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Thu Apr 17 2008 20:49:30

eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

By: Ina Steiner

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I received an email from a reader earlier this week asking for a discussion on how sales volume is on eBay. I've copied the letter below, with the writer's permission.

Hello Ina,
Instead of listening to all the complaints about the current "Best Match" snafus, we would be better served by a discussion of the precipitous fall in the volume of business that is being done on Ebay and perhaps other Internet sites as well.

I'm basing this on my own experience in the past few weeks. Actually the month of March - February was not as good as last year, but it was at least decent.

I'm a Powerseller and have searched my items and they have come up in the search engines. I operate my business with a rotating inventory. Each of my profitable items gets repeated every 8 weeks. I have a very good idea about the highs and lows of certain items, because I have sold so many of them in the past. I realize that certain items can die a sudden death. However, I have been doing this for 10 years. Even after 9/11, my business did not drop off as rapidly as it has currently.

I would be interested in hearing from other sellers if this is indeed the case for them.

The other issue is the increase in the number of Non-Paying Bidders. This rarely has happened to me in the past. I've gone 6 months without having this occur. There has been a rapid increase for March.
Thank you for being the watchdog of eBay ...Kudos!
Best Regards,

If you comment on your sales, be sure and give general background on the category in which you sell and what your DSR scores look like - anything that might influence your Best Match rankings and sales performance. While this is not a scientific survey, it can be quite beneficial to hear how things are going anecdotally. Let's keep the comments constructive, please.

Comments (35) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Jeff S

Fri Apr 18 06:43:52 2008

I am in the Business and Industrial Category, with the clear majority of my sales attributable to other eBay sellers.

Sales for March were off 10%.  Customer volume off even more.  Greater still, less traffic.  

One way I pull in customers is using featured auctions for my leading products.  Featured auctions now receive seamingly no 'special' treament in bestmatch.  Traffic and bidding on my featured auctions went so far down, it doesn't even pay to run them as a eyeball 'gimmick' any longer.

My dsr's are all 4.8 or greater, 100% FB.  10 years on eBay.

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by: Carol

Fri Apr 18 10:06:37 2008

I sell in the Jewelry category. Vintage sterling silver. DSRs are 4.9, 4.9, 4.9 and 4.8. 100% positive feedback, ebay member since 2000, power seller since 2005.

Best Match doesn't work for unique, collectible items, including jewelry. My STR is 85 to 100 percent so I saw a huge increase in fees under the new structure. I'm running weekly auctions on ebay twice a week but not nearly my previous volume. I opened a shop on Ruby Lane and will list most of my inventory there.

I have noticed less newer potential buyers to my auctions and I attribute this to Best Match.

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by: Art

Fri Apr 18 10:14:57 2008

I sell in a number of different categories, as I sell stuff found at garage & estate sales. While things are still selling, the hit counts seem to be way down. It's either due to best match, or people just aren't interested in this sort of item anymore. I can't state that ''as of last month everything went sour''. Sometimes I get luckly, but in general, ASP is down, hits are down. Sell through is about the same, just with lower ASP.

Been a member for 10 years, 3300 100% positive feedback, DSR's of 4.8, 4.8, 4.9, 4.8. Was a powerseller for 5 years, but have not been one for the past 3 years.

My biggest gripe is I have ratings that ebaY considers ''exemplary'', but I get no discounts because I'm not an elitist powerseller. This is very unfair. Everyone should be entitled to these benefits if they work hard and prove to be a first class seller. More proof I guess that the small seller isn't a valued member.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Jack

Fri Apr 18 13:35:34 2008

I primarily sell railroad items, in the collectible category. My DSR's are 4.9 4.9 4.8 and 4.8. Been selling now for 5 years, and a silver powerseller for the past 2 years.

My business has been growing each month since July 2007, for which I am pleased. I just wished the ASP was a little higher, but it too has been inching up month after month.

My m/m sales growth is 30.4%.
Sell through rate for March 38.2% an increase of 5.1% over February.
March ASP grew only 1.97% from February.
24.4% of sales are from repeat buyers, which is about average.

I am seeing no increase in non-paying buyers. I have filed 8 since January 1st, but 7 of those eight did end up paying.

I do have many of the items listed in my Ebay store also listed actively on, and But I average only 5 to 8 sales per month on each of these sites.

I have not made any changes to the way I operate my business since Best Match came out. I have done searches and my items appear in the search. So at this point, I am not going to make any changes to the way I do business on Ebay.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Rose777

Fri Apr 18 14:23:59 2008

I am a Powerseller with good DSR's which gets me the 15% discount, HOWEVER, it is not very helpful since my sales are down 23% in the last 3 weeks, in my opinion due to Best Match. eBay, WAKE UP and smell the coffee - Best Match is Best Dead.  

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Will H

Fri Apr 18 16:26:43 2008

Our sales are well off over the last 6 weeks.  This is so interesting that you wrote this article as we were jut having a discussion at our office about how slow eBay is right now for us.  I can't give exact numbers but it is significant 15-20%.  

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Pcat

Sat Apr 19 08:51:50 2008

I sell in the craft/fabric category am a PS with dsr's all above 4.8. I haven't noticed a huge drop in sales the last couple of months, sales were bad long before that and best match hasn't helped.

I also operate a B&M store and I can tell you sales in general are way off. Customers in my area just don't have the extra money they had before gas prices skyrocketed. I'm afraid the high cost of energy will sink a lot of us.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Tony P.

Sat Apr 19 13:07:40 2008

I sell in the Collectibles categories, sporadically since mid '06. The last batch of auctions I listed, a couple weeks ago, had a 78% STR and ASP's in the Good to Spectacular range.

Only a few listings made that Spectacular range (actual 2 or 3-person bidding wars), but these were for diehard collectors. You couldn't stop that type of collector - even ebay's tactics are merely hindrances to those buyers.

The more important metric (i hate that word) is the newbie buyer, or at least the occasional buyer. I didn't see a single one of them. I hope my next few remarks are taken as Constructive, as that is how I intend them to be.

I know exactly WHY we saw less traffic, and the funny thing is, ebay will show YOU the proof. Ebay stopped buying any Google Ads before the end of the 1st Quarter; you can see a graph showing the reduction in marketing expense within that report. Go to the Investor's Page on the ebay site, here:

But, that's not the entire reason for less traffic. Some folks would say, "what about natural search, ebay doesn't buy that".  That's true, but a funny thing happened at Google. During the 3 week period that ebay didn't purchase Ads, no natural searches returned ebay products unless the word 'ebay' was included within the search terms.

There were some exceptions, which adds even more to the mystery. Any type of Collectible term would return an ebay item/store/search page. i.e. Art Glass, Tin Toy, Porcelain Figurine, Antique xxxxx, etc. These words got results without including the 'ebay' word, but not every time.

It was like (perhaps) Google was pissed at ebay for the reduction in spending, or maybe ebay cut off some 'feeds' or intentionally denied crawler access to their pages, or perhaps Google's crawlers were denied access because of an ebay system issue - maybe the fluctuations caused by Best Match manipulating the order of listings?!?

I don't know WHY it happened, but I do know that it did happen. There's a thread within the Stores Discussion Board about the issue and Matt Ackley, eBay's vice president of Internet marketing, made several replies.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Katiyana

Sat Apr 19 13:13:48 2008

I've been an eBay seller since 1999, my DSR's are 5.0, 4.9, 4.9, 4.9, and I sell in the doll & bears category, trading cards, and art supplies.

My overall business had a record Q1/2008 but eBay has been in decline.  eBay sales in Q1/2008 are down 31% compared to Q1/2007.  March and April have declined from January/February's sales levels.  I'm not inclined to try listing more core listings to try and stir up sales, as my other venues are keeping me plenty busy.  It's an odd feeling to no longer feel I "need" eBay for my business to be successful.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Gaz

Sun Apr 20 06:49:10 2008

Hi Ina

On the UK PowerSeller board, there is a thread running that discusses this same topic.  Funny thing is, that as the thread has developed, more and more sellers are pinning a "switch off" of visibility onto the 9th of April.

i.e. they had high and rising traffic shown by Omniture up to that date, and from the 10th, traffic dropped anywhere between 25% and 50% overnight.

Lots of very long term PS's are reporting this and the Pinks have placed lots of posts stating they have no idea why it happened, or how.

They did admit to lots of playing around with Best Match testing etc but deny that as the cause.


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by: Keith

Sun Apr 20 07:50:54 2008

Ebay member since 2000, DSR's 5.0,4.9,4.8,4.8  I list a number of items, my largest being in collectables Militeria.  I added a huge amount of items from Dec. through January of this year and things were really selling.  I have many repeat customers and more and more international (due to the weak dollar) It seems sales have really declined recently for new buyers.  I did some best match sorts and found that there were other sellers with lower DSR's and feedback ahead of me.  I called eBay and asked why I was behind so many other sellers with lower ratings (I thought best match was just based on DSR/feedback) the eBay rep told me after putting me on hold that there was much more to where you end up in a search other than DSR's and Feedback.  So I asked what they were and was told they couldn't tell me.  What next?????

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Mike

Sun Apr 20 11:05:28 2008

Best Match is the type of algorithm that makes a general Google search not a reliable way to drive customers to an online store. What is reliable is Google Adwords, because you can monitor clicl-thrus and conversions and therefore have cost analysis and budgeting.

With BM, basically eBay is saying pay for the ads (listings) and you may or may not get conversions or even views, and even if you do now, you may not later. With the DSR influence in the mix (somehow) it actually has been rewarding new sellers with little FB. The end result is a search that gives a seller no confidence in what results will be day to day.

How can we plan for Holiday sales now with no confidence that our listings will not be buried behind a bunch of new, fly-by-night sellers with 18 FBS and no DSRs like is happening now. BM will drive legit, Powersellers like us away, fast.

For Sellers that buy and stock inventory, eBay will become less and less of a part of what they do. It is like paying for not  Google Adwords, but paying to be in the general Google search results, even if you are on page 54!

Finally, one big change we are doing right now if pulling all of our Featured Fixed Price listings, since   we have had those showing up 6 pages back even within a few hours of auction ending. 29.00 to have a listing on page 5! I am not sure how much of our selling fees (6 figures) from last year were Featured Fixed Price, we are analyzing that now, but it was a huge percentage and we will never, ever do another.

We have 10000+ FBs
4 Negs
4.9 4.9 4.9 4.6 (oops, missed that discount!!)

Sales are down about 40% and we are losing all confidence. I imagine we are not alone.

One final question, and I ask you Ina to check this out for us, Ina Ask the top people at eBay (BPs, etc.) how many of them have any experience (any at all) in running a day to day online retail operations. My guess is most or all have none. They operate in a vacuum.

We do not operate beholden to shareholder, we worry about our employees and their mortgages and kids. We can not have a bad quarter as we fool with metrics and noise, we need to make money. We don't deal in hypotheticals, we deal in cash flow and cost analysis.

The simplest concept they appear not to be teaching MBAs is it is better to keep your customers than to get new ones. eBay is going to lose its best customers with BM.


Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: M

Sun Apr 20 11:11:42 2008

One thing I want to add to the above was this -- we did a little experiment -- we used the same exact title another seller was using in one of our listings for an item we both sell. He has 18 FBs and no DSRs, and guess what -- his listing that was ending 2 days after ours was on the first page, we were buried pages back.  In any scenario, how does eBay think this good for the market place? It seems to me the don't know they are doing and BM is broken.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Dee

Sun Apr 20 11:54:08 2008

What does eBay intend to do about the present tedious and lengthy process of filing an unpaid item dispute and getting back our FVF?
I think I have become the queen of non paying bidders...with 3-5 each week for the past month. Since this is quite a new development for me, at this scale anyway, I contacted ebay and pointed out that the increased number of NPB might have something to do with Buyers being aware of their newly appointed  freedom from any consequence related to their questionable buying habits. Aside from a vague and cliched assurance that "eBay will take more severe measures with these Buyers" and NO specifics on what "severe" means, I am joining those who are skeptical about the manner in which eBay actually intends to deal with these buyers who already know there is no consequence for their poor business practices and act accordingly. I am presently stuck with a staggering 18 non-paying bidders and a large amount in fees already paid.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Gary Overton

Sun Apr 20 12:09:42 2008

Sell used shirts DSR's 4.9, 4.9, 4.9, 4.7
My sales have skyrocket since Mar 1. I have not changed anything about the way I do business except I re-list auctions faster. Something strange I am seeing is my auction sell-through rate is down but over all sales are up 30-50%. This may be because I have over 3500 unique items in my store & offer flat-rate shipping.
I don't do ANY price research and have NO idea how my prices compare. since March 1 I have sold more items than I have listed. My store inventory is dropping. This is happening even though I have raised my prices 25% on all new items I list. BTW, I run every item through auctions twice before putting it in my store

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Patricia

Sun Apr 20 18:57:29 2008

Before best match I was running $800.00+ per month in sales.  Yes, I'm a small seller with 10 years on Ebay and a couple thousand feedbacks at 100 percent.  My DSR's are 5.0, 5.0, 5.0 and 4.9.   Since best match I am barely breaking 300.00 a month and have cut way down on listings because, frankly, I'm tired of seeing them roll off with few hits and no bids.  At most, I'll get one bid at the end of an auction.  At this rate there is no reason for me not to list elsewhere.  If nothing is selling then I might as well support new sites where I can list for nothing!  Hey...Ebay...what was that about you bringing in the buyers?  More ebay-speak!

I can only surmise that if it is ebay's intention to kill off the small seller using best match as a weapon...they're succeeding!

At this rate, many of us will boycott on May 1...what do we have to lose???

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Mon Apr 21 01:49:02 2008

We deal in hobby items and have an eBay store, sell fixed price 99% of the time and we have a web site. Our DSR's are 5, 5, 4.9 & 4.9 and we got out FVF discount. Here are our percentage figures for our eBay business only (our web site is also up substantially) for 1st quarter 2008 compared to 1st quarter 2007:

Sales are up 32%

Fees are down 17%

Profit is up 276%

Our figures are rounded down to the whole number and the profit is way up because we have passed the threshold point of making decent money. We have been doing better marketing on the site. The best match has been helping somewhat but sales were been up on all 3 months so that really does not have much to do with it. We ship Priority Mail only and charge a handling fee. Our international sales are up but so are the domestic. We do regular feeds to Google base and we get a lot of traffic from it. We are a business and we run like a business. The customer is King and we have a lot of repeat buyers. With high gas prices the internet is the only way to go. I would not want to be a B&M specialty store in these times.
eBay has its problems (the IT department needs a complete over haul and the customer service managers have no clue at all on how to run that department but the phone people for the most part are very nice, they just repeat what the manager tells them to say) but I would hope eventually they will get that all straightened out.


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by: LD

Mon Apr 21 02:50:25 2008

I'm Power seller with good DSR I list part time and manage to stay power seller because almost 100% of my listing were getting bids, and usually not 1, but up to 20. Latelly (about5-6 weeks) I sell about 60% of my listing with 1 bid only and I don't get so many multi-item buyers. Big %% of those 60 my repited customers... I don't know is it Best Match or that users leaving eBay. Dont forget sellers they also buyers and with all changes on eBay and many frustrated seller - ebay loosing buyers too...

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by: Gravy

Mon Apr 21 03:22:43 2008

My listings are way up, but my sell-through is way down and my fees are about the same. There is no new competition in my category or even online somewhere else. International sales are driving my business and this will most likely be impacted because I will narrow my risk and elimate most countries when the feedback changes go into effect as I believe some buyers will take advantage of a golden opportunity.

I am Powerseller with nearly 8,OOO feedbacks and DSR's 4.9, 4.9, 4.8, 4.8

I contribute the lost sales due to a number of things.

1. The Economy - Theres no more extra cash in peoples wallets

2. Cost of Goods are up! - it's not just gas and food.

3. Fuel prices (self explanatory)

4. Harder enviroment to sell - Ebay picked the wrong time to lay one on the sellers and it costs more to sell on Ebay in time and efforts.

5. Lack of Partnership - I believe sellers are woooing customers to their ecommerce sites. A true desertion from allegiance, loyalty to Ebay

6. Overly dynamic - Ebay prides itself on change and I too believe change is good, but sellers can't keep pace with new changes and then take backs, tweaks and policy changes on the fly.

7. Shipping fees - Surcharges and rate increases are killing the bottomline

.....  and the cure?

The marketplace needs to adjust their fees again. Ebay is taking way too high of a percentage combined with their Paypal service. You have to get more money into the sellers hands. This is a mutual endeavor and when one fails then both lose.

Ebay is stuck on the GOOD times, when people where tapping their virtual housing equity and fuel prices were somewhat bearable . It's time for a correction in the Ebay marketplace.

and finally, Ebay needs to reevaluate what type of relationship it wants to have with it's sellers. Sellers are bitter (sorry Obama) and don't have much trust in a system that has basically threw us under the bus.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?   eBay Seller Wants to Know, How's Business?

by: Gravy

Mon Apr 21 03:42:24 2008

Oh, and I have to comment on the DSR's, which I failed to mention in my last post.

The concept is good. I think it's important for shoppers to see at a glance how a seller performs, but the way it's measured is flawed.

The fact is, Ebay rewards itself off a dysfunctional marketplace. They have a vested interest in dysfunction. They could always argue that sellers have a vested interest in performance. The way DSRs are phrased I will go with my initial assumption.

I believe Ebay lauched DSR's without any regard to how the way the DSR questions are phrased. The wording needs to be reevaluated as a good rating could still have financial penalties and poor search results tied to it.

I believe financial rewards and penalties need to be removed from the feedback process.

I think this is the year of Ebay experimentation, when a company can blame their testing on just a bad ecomony. I say it's a combination of both.

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