Is this why we're getting free listings?

No primary category set

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?

4 Responses

  1. With the emphasis shifting to final value fees is the year on year comparison of listings a reliable performance indicator ?

    Looking at the Powerseller Boards there does appear to be a downturn in sales, this must be related to the economy. Ebay could stimulate sales by giving the monthly fee rebate in the form of a voucher to be used on buying goods on Ebay, rather than as a cash discount.

  2. I think it would make Ebay a trusted site if they succeed in cleaning it up, publicising the clean up etc. It works for Amazon. The competition between trustworthy sellers would keep prices down and I am sure all this would encourage folks to buy. It will be playing a long game.

  3. cost and profit
    are the two things that make me use ebay
    as a buyer its the cost
    and as a seller its the profit

    effective policing is the only thing that will create trust

  4. Its a strange world when the price of eBay shares can rise or fall based on listing volumes – when eBay do not ever publish daily active listing volume totals !

    What eBay do publish is an active daily list of totals by category, you have to ‘grab’ that page (by eBay site) and parse out the numbers, and a parsing script adds them up for you, and there lies the problem – eBay share prices rise or fall on the accuracy and reliability of parsing scripts, which by their nature are ‘known’ to be unreliable, and constantly need keeping upto date.

    Just a little Eddie factoid for you 😀

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