eBay answered questions last week about its mandatory Good Til Cancelled (GTC) policy that went into effect on March 18th. Moderators fielded questions from sellers who now find themselves unable to post fixed-price listings with “hard” expiration dates. Instead, all fixed-price listings renew every 30 days, automatically – meaning sellers must pay listing fees indefinitely unless they manually cancel a listing.
Note that when a single-quantity listing sells, the listing will end, but there’s a caveat: if the seller had turned on the GTC Out of Stock (OOS) feature, that listing would auto-renew 3 more times even though it would have become a zero quantity listing. (In other words, the seller would be paying for the opportunity to sell zero items!) Unfortunately, sellers can’t turn on OOS for some listings but not others – it’s all or nothing.
eBay gave sellers a mere 3 weeks to prepare for the bombshell Good Til Cancelled (GTC) mandate, and while there were numerous questions during Wednesday’s weekly chat session on the eBay boards, we suspect there could be another rise in angst-filled questions when the first round of GTC listings auto-renew in April.
Importantly, an eBay moderator made it clear the company had no plans to release an eBay tool that would help sellers auto-end GTC listings, despite the fact third-party software tools are making such features available to their customers, including SixBit, the same developers who had created eBay Turbo Lister, which eBay has been phasing out.
Many sellers have expressed concern about the impact of GTC on visibility. Currently a new listing gets a “newly listed” bump and a “ending soon” bump in search visibility. But because all listings now automatically renew, sellers are concerned their listings will not get that “newly listed” bump in exposure in eBay search results. Moderators addressed several questions about GTC search visibility during the chat session.
One question that didn’t arise during the session has to do with billing; some sellers could experience some months when their listings auto-renew twice (it’s a 30-day renewal, and obviously some months have 31 days). In addition, there are some years when a seller could end up paying GTC renewal fees 13 times instead of 12.
In a post on Tuesday, eBay Director of Community Brian Burke promised the company would address the issue in May, but he provided no details.
Here are excerpts of some of the questions relating to GTC from the session along with the answers provided by eBay moderators.
Seller: GTC listings will sort by ending soonest and get closer to the top of that search as their end date nears. Just like we are used to a 30-day FP listing would.
GTC listings will also appear as newly listed when they are initially listing. However when they renew, this does not apply.
It would be nice if GTC could be considered as newly listed in the searches when they renew. Any thoughts on this!
eBay: Definitely some great feedback and something we are passing along to the appropriate teams. While I can’t elaborate on this topic, I do want to highlight that our Best Match algorithm evolves and changes over time and the recent changes are designed to increase conversion rates for our sellers. Long-term listings have a higher chance of a successful sale and we are confident this will be apparent for our Community as time passes slight smile
Seller: We know that GTC listings are treated like 30-Day fixed-price (FP) listings for purposes of the “Ending Soonest” search order, that is, as they near the end of their 30 day cycle, they rise in Ending Soonest. Does eBay also treat GTC listings like 30-Day FP listings for watchers?
To be clear: I believe with 30-Day FP, a watcher receives a reminder that the listing is about to end as the end date approaches. As a GTC listing nears the end of its 30-day cycle, does a watcher receive a similar notice? (I think there is some confusion about this, with some sellers believing that a GTC listing is a “permanent” listing with no end date.
Wouldn’t it be more accurate to describe it as a 30-Day FP listing that ends at the end of Day 30, and then renews automatically? (I do realize that time frame may change, depending on eBay’s solution to the billing sync issue plays out, but that’s a couple months in the future.)
eBay: You’re correct in your breakdown of GTC: from a buyer perspective it is presented as a 30 day listing. This means that if a buyer is watching the item they will get the notification that it is ending soon. My personal watchlist has a number of GTC listings that are on my ‘someday’ list and I get a notice of them ending every month. I really should just buy the first aid kit, with spring on the way. Smiley Happy
Seller: A number of sellers have stated their intention of ending GTC listings early and relisting because of a perceived benefit in search. Some have talked about ending a GTC on, say, the 29th, which would still give the listing some bump in Ending Soonest I suppose, but others have talked about ending it on Day 7 or 10, etc. Wouldn’t this deprive the listing of the ending soonest bump I mentioned above?
Also, can you explain what sort of bump a seller would see if he ended the GTC early and relisted it? I am aware that Newly Listed search order only “bumps” GTC listings when they actually are new to the site (when first listed) and not when they auto renew (when they are actually no longer new to the site. Ending early and relisting would presumably mean the relist (with a new ID number) would be treated as a new listing and get a bump in Newly Listed. Is that correct? Can you explain what sort of bump it would get in Best Match?
eBay: You’re right that ending a listing 7 or 10 days in wouldn’t mean getting a boost from ‘ending soonest’, and wouldn’t be something I’d suggest to anyone trying to increase traffic and visibility from internal or external search engines.
Relisting an item would result in a new ‘Newly Listed’ bump in Best Match. I wish I had more info to give you about the specific boosts Best Match employs, but because it’s a proprietary algorithm I don’t have any quantifiable amounts that a particular action (or nonaction) impacts an item’s visibility. Thanks!
Seller: A number of sellers have asked eBay to provide a tool to automate ending GTC listings early. I believe at least one third party listing tool already provides this feature. Does eBay have any plans to provide such a tool directly?
eBay: There’s no plans at this time to release an eBay tool to auto-end GTC listings. Thanks!
Seller: I think many sellers can see the value in GTC listings for multi item listings, particularly because of the sales history such listings can carry. But I think these is a perception that GTC is actually detrimental for those of us who sell single quantity listings (“one offs”).
With no sales history and no possibility of a sales history (I sell the one item, that’s the end of the listing, obviously), sellers fear they will plummet in Best Match.
Can you explain how Best Match treats one-offs differently from multi-quantity listings (if, indeed, it does)? And can you explain what other factors besides sales history might keep a one-off item higher in Best Match search (besides using Promoted Listings)?
eBay: While most details on our Best Match algorithm are proprietary and cannot be shared, I can assure you that Best Match will not penalize GTC listings for single quantity. Best Match is more complex than is generally assumed from the posts I have reviewed.
To clarify, a large number of variables are used to surface results to Buyers that include (but are not limited to): price, keywords used, product identifiers present, seller account issues present, customer interactions with the listing (watchers, views, click-through, etc), and much more! I know it’s hard to reassure these concerns considering the best practices that may have been applicable in the past, but we are confident that sellers will see for themselves the benefits of this change as time goes on.
Seller: Last year, a large group of sellers that used GTC, lost pictures during one of the GTC cycle turnovers (myself included). At the time, there was hope given pictures could be recovered, but it did not materialize, resulting in a lot of lost time for many replacing those pictures. It was one of the reasons I switched from GTC to 30 day listings.
With all fixed priced listings being GTC now, have extra precautions been taken to assure this does not happen again? Or if it does, that pictures will be recovered? I want to give the GTC another chance, but feel like this possibility is hanging over our heads. It would be an overwhelming event if it happened yet again. Thanks.
eBay: I want to assure you that we learned a lot from that issue and have taken appropriate steps to ensure it does not happen again.
You can find the full chat session from March 20, 2019 on this thread of the eBay boards.