eBay made a major change in Germany on March 1st by making it free for "private" (casual) sellers to sell on the platform. Not only did eBay waive listing fees for non-business sellers, but those sellers don't have to pay commission fees either.
eBay Germany said
at the time that the new fee structure would add to the selection of items available on the marketplace and said consumers who sell on eBay.de often buy on the platform - all to the benefit of fee-paying business sellers.
- The number of items placed by private individuals on eBay.de increased by more than a quarter (26 percent).
- The number of private individuals who have items listed for sale on eBay.de increased by more than 29 percent.
- The percentage of items listed by private sellers that sell successfully increased after the fee change.
- The number of private individuals who use eBay.de both to buy and to sell has increased by 14 percent.
Sellers have always been sensitive to the impact of free listings on visibility. eBay itself struggled when it attempted to integrate Stores inventory into the core platform. (eBay rolled out Stores in Search in February 2006, but rolled it back a month later, telling sellers that the volume of Store items had hurt the core marketplace. It eventually converted Store inventory to fixed-price listings and moved them to the core platform in March of 2010.)
Some principles to keep in mind:
- Sellers are buyers and vice versa, so getting people to sell will theoretically boost their buying activity as well. (This worked much better when funds were placed in casual sellers' PayPal accounts, treated as "mad money.")
- Boosting the number of sellers without boosting the number of buyers is harmful to the existing sellers.
- However, increasing the selection of goods on the platform has the potential to attract new buyers.
Former eBay seller Mark Steier who writes about ecommerce on his website Wortfilter.de
seemed receptive to eBay's message that the strategy of free listings for private sellers was working in his article today. But, he said more information was needed. "Despite all the theory and plausibility of the announced and expected developments, everyone would be happy if there were more figures. The reported 14% increase in buyers/sellers is a bit thin. What about the commercial dealers, has their GMV increased? Are commercial traders expecting too much when they want to know this number?"
When eBay announced the fee change in February, we wondered if the marketplace would become flooded with listings, making it even harder to stand out, pressuring business sellers to pay for an extra boost through eBay's Promoted Listing advertising programs. We would add to Mark's request by asking for more information about the change in eBay Germany's ad revenue. It would also be interesting to know if the additional inventory did add to the *selection* of goods rather than just adding more of the same items already available.