Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Aug 7 2012 12:36:48

Should eBay Drop Listing Fees?

By: Ina Steiner

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Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru wrote a post on Friday about Amazon's "unstoppable" strength, and said she believes three entities have the potential to displace Amazon: Walmart, eBay, or a "vertically integrated retailer."

Mulpuru wrote in part, "to date, Amazon has created a compelling alternative to eBay in large part because it doesn't charge listing fees. The single biggest change to disrupt that ecosystem would be if eBay eliminated its lucrative listing fees. That's highly unlikely as eBay doesn't even see itself as a competitor to Amazon (rather its focus is on X.commerce which is a B2B play, and PayPal), but this is the radical change that would give Amazon a run for its money."

Putting aside the competitive reasons eBay might drop listing fees, do you think eBay should drop listing fees? Take a survey and let us know what you think: Link to survey on SurveyMonkey.com, and we'll report back.

Since the spring, many eBay sellers have been reporting issues with traffic and sales. One micro-seller sent me his Outright weekly report showing revenue and expenses, and it showed he was actually losing money selling on eBay. Clearly that's an outlier case, but I'd wager there are many sellers whose insertion fees are taking an increasing bite out of their profits on eBay thanks to dropping sell-through rates.

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman understood the role insertion fees played on the delicate balance of supply and demand on the marketplace. At that time, many sellers felt insertion fees contributed to the integrity of supply. But eBay is a very different marketplace these days.

How would free listings on eBay impact sellers today, and do you think eBay should eliminate insertion fees?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Should eBay Drop Listing Fees?   Should eBay Drop Listing Fees?

This user has validated their user name. by: Spartacus

Tue Aug 7 12:50:41 2012

Screw eBay.

Even if they "paid me" to spend "my time" adding "my inventory" to "their site" I'd still keep me, my inventory and my buyers out of their Chinese flea market thieves den.

Going on 3 months I left eBay and my sales are building every day. I'm at about 60% of my eBay 2008 sales but then again, eBay 2012 was at 50% of 2008 sales, so do the math. Oops, almost forgot, no 16-30% FeeBay/Preypal fees, no constant stress, no changing gameplans,etc...

eBay and the Ho can suck a rotten egg.  

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 7 13:22:27 2012

???? Mulpuru wrote in part, ''to date, Amazon has created a compelling alternative to eBay in large part because it doesn't charge listing fees. ???

Pardon?

As mentioned by Spartucus:

That is NOT the reason Amazon is unstoppable against eBay - not at all.

There are SO many things wrong with ''todays eBay'' that there isnt a computer with enough bandwidth to contain it all!

eBays basic rule is lie, do nothing, lie again, do even less, bring out multiple seller updates that really should be called ''seller screw jobs'', make unannounced directives against sellers, lie (did we cover that already?), do more nothing, THEN throw all the problems on you (the seller).

Amazon does none of those things. eBay does this crap at warp speed!

WTF is VERO? Have you ever been VERO'd on Amazon, Buy.com, Sears or Pricegrabber? I mean geez - the lies that exist in that program would keep a Harvard law professor busy for 100yrs to fix! The program FLAT OUT violates a half dozen US laws - while eBay sleeps! (ok its done to enrich themsleves - but thats NOT for now).

eBay sanctions Paypal holds - Amazon doesnt do that .... even if you have a zero balance and need to refund a customer - there are no holds and penalties.

Insane buyer allowances - forced returns, emails with cursing in them, magic invisible DSR's, the allowing of ''backing out of purchases'' .....

And then the clincher - when theres a problem - and there always is - give the seller someone in a far away land that doesnt speak english - blame the seller, take away his discounts, have the buyer ruin his reputation then VERO him.

eBay is a patient thats ''sick''. Mobile my tuchas - it wont save him.

Amazon moves boxes - millions a day - eBay doesnt (anymore). When that changes - eBays fortunes will increase!

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 7 13:25:56 2012

"Mulpuru wrote in part, "to date, Amazon has created a compelling alternative to eBay in large part because it doesn't charge listing fees."

Terribly uninformed on this subject.  Amazon dominates!  It does so with expert customer service, good return policies and fairness towards both buyers and sellers!  Mismanagement at Ebay is its worst enemy and the reason why it is no longer number one!

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 7 13:25:56 2012

"Mulpuru wrote in part, "to date, Amazon has created a compelling alternative to eBay in large part because it doesn't charge listing fees."

Terribly uninformed on this subject.  Amazon dominates!  It does so with expert customer service, good return policies and fairness towards both buyers and sellers!  Mismanagement at Ebay is its worst enemy and the reason why it is no longer number one!

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by: mylifeisgood This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 7 13:44:53 2012

Don't hold your breath, it ain't never going to happen.

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 7 14:30:51 2012

Ina - what happened to my post?

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This user has validated their user name. by: David Steiner

Tue Aug 7 14:43:48 2012

@Patricia,

Your comment came in as a double-post. Thought I was just deleting one of them - anyway, I restored it. Unfortunately, no easy way to delete the duplicate post.

David Steiner

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by: Susan Averello This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Aug 7 14:44:31 2012

As a buyer, not seller on either, I pick Amazon over and over since I can count on the quality, the buying is seamless, in fact for a long time I didn't even realize there were other sellers.
I can toss everything in one cart and just checkout. It's amazon, not the "sellers". Sounds harsh since I sell too but it is how it works.

I use prime shipping, some individual sellers are included but  honestly when I am the buyer, I don't want to wade through the morass on Ebay or have to wonder about shipping, if it will arrive, trying to return if necessary (often turns out easier not to). I don't buy much on Ebay anymore if at all.

Compared to Amazon's clean profession site, shopping Ebay for anything is like wading through a garage sale.

Perminate Link for Should eBay Drop Listing Fees?   Should eBay Drop Listing Fees?

This user has validated their user name. by: Spartacus

Tue Aug 7 16:54:28 2012

@Susan Averello - Yes, Amazon is wonderful if you're looking for a CD, DVD, software, etc. However, where eBay ~used~ to shine was for collectibles, antiques and vintage.

Amazon simply doesn't have the format for antiques, trading cards, comic books, vinyl records, etc where the buyer needs an individual picture of the item for sale.

Personally, I'm a huge collector. Right now, I'm at a loss where to buy and have gone back to frequenting conventions, trade shows, flea markets and such because I simply will not ever, ever spend my money on eBay.

I do look on eBay still and I can say, the items I collect are disappearing. 90% of the best sellers I used to deal with are gone. eBay is becoming a ghost-town.

I had hope for both Bonanza and Etsy but both of those sites suffer from ownership that lacks sufficient vision and doesn't see the big picture.

Interesting however, when I do go to the conventions or trade shows, mention eBay and all you hear is ''screw eBay'' from every vendor.

Not only did I sell several thousand dollars of merchandise on eBay every month, I also SPENT a lot of it right back there. Stupid eBay, all their MBA's can't figure out sellers are also buyers.

 

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Aug 7 16:57:41 2012

If eBay drops listing fees, where are they going to make up that money? Higher FVFs? A monthly fee to sell on the site for small/medium sellers? I don't see eBay dropping those fees unless they have a back-up plan to pull in the dollars.

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

Tue Aug 7 17:14:44 2012

I'm with Jack Sparrow on this one. Ebay will invariably, if they do go 100% free listings, giveth with one hand and taketh back with Both Hands. It's in their DNA. They have to keep up that perception that all is just hunky dory for their Wall Street masters so the Ho can take advantage of all those stock options.

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This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Tue Aug 7 17:38:10 2012

I find what Spartacus says is true - so many sellers are gone. Recently I broke a Name Brand glass from a set I purchased on eBay. I looked to find a replacement there - NADA, ZIP! I couldn't believe there was not one in the USA. We go online to look for a wide range of items - car parts, auto repair manuals, household storage items, soft goods like sheets & pillowcases, fave brand of soap, even a hard to find brand of mustard. There is no where near the selection there used to be if you narrow it down to a particular style. Then searches for vintage collectible advertising items - Wow, a ghost town!

Does eBay not realize that not everyone WANTS brand spanking new items (except for undies & toothbrushes). There is certainly a place for new items, but some folks PREFER pre-owned. Good heavens, if everyone wanted new stuff wouldn't all the Big Brand stores be ringing their registers without eBay's assistance?  

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 7 18:53:57 2012

@Spartacus...you're absolutely right about Ebay.  Its mainly good for one thing...vintage and collectibles.  It is NOT going to succeed by selling new chinese stuff...that will never happen.  Just today I wanted to add to my old stainless utensils and found the exact brand and pattern on Ebay.  Nowhere else can you shop like that and Ebay stupidly ignores it and tries to be anything but what it was meant to be!

Thanks for putting it back up David :-)

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 7 18:57:31 2012

@basset - correct.  I recently looked around for nylon PJ's - they were not to be found anywhere...except on Ebay!  I bought 4 pairs and was happy to get them.  Same with milkglass lamp shades for my chandelier.  I never thought I could replace 2 broken ones - but found a complete set of 5 of them on Ebay.  Ebay management is too blind to see what is there!  They're too busy trying to evolve into something they're not...especially NOT with Amazon around.

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by: Ron This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 7 22:32:04 2012

Where do these analysts get their business training?  Sucharita Mulpuru is so wrong on so many levels that it is almost laughable.

Eliminate listing fees?  Can you imagine the holy mess that would result as if things aren't already bad enough with listing visibility?

I hold two MBAs, but at least I have experience selling on eBay and understand the original value proposition that eBay had.  Listen, you ignorant business types, including Donahoe, eBay's brand was set as an antiques, vintage and collectibles marketplace.  It was structured to function optimally as such.  It no longer is structured optimally because eBay's business managers and Wall Street analysts have no clue about what is a non-traditional market.  And Amazon's strength is derived through a very deliberate business strategy that focused on certain business segments and structured itself carefully to serve that market properly.

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by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 7 22:55:24 2012

The 50 free listings/month works pretty well. They could increase that to 100 or 200 free listings per month. 5000 free listings just ruins eBay with way too much garbage to wade through. Imagine the junk you would see at a flea market where the sellers didn't have to pay for a space!

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by: the paper gallery This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 7 22:56:43 2012

this is what kills sellers with lots of mercy. fees to list, then, E-BAY DOESN'T EXPOSE IT TO SELLERS,drop the fees... no one will complain on the back side when you sell an item.

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

Tue Aug 7 23:49:40 2012

I never list auction style any more unless it is free. I do pay $15.95 a month plus $0.20 a month for each listing. I refuse to pay $1.00 to $1.50 to list items for auctions. However, the 5,000 free listings in a day or two is ridiculous and there is no way I can do that. I do think the final value fees are high enough. They also should drop final value on shipping fees, as that only caused me to raise handling costs to cover it. I do not really like selling on Ebay, but the fact is more people see my items there than anywhere else, though I tend to list only items I have several of or items that are harder to find at my direct and Tias sites and need that venue to be found.

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 8 00:21:43 2012

Free listings = Tons more garbage to sift through. Less chance anyone will see what you're selling.

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by: lamplady This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 8 00:23:52 2012

I'm one of those old school antique and collectible people too. I've thought about this free listing thing before you posted this article because I've seen so very much junk and poorly or outright misadvertised antique/collectible listings that are neither since the free listings, much more than before by far. I've moved on to a fixed price vetted site, Ruby Lane, almost 3 years ago and have been quite pleased. Sales are not as many, but total fees are much less for me and their people are courteous and very prompt and helpful with any questions I might have.
 The only thought I had was to refund or credit the listing fees if the item sells. I think this would eliminate a lot of people listing items just to get rid of stuff they know little and care less about. Even with key words, there is too much stuff to wade through and causes too much frustration for the buyer.  

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