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Tue Nov 15 2011 13:27:10

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay has been running near-weekly auction promotions, including the latest promotion in which sellers can list up to 5,000 free auction listings today, November 15th. In addition to viewing promotions as opportunities to launch listings for free, sellers have a number of concerns about them.

Some believe the free-listing promotion makes it more difficult for their listings to be seen in search results. And one reader pointed out that the promotion may be encouraging sellers to convert fixed-price listings to auctions, where eBay is more tolerant of duplicate items.



Above: Chart from Medvedshowing eBay listing counts for 2011

"The free listings are up to 5,000 and they are limiting duration to 3 or 5 days. So sellers with inventory and quantities of SKU's could essentially convert their FP listings to 3 and 5 day durations, and because there is almost no limit they could list a course of listings Morning, Noon, and Night for 3 day duration and repeat the same course for 5 day duration. Maybe vary prices by a few cents on each course as insurance against being hit with violations."

The reader also points to the recent complaints by some sellers that their listings are invisible in eBay's Best Match search results. "Maybe the problems sellers are complaining about with their listings not being seen, sales being dead etc... are caused by the spike in volume with all these free listings. Perhaps eBay search simply can not handle the volume of listings being dumped into the system with the free listing days and it is just freaking out."

eBay Store sellers say they can see that eBay is not counting their Store listings correctly. The problem was reported on the eBay discussion boards and on the EcommerceEKG board:

"I noticed starting yesterday that when I am on my home page for my eBay store, the item count is incorrect. I have 800+ items but it will show the number from 500 - 700 and will change with each page re-load. It never seems to get near the actual number I have listed which is shown correctly in My eBay."

Nine sellers left comments on the EcommerceEKG report, which received 11 "thumbs up" (indicating sellers were experiencing the problem) and 2 "thumbs down" from sellers who were not experiencing the problem.

One seller who wrote that their Store count was "bouncing around like a ping pong ball" said it is affecting core search too. "One minute my item is in core....the next it's NOT."

Wall Street analysts have in the past expressed concern that eBay's search engine might have trouble with an influx of listings after eBay imported Store listings into core eBay search (dubbed "Store in Core").

eBay has also been tweaking its Best Match search algorithms for the holidays by giving a boost to listings with fast and free shipping.

Because of the breadth and depth of categories on eBay, one seller's experience may not match another's, so if you leave a comment, let us know if you're seeing differences depending on what you're selling, and whether you're a Top Rated Seller.




Comments (45) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: Hope

Tue Nov 15 14:28:25 2011

Small, top rated seller here. Fewer views and sales from last week so I can't help think with an influx of 1,000 free there is less visibility. Also with the few sales I did have, both Paypal and eBay were down at times when trying to print shipping labels.

Wasn't it last year or the year previous, right before Thanksgiving, eBay's systems were down and they had to reimburse fees (if you begged)? Are they testing the system with the 5,000 free to see if they can handle a massive influx of listings so the same thing doesn't happen again? Once again the auction sellers are the test guinea pigs but don't worry JD said this holiday season will be just ''okay'', in other words, don't set your hopes high.

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Tue Nov 15 15:38:10 2011

Yeah, yesterday 1,000; today, 5,000; tomorrow, 1,000,000? Comical …

That sweet smell of death is getting stronger … there could be a hungry fox lunching on all those headless turkeys on the loose and running around in circles in the eBay executive suite. Or maybe it’s just a raccoon that has crawled under the eBay building and died …

Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: Rich(y)

Tue Nov 15 16:07:00 2011

Name 2 things that are not special?:

1---7 billion people,
2---A free eBay auction listing...

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Tue Nov 15 16:14:28 2011

Gee, has no one noticed? eBay's search has been effectively crippled since eBay's chief headless turkey dumped all “store” items into core on April Fools Day 2010. He certainly picked a most appropriate day to do same; and, certainly, is not this man a fool? He should be nominated for “TIME FOOL OF THE YEAR”. He would win hands-down.

Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: JM

Tue Nov 15 16:23:13 2011

I just checked the main category I collect items from. Let's just call it "vintage widgets". It's down from around 2500 to around 2200 right now.

But another thing has happened with that cat. in the last couple years. The majority of the listings aren't vintage widgets, they're ads for vintage widgets. Or should I say PDF copies of ads torn out of magazines for vintage widgets. Free shipping though, because they're not shipped they're downloaded. I'm not even sure why anyone would want that type of thing?

Back before ebay sucked, the same category would have 4500, maybe more or less, and those would have been real legit listings, for real items.

It's a joke now. The image features aren't working either. Won't enlarge or even switch selected picture.

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: JM

Tue Nov 15 16:31:05 2011

Forgot to add, if I wanted a PDF copy or images of those things I could get them all free using simple image searches or google hacks.

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: fitzcharming This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Nov 15 17:14:33 2011

I have had the problem with varying numbers of my listings showing up for a few days. I have 800+ listings in my store and every time I refresh my screen it shows between 350 - 600 listings.  I contacted eBay and the CS rep I spoke with denied there was anything wrong and said she could see all of my listings on her end.  A couple of days later a friend pointed me to the eBay discussion board thread and clearly others were having the same issue and had been for days.  I'm seriously disappointed that the CS rep lied to me.  I hope they get it fixed.  My sales were clicking right along and then suddenly tanked when this started.  Makes it kind of hard to run a business, right?

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: MR ME

Tue Nov 15 18:03:31 2011

eBay is loaded with CRAP.
The sell through rate is terrible, especially for vintage / collectible / or Auction type listings..

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Tue Nov 15 19:15:00 2011

@ JM,

If you are coming across stacks of one penny digital images or paper clips or the like, that is simply eBay’s way of aiding and abetting unscrupulous shill bidding sellers to turnover their shill bidding IDs and outfit the new shill bidding IDs with good looking feedback.

It’s truly is amazing that eBay can spot a “duplicate” legitimate listing a mile off, but they are deliberately blind to all this dealing in fraudulent feedback.

@ fitzcharming,

As Ming has always said: eBay lies, always has and always will.

eBay is a totally obnoxious, unscrupulous, indeed criminal, organisation.

Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: hello

Tue Nov 15 20:20:15 2011

I list all that i can in these promotions.
For only 1 reason.

To take away visibility from my competition and my sales are thru the roof

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: Ron

Tue Nov 15 22:21:23 2011

Visibility for auction style listings has been terrible ever since store listings were dumped into core.  The result of this reduced visibility has been price depression and diminished sell thru rates.

Of course, eBay doesn't care.  Their focus was on how to increase revenues for the eBay corporation and their calculation was that price depression on auctions didn't matter, because revenue would be increased by the huge volumes of fixed priced goods that would be sold on the site.

What they didn't consider was a basic business axiom.  If you don't deliver value for your customers (i.e. the sellers), they will leave.  And that's exactly what has happened - a whole customer base has left, which has caused a supply void for a whole buyer base.

So, who's eBay creating value for now?  The Chinese?  Big box stores/large retail chains?  That's only going to last for so long - it's not a sustainable model.  They can offer all sorts of things such as free auctions and come up with all sorts of plans (fund holds etc) to temporarily boost revenues, but these are detrimental in the long term.  Of course, this is one of the problems with modern corporate management - compensation is based on results now, not in the long term

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: Rich

Tue Nov 15 23:55:56 2011

I think a lot of what Ebay's done this year is related to their search engine being busted.  It's not able to handle the huge number of listings.  In early October I never saw so many new sellers posting on discussion boards about how their sales completely hit a brick wall.  Clearly Ebay is desperate to come up with some answers for their unstable business model which just keeps changing and changing with different price structures and now these larger and larger free listing specials.

I think Ebay also anticipates a lot of stores to close after Xmas.  With sales down, more and more sellers with stores are seeing the high fees are no longer worth having a store.  So I'm convinced Ebay is running this 5,000 item free special for sellers who are ready to close their store and quit.  The bulk listing tools allow sellers to auction off their entire store and then close the store and not reopen.  I think these huge specials are also in anticipation of many sellers quitting when they get their $20,000+ 1099 from Paypal in late January.  To me; Ebay is a desperate company who after 15 years doesn't even know the best selling fee structure.  

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: buck efay

Wed Nov 16 00:34:05 2011

Rich has it right, I was actually able to get my sales up to about 20% again thru summer, since October, back down to 5%. And I offer Free shipping, and lower prices than anyone else on my items on Ebay & still can't sell more than a few items out of 50 auctions a month. But the buyers are still there for quality if they can find it, sold one rare widget for a great price(even though the first go round the unverified buyer never paid & had to relist & sell it again for less.)

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: John

Wed Nov 16 01:29:43 2011

I'm a small Top Rated Seller with almost 11,000 feedbacks, 100% rating and I've been a full time seller for over 10 years.
Last week 1 or 2 of my items would disappear with each reload of my listing page.
I had 40 items listed and Ebay only showed 38, With a little research I found the missing items and pasted the exact title into Ebay search and it came back with NOTHING!
Ebay is BROKEN and I'm going BROKE!

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: Red Ink Diary This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Nov 16 02:16:16 2011

There have even been very gentle rumblings from TameBay recently about visibility. Here on fixed price listings:

http://tamebay.com/2011/11/how-ebay-are-hiding-fixed-price-ite
ms-in-search.html

Discussion
is continued in comments, note what I consider to be extremely blunt speaking from Chris Dawson who is first and foremost an eBay cheerleader of the highest rank.

A few days earlier an article on auction visibility:

http://tamebay.com/2011/11/how-ebay-are-blacklistin
g-good-sellers-auctions.html

Here
too the comments are illuminating.

I feel very sorry for sellers who hung in there with great determination for the last 3-1/2 years.

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: Mike

Wed Nov 16 03:19:30 2011

"Gosh boys and girls, maybe we can use the old Walton's barn and put on a show and raise some money to save eBay!"

I have never been so disgusted with eBay in my life as I am right now. Yes, the store counts are constantly skewed. Sometimes good and sometimes, no.

Maybe we could all call Griff and complain? After his caviar and and tartar, his comfit of duck complete with poached condor eggs and his deliciously decadent choco-pepper truffle, he might deign to give us an audience.

Right now I just want to scream and yell. eBay, Griff, the CSP's don't care about us people. They got theirs and we are left with a noose around our neck and a wobbly 3-legged stool beneath us.

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Nov 16 03:49:59 2011

@ Red Ink Diary,

Yes, you are absolutely right; when eBay cheerleaders the likes of Chris Dawson or Sue Bailey start criticizing eBay you know there really is an extremely serious problem afoot.

Some years ago when I used to stir the eBay pot on their forums they banned my IP address outright; I still can’t even access their web site; but at least the cheerleaders have finally opened their eyes and can now see the light, apparently.

Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: Rich

Wed Nov 16 04:31:04 2011

Phillip,

Sue Bailey committed suicide a few months back, so its basically Chris Dawson running the site. I wouldn't take what Tame Bay has to say all that seriously. They are first and foremost an eBay shill. Dawson is eBay Radio's "European Correspondent" (seriously!) and I think enough people have knocked him for waving the eBay pom-poms that he is trying to show SOME semblance of objectivity. But I suspect that as soon as eBay smacks him a few times, he'll go right back to leading the cheers.

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bob

Wed Nov 16 09:03:57 2011

I also noticed some ebay hosted item pictures do not want to load when viewing some ebay auctions over the past week and again this morning...

Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?   Can eBay Search Handle Influx of Listings?

by: Quicksilver Messenger This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Nov 16 09:17:29 2011

I am a small TRS, and sales are tanking in the proverbial commode. TRS means nothing. They took away my discount anyway, probably due to the low sales I have had over the past couple of months.

I have had a presence on eBay for 10 years. It is slowly but surely becoming less of one. Mainly I use them for marketing my other stores/sites, depending on the product.

I have no desire to scramble to put up 1000 listings for those imbeciles, let alone 5000. They could pull the plug on me tomorrow, and I wouldn't shed a single tear, well maybe one-for joy!

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