|Thu Jan 17 2013 22:55:01|
Should This eBay Seller Follow the Rules or Copy Competitors?
By: Ina Steiner
Sellers are misusing eBay's Listing Variation feature and are violating several policies in doing so. A reader says eBay will not consistently enforce its rules, making it impossible for sellers like her to know whether to abide by the rules or risk joining the fray.
If you're selling Tshirts on eBay, you can create one listing for a particular design, but offer it in different colors and sizes. eBay added the "Listing Variation" feature to its marketplace to accommodate sellers of commodity goods. The biggest benefit to eBay is that search results aren't clogged up with that same design of Tshirts in all the different permutations, and it benefits sellers by offering ease of listing and a significant cost savings when it comes to listing fees.
But what if you sell a line of trading cards. Can you list each different card as a variation?
Our reader wrote, "I am an online-only merchant of toys and hobby items, including trading cards. Recently, many eBay sellers of trading cards have started utilizing listing variations in order to bundle similar cards together under a single listing."
She provided two examples, one a line of Pokemon trading cards, and said they were listed in the category:
Toys & hobbies > Wholesale Lots > Other.
"However," she continued, "single cards selling for $1-$2 are clearly not wholesale lots. My understanding is that as sellers, we are required by eBay policy to list items in the correct category. However, when I have asked eBay for clarification on this, they have not responded."
She said eBay intended for Listing variations to be used in cases where the item is fundamentally the same item regardless of whether or not the buyer chooses a "size small blue shirt" or a "size large red shirt."
But the items that she sees some sellers listing with Listing Variation are fundamentally different.
The Reason Behind It:
"Many sellers are intentionally listing their items in the wrong categories so that they can have access to listing variation options, which are disabled in the appropriate categories. However, the items being sold as "variations" are completely different items which are grouped together by one or more similar attributes."
She would immediately save $150 per month by using Listing Variations - "and I have what is still a rather small business compared to some of my competition," she wrote.
"More importantly, I think, a seller will likely increase his or her multiple item sales if related items are all available from a single checkout page."
"The problem is that this selling practice is clearly a violation of eBay's stated policies. And as we all know, just because eBay doesn't take action against Seller A for violating a particular policy doesn't mean it will not take action against Seller B for violating the same policy."
"So a seller like me is left with a choice: should I take a chance that eBay will continue tolerating what it claims is prohibited and risk have my account suspended, or should I play it safe and continue allowing my competition to kick my ass?"
What do you think?