Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon June 4 2012 10:11:01

Should eBay Offer Sellers Unlimited Free Listings?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay conducted a survey last week asking sellers about various fee structure changes, including one in which sellers would pay zero insertion fees but higher commission fees when their items sold. (See details in Monday's EcommerceBytes Newsflash.)

For example, one scenario in which sellers would pay 0 insertion fees but 15% FVFs for items that sold up to $50 (and 7.5% for auctions) was pitted against another scenario in which sellers would pay 0 insertion fees but 11% FVFs for items that sold up to $50 (and 8% for auctions).



Above: Partial screenshot of survey eBay conducted last week asking sellers about various fee structures, including one that showed zero insertion fees for fixed-price and auction listings.

While sellers welcome lower fees, many don't prefer the free-listing/higher-commission model for a number of reasons. In fact, the last time eBay lowered its insertion fees and increased Final Value Fees, many sellers said it increased their selling costs rather than lowering them.

Sellers have already been complaining of low visibility in eBay search results (see last week's post, eBay Sellers Dissect Changes to Search). Under what circumstances would you like to see eBay offer free insertion fees, and why?





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by: 10 year seller This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 10:23:25 2012

How would it be navigating the multitudes of listings on the site.
In order to keep buyers from overload, it would be necessary to limit exposure and reduce search returns, which i believe they are doing now.

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by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 10:38:24 2012

I do like the concept of NO insertion fees and to just pay for what actually sells.  However, when it comes to ebay, I am ALWAYS SUSPICOUS and know with EVERY supposed seller “improvement” sellers end up WORSE OFF!  ebay always seems to find a way turn Sweet grapes into SOUR GRAPES.

There is always a terrible BUT with ebay.  For example.  It will probably go something like this;  You can have “free listings” BUT you will pay higher FVF AND you have to give free shipping, SAME DAY shipping and have a 1 year return policy and offer FREE return shipping regardless of the reason for the return.

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by: MADandCracked This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jun 4 10:53:13 2012

Sounds to me like eBay is fishing on how to get their sellers (and buyers) back. There used to be so many more of each ... back in the days before Ho

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This user has validated their user name. by: TrentDep

Mon Jun 4 10:54:43 2012

Couldn't agree more...  All indications are that ebay's new search engine will do just that - limiting and directing what potential customers are seeing, as opposed to displaying what they are searching for...

We all know free insertion is on the way - it completely shuts down any complaints about ads appearing within listings... The only real question is at what point FVFs will end up...

StubHub ( an ebay owned company )takes a 15% cut from the seller ( not to mention an additional 10% from the buyer )...  I wonder if ebay is using that as a goal?...

It is not a coincidence that ebay used to account for 80% of my sales, with Stub picking up most of the other 20%... Since last summer?  about 95% Stub, 5% ebay...

The difference?... Not my inventory - about the same as it's always been... Not pricing - I've been using the same margins for several years... Perhaps their is a clue in knowing that my effective ebay total fees for any given sale was about 7 - 8 % ( accounting for sell through rate, discounts ) while Stub is always a clean 15%...

How did ebay refocus my sales?  I have no clue, although there are some obvious issues with search, it's hard to account for the dramatic swing... I do know that ebay is getting about twice the cut they were a year ago...

So no - keep your free listings, and I'd like to at least have the appearance of having some control over my listing...

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by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 11:04:08 2012

This leads me to believe that unlimited free listings is a cover for eBay to have an excuse to play around with search as much as they want. If one's listings are free, can't complain about the search results. Something tells me that legally, eBay may be feeling some heat and issues down the road.

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by: jeanr This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 11:09:21 2012

BS!! my listing fee cost 5 cents. Adding more percentage on to my value fee is total BS, it raises my ridiculous monthly fee. When I started, it was $180..now same sales monthly $400! If they do this, I am totally going to Etsy!  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Jun 4 11:13:01 2012

I just don't trust that anything that they do will be in my best interest.  They've disappointed me far too many times.

What good is a free listing if no one ever sees it?

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by: MADandCracked This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 11:19:03 2012

@ Rexford ... Try Yardsellr! They have revamped the way that they give out photon$ (you can now pause them too) and you pay no fees unless you want to boost your listings (where they advertise for you) I love it there!

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by: MADandCracked This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jun 4 11:19:49 2012

I was so excited that I forgot to include the link :D  

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by: sickandtired This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 11:37:16 2012

I cannot ever remember a scenario where ebay math ever benefited the seller. All claims of some change or other reducing fees never worked out in reality, at least for me.  I was never one who paid for all the "extras" like picture packs, designer templates, bins on all auction listings and all the other "upgrades" that I ignored.

We also can't forget that an increase in fvf will also apply to the postage which for me is a killer. I don't sell  many small light cheap to mail items so the commission fees charged on my postage cost is already a killer.

Another angle to consider is that no insertion fees removes any responsibility on ebay's part to provide service - you get what you pay for. Site down.....too bad, search not working....oh well....

Not that ebay does much to compensate sellers for issues now, but at least we have a legitimate basis for complaining about the level of service or site functionality. Pay nothing for a listing and that page is really no longer your little piece of rented real estate. Ebay has already encroached on "our" space, but free listings will give them total access to that space.  

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 11:54:43 2012

I hope that none of my buyers expect that the DOG FOOD ebay is advertising on "MY"
listings is included in their clothing or jewelery or motorcycle parts purchase.  

And I hesitate to mention anything like this!

I am in favor of the free listings IF they are SEEN.  For MONTHS I have had stuff sit and languish here---only in the past few DAYS have I had any appreciable sales AT ALL.

ANd most posters here have done the math---NO EBAY SELLER "UPGRADE" has EVER been actually GOOD for sellers.  Ever.  Never has.  Probably never will.

Take the site back to pre-changes 2008---Real honest FB for BOTH buyer and seller;  NO tax on postage; NO hostage taking of your sales and search appearances;  NO forced returns; NO forced Preypal;  ===well you get the picture---and when my actual SALES return to what was normal THEN I might be interested in paying a fee to list.  IF my items are visible.  IF my FB is valued.  IF I can sell enough to cover all the fees that were in place even then--oh wait.  I WAS selling enough to make the fees bearable.  And I WAS selling enough to actually have some $$$ in the bank.  MY bank not the bank of ebay/Preypal.

Talk to me then.  

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by: Dazzle This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 12:04:36 2012

Since ebay stinks so badly I think their making once last desperate attempt to lure sellers back to ebay. they've chased - shoved and pushed so many elsewhere they must be really scared by now. This little trick might work however I for one won't waste any of my precious time building new listings - I would relist existing items if they get off their dead arse and get it done but knowing how stupid they are I'm sure they are just fishing. Idiots - like closing the barn door after the horse is out. They always wanted to be like Amazon so go ahead and act like them but they better get some improved management who understands that their business partners (sellers) would actually like to be treated as their business partners.

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by: sailonsilvergirl This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 12:04:36 2012

15% FVF on a $50 item and below is too high. Why not let sellers relist items for 5 times for free, and then charge for listing? This will give them time to adjust their pricing and listing to see if there's a market for their item. Otherwise, I think you're going to get lots of products on the site that customers just aren't interested in so you're creating more supply than demand.  

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by: paul This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 12:14:44 2012

Free for a higher FEE
This concept will not work, sellers are being gouged to death with FEES as it is. Watch out for the GREED factor with Donahoe..
He got 16 million $ Bonus this year, He wants more!!!!..

Sellers re tired of being ripped off with higher fees....No Free listings if Fees are going up...

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This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Mon Jun 4 12:14:47 2012

Free listings sound nice, but if it is at the expense of visibility, no thanks! That is the key - visibility.

If eBay is going to make their money on the FVF's it is in their interest to see that things ARE visible so they DO sell! From a buyer's point of view - if free listings make eBay search that much more difficult, then I would give up & go elsewhere.

I can't help comparing it to Craigslist. I don't sell on Craigs, but I know someone who does. He makes money there, but says the secret is to re-list his items every day or they become ''lost''. Can you just imagine how lost our stuff could become on eBay?

And what about eBay Stores - Part of the incentive for a store is the lower listing fees. If listing is free for everyone, then tell me what my incentive to pay for a store is?  

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by: XebayX This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 12:37:52 2012

On top of the store fees, I pay 5 cents to list an item and 11% FVF. An additional 4% of $50 = $2.00, a difference of $1.95 off the bottom line. With FVFs on Free Shipping, and PayPal fees, with my store fees, eBay already gets an average of 18% of each sale, and that includes my 20% discount. Enough is enough. They need to be NetFlixed.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Mon Jun 4 12:38:21 2012

When one considered how much eBay has complained (in words and deeds) about the proliferation of low-end flea-market and garage-sale ''junk'' and antiques... and in consideration of the extraordinary efforts eBay has made to RID the site of these objectionable sellers and items... it's odd that eBay would follow a path that encourages people to indiscriminately list anything and everything.

As others have pointed out, this will results in a deluge of items... not only from the ''undesirable'' seller... but from the diamond sellers as well (unless, of course, they're already getting unlimited free listings).

In addition to sharks with friggin ''laser'' beams on their heads... could this be part of their ''evil plan'' to rid the site of undesirables by literally BURYING them?

Actually, they're probably not clever enough to think that far ahead, but the practical outcome would be one that they'd not be entirely opposed to.

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by: baghera This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 13:05:39 2012

Do I want free listings, on my fixed-priced items that have a great sell-through rate, with an increased FVF? No way, that would only make my fees go up, up & away!! Last thing I want is a fee increase!

Now, I've been thinking that free auction-style listings for store owners (WITHOUT a FVF increase) would be a plus since ebay is making extra pictures free for everyone. Free pics was one of the perks for having a store subscription. Soon, that will no longer be the case, making it a little less advantageous to have a store. Making auction-style free for store owners would make it better.

If they made auction-style free for store owners I'd have no problem seeing ebay increase the non-store owners free listings, with BIN, to 100/month.

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by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 13:07:25 2012

Since ebay charges fvf on shipping too this will wind up with sellers paying the same or higher fees. I have multiple accounts and pay no insertion fees now, just pay them in my store. Ebay wants to bring back some sellers that load up many items into other sites with no listing fees and let them sit there.  

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by: spirit-of-shiloh This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 13:26:35 2012

I never use the free listings and do BIN's almost exclusively.Maybe in rare cases an auction. I don't like the pages being flooded as it is, so free insertion fees makes it that more clogged with junk.There are no more bidding wars like in the past unless you have a super hot item,even then you are taking a chance if you don't start the price with what you can live with. 99 cent starts are also a joke.

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