|Thu Apr 21 2011 11:49:25|
Use eBay Auctions with Care when Duplicating Fixed-Price Listings
By: Ina Steiner
Last week an AuctionBytes reader wrote to say they were unable to list some items. They said when they called eBay to find out why, they were told that sellers would be in violation of eBay's policies if they ran an auction that is materially a duplicate of any Fixed Price Listing in their store.
eBay has a clear policy against fixed-price duplicate listings, and a more ambiguous policy against auction duplicate listings (they are allowed if the seller maintains at least a 30% average sell-through rate for all duplicate Auction-style listings). But I'd never heard of a policy banning sellers from listing auctions just because they also had the same item listed in fixed-price format.
I received clarification from eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff, who wrote in an email:
"An eBay seller is able to list an Auction that is a duplicate of a Fixed Price listing in their store. It doesn't change the Fixed Price duplicate policy (the seller can't have two duplicate listings in Fixed Price), but we do allow sellers to have a Fixed Price listing + an Auction listing that are the same.
"Please keep in mind that while duplicates can be listed in Auctions, the inventory must sell or we will contact the seller. Here is the language in the policy: "If you have too many duplicate auction-style listings that end without a sale, we may remove some or all of your listings or give them less visibility in search results."
"And here's the Search & browse manipulation policy on the site: Link."
In the past, before eBay eliminated the Store inventory format and put Store in Core, sellers would often run auctions to advertise their Stores, where it was cheaper to list items.
Now that all Store items can be found in eBay's main search engine, would some sellers continue to employ that strategy?
Skip McGrath of Auction Sellers Resource said yes. He continues to use auctions to drive traffic to his eBay Store and includes statements such as, "Want it now? Don't wait for the auction to end, visit my eBay Store now to get your garden lights right away."
Skip explained that auction listings come up to the top of search results in Best Match during the last 4 hours of the auction, and said he often sees extra eBay Store sales during that period.
Lisa Suttora, an ecommerce consultant who writes frequently about eBay at LisaSuttora.com, said depending on the item, the category and the seller, her clients do get results using the auction/fixed-price format in their listing strategy. "For new consumer goods, I advise people to TEST running a POPULAR item at auction and then use the additional traffic they get from that auction to direct people to their fixed-price listings."
However, she said sellers should always be testing new strategies, and also warned that increased traffic/visibility in Best Match is "all over the place":
"There is no rhyme or reason. Sometimes the above strategies work and sometimes they don't."
So if you're a seller that uses auctions to promote your fixed-price listings, keep in mind that too many non-selling duplicate auctions could spell trouble on eBay.