Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Mar 10 2019 21:05:22

eBay Does Poor Job Selling GTC Mandate to Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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Sellers weighed in on eBay's policy to change all fixed-price listings to Good Til Cancelled (GTC), and the results indicate eBay did a poor job explaining benefits of the GTC mandate to sellers. 

EcommerceBytes conducted a survey between Monday, March 2 and Wednesday, March 6, 2019. The following are some highlights of the survey results:

 - 72% of respondents said it was a bad change;

- 88% of respondents said eBay's implementation of the policy was *not* based on the wants/needs of their sellers; 

- 37% said they would pay more in fees as a result;

- 59% said it would result in more work for them;

- 69% said they would take some form of action once the policy takes effect.

In explaining why eBay was forcing all fixed-price listings into Good Til Cancelled where sellers pay fees every 30 days when their listings automatically renew, eBay wrote:

"Today, over 80% of fixed price listings on eBay are Good 'Til Cancelled. Because of their longer duration, Good 'Til Cancelled listings potentially have greater exposure to buyers and may be more likely to sell." And among the other benefits of Good 'Til Cancelled listings cited by eBay was "Improved SEO."

Yet an astounding 34% of respondents said they didn't know if the new policy would have an impact on SEO that would impact the visibility of their fixed-price listings.

As I wrote in my editorial in Sunday's EcommerceBytes Update newsletter, eBay management is distracted by the pressure of activist investors that has resulted in layoffs and the departure of the head of eBay Marketplaces and the head of Seller and Marketplace Operations, leaving at the top of Marketplaces an executive who has been with eBay for only 5 months, Harry Temkin.

Adding to concerns are eBay's plans to launch the "Spring" Seller Update next month (!) and expand Managed Payments in July, all the while dealing with the distractions of a corporate portfolio review in which it may sell off StubHub and eBay Classifieds.

You can find the detailed results of the GTC survey on the EcommerceBytes website.

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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Does Poor Job Selling GTC Mandate to Sellers   eBay Does Poor Job Selling GTC Mandate to Sellers

by: hopeforthebest This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 10 21:26:38 2019

If 80% of FP listings are already good til cancelled, it hardly seems imperative to make it mandatory.

Also, I'm one of those who is not clear that this will in any measurable way improve SEO.

EBay is completely unable to manage SEO under the best of circumstances, and Google SEO is very simple - pay or don't thing you're going to play.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Mar 10 23:23:03 2019

80%

Why do I have the feeling I'm being LIED to?

If it's only 20% relisting every month why make the change?

What's worse? A liar or a thief? eBay might be both. . . .

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

Mon Mar 11 00:30:10 2019

Normally I run 100% 9,000+ GTC listings but every so often I will run several hundred FP30 listings. I have good solid reasons to do this but if the have to be GTC they will not be run. Ebay will lose just as I will lose. It is not a good change as far as I am concerned.

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by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 01:50:31 2019

I've always been under the assumption that a new listing initially got a bump in search, which is why I never re-list a ended 30 day FP...I use sell similar.

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

Mon Mar 11 02:26:55 2019

eBay is doing a poor job selling the GTC mandate for a  couple reasons:

1. ENTITLEMENT: Wenig doesn’t think it’s “that big of a deal” in the scheme of things-- eBay boasts that 90% of all listings are already fixed-price, and 80% of fixed-price listings are already GTC.  

GTC is arguably the generally preferred listing format for replenishable items and commodities that brands, retailers, and distributors use (and some smaller sellers report doing fine with GTC).

Therefore, from Wenig’s perspective, a small vocal minority squawking in the forums and online is an acceptable price to pay.

2. LACK OF TRANSPARENCY: Wenig (and his minions) won’t come out and say it, but the reason eBay is implementing forced GTC is an attempt to turn-around eBay’s comparable-to-peers anemic GMV growth by increasing eBay’s overall product inventory availability across a broad spectrum of merchandise.

Specifically, by allowing stale items to sink to the back of a larger virtual warehouse, and by also offering pay-to-play means of getting better placement up front through promoted listings ( in conjunction with heavily-touted last year’s buyer “preferences” selections), eBay hopes to do a better job of delivering a wider array of potential offerings to buyers without so much clutter for them to have to sort through.

eBay hopes that by having ''more stuff'' and by offering less-glitchy tools for buyers to use they will benefit from continued network effects of a ''bigger snowball'' of inventory offerings. This is is the same reason eBay launches their gimmicky specialty ''stores'' (last year's ''Under 10'' and this week's female super hero ''store'') which are nothing more than landing pages with filters on top of regular ol' eBay.

eBay delivers a glitchy, buggy experience, but they (for now) still have massive traffic and they're not about to splinter that up anytime soon (or into actual different sites for ''used'' and ''new'' stuff either, unfortunately).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By forcing all listings to GTC, instead of 30-day listings “resetting” their best-match search placement to baseline each month when relisting, eBay is now in force-aging items with less sales velocity (read OOAKs in particular) unless sellers manually relist or use 3rd-party tools to intervene and reset Best Match results to baseline.

*NOTE: Of key importance is that when a GTC listing is renewed it carries forward certain attributes, which could be either good or bad, influencing Best Match placement upon auto-renewal.

eBay naturally doesn’t lay out all the factored criteria in their best match algo, but eBay has clearly indicated that Best Match ranking is buyer-driven and sales velocity (and the sales-to-impressions ratio in particular) is a key driver of Best Match placement.

Therefore, if a seller has a “good selling” replenishable item then GTC is arguably the preferred listing format.

For listings that languish without a sale, say for months, with *all competition sellers* forced into GTC listings, things are now (from Wenig’s perspective) on an even playing field that can be exploited for competitive advantage.

For example, any given esoteric automotive part listed for a couple months for which there are only a few items available on eBay isn’t going to surface much better or worse in Best Match than an identical listing 6 months old based just on how just how “fresh” the listing is. As a long-tail item with only a few items available, other criteria will prevail in Best Match ranking (title, pics, description, condition, etc). This is pretty much how things work now.

However, for commodity items it’s a different scenario entirely -- if thousands of identical unsold fidget-spinners languish for months, all sellers are “pushed to the back of the store” to make room up front for better selling and more relevant items to occupy digital pixels above the fold.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“But Wait…THERE’S MORE!”

The good news is, if you happen to be the unlucky seller with a bunch of stale fidget spinners, you can buy promoted listings to pay your way to front-of-store placement and (hopefully) buy your way into some sales.

With a bit of luck some sucker will see your otherwise buried 12-month without a sale listing and think it would be a great birthday gift for their grandson Timmy.

And that my friends, is the *real* reason eBay is forcing everyone into the “GTC Mandate”.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 04:41:27 2019

Big Lie:  "Today, over 80% of fixed price listings on eBay are Good 'Til Cancelled."

As I wrote the EB execs & Eliot Management, let me pay an annual store subscription (upfront one time) vs. a monthly store subscription.  And then let me run the store the way I want to without all these controls and changes coming from EB.  All other sites let us list until infinity without charge until we sell -- Except Ebay.

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by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 06:04:46 2019

Ebay doesn't have to sell their GTC to anyone. Seems that they are the boss and its their play ground. I would think that they think if one doesn't like their decision that one can leave at anytime. The money makers ( large sellers ) already use GTC and it will have no effect on them. They like to list and forget. Its the small sellers and hobbyists that have the problem and we all know Ebay doesn't care about them.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Mar 11 06:34:20 2019

They know that these GTC listings fall into a black hole.  If they don't they are not the "data company" that they process to be.

My third party listing site shows me which listings don't get seen.  All one has to do is view Images in the 3PL site.  I caught one last night and the image hasn't been viewed in over 1000 days, but eBay still takes my money every time it's relisted.   Shame on me for not refreshing it sooner but this illustrates the fate of eBay's GTC listings.  Even if you relist every 30 days the item will fall into a black hole if it does not sell in a certain amount of time.

I am sure eBay's pitch to third party advertisers (you know, those who take buyers off eBay's site) is "look how many listings we have--this is how many you can market to".

At the end of the day, buyers are not seeing everything that is available.  They are only seeing what eBay wants them to see.  That is a prime reason (no pun intended) that they flock to Amazon.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Mar 11 06:35:13 2019

Should have been "they are not the data company that they profess to be"

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by: plcombs This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 08:35:39 2019

It's all being done entirely to try and wring out another few drops of blood/money from eBay's sellers.

"Oh you forgot to cancell..tisk tisk, you owe us more money!!! "

I suspect in the end, it will have the opposite effect resulting in a drop of listings.

A good opportunity though for a software writer to make an app to block re-listings without the seller's authorization.  

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by: Laurie This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 09:15:59 2019

80% of listings are GTC--show me the proof!  That has to be the BIGGEST lie they have spat from their forked tongue so far.  I spat out my coffee on that one.

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by: geoffreymason This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 10:34:27 2019

Sasikat: eBay policies have practically turned me into a hobbyist. I average 1,500 items, generally, putting me in, I believe, the "medium" category. When sales were predictable and good, AND MY GOODS WERE BEING SEEN, sales were brisk and profitable. Your constant refrain, derogating the smaller sellers, is obnoxious. Why can't you just do your thing, enjoy the fruits of your labors. and stop your criticism and carping? If someone wants to average 100 items for sale, rather than 100,000, what's it to you?

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by: geoffreymason This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 10:49:35 2019

Laurie: You're right. In my specialty category, most listings are auctions. Since I buy and flip, I am constantly frustrated that I have to wait until the end of an auction to pay for my purchases. Well, 80/20 is just another of the multitude of big lies from ebay.

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

Mon Mar 11 12:17:21 2019

This is embarrassing, they're not even trying to hide it anymore.  I think they're circling the drain.  This is obviously a fee grab on sellers.  GTC relists automatically on 30 days, they don't provide a tool to automatically end them prior to the relist date and 7 out of 12  months in the year have 31 days.  This is 100% a money grab.  Just watch the forums when this is implemented and all the sellers that aren't on top of policy are caught with a HUGE bill because all their stuff gets relisted.  This means I can not list outside of a "schedule" or I'll have to spend too much time monitoring my listings because my "Business partner" is sitting in the corner twisting his evil mustache just hoping I get caught slippin so I lose a ton of money to him by default.  That's the definition of shady and that's our partner in this ridiculous endeavor to push our goods on this giant landscape called the internet.  I don't use GTC because they said a long time ago that it loses placement if items don't sell and they relist.  If that's still the case, this means the potential of fee increase is very high and the likelyhood of reduced visability due to the change from fixed price to GTC is very high as well.  I.E.  More work that results in lower conversion.  I sell unique items, I'm starting to realize I'm wasting my time with ebay, if I close the ebay shop I'll probably find more sales on my other channels as the items are not available from other sellers.  Let's face the reality, unless the entire ebay management team is fired and replaced, the company is either going to go completely out of business, or it will change it's corporate identity until it goes the path of AOL, Nobody would believe that they came from the origins from which they actually did.  "Ebay?  Isn't that the Online message company?  They used to let you sell stuff?  Yeah right!"

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

Mon Mar 11 12:26:42 2019

It doesn't matter if 100 percent of sellers disagree...eBay will shove it down our throats anyway and if it fails they will take their good natured sweet time in putting it back because they hate to fail!  This is the kind of unbusinesslike immaturity we have to put up with!

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Mar 11 12:31:23 2019

It'll work OK for socks and deodorant that stay the same year in year out but in my market there's rarely an opportunity to reorder anything.

@GeoffreyMason
There used to be another account that bragged about being 75 and selling on eBay and liked to put down small sellers.  He gave me a hard time about taking more than a few weeks to wind down.  Guess that Wharton School graduate thought I was just going to set fire to my inventory one afternoon.

Perminate Link for eBay Does Poor Job Selling GTC Mandate to Sellers   eBay Does Poor Job Selling GTC Mandate to Sellers

by: geoffreymason This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 13:12:36 2019

@RKTOYS: I often wonder what insecurity underlies the bluff, bluster, and bullying of those who deride, disrespect, and defame others.

I am lucky that I can get along without ebay (although,during better times, my income from the site was a very welcome and pleasant addition to my treasury). That I can exist without ebay is a good thing, too, given the current state of the platform. Others depend on ebay to a greater extent, and ebay has failed them, not only to the detriment of those sellers but ultimately to ebay as well.

One can play the game according to the scattershot theory -- list a zillion items and surely a few will result in sales -- but that holds no appeal for me. I approach online sales in the manner that I find comfortable and satisfying. I hope that everyone else does the same and derives profits.

Good luck to all of us!

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by: Dalpal This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 13:44:58 2019

I predict ebay, in all their ''benevolence,'' will begin a flood of ''free listings'' promos very soon. 200, 500, even 1000 free listings, and the unwary who gladly accept will be smacked with ''surprise'' fees come Day 31.  

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by: Shanna This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 14:00:25 2019

The problem I have with the change is ebay give you no good way to end single item listings after they sell if you use the zero stock option.  Maybe 10% of my 2000 items are GTC now, because I either have several of them, or its something I can restock easily. I like the zero stock option as sometimes I run out before I can get more and the sales record is kept intact.

But by other 90% are one of a kind for me, thus when they sell I will have to go in manually and end them. Unfortunately ebay does not provide that option on the item page, I have to go through my active listings, which is 10 pages long, and find that one item and end it. And if that item is on page 6, when I hit the back button it always goes back to page one, so the process is even more convoluted. It will take me hours everyday ending single items that sold so I am not charged a listing fee as I have a Premium store and I am charged foe every listing above 1000, and I have no where near the stock for an anchor store. I'm sure this is part of their plan to nickel and dime their sellers.

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by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 15:35:13 2019

May 29 2017

eBay is deleting old listings, saying they are unfair to other sellers, though it doesn't seem to question the fairness of collecting the fees on such listings before zapping them into the ether.

eBay is supposed to be a venue only, bringing buyers and sellers together. But eBay has increasingly gotten hands-on and now it can delete sellers' listings at will (and as we've previously reported, can even relist a seller's inactive listings).

A reader forwarded a copy of a letter they received from eBay:

Listings that haven't generated interest, after being active for a long time, can clutter the site and make it difficult for buyers to find what they're looking for. This can be unfair to other sellers when their listings are difficult to find. Therefore, we've done the following:

- We removed any listings that have been active for 1 year or longer without sales. A list of removed item(s) is available further down in this email.

- Any fees for listings that were ended early for not following policy won't be credited to your account.

We recommend that you don't relist these items unless you first take steps to improve the likelihood of sales. Please also make sure that items don't automatically relist. Listing fees may not be refunded for subsequent removals.

To increase the chance of your items selling in the future, we recommend that you consider the following best practices:

- Reduce the price of the item.

- Add images.

- Include pertinent item specifics.

- Offer free shipping.

- List the item using the Auction format.

Sellers discussed this issue on the eBay boards last month - no one recalled this having happened previously, nor can we.

One seller said that as a matter of routine they lower the prices of their older listings in an effort to stimulate sales, so this would make it harder for them to figure out what listings need to be discounted. Others said this was a problem since they often receive sales of items over a year after first listed on eBay and other sites as well.

Here is a link to the FAQ eBay referenced in its letter to sellers where it states:

"If your listing has been active on the site for more than a year without sales, then we may remove it."

Sellers expressed concern about what would happen if they tried to relist such items - that's a valid concern, as eBay makes it clear in the FAQs.

According to some reports, it can be difficult for sellers to determine if their supposedly active listings show up in search, so while eBay sends a letter at least in some cases, you should pay attention to make sure the items you think are active are truly live.

It's disturbing that eBay won't credit sellers for listings it deems to be stale and removes - it's a practice that could have consumer advocates raising their eyebrows.

If eBay doesn't want sellers to list old listings, it could prevent them from being listed in the first place so sellers aren't out any fees. Given that eBay is concerned about old listings being "unfair" to sellers, after all.

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