eBay limits items from a seller to 10 in search

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There are two changes rolling out on eBay this week (or at least eBay.com, there’s been no announcement for the UK as of yet): the .

The reasoning behind this is that Finding 2.0, the technology that presents search results to buyers is now smart enough to remove duplicates from search results and limit the number of items from one seller shown to buyers.

This limitation will affect the listing strategies of many sellers who have in the past ensured their listings all finished at peak times, or who listed multiple identical items to ensure they were always at the top of search results.

If you list multiple identical listings only one will show in search results. It doesn’t matter how many identical listings you launch, buyers will only ever see one, although which of the identical listings they see will vary according to how they sort search results.

An important factor to bear in mind is that under Best Match auctions with bids or fixed price listings with sales will be considered better matched than those without. Once auction listings have bids and different prices they will no longer be considered identical.

There will also be a limit on how many different (not identical) listings will be shown in search results from a seller. No more than 10 items per page from a single seller will be displayed, if a seller has more than 10 items the remainder will appear on subsequent results page, still at no more than 10 per page. Removal of the choice policy allows sellers to offer more options than previously so that buyers can still access their full inventory.

One important change which has hitherto not been spelled out is that these policy changes apply to ALL sort orders, not just Best Match. Even on “Ending Soonest” no more than 10 items per seller and only one identical item will be presented to buyers. When listing products sellers will need to space out start times to ensure products aren’t removed from buyers view just as they’re about to end.

There are however still some questions which need addressing. The state “If you sell computers, you can offer a specific brand and model laptop with a choice in components such as hard-drive size, processor speed, etc.” This however doesn’t explain how sellers should allow for price differences if a buyer selects a larger hard drive, more memory or a faster processor. Whilst the choice policy goes some way towards more flexibility (e.g. for a choice of shoe size, colour) it doesn’t lend itself to products where there is a price differential.

Finally there is a new policy to be aware of – . This prohibits sellers from any activity which could be interpreted as gaming the system, including but not limited to keyword spamming, inappropriate titles and “any other activity that eBay deems as inappropriately diverting members to a listing or harming the finding experience for buyers.”. This should be interpreted to include listing identical products on multiple IDs as eBay have indicated their technology is capable of detecting it.

Overall these changes should benefit both buyers and sellers. Buyers will be ensured a choice of products from multiple sellers whilst sellers should be able to save fees by no longer needing to flood eBay with listings in order to compete with other sellers that do.

16 Responses

  1. “If you list multiple identical listings only one will show in search results. It doesn’t matter how many identical listings you launch buyers will only ever see one, although which of the identical listings they see will vary according to how they sort search results.”

    So if this comes to the UK I can’t have the same bath ending in 1,3,5,7,10 days?

  2. I saw on the powerseller board the other day James the Pink said the UK will not be changing the choice policy.

    Hopefully he was wrong or as ebay would say misinformed.

  3. I dont quite understang this and will need to wait to see how it is implemented.

    Lets say I have 3 widgets in red, white blue I was told that the new algorithm is smart enough to determine that 3 SKU varients are one, and only play out one.

    Does this mean that only one item will be in the buy box at any one time.

  4. #1 Yes you can, but if there are 20 baths from all sellers only one of each of yours will appear in search results at one time (unless they’re on auction and all have different numbers of bids and prices). Under Best Match sort for BIN you’d be better off with one listing of five baths than five of one bath anyway. If you sell 20 different style baths never more than ten will appear at one time on one page of search results.

    #4 If you have one widget in three colours you’ll be able to offer them on one listing. eBay needs to sort out the choice listing strategy though so for instance with item specifics you can select more than one size/colour. I really don’t know how this will play out as they’re allowing choice listings but haven’t enabled tools to list and manage them properly. e.g how will you know what size/colour/configuration a buyer has chosen other than relying on emails after the sale which slows down shipping etc? 😯

  5. Because of the new multiple listings rule, my departure from eBay has initiated. Sales are a fraction of what they were only a week ago. Ebay’s the smart one once again, and I’m sure the decision will make stock holders happy by the end of this quarter to see listings volume decline starting Aug 1.

  6. Why are they making new rules, when they should be revising the lastest rules they put in place. This company is a total waste of time, no wonder everyone is leaving.

    When this video gets out, they may not be making ANY more rules, period!


    Don’t like to click on unknown links, just go to youtube and type in “paypal counterfeit”, without the quotes and it is the first video there.

  7. It was mentioned that the UK has not announced anything about this identical listings policy as of yet….does this mean they may not even institute it? Or does it mean they are going to do it but just have not announced a date?

  8. We list multiple single item BIN’s, so if an item doesn’t sell first time round we can get the relist credit if it does next time round. If the way forward with this new policy is to list a multiple quantity listing, if no items are sold will they be revising the relist credit to apply to multiple quantity listings.
    Does this mean every seller will have to change from listing multiple single item BIN’s to multiple quantity item BIN’s?

  9. “Overall these changes should benefit both buyers and sellers.”

    Actually it cruels people breaking up collections of scarce old collectibles. If I list say 20 1900 real photo postcards of San Fancisco (or Yorkshire) from an original collection, I have no way of knowing whether the buyer will see the ones they don’t own, or only the ones that they already have. I can list smaller quantities and lose international shipping advantage (this kills my ability to viably sell stereoviews on the American site, as I heavily subsidise the postage and sold in larger runs to attract competition and multiple purchases). Ebay says that you need to syphon the buyer through to your other auctions, but if the buyer doesn’t see the item they want, you won’t get them to click on the first auction in the first place. As for collectors, from this point they only see a percentage of what they actually want to see, and will miss items they do want. This will remove active competition from scarce collectibles unless you stagger your listings or list substantially less items when breaking up genuine collections. It reduces the abilty to subsidise postage, and you have no way of knowing which items any buyer has actually seen.

    One other solution is to add a subtitle saying you have “more items listed, please see my other auctions”, and hope that some people click through. Thus what Ebay loses from offering free gallery (with all the additional fees) they make up with subtitles on every auction when listing commercially viable runs. How cool!

    Tell me again how this benefits both me and my buyers.

    Kevin (who studied the ramifications of this fiasco in detail when it was announced in May)

  10. By the way, in case it helps anyone here to plan their own strategy, I have added this to my description when I list runs of similar items, since June when this was supposed to be launched:

    Collectors and Browsers Please Note:: Ebay has announced that search is changing “starting early June” to limit the search result to only ten items per seller. This may affect buyers and sellers of early items that are listed in runs when collections or archives are being listed piecemeal. It is not clear whether this will affect the category results as well (the policy refers to “browse and search” ). There will apparently be a link at the bottom of search pages that will allow you to see all results, but Ebay has announced you will not be allowed to set this as your default search. I will be listing about 20 Zeiss Ikon items today, so please Click Here if you would like to see all of my auctions in the order they are finishing.

  11. It’s even worse than that, I think. I have category featured and regular fixed price items on my best selling items and now the featured items are being filtered out. THey only show one listing (even if you use different prices) and it will not necessarily be the featured item. So that means you pay $25 to insert it and no one will see it.

  12. So if I understand this correctly….

    There are numerous variations, for instance, on the Star Trek DVD back catalogue, different series, Special Editions, standard editions etc. I could offer all (excess of 50 different titles), but if a buyer put in ‘Star Trek DVD’ it would only bring up 10 from me, even though each title is different.

    This is going to require the buyer to be not so ‘lazy’ in their search parameters, and be much more specific. Trouble is, buyers won’t know this.

  13. It is 10 per seller, 1 per unique listing.

    Plus the new policy is drafted very wide so they could get you for just about anything if they wanted to. surely though if you just scrambled your prices they would be deemed “not identical” and you would be returned to 10 in search which is more than enough for most people.

  14. Sean M #14,
    Yes, that’s right.

    If their search pulls up the ten titles they already have, but 15 of your other titles would have suited them – the buyer doesn’t see them, and you miss out.

    According to Griff (ebay.com old school employee) it is YOUR responsibility to route buyers through to your other auctions:

    Hello Linda,

    If you have 20 identical postcards, only one of them will display in a list of returned search results.

    If you have 20 postcards that share a keyword like “Los Angeles Postcard” (and they are not identical, that is, they have other keywords that differentiate them from each other) and there are other sellers with postcards with “Los Angeles Postcard” as keywords and a buyer searches for

    Los Angeles Postcard

    Only ten items per seller will be be displayed.

    If no other seller has Los Angeles Postcard in their title (that is only yours are returned) then all 20 will be displayed.

    Seller can drive traffic from the listings that appear in a search to their other listings or eBay Store.

    The purpose of this new feature is to make search easier for buyers and to provide fairness in exposure to all sellers.



    If you read the rest of that thread, Griff makes it clear that this is deemed to be fair, that YOU must drive the buyer through to your other auctions even if they don’t see the auctions of yours that they want to click on.

    Effectively this has been done to accommodate sellers of the nature of Buy.com who can list more than half a million items at a time, with greatly discounted listing fees – while sellers of unique items have to either slow down their sales to ten items a week, or pay full price for a search that effectively selects a random ten of your items for any buyer. As Sue said above “Overall these changes should benefit both buyers and sellers.” but that is on the proviso that the buyers and sellers aren’t interested in collections of old or unique-ish type items – then it fragements the marketplace to the advantage of nobody.




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