At ChannelAdvisor Catalyst earlier today, eBay UK said that free insertion fees could be coming in the future. Reuters reports a drop of 9% in UK listings this week compared to the week before. It’s tempting to link these two reports together, but what the Deutsche Bank analyst fails to mention (or at least to be reported as saying) is that the previous week saw listings massively increased due to a cheap listing day: I can’t have been the only seller who listed three times the normal amount.
What is more significant is a 19% drop in the number of listings compared with the same period the previous year. Listing numbers in Germany were “flat”, and those in the US up just 1% year on year, despite “stepped-up sales promotion activity”. Unsurprisingly, there are those who are seeing these figures as marking “the end of eBay”. But I don’t think so.
A fall in listing numbers is a sign that everything that eBay is doing to clean up its site is working. eBay in its new 2008 incarnation is about quality much more than quantity. There are undoubtedly sellers being driven off the site: those who can’t live up to eBay’s quality demands, those who can’t meet raised buyer expectation, and those who just won’t comply with the requirements of the law for their businesses. And maybe even those who won’t stay on a site where they can’t leave negative feedback for their own customers. Those sellers are no loss, not to buyers, not to eBay themselves.
Is a fall in listing numbers the end of eBay? No. But it might just be the beginning of eBay 2.0, an eBay which, as Lorrie Norrington said in last week’s Town Hall, can be the most trusted marketplace in the world. If you knew that 100% of eBay sellers could be trusted, wouldn’t that make you as a buyer get your wallet out? And if you knew that you’d got 100% trustworthy sellers, wouldn’t that make you, as eBay, do your best to keep them on-site?