Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Oct 23 2016 10:04:44

Are a Billion Listings Too Much for eBay to Handle?

By: Ina Steiner

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Does the management team at eBay today understand that having more listings isn't necessarily better? Executives tout the fact that eBay now has a billion listings, and the company recently launched new APIs to help large merchants bring all of their inventory on to the site ("onboard all their inventory using retail and industry standard practices" was the exact phrase used). 

But more is sometimes less, a fact that struck me anew when I came across this 2007 blog post "eBay Listings Down, GMV, Revenues Up in Marketplaces" based on eBay's second-quarter 2007 earnings report when listings were down 6% year over year but GMV grew 12%.

eBay's previous management team admitted that too many listings can strain its search engine after it moved "store into core" years ago, though that was before replatforming and the Cassini search engine overhaul.

Getting more listings on the site sounds good in theory, but it makes it a more competitive environment for sellers, and could theoretically make it more difficult for buyers to find what they are looking for - or to find something they didn't even know they wanted. And of course, it's not just having more listings, it's having the right listings from the right sellers.

Let us know what you're experiencing, and what factors you think are in play. Can you find what you're looking for on eBay?




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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Oct 23 10:25:57 2016

I usually have 100-200 listings going and sell about 25 items a week.

My good friend sell the same stuff I do and he has over 500 items listed, he sells about 15 items a week!

And as far as finding what I want to find on eBay ~ NO PROBLEM!

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 23 13:06:05 2016

We have over 50,000 listings over 5 stores. No problems except an ocassional glitch on Ebays part. Our biggest problem are the scammers who still try to steal something when tracking shows delivered.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 23 15:20:18 2016

The OBVIOUS answer (not baloney from 420) is in eBays own TOS:

** We strive to create a marketplace where buyers find what they are looking for. Therefore, the appearance or placement of listings in search and browse results will depend on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to:

buyer's location, search query, browsing site, and history;

item's location, listing format, price and shipping cost, terms of service, end time, history, and relevance to the user query;

seller's history, including listing practices, Detailed Seller Ratings, eBay policy compliance, Feedback, and defect rate; and

number of listings matching the buyer's query.  ***

So eBay can have 1000 Apple IIGS's and Commodore 64's (like they do now) and have BILLIONS of listings - but DOES IT ALL REALLY MATTER WHEN

1) eBay states that they WILL change natural placement and ignore best price - to suit themselves

2) things are in the wrong categories

3) there are 9000000000 chinese sellers selling cr@p on eBay

4) the platform is purposely rife with fraud

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by: 27tcle This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 23 16:57:35 2016

It would be nice if they held the Chinese sellers to the same duplicate rules that US sellers are held to.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sun Oct 23 18:06:06 2016

Americans need a Brand New Auction site that gives us the power to do Business OUR WAY.
With a take rate BELOW 3%.
Here's to a prosperous 2017.
Keep your negative comments to yourselves.

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by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 23 21:47:16 2016

EBay will only succeed if it abandons its ill-advised move away from its origins as a place to buy and sell used and rare merchandise. The used and rare marketplace is "everything that was ever made" and dwarfs the new merchandise market, but eBay executives will never understand that. The move to modern merchandise, an extremely competitive market, when they had the used and rare marketplace all to themselves, was one of the biggest mistakes in the history of American business. To try to right the ship Donahoe introduced free listings which has ruined eBay for buyers of antiques and vintage collectibles. The free listings have swamped eBay with junk and overpriced items, ruining the search experience, and resulting in eBay becoming very uncompetitive. For the past couple of years, I've checked prices on about 500 books. The prices on eBay were too high, in many cases very unrealistically high. If the sellers had to pay for these listings you can bet that they would be much more competitive. EBay likes to talk about the buying experience, it's the searching experience they need to worry about. Searching through all of the relists for something new to the site is now such an awful experience that most of the buyers who were very active 10 years ago have quit searching eBay. Add to that the fact that so many of the sellers of great antique & vintage collectibles have quit eBay over fees and feedback and an uneven playing field, and you end up with the eBay of today, a shadow of its former self.
If eBay wants to save its vintage collectibles and antiques markets, it needs to immediately fix this problem. We need to be able to filter out relisted items from our searches in the vintage collectibles and antiques categories. EBay could segregate the search results for relisted items. EBay segregates the domestic from the international listings in search results. They could also put all of the relisted items below the "listed for the first time" items, separated by a line as they do now with international. If eBay doesn’t fix this problem soon they are doomed to the dustbin of ecommerce.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Sun Oct 23 22:08:43 2016

Interesting comments.

Alaska, you make some compelling points.

Remember when eBay was going to put the commodities on eBay Express?

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Oct 23 22:41:25 2016

@ Alaska

Sellers would just make a new listing instead of relisting an old item by using sell similar feature. . .

Sometimes I sell items on the 2nd 3rd 4th or 5th time around.

No one needed a 4x Riveter last month but they need one today!

That hard to find part for a Clark forklift wasn't needed all year but someone needs one today.

As a seller I use "relist" a lot but could use sell similar just as easy.

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by: flybuy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 23 23:26:54 2016

I tried looking for a leather handbag on Ebay and the listings that came up were nothing but Chinese junk.

The prices for antiques and collectibles are high but it is still possible to find a good deal here and there.

It will be interesting to see what happens if Ebay forces sellers to charge sales tax.  

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

Sun Oct 23 23:41:43 2016

Totally agree with pace 306. The site looks worse than a $2 shop because of the plethora of cheap & nasty Asian listings that swamp anything of quality.

When a buyer enters the site they are swamped with pages of junk and many don't know how to filter (that is when the filters are working).

The constant meddling with the site also alienates buyers & sellers as they have to keep relearning the site & the rules.

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by: Marzy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 24 00:09:19 2016

I empathize when I hear sellers complain about asian junk. However, what I don't know, are people buying that junk? Some might say that the buyer will become disillusioned with their purchase, which effets all sellers. I don't know the math but ebay continues to increase revenue doesn't it? (that really is a question and was not to sound sarcastic)

Personally I am always amazed at the number of listings for items that are priced hundreds of dollars over what the item traditionally sells for.  At first I laughed, but I see it all the time when I search listings. There must be an market for people who have no clue as to an item's true market value. Why else do we continue to see those types of listings which also effects search results.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Oct 24 06:54:22 2016

Pace360 + Alaska = there you have it.

But this company has never been known for listening to its customers. The term "hard headed" doesn't even't scratch the surface.

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by: Caroline1 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 24 07:08:20 2016

@ Alaska: I think removing the wild card option from Search was also a huge mistake as far as seekers of the unusual are concerned. I'm not a collector of anything but years of carefully crafted searches went *poof* when Ebay removed the asterisk.

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by: ctexan This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 24 08:14:36 2016

I think the most mystifying thing that Ebay does is to promote items that send you to Merchants off Ebay. Not only is that mystifying, but often I find that the items that are promoted have nothing to do with the item I have purchased. For example - I purchase an old postcard for Cunningham Radio Tubes & Ebay has loads the page with ads for Cunningham Dishware at "Replacements Ltd." or I buy an old Batman & Robin postcard & Ebay loads the page with ads for Robin Cocktail Tables at "Rooms to Go" and Robin Egg blue Lamps at "Lamps Plus". It's obvious that the ad placement is clueless - there is nothing smart about picking one word out of an item title & matching it to one word in a promoted ad. For years I have been trying to explain to Ebay that vintage postcard buyers buy vintage postcards and if Ebay really wants to promote something to a buyer who has purchased a postcard, they should promote similar postcards. For example if I buy a postcard of a motel in Waco, TX then it would make sense to try to entice me to buy other postcards from Waco, TX or even other postcards  of motels. And it would make the most sense if those promoted items were items on the Ebay site - either from the same postcard seller or other postcard sellers. The fact that they can't understand this is proof to me that Ebay no longer has a clue about the collectables market & this is a crying shame since collectibles is the the very thing that brung them to to party!

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by: unknown This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 24 08:16:34 2016

Billions of listings just means more pages that ebay can sell outside ads on so they make more money from advertising than from sales. ebay's still trying to be amazon but now they're also trying to be google's ad sense.

What do you want to be when you grow up, ebay?  

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by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 24 09:02:32 2016

Too many "Sellers" {people trying to make up for no/low wages} + too few "Buyers" {unless you're a big earner, no discretionary income} + cheap/free postage into US for Chinese {subsidized by US Sellers} + fees on postage + forced "remorse" returns = a glut of "stuff" that will probably never get seen, and will probably not sell, unless the "seller" is willing to "sell" for LESS than COG + postage + fees. I am getting "offers" on "free shipping" items that don't even cover the postage COST.

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by: Randy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 24 09:10:08 2016

Doesn't really matter how many listings are on eBay, you're only going to see what they want you to see!

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Oct 24 10:52:31 2016

No, if sellers had to pay to list, the result would be fewer listings and for less competitive prices.

@epuise
That's pretty close to what I see too.

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by: Frank Abagnale This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 24 13:10:40 2016

One billion listings. One billion sponsored ads on those listings.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Oct 24 13:27:11 2016

@alaska

I too agree with much about what you stated, however not so much with filtering out relisted items.  That kind of goes against everything else you stated.

If Ebay were to go back to embracing its roots and sellers that sold unusual or one of a kind products more, the to relist is a key part of that.  These kind of things many times will not sell first time out of the gate.  It is dependent upon those buyers being out there at the same time that are looking for this unusual or one of a kind thing.

I sell many things that I have to relist.  If buyers could filter them out, then they would be ignoring something that may very well be exactly what they are looking for.  Just because something is relisted doesn't mean it is a bad thing or something worthless.  It only means the right buyer wasn't out there at the time the listing was active.

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