UK sellers disadvantaged – a poor buying experience

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The first two weeks of Best Match being enabled on the UK site with Recent Sales boosting popular listings has been interesting but it’s becoming clear that UK sellers may be being disadvantaged on the UK site.

UK sellers that wish to get visibility on international eBay sites are currently disadvantaged to their overseas competitors. It’s not currently possible to use the International Visibility Feature (IVF) on UK fixed price items. This allows overseas sellers to list on their own sites and pay a minimal fee for visibility in the UK.

It isn’t just fees though, there are two other factors which need addressing – search advantage and product suitability.

Search Advantage

Sellers listing on non-UK sites are getting huge advantages in search visibility. Many have a Recent Sales advantage, but not from sales on eBay UK. A listing on with IVF will appear on eBay UK, but if it attracts sales on it appears to get a corresponding boost from Recent Sales in search results. The listing may never attract UK sales but still appear right at the top of Best Match, which pushes UK sellers lower in search results and isn’t great for buyers either.

Listing enhancements that haven’t been paid on eBay UK appear to carry over to the UK site. Listings with UK visibility from IVF get to the top of the page with the Featured Plus listing enhancement. Highlight, Bold and Subtitle also carry over to the UK site even though the features were paid for on another site.

A corresponding advantage isn’t available to UK sellers as IVF is only available for auctions. A UK seller can’t get to the top of Best Match on through Recent Sales and listing enhancements gained on the UK site.

Buying Experience

While there are many buyers happy to purchase from overseas (and sellers willing to ship to or from the UK), there are products rising to the top of UK Best Match that are either not attracting UK sales or shouldn’t be available in the UK in the first place.

Power Outlet
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Some products are simply incompatible, electrical products listed on with IVF appear at the top of UK Best Match but have US power cords. Products such as computer keyboards do well on Best Match but, if they aren’t UK layout, UK buyers simply don’t wish to purchase them. There are countless examples of non-UK items at the top of Best Match for which it’s highly unlikely a UK buyer would consider purchasing.

Other items are illegal and simply shouldn’t appear on the UK site at all. Throwing knifes are banned on eBay UK, but there are knives available, appearing on eBay UK but listed on eBay Italy and It’s illegal to export items manufactured pre-1930 from China, but in the collectibles category there are many “Chinese Antiques” shipping from China – these products must either be fake, or shouldn’t be shipped outside mainland China.

The two main issues with search results are first the advantaging of products listed on overseas sites and gaining search advantages not gained on the UK site. (A specifically different situation to overseas sellers listing directly on eBay UK, gaining search advantages from UK listing enhancements and Recent Sales to UK buyers). Second the raised visibility of products which either aren’t compatible, or are illegal for sale in the UK. UK buyers simply don’t want to buy these products, or will be disappointed with them when they arrive.

eBay are continuing to optimise Best match which is still a relatively new system. Doubtless they’ll be looking at which listings are appearing on the UK site and if listings are being unfairly advantaged or simply aren’t relevant and shouldn’t be appearing at all.

It’s been said that in recent times eBay has relied too much on data-driven decisions and not enough on reality. Hopefully that’s changing and will start with showing UK buyers not just the most “data-relevant” products but the ones UK buyers actually want to buy.

My own experiences since Best Match was introduced are encouraging, especially the boost listings gain from Recent Sales and resultant purchases. Although it’s working well for me, sales are up, and I’m optimistic for the future, it’s still tough competing with listings that have gained huge UK visibility advantages with search benefits inherited from overseas sites, not from UK sales.

Edited to add: While this article was being edited eBay have blocked throwing knives listed internationally from being visible on eBay UK

25 Responses

  1. Glad you highlighted the Chinese “Antiques” listings, this is one area I’ll be interested to see if eBay does anything at all about. Fake ‘designer’ handbags and ripped DVDs are one thing(s), pretty decorative pots are another.

    Does China have a VERO member? 😐

  2. Just curious, what’s different about UK keyboard layouts compared to US? I wasn’t aware there were any differences.

  3. # 2

    If you go to your computer’s control panel (under start menu) you can alter your keyboard config’ to the area of the world you are in (or at least you used to be able too).

  4. I would imagine that the majority of UK buyers prefer to buy from UK sellers, speed of delivery,postage costs, custom charges etc. Research by Ebay should have confirmed this, especially in relation to Postage Costs.
    Given this why does the default Best Match not give preference to UK Sellers, with perhaps a dropdown option for Best Match International.

  5. New search works well for me. Or has it ?? Many off my competitors have fallen foul of SNP. I am unsure why i have a sales increase. The only thing i am sure off is the international sales are up about 50%. Going by the information in this article i have no more international coverage.

  6. In my opinion there a whole category’s which are being undermined due to the prevalence of international sellers.

    The negative effect that this has on the “buyer experience” must be massive.

  7. #7 Let me emphasis I’ve bought internationally and like many other buyers it’s a pleasure and there are products available which just aren’t available in the UK. The only time it’s not a great is when a product either is illegal or simply won’t work in the UK.

  8. #6 You do have international coverage to an extent. Buyers can choose to browse eBay UK direct, they can choose to browse say eBay Italy with “available to Italy” from advanced search settings and eBay also display “available from International sellers” if there are only a few domestic results.

    What you can no longer do is pay for IVF to get your fixed price listings on eBay UK to show up on International sites such as If you could any recent sales UK you had would give you a boost on search results.

  9. You can compare Best Match with IceSave, IceSave came top of all of the Best Buys (Match) reviews because they paid the highest interest. An awful lot of people did not realise that they were dealing with a foreign bank.
    I would expect that all posters on here are savvy and realise that they are dealing with UK, USA China etc but there are a lot of people who assume they are buying from Ebay UK and whose buying experience is dented by high postage, delays and customs charges because they are dealing with a non UK seller.
    I believe that a fairly high emphasis should be put on Location in the algorithim that calculates Best Match, at the moment it has no bearing at all.

  10. #8 For example if you put mp3 player into the search on eBay UK most of the first page is from international sellers. Now there are ways to filter and the products on offer may be good (more likely not) + free trade & all that… but for many potential customers they will see that & think I can’t be bothered with all that and will go elsewhere. It may put them off ebay for life (like a neg) that kind of search result in my opinion does destroy the “buyer experience”.

    Luckily I do not sell MP3 players but it does have a knock on effect for all sellers

  11. Just to highlight the Chinese Antique issue again.

    The collecting world at large know that Ebay is flooded with fake Chinese “antiques”, so it depresses the market.

    Modern Chinese porcelain that is pretending to be Antique Porcelain, is so good and close to the original that often only a specialist dealer or collector can tell the difference.

    These items are incredibly difficult to detect, but Ebay makes the introduction of these into the international market very easy.

    As we now are aware that is actually against the law for the chinese to export their own antiques, not one listing from mainland China, with the word antique or stating a chinese Imperial Period (a common trick as most Ebay employees are never going to know that Kangxi means a period that is late 17th Century, and would never know this was a deceptive listing), then none of these listings should be on Ebay.

    So let me make this clear:

    Anything in the antiques section on Ebay, that is made in China and ships from Mainland China is either:

    A. A fake.
    B. Illegally Exported.

    So why are they on Ebay Uk and

    I would also add that any luxury branded item from the Chinese Mainland is going to be a fake 99% of the time. So lets have these listings blocked by Ebay.

    So by restricting the export of these fake and illegal items from China, by not allowing them on International sites, Ebay would clean up a vast swathe of its collectables and antiques categories.

    Lets hope Ebay will action this.

    James the pink has indicated on the UK Powerseller Board that this is being looked into, which we thank him for, but lets see what happens…


  12. #11 Even more annoying than no £ sign on a US keyboard is the swapping of positions of @ and ”

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve typed email addresses in the US in the format chris” 😀

  13. # 14 – The company I used to work for had several keyboards that had @ + ” reversed. I never realised that was the reason why, but then we were in the UK and the company had no American connections. But they drove me mad for the opposite reason. I was forever typing speech quotes with @ at each end!

  14. “It’s illegal to export items manufactured pre-1930 from China.”

    I was not aware of this. It’s exactly the sort of (ever so slightly) trivial fact I want to see more on Tamebay. ;o)

  15. ship loads of container s dock in UK ports every day from china
    full of reproduction antiques,
    the large antique markets and wholesalers are stacked high with all manner of chinese fakes and reproductions
    UK based sellers would just list them if the chinese did not, in fact many already do

    the chinese not being able to list antiques/reproduction, on ebay would make not a jot of difference

  16. in fact lots of ceramics /collectables get a free ride in containers, many importers are charged by volume not by weight so they by fill in the gaps and spaces with small items to off set the costs of shipping the main import

  17. Hi

    Wish I could understand all that stuff about Best Match and searches on eBay.
    If eBay is not careful it will drown a lot of entheusiastic sellers in technical complexities to the detriment of the ‘selling experience’
    We hear loads about the ‘buying experience’ but stuff is only on ebay to be enjoyed if a positive ‘selling experience’ exists.
    Why cant ebay stop messing about with everything and allow sellers to catch up?
    I am no idiot having made a lot of money out of selling things over many years.
    However I feel that there are too many people in eBay who are trying to excersise their intellectual muscles on fixing stuff that doesn”t need fixing.
    Give respect to sellers!!
    We know what we are up to and we fully realise that it need to be good for eBay.

  18. @ # 15

    # 14 – The company I used to work for had several keyboards that had @ + ” reversed. I never realised that was the reason why, but then we were in the UK and the company had no American connections. But they drove me mad for the opposite reason. I was forever typing speech quotes with @ at each end!

    You think that is bad? I worked for a company that forced me to use the Japanese version of Vista (when I was new to Vista) with an American keyboard. I learned that “[” = “@” and pretty much everything else had to done by holding ALT and typing the ASCII code for that character. For instance they use the Yen symbol for what we do with the backslash. Typing backslash gives you a backslash (which does nothing). But if you input the ASCII code for backslash you get the Yen symbol.

  19. I am finding the bestmatch search very beneficial as a seller but also as a BUYER. Since the changes I have found that as a buyer I am finding the best quality/price/service items on the 1st or 2nd page! I dont need to search like i did before.

    As a seller I am slowly but surely getting to grips with it. It took my 7 days to come up with a listing strategy that seems to be coming to its frootion now. I believe that with this new search, sellers need to be on the ball. I know us sellers are probably selling from a number of venues, but we need to keep in mind that eBay dont care about this, they expect us to concentrate and put our time into eBay and coming up with strategies. I cant blame for this, as they are a business too and it works both ways. they want to clean the site up, and return the most popluar items. seems to be working for me at moment, but time will tell!!!

  20. Apple keyboards have the @ and ” swapped as well even on UK keyboards, which confuses the heck out of me as someone who uses an Apple laptop and a PC desktop!

    That said, my first ever laptop was a second hand ex-corporate one with (a 35MHz Pentium, a smaller hard drive than most computers have for RAM these days and German QWERTZ keycaps but set for a UK keyboard in Control Panel. It certainly taught me to touch type!!!

  21. Would help if the Best Match search, was based on combined item and postage cost, and not just on item cost.
    We were selling with free P&P since DSR, but as this has put us at a disadvantage in serch we have reverted to charging p+p.

    I am now suffering from RSI form all the listings I have had to change separately as SMP cannot change from free p&p in bulk or change listing duration.



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