Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Mar 8 2017 22:21:05

Is This eBay Auction Promotion a Win or a Lose?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is running a promotion to encourage sellers to list auctions - but sellers must start the auctions at low starting prices on order to get the Final Value Fee discount. Here's a blurb from the promotion terms and conditions:

"Invited sellers ("Sellers") who activate the offer and then create a listing in the auction-style or auction-style with Buy It Now format, within a Qualifying Category* at a starting price below $5, pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth herein ("Qualifying Listing"), will receive a 40% discount on final value fees for up to 100 items that are listed and sold during the Promotion Period (the "Promotion"). Auction-style items must be listed without a Reserve Price to be eligible for the discount. The Promotion excludes items with the Reserve Price feature added."

eBay climbed to success thanks to its auctions, but as we reported in January, auctions now contribute only 13% to eBay's Gross Merchandise Volume. (eBay will no longer break out auction format growth when releasing its financial reports each quarter.)

Sellers once embraced the 99-cent starting price for auctions, but now, many sellers say they simply don't get the bidding activity to justify listing auctions for low starting prices.

So it wasn't surprising to see the reaction to eBay's promotion - plenty of sellers said they had no interest in participating, and some sellers called it an insult. One seller was more positive, saying that while the promotion would not work for common items, " for others it is a great deal and a good way to bring back buyers and sellers to the auction format."

You can find the description of the promotion on this page on the eBay website - note that it's by invitation only. There are some things to keep in mind if you are interested in participating - it's restricted to certain categories, and you must first activate the offer. Special callout: this only offers a discount on FVFs, it does not apply to insertion fees. (Usually promotions include free listings.)

Did you receive an invitation, and will you be participating?

How would you reinvigorate auctions on eBay?




Comments (29) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Mar 8 23:39:44 2017

I agree with the sellers who state it's an insult. Sellers have been complaining for some time that they are lucky if they can get someone to place a bid at the starting price, so I doubt anyone is going to have an opening bid of under $5 unless the item is worth under $5. I can't imagine anyone with a $40 item starting it at $4 and hoping people will bid it up to its actual value.

As far as reinvigorating auctions, I really think the time has passed for that. Most buyers nowadays seem to want BINs so they don't have to wait seven days to see if they won. If the item is really rare or really sought after, maybe an auction can still work. But not having auctions hasn't hurt Amazon and other ecommerce marketplaces.

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by: handmedownheaven This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Mar 9 00:24:39 2017

Did not receive an invite and would not take part.  All of our items that have been around for a couple months are sent to auction format.  90% of all our auctions receive zero views.  I'm sure not going to list a new Ralph Lauren shirt for 99 cents and end up selling it for that because of no views.

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by: nsc This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 00:30:35 2017

Can somebody please explain why eBay is now trying to promote low starting bid auctions of collectibles, after spending 10 years trying to kill them off?

What auctions MUST HAVE to prosper is a PREDICTABLE level of visibility. Whatever that level is, the seller must be able to gauge it beforehand. That is just what eBay has denied to all of us through playing its continual games of rolling blackouts and selling limits.

Apparently, they are too stupid to realize what they have done.

If eBay really wants to revive its auction business for art & collectibles, I think it could do so easily by promising & delivering visibility for them.

Sellers would try auctions again, starting a few a time. If eBay delivered visibility, the effect would snowball quickly.

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by: Jester This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 00:37:41 2017

I am not super excited about it but if you have the right items it can be a nice way to drive traffic to your other inventory items. I always have some items I keep in reserve for just this reason.

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by: SoniaD This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 01:14:20 2017

Didn't get an invite and don't care.   I've got 60 some items sitting with really low prices and BIN.  Zero views for about 5 days.

My RL antiques and collectibles shop is going gangbusters.  Sold 7 paintings today after a nice fat sale of porcelain earlier in the week.  Predictable fee every month and no sale commission.  Why in the world would I bother with an auction?

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by: Paul W This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 01:28:03 2017

I'll be using this promotion to list some railroad dining car collectibles that I generally start at 99 cents and which never fail to bring decent prices.  

Massed produced ''collectibles'' are dead in the water, but genuinely scarce items still bring good prices.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 01:32:12 2017

It's a hail mary move to get sellers to auction their goods.  EB doesn't realize that the Auction + BIN is a good feature.  It gives the seller a choice:  bid or buy.  

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by: skl3255 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 02:19:51 2017

I received the invite but don't plan to use it.  The item starting price has to be less than $5.00 and you cannot have a reserve.  You can have a BIN but that is an added fee.  I already have BIN items in my store for less than $10.00 and they are just sitting there. All of my store items are priced at least 50% less than retail sale price.  As I see it the item needs to be worth at least double than the $5.00 starting price to be considered.  So my $5.00 widget get sold and the FVF would normally be be 50 cents.  The 40% discount would decrease my FVF to 30 cents.  Because there are so few views I doubt that these auctions would get me any real money and I'm not taking the chance of losing money on my items.  The other problem I see is that customers seem to balk at shipping charges that exceed the price of the item.  More so when the item price is low and many buyers think they should get free shipping.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Thu Mar 9 02:23:23 2017

Any time ebafia says they can help, run don't walk in the opposite direction! The only thing ebafia can help with is driving us into business bankruptcy.

Why start anything at a low price when we have no guarantee it will even be seen?

Lying and stealing are how ebafia "helps."

While I suppose there might be rare and highly sought after items that this might work for as Paul W pointed out, most of the time it would be a BIG loss for sellers while ebafia still gets their FVF.

Ebafia cannot be trusted in anything. Lying and stealing are the only things we can count on when it comes to this corrupt, evil, despicable corporation and its criminal management.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Mar 9 03:03:31 2017

I got the promo offer.  To me it is too restrictive and I won't be able to use it.  I don't know why Ebay is concentrating just on certain categories, but it seems to be what they are doing in many of the promos over the past couple years.

It's like the free auction listings you get with the various store levels.  I can't use them as I don't sell in the categories allowed.

So for me, the promo is useless.

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 04:21:14 2017

We have better things to do than waste our time on some pipe dream Fleecebay has going.

Time better spent watching commercials on the radio than listing on Fleecebay.

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 04:28:45 2017

Enough already - I'm getting whiplash - we love auctions - we hate auctions - no we love auctions - make up your mind and actually it doesn't even matter - auctions suck. At least in my category. Too much Chinese competition giving stuff away thanks to the horrible trade agreement with the USPO how the hell do they think we are supposed to compete for pete's sake? I need to make my car payment not buy another bowl of rice. BIN works out just fine for me. My drama is bring back the 4th store tier - I'm chomping at the bit to keep listing.

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by: skl3255 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 05:08:41 2017

And I forgot an important factor regarding your selling limits.  The promotion doesn't seem to give us  an  additional 100 listings as some of the previous promotions Ebay advertised.  I only have a basic store so I wouldn't want to use my free listings for this promotion.  What I would consider is listing auctions for items I would normally have and hope they sell during that period so i could get the fee reduction as it does give us the 40% discount off the shipping fees as well.  I checked for exclusions so selling books won't be profitable.

Please note: Discounted final value fees will be applied to the total amount of the sale including the cost of the item, shipping, and any other fees a seller may charge—excluding any sales tax. All existing selling limits on your account (as well as category and item limits) still apply, and may prevent you from creating the maximum number of listings in this Promotion. Listing fees may apply, depending on how many listings you have already created; learn more about seller fees, including number of free listings per month, by viewing our everyday rate plan.

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by: GrumpyHam This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 06:52:42 2017

I still do auctions on about 20% of my listings. And yes, I will start a $400 item at $0.01. The difference is that there is still lots of activity on eBay for the things I sell. Not that there has not been a significant drop off from the haydays, but there is still money to be made.

Did I get the invitation? No. Doubt they would send me one since I still do list auctions.

I understand some categories are a wasteland, anyone listing items like that using this promotion would be a fool.

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by: HappyOne This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 09:06:05 2017

One thing Ebay could do to bring some life back into the auctions would be for the bidder to have some ''skin'' into the game. Maybe have/require all bidders to deposit/have a escrow account for at least the FVF Ebay fees of their bid. Highest bidder losses these fees if they do not pay. Ebay should like this. As a buyer/bidder it would give me some confidence that I am bidding against a serious bidder or a legitimate bidder (non shill). As a seller I would know the winning bidder was serious and would be likely get paid as Ebay already had their 10% FVF. Then let the non payer deal with Ebay about getting their deposit/FVF fees back  

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Mar 9 09:22:26 2017

@Paul W >>Massed produced ''collectibles'' are dead in the water<<

I have always laughed at those so-ccalled collectibles. I have an ex that collects junk like that and he thought all his things were so precious. Anything that has the word collectible, except for possibly a very rare exception, should never be bought thinking the item will increase in value. But some folks are like lemmings and will jump over the cliff if someone tells them to!

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by: KeysParkPro This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 09:40:33 2017

Three things killed auctions. 1-Amazon (The I want it know cheap with free shipping) 2-Shill bidding (Which was a common thing years ago) 3-The sniper (Average people never did understand why they lost, so they stopped bidding) Plus EBay and the sold item information link made it possible to check on what things really were selling for, plus Google search helped people shop on the net.  

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by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 10:01:01 2017

Nothing will bring back buyers who left for other venues... nothing will give the steadily decreasing middle class discretionary income to buy things...

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Thu Mar 9 10:19:49 2017

Tone deaf eBay wants to raise fees, cut reward give backs to buyers and sellers, and incentivize sellers to list items at a loss.

They fail to comprehend that the more sellers they bankrupt, or drive out of the marketplace, the result is reduced SKU diversity making eBay less compelling to buyers.

This ignorance of reality by eBay's executives and management is the driving force behind eBay's continued failure to grow sales.

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by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 9 11:02:42 2017

@Happy One

EXCELLENT idea to fine NPB's [aka scumbuckets] for the FVF! That way we honest sellers won't have to chase these rat finks.

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