eBay denies "Unproductive Listing Removal" policy

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An remark from a Citigroup analyst after a meeting with Bob Swan has caused such a stir that eBay have felt compelled to address sellers fears. Rather than reading the comment in context sellers have been mulling over the goal to “removing unproductive listings” from eBay.

With one of eBay’s stated goals for 2007 as “simplifying the site, improving finding, and accentuating the things that make eBay fun and unique.“, some sellers worried their listings would be cancelled under a “unproductive listing policy“. Whilst an “Unproductive Listing Policy” may have been said tongue in cheek, it was certainly worrying enough sellers for eBay to comment.

Laura (aka Daphne when posting on community boards as a “pink”) addressed sellers who’s biggest gripe was, as always, “It is not fair to us Sellers to intentionally do things behind our backs the things we need to know and understand so we can make our own adjustments as a Seller”. This is a real problem for eBay, so many seemingly minor changes occur on the site which to sellers can have a major impact on their business. What eBay may feel is a minor enhancement can have far reaching consequences for a sellers strategy to maximise sales on the site. Recent examples include unannounced experimenting with visibilty of UK listings on eBay.com, and the introduction of “Biddy’s Button“. (One change positive for sellers and one negative, just to be fair ๐Ÿ˜‰ Both equally important for sellers to be aware of though.)

Back to the analyst’s comments and ensuing brouhaha, it stemmed from an AuctionBytes report of the CitiGroup comments. The comments were actually restating eBay’s goals dating back to early 2006 where eBay eventually took the decision to roll back Shop Inventory Items appearing in search results. In other words the analyst was largely talking about historical events, not future goals.

In a nutshell to reassure sellers eBay state “eBay is not taking any new actions to remove listings, and this is not what we told analysts”. Communication though is key, and with so many unannounced changes, it’s not surprising when news is reported off eBay it can be misinterpreted. eBay really do need to boost communications of events happening on the site so that sellers aren’t looking elsewhere to be informed of site changes and eBay news.

4 Responses

  1. Mountie – How do sellers in the UK feel about always being the test site for the US? eBay will be launching FB 2.0 in the UK to test it before they launch it in the States. This seems to be a pattern for the launch of many new applications.

    They recently announced lower pricing for Media listings in the UK but most believe that will neve make it across the pond to the US.

  2. Randy I’ve commented on this a number of times. It was interesting that Bill Cobb in his keynote speech started off welcoming eBayers around the world and finished telling the audience not to worry because it would be tested elsewhere (as in the UK et al) before being inflicted on them.

    To be fair a number of innovations are tested around the world, eg the “report button” at the bottom of listings was tested in Australia first. What does really annoy me is that new features which are beneficial (eg MyWorld, Blogs, MarkDown Manager) are introduced on eBay.com first, site changes which could be detrimental to sellers are inflicted anywhere but eBay.com.

    It’s about time Cobb et al wised up and realised countries outside the US actually contribute significantly to eBay’s bottom line and in fact the US is stagnating with slow growth. When they catch up with the UK at average spend on eBay of ร‚ยฃ50 per capita maybe we’ll give them a bit more respect when they tell us how things should be done ๐Ÿ˜‰ I say Cobb should take some lessons from Doug and his team

  3. They have, indeed, used Australia as a testing ground for various things, some very unhappy (Australia is the only eBay market that doesn’t have reserve prices, for example, something eBay calls “an experiment” but which has been that way for a couple of years now).

    That’s a good example of the “anywhere by ebay.com” syndrome.

    eBay treats their overseas markets with a great deal of what looks like American arrogance and contempt.

  4. Bonni, if it makes you any happier, they just abolished reserves in Spain too. As far as that goes, I would fully expect to see reserve prices gone from the entire eBay system within the next year or two. Totally agree with your last paragraph though.



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