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Mon Apr 12 2021 22:00:47

Is eBay Going to Eliminate Auctions?

By: Ina Steiner

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Is there any reason for eBay to do away with auctions? That would have been unthinkable even a few years ago, but after CEO Meg Whitman left the company in 2008, her successors seemed to have a hate-hate relationship with the auction format that - together with market forces - diminished the practice of online bidding on eBay.

In fact, eBay CEOs used to brag about how auctions went from 70% of listings to 30% of listings. (We're not sure what percentage of listings are auction format these days, but with all the free fixed-price listings eBay offers sellers, it's likely a fraction of what it had once been.)

"I do believe eBay is going to stop the auctions and go Fixed price, a la  Amazon," a reader wrote to me this evening, sending along a screenshot of their auction re-listings showing the default option to "Relist as fixed-price." 

Today was the first time the seller saw the new default, and when they click on the drop-down arrow, the options are "Relist" or "Sell similar."

The seller said they wouldn't like it if eBay stopped auctions, explaining, "Many of us use auctions as a LAST effort to sell something, like selling at the flea market."

"I do believe that eBay wants to join the rest of the platforms and just do fixed price. They should split off into two entities - eBay Stores, and eBay Auctions."

One reason eBay might have for eliminating auctions is Managed Payments and the third-parties eBay uses to manage payment processing. 

What if eBay were to do away with the auction format? (Yawn or panic?) And how likely do you think it is to do so?

Update 4/14/2021: Rockstar Flipper devoted a segment to this topic on his YouTube channel. He thinks the reason eBay is pushing auctions to fixed-price is because the seller has more options with fixed-price listings, such as running Promoted Listing ads and Best Offer. But does he think eBay will eliminate the auction format? Here's what he had to say.



Comments (18) | Permalink

Readers Comments

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by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 13 02:22:58 2021

Since they own the patent on their auction format i do not think they will eliminate it, especially in collectibles where it seems to be used the most.  If they do you can kiss even more trading card business goodbye as that is how the sellers determine what Fixed price to sell an item for.  I had an old Real One auto from the first year of Heritage and book value at that time was under $20 so I put it out for auction starting at $0.99 and it wound up selling for over $200 because there were so few of them produced and it was a player who partied himself right out of a huge contract and out of the majors so nobody was even trying to sell his card.  That mistake could have cost me a lot of money and also Ebay a lot more because that caused me to look for more similar or other players from that set and I made out quite well, as did Ebay!!

But since their management team seems to do everything they can to destroy the Ebay platform, it would not surprise me to see them start shooting the toes off of the other foot they seem to have left.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Tue Apr 13 07:48:30 2021

For Criminy Sakes :
Sh!t or get off the pot.
How 'bout empty Ebay of all the extra skin and JUST BE A VENUE.
Auctions are a good thing.
Nowhere else can auctions attract.
Get Back to Basics.

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by: terry55 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 13 10:32:59 2021

Auctions use to be good but ebay stop regulating them, so many duplicate auctions of the same item, same size and color, talking about 8-10 at the same time in a row. They apparently have no concept of flooding the market, some items I use to get good money for it, now their worthless. If you run 10 duplicate auctions, the 1st may sell for a couple bucks, the other 9 sell for nothing because there's no completion
I only use auctions when I have a rare item now, rest is bin  

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by: Michael in BC This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 13 11:00:44 2021

Almost all of my items are one-of-a-kind collectibles.  Auction format is far better for these than fixed price, as it's the bidders who establish the ''market'' price - I'm getting what folks are willing to pay at that point in time.  In many cases, I have no easy reference to guide me in coming up with a fixed price - if I price something too high, it won't sell, or I have to spend time negotiating on a 'best offer'.  If I price something too low, it sells in a heartbeat, quite likely before other potential buyers have seen the listing, and there's no competition to drive up the price.

If you have multiples of something, sure, go fixed price.  If you have hard to find single items, then stick with auctions - good images, an encouraging open bid amount and a very accurate description - it's worked for me for over 24 years.

I've long been a supporter of the eBay / eBay Classic division concept, where collectibles (and other auction style listings) are on the Classic side.

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by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 13 21:40:13 2021

Dear eBay:
There is a market price for 5 lbs of sugar.
There is no market price for a '63 Corvette.
If you think you're smarter than Mecom Auctions, you should be re-tested.

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by: plcombs This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 14 06:47:04 2021

Auctions are 30% of the listings and what percentage of the REVENUE is from them in the Antiques and Collectibles area? 60%...70%?? maybe more.  Check the Completed listings of any seller who has both Fixed Price and Auction items. auctions are by far the biggest group of sales probably by a ratio of 10 to 1 or more.  

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by: Ronn This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 14 10:40:02 2021

Yawn. When eBay instituted 30 Day Buy It Now-GTC, my non-sport card business took a serious hit. Only my viewpoint, but with a 7-Day time frame, it was easy for buyers to check "ending soon" rather than drill down looking at items ending 2-3 weeks later.

More pertinent to the report, I tried the 7-day Auction with Buy it Now option with some books. The starting bid on each was very low. Some books got looks; but not one bid or buy.

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by: zeek6228 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 14 17:20:46 2021

These decisions are being made by people who have never bought or sold anything on eBay. They look at the spreadsheets. Are fixed price listings much more profitable for eBay shareholders? If yes then it is gone.

"Let's order Domino's again tonight because the rats and raccoons really like it"

That is how eBay views sellers opinions.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: cfrphoto

Thu Apr 15 00:34:11 2021

Most of my eBay sales from auctions. Why would eBay give up a format where many items sell in a week? Fixed price listings in collectible categories sell but follow an exponential decay curve based on the number of items left. Fixed price listings in the Stamps Category take a few months to sell. About half sell in the first three months and half of the remaining may sell in the next three months. Items priced too high to start with take a long time to sell and may never sell.

Why would eBay give up its most efficient sales format? Unsold fixed-price items clog the site, especially in the Stamps category. Potential buyers looking for newly listed stamps get tired of looking at the same old overpriced stamps month after month.

I also have found that gradually lowering prices results in almost every stamp eventually selling, many at prices comparable to auctions. The problem is to determine which items will receive competitive bids and which ones will not. The stamp marketplace has split into two markets. The auction market consists mostly low-quality stamps while the fixed price market is for better quality stamps owned by professional stamp dealers. Rail photographs on the other hand may sell better at eBay auction sometimes achieving prices not contemplated even by the most imaginative seller.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 15 01:01:17 2021

Ebay should separate into two:  Ebay stores and Ebay auctions.  One of their biggest auction stores is Goodwill, and I don't think they will end auctions.  They are so darn spooked by Amazon, they're trying to push everybody into Fixed Price and/or stores.

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by: Plain1 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 15 01:45:45 2021

I personally think that would be a bad idea, auctions on ebay are a good thing, however inexperienced sellers can lose money on auctions. My formula is never put anything at auction for less than the minimum you want for an item as the starting bid.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Apr 15 02:12:31 2021

I don't know why some keep comparing this to Amazon.  Like they are the only other site that does 100% Fixed Priced listings.  When the facts are Ebay is just about the only site that still has auctions at least of any of the bigger sites.

IMHO Ebay isn't going to get rid of auctions.  There are still a handful of categories that do very well with auctions therefore it is very important to those categories.  

For me, auctions have been pretty dead for a few years now.  I did try them again last year and due to the pandemic they did do better than they were, but still not good enough for me to run them on a regular basis.

I do however completely respect that for some sellers Auctions are extremely important to their business plan.

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by: HardWorkingSeller This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 15 08:04:02 2021

I doubt that they will kill the auction format.  It has its place in their ecosystem and I use it a lot for purchases of items that need repair or refurbishment.

I think that the folks that run the C2C listing flow tend to apply the "eBay knows best" philosophy to try and force certain options when a low volume consumer type seller places a listing.

This move seems similar to turning on 'accept best offers' by default, which is enabled in the C2C flow (and not the advanced form used by the experienced sellers).

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by: 1st Armored Div. 1971-1973 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 15 08:19:10 2021

I have talked to other sellers and we use Auction format as advertisements and if one sells it is just icing on the cake.

It is auctions which draw a buyer into the store to buy the Fixed Price items. If I want to shut down my sales all I got to do is quit running auctions.

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by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 15 09:47:25 2021

They lost a lot when they started discouraging auctions. They lost traffic, buyers looking for a good deal, and yes, some people found it fun, sort of like gambling. They lost buyers and sellers, sellers obviously the auction sellers, buyers were the sellers with cash now to spend. They also lost the buyer that lost on the auction but bought another any way at fixed price, likely new and a lot more $$. They just didnt take into account the auction buyer phycological mind set, "gotta have...gotta get, the higher the price, the more the "gotta have, gotta get".

I guess they figured they would be Amazon, and beat Amazon. They also probably assumed that the cheap Chinese pipeline would have cheaper products than anything used. Again, never limit any business, or potential sales.
Biggest mistake. , and they did it because they thought "we dont need" and "we know better" NEVER Exclude segments.

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by: spooky This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 15 10:22:01 2021

"One reason eBay might have for eliminating auctions is Managed Payments" ???. why is that a factor? When I started on eBay 23 years ago I was 100% auctions like everyone. Now I am maybe 3 %. I usually have around 400 listings up and maybe 10 are auctions. But they are very important. I use them for better items that I can not figure out a price. I list mostly unique items that are often the only one on eBay past or present.  

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by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Sat Apr 17 19:05:21 2021

Auctions work great for those nearly rare to rare items and can be a real money maker when there are 2 or more bidders.  

Unfortunately, for the last ten or more years, eBay abandoned collectibles and auctions in favor of fixed price items.

As for me, my collectibles and 2 decades on eBay have been given the ''death sentence'' of mangled payments.  

Sayonara eBay!!!

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by: Bigtime This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 21 18:06:00 2021

II have about 400 auctions (under several usernames) that I relist monthly using the auto relist tool. Now that I can't relist auctions using that feature, I will either have to go fixed price, or manually relist every single item every time I want to repost them. So, this sucks for me. I sell collectible music memorabilia and old comics. Been on eBay since 99, and I still did okay with auctions in my categories.  



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