will have no effect on me. However, I think this is a great change from a customer perspective. I hate the sellers who list short term and relist their items every 1-3 days. It essentially spams my saved searches emails with the same listings over and over and over. Any policy that limits a seller’s ability to intentionally annoy and drive off buyers is a good idea. eBay drives away enough buyers without enabling bad sellers to do it too.

Honestly, I am not sure how this will go. I use mostly fixed price 30 days with manual renewal by me, this will be easier, BUT I do worry about repeated GTC lower visibility. Most of my items are longtails anyway, so I do relist most several times anyway. If this brings greater visibility in Google, maybe it will be a good thing?

No direct effect on how I work on eBay. Whether the change results in more sales on eBay, and growing the buyer base, remains to be seen.

I really have mixed feelings about this issue, eBay should be focusing on cleaning up categories, removing seller limits and stop throttling businesses. If eBay trusts sellers enough to list one item then they should trust them enough to list ten thousand items, either you’re verified or you’re not. This is probably one of eBay’s biggest downfalls, is the throttling of their sellers. To be frank, eBay is their own worst enemies when it comes to progress on the marketplace.

All of my fixed price listings are currently GTC, so this really has no impact on me at all. However, I’ve spoken to numerous sellers who have indicated this is a negative change for them, so I don’t understand why eBay would make a change that there are few sellers saying this is a positive change, many (like me) saying this is a neutral change, and many sellers saying this is a negative change. Clearly, this is a case of eBay NOT listening to the sellers.

Tremendous impact to me, as a clothing reseller! I need to end listings at 30 days; I have absolutely no GTC listings at all, and they will kill my business! I’m going to have to end them manually, or buy a 3rd party software package to end them. So much effort to work around eBay’s changes, that are horrible for my business!

Will be adding a date code to all my listing titles so that I can cancel at 29 days. No way I’m going to pay eBay for listings. As a power seller, I only use the monthly free listings and the specials that I get from eBay. With what I pay eBay now (which is too much) am I going to pay listing fees also.

This new policy will impact my business in a negative way. It will create a lot more work keeping track of my listings. I prefer that the listings just end in 30 days so I can control what to do with them. If they automatically relist, they will also go to the bottom of search and not be as visible. I hope eBay reconsiders this change.

I feel this change is a money grab by eBay, just another way for them to raise revenue on an otherwise sinking ship. I’ve been on eBay since 1997 and wish they would go back to what made the site famous instead of trying to compete with Amazon which is a huge mistake.

Here’s an example. Let’s say a buyer and I had a problematic transaction where the item was not purchased by them either correctly for whatever reason or they are a secondary buyer. The transaction is canceled at their request and I will relist it as a private sale directly to that buyer to workaround anyone else getting the item. I only use a 1-day fixed-price listing for this issue resolution since I don’t typically want the listing standing very long. I don’t want a 30 GTC on this type of transaction. I’m not even sure yet how this will impact me. I only ever used GTC by mistake before this or for multiples of the same new item IF I had happened to have inventory like that, which is very, very rare. I’ve only once had multiples of an item in the 300-piece range, so it made sense to use GTC. Everything else I sell, I don’t need or want GTC. I want flexibility. No-one on the boards has mentioned flexibility, No one has addressed what was wrong with the former system of duration-style listing. What was so non-profitable or problematic or inherently wrong with that system that eBay saw the need to fully remove it? No answers.

This will only be fair if they make the GTC listings renew for free. It still won’t help small sellers of OOAK (one of a kind) items sell their goods, but at least it would be fair and not be perceived as a money grab.

Probably not a huge impact. We quit focusing on eBay after the defect debacle a few years back and focused on our own website. Managed Returns, Payments, free return shipping all pushed us away. We’ll probably continue to use eBay to liquidate slow moving items, returns and what not, but we’re never again listing enough items to sell 1 million a year.

I don’t understand eBay management’s fascination with “new” features when so much is broken on the site. Example, sales reports have been wrong going on two years, when an auction ends that I did not win, it takes me to a different item rather than keeping me on the item so I can see closing price. I am forced to navigate back to the item. There has been similar impacts across the board – leaving feedback takes more steps, going to my seller page takes more steps. Each is small by itself, but all of these issues add up collectively. eBay corporate leadership needs to focus on what is broken in their marketplace and fix it before they start exploring more “new and improved” changes.

This is a horrible idea! This will add additional work for me. I add additional stock listings for 30 days only keeping within my free listings for the month. I run GTC on the majority of my listings supplementing them with the 30 day listings. My GTC listings have been running for a long time so my search is pretty good. I would not cancel these at all but keep them.

This change has actually done me a favor because I will spend less time babysitting eBay listings by keeping them under the store allotment each month, and by it allowing me to spend more time building up my store on Etsy. Sorry I wasn’t doing that sooner!

I use the end of each 30-day period to determine sale prices for the next 30-day period. If the listings auto-renew, it will become difficult, if not impossible, to keep track of how long an item has been listed and therefore to determine whether to reduce the price and by how much. This may be the last straw and force me to look at other venues, like Poshmark.

Listings will get lost as the clutter increases. Doubt the Chinese junk sellers will change. That’s what needs to happen to clean up the vast listings. No longer will I list anything in categories that have a lot of junk from China.

I already list using GTC because it works for me, but sellers should be able to choose the listing method that works best for them. I have been an eBay seller for 19 years and have adapted to a lot of changes that eBay has made over the years because I believe it is still the best selling platform and it is where the buyers come to as is the best known. But, on the other hand, what is bothersome are the continual changes eBay forces on its sellers which doesn’t allow us the freedom to make our own choices to run our businesses in the way we see fit.

It will reduce my visibility in search. I have 12,000 long tail items. They will all drop in search. Some take years to sell. I will definitely reduce my listings on this site and build up other sites, which incidentally I’m doing quite well on. I have about 20% of the items on one of these other sites and do about 35% of my sales on that site relative to eBay. eBay is doing something wrong in my case.

There are many straws that can break a camel’s back, and I think this will be the one that breaks mine. Have not been forced into managed payments yet (which I thought would be my straw), but this one seems to come into play sooner and I am pretty much done (except maybe an occasional purchase for hard to obtain items that I can’t find elsewhere.) I moved many items to Bonanza but with no traffic, I just wish PayPal would take over that venue as this platform needs some serious NEW MANAGEMENT on Bonanza. Not a fan of Amazon at all.

The site may appear stagnant to potential buyers as they start seeing the same items for months, and years. At least the current fixed items appear fresh when they get relisted at a later date (3 months for me). Also, any sense of urgency due to a regular fixed price item ending soon is lost if customers know they will simply be automatically relisted. I don’t see any benefit to me of implementing GTC for all fixed listings. It will cause me more time to monitor the activity to end items by the 29th day. eBay will simply make more fees on sellers that don’t pay attention, forget, or don’t care if they pay more.

It will not impact me, but I see it as a negative change for many other sellers who have different criteria. It’s just one more example of eBay interfering in a seller’s business when they pretend to be only a venue

This change would be a lot more palatable if eBay doubled our free listings (from 50 to 100) per month or lowered the listing fee (say to 0.10 or 0.15 each). I would list double the amount I list today if the fees were considerable lowered (or FREE!!!).

At the least it will require approx.. a day a month to end listings before they renew. I have to handle 2 different Stores. I’m already NOT listing 20 books that won’t be worth the trouble. I think the worst thing that will happen is eBay will not be the “go-to” place for good deals now. Once sellers realize the costs of GTC, they will jack up their prices and do away with bargain items. It’s going to hurt everyone.

It’s nice when they end in 30 days to keep listings fresh for buyers. Also I can see what’s getting views faster, what’s been listed longer and make decisions on stock. Keeps me motivated and seeing how my stock is moving over time.

Truth told, this change doesn’t affect me greatly. I do feel that it came out of the blue and eBay did a poor job of explaining the rationale for it. I never feel that it’s a positive change to limit sellers’ options; it shows a lack of respect for the business knowledge of many eBay sellers.

Our categories and system are very high-demand single listings, so 3 day relists and constant algorithmic price reductions almost always keep us in the top 5 results of thousands, so it’s not good news.

This will make it more difficult to successfully and reliably rotate my inventory of 20,000+ items on a monthly basis. I am also very concerned about the precise policy details. Will eBay “punish” sellers who manually cancel listings, and what will be the time frame sellers must adhere to in order to successfully cancel listings without incurring new fees? In any case, sellers who cancel listings early will be hurt by the fact they will not receive the full length of the 30 day listings, and will also forfeit the benefit of increased exposure as the listing period ends.

My job is to find good items to offer to my customers and then fulfill orders with as close to perfect customer service as is possible. eBay’s job is to offer their customers a fully functional platform to sell on and to bring potential customers to their customers. eBay’s job is NOT to tell their customers how to run their businesses. We all operate differently and suggestions are certainly welcome. But mandatory changes for the sake of change are not appreciated, wanted, or needed. We’ve been told for years to relist or sell similar to get our items seen, and now we’re being told to keep listings running eternally to get our items seen. Why would we believe that? GTC apparently works well for some sellers, but I see no value for a small seller of true vintage ooak (one of a kind) items. I’m willing to try it on some items, but that should be my decision, not eBay’s. Why wouldn’t they offer incentives to get sellers to try it? Bad call, eBay. I hope the other Marketplaces will see the results of this survey, along with Elliott.

Specifically, I will have to set aside time to re-evaluate market data and make revisions to all fixed-price listings. I have a large degree of uncertainty as to how compatible GTCs are with the consignor management tools I use. It may necessitate keeping a separate, manual database of each item sold.

This is my full-time job, and I am barely scraping by. This complicates matters in such an unusual and upsetting way. In my 20 years selling on eBay this is the most despicable thing I’ve ever seen them do. They are about to trick millions of sellers into paying for unwanted relists. I always expect bad changes from eBay, I’m used to it. But this is a site breaking change.

It will mess up nearly everything. I rotate items out and only use free listings. The GTC option will quietly eat into my free listings, and could easily result in a charge to me with no sales. Furthermore, GTC will further bury listings, resulting in even fewer sales. All around bad move on eBay’s part.

Been here since 1998 so I learned a long time ago that they don’t really care about individuals, which is a shame because that’s what makes eBay unique. Trying to force everybody into the same business model just takes away from the charisma that the site used to have. I will admit that I hope this will breathe some life into auctions again, though.

If my competitors decide to stick with GTC, I expect my sales to improve, because eBay’s search engine is so dysfunctional that older GTC listings will likely not be seen. Additionally, buyers expect to see new listings on a regular basis. By not utilizing GTC I will be able to provide new listings each month.

eBay has told me personally do not use GTC for the types of items we sell (used, vintage, antique, new (one offs) etc.). That our listings will get buried in search. We USED to use GTC back in 2013-2014, then sales came to a halt slowly. Spoke with eBay, they advised to end all listings, and re-list using 30 day BIN. Did so and BAM stuff that wasn’t selling for months flew off the shelf. Have been on 30-day BIN’s ever since. Will end the GTC listings every 30 days and relist. Also massively branching out to other platforms to get away from eBay.

You can find the full survey results in the accompanying article, “Results Are In: How eBay GTC Mandate Will Impact Sellers.”

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

One thought on “Survey: eBay Sellers Explain the Impact of GTC Mandate”

  1. I only have one word for what Ebay is doing “socialism”. It seems that Ebay, being the government in this scenario, knows better how to run our business than sellers do. Almost everything that they have done in the last 10 years or so has taken a right away from sellers. The only thing that they have backtracked on was how often sellers could run sales. Sellers have almost no leverage left in anything.

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