Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Sept 2 2012 15:05:23

New Promotion Another Sign eBay Is Testing Free Listings

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is running a free-listing promotion in the entire Outdoor Sports category through the end of the year. It's the second such promotion eBay is running - on August 18, eBay announced sellers could list sports collectibles for free through the end of the year.



Could eBay be seriously considering a move to free listings in some or all categories and listing formats?

When asked last week if the free-listing promotion in sports collectibles was a test, eBay's General Manager of Emerging Verticals Gene Cook told me, "Anything that we do, obviously we're hoping to learn from. This is really something that we're doing focused on in Sports Memorabilia, we think there is a lot of good quality inventory that could be brought on by having this sort of pricing, so we're going to see how that goes." (See more from our interview with Gene Cook.)

I asked the same question of Andy Feierfeil, senior product marketing manager for eBay's Sporting Goods category. He said the free-listing promotion in Outdoor Sports was strictly seasonal and he has no expectation that it would continue beyond the holidays, but he said he really couldn't speak to that - in his category or in any other categories.

Would Sellers Welcome Across-the-Board Free Listings?
In June, eBay conducted a survey to gauge sellers' reaction to various proposed fee structures and asked respondents if they would prefer a free-listing model in which they would pay higher commission fees when their items sold. Such surveys often provide hints about what may be coming.

eBay did not share the results of the survey, but EcommerceBytes conducted its own survey of readers to find out what sellers thought about it.

Interestingly, almost 80% of EcommerceBytes readers responding to the survey said eBay should drop listing fees, but many expressed concern about the impact such a move would have on the quality of listings and buyers' ability to find what they are looking for.

"It would flood the site with garbage listings, just as it does during free listing days," wrote one respondent. "It makes trying to find the right item to purchase a miserable experience." They also expressed concern that if eBay made listings free, they'd raise commission fees.

What Free Listings Mean for Quality and Findability
So do free listings contribute to low quality inventory and issues with findability? Andy Feierfeil said eBay has made huge strides over the last few years to reduce listing fees and, in parallel, has made changes to search and listings policy. As long as efforts continue to improve the buyer and seller experience, and buyers and sellers are happy, eBay will continue to do it.

Promotion Details - Outdoor Category
For the promotion that starts today, sellers will pay no insertion fees when listing in the Outdoor Category through December 31, 2012. The offer applies to both Fixed Price and Auction-style listings, and a seller can also add Buy It Now to the Auction-style listings for no additional fee. Both eBay Stores subscribers and sellers without an eBay Stores subscription are eligible

There are restrictions on how many listings sellers can list for free in the category, however. (See promotion page for details and restrictions.)

Feierfeil said the objective of the Outdoor Sports category was to show eBay's commitment to category, to bring on more quality inventory, and to attract seasonal demand.

Take the opportunity to let us know what you think in the comments below!




Comments (23) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Sun Sep 2 18:06:50 2012

The reality is, from such as an unscrupulous, commercial entity as eBafia, any offer of fee-free listings is a sign of desperation—nothing more, nothing less ...

The "house of cards" is getting close to collapsing, methinks ...

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Sun Sep 2 18:30:50 2012

Today (Sunday) I got an email from eBay inviting me to sell ONE item with no listing or FVF's, except if it was a car.

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by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
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Sun Sep 2 19:58:19 2012

I read that they have 400 engineers working on their search engine so that it will be able to handle 300 million listings.

I think free listings for all is coming soon.

1 How will listing ever get seen?
2 That will spell doom to the alts many of whose listers like the free low cost listing fees.

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

Sun Sep 2 20:15:33 2012


Nothing will get seen much when listings are free. Just like now.

It won't spell doom for other sites because at least there is some visibility on the other sites.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sun Sep 2 21:38:14 2012

You know there's an ulterior motive behind moving to free listings. eBay never seems to do anything unless it ultimately leads to higher fees. "You spoke and we listened! Free listings in all categories!" Then you find out that the FVFs have gone from 9% to a percentage in double digits. All the money they are getting now from listing fees has to be picked up from somewhere else.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Sun Sep 2 22:21:17 2012

"400 engineers"; that's a very big "committee"; no wonder nothing works ...

And, yes, you can bet the foregoing of listing fees will be made up for elsewhere; actuall, for it all to be of any purpose, it has to be more than made up for elsewhere ...

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
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Sun Sep 2 22:22:17 2012

Yes you can guarnetee fvf's will be over 10% if they start free listings.

But I still say that the alts were on a bit of a roll until ebay bought in the 50 free listings a moth.
For many people 50 listings is great. I think quite a few went back to ebay then.


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by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 3 00:00:00 2012

They see all of their competition has free listing.  

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 3 00:22:31 2012

This is so typical of eBay. The don't innovate, they imitate. They don't lead, they follow. If it isn't broken, they ''fix'' it. If it's not working, they do more of it.

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by: Cowbell This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Sep 3 00:42:56 2012

I would welcome the change to free listings, since I sell a lot of rare records that take a while to find a buyer. However, I suspect eBay will make listings free, but make us pay a fee for visibility.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Mon Sep 3 01:42:20 2012

Yeah, that would be right, no fee to list, but a like small fee if you want to be seen ...

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Mon Sep 3 02:06:42 2012

As far as I am concerned I have already paid at least five years into the future for my listings to be seen since the last five years they were not. So should eBay go to free listings than there should not be an increase in final value fees. Since eBay is so big on making things retroactive, like DSRs, feedback etc, then all those paid listing fees to be seen should cover most sellers well into the future and not cause an increase in FVFs.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Sep 3 04:49:52 2012

If there will be visibility I'm ok with it even if it means a higher FVF.  If not, what is the point?  If they make us pay a fee to be seen then they will just be the same old greedy fee driven eBay.  Since they went public, the ONLY thing they care about money and they'll throw any seller under the bus for it.

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by: go-figure This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 3 08:37:16 2012

Yes, free listings but bid to be seen. You can just see it coming. Now instead of 3, 5 or 20 cents per listing for fixed price items, you'll probably have to bid $2, $3 or $4 to get seen anywhere on the first few pages. Sounds a bit like Google don't it?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon Sep 3 09:36:52 2012

Or they will come up with a new “banana” for sellers to reach for in order to be visible. Like the trained monkeys we are. You ever hear the noise a stressed out monkey makes?  

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 3 10:35:14 2012

Its obvious Ebay intends to make its money not thru the sale of quality items but thru the quantity of junk items.  They simply do not care what sellers sell or what the buyers are faced with in terms of finding the item they want.  It will just be wade thru tons and tons of garbage!  Finding that individual seller with the item one wants will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

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by: ilikespaghettios This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 3 10:54:25 2012

I think it's coming for sure.
You can count on ebay finding a way to make it a win win win for them, though.

Also expecting increased seller limits for most of us, so the seller has some skin in the game.

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

Mon Sep 3 11:38:50 2012

Indeed... 100% free listings WITHOUT limits is just begging for trouble. The venue will be FLOODED with long-tail and low-interest items that bulk sellers are trying to clear out of their overstock inventory.

As a result, nobody will be able to find ANYTHING without wading though thousands of uninteresting and irrelevant listings... and those buyers will move on to other venues and other sites.

Even if eBay DOES impose limits... this will be meaningless. Considering how EASY it is for sellers to get multiple accounts, those bulk sellers will simply get dozens of accounts so that they can list their entire catalog of overstock items.

eBay doesn't know that there's a difference between quantity and quality.

And... even if this DOES mean an increase in final value fees, it's important to keep in mind that eBay gets NOTHING from the flood of distracting, low-end, uninteresting, back-stock, overstock items that NEVER SELL.

I'm thrilled that I was finally able to close my eBay store and that I no longer rely on eBay for my income.

Although I still list a few items on eBay as a ''calling card'' and a ''signpost'' to direct buyers to my website, it's comforting to know that this is just a small supplement to my overall sales... and when Hindenberg-eBay crashes and burns from the weight and volume of all the JUNK listings that are coming... the impact on my sales will be negligible.  

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 3 11:53:35 2012

Would they have a tiered system do ya think---say;  I pay $10 a month to have 10 items "visible" and you slackers pay nothing for--invisible listings!  

Yep,  that'll work!  

While I in no way doubt that some listers--myself very much included!--are being made "invisible" if every listing becomes FREE then does this level the playing field or make it into a cliff to fall off of?  

And forgive my ignorance but when I go to look for some item I use actual words to do so like:  Gucci shoes size 7 lets say---and yeah  do have to wade thru the "diamond" sellers and the whack jobs who can't seem to get their butts booted off the site for scamming but if I am persistent I do eventually find what I am looking for.  

That is where some sort of better functioning visibility would make ME happy---if I could get to the ACTUAL sellers with ACTUAL items that actually RELATED to what I WANT. And could ACTUALLY buy.

That would make me ACTUALLY happy.

So highly UNlikely to ACTUALLY happen.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Sep 3 13:43:44 2012

comet asks:

"does this level the playing field or make it into a cliff to fall off of?"

Starting immediately, Sellers will henceforth be known as Lemmings.

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