Auctionbytes has some interesting screenshots of a survey eBay is currently running, asking members if they would list more if fees were lower. Respondents were asked to consider selling items of values between $25 and $1000 on eBay, and to assess whether they would sell as fixed price, auction or not sell at all, based on different fee schedules. The survey also asked sellers to indicate their preferred balance between insertion and final value fees, and to rate different fee schedules according to how confusing they were.
eBay surveys are often a good indicator of future changes the company is considering, and this survey’s final question seems to be particularly telling: “If there was one thing that eBay could do to get you to sell more on their website, what would that one thing be and why?”
We might guess from all this that eBay is considering a “rebalancing” of fees some time next year. My bet would be that the lower insertion fee, higher FVF model we’ve been seeing this year will be expanded. I think we’ll see more free listings for private sellers; not just for low-start auctions as we have now, but fixed price too. Some whole categories may go insertion fee-free (media, for one). And the UK stores subscription model, where the higher your shop subscription, the lower your insertion fees are, will surely be rolled out to other eBay sites.
On the flip side, I think we’ll see a “rationalisation” of FVFs. eBay is looking to label the current system “too confusing”, and we’re likely to see a single percentage rate for FVFs, whatever the actual sale price. Hopefully this will be capped too, but it’s likely to be pitched at a level where sellers of more expensive items feel like they’re getting a bargain, whereas sellers of lower-priced items will complain (again) that they’re being charged an exhorbitant rate.
And my feeling on this is that it won’t make any difference whatsoever to what people list on eBay. Business sellers have – by and large – moved beyond the days when we threatened to go on strike if Meg put IFs up 5c. We’ve learned how to set our prices to take eBay fees into account, and the current push towards “success-based” eBay fees suits us nicely. We see eBay as a customer acquisition tool for our off-eBay businesses, and count eBay fees in with our marketing budget, just like Google Adwords.
No, if we’re not listing on eBay, there are reasons for that. There are lots of reasons – reasons we’ve repeatedly told eBay – and they’re not about fees. They’re about feeling in control, not having our accounts closed down because one buyer is cross. They’re about regulation and over-regulation and the way that eBay has, at a stroke and without warning, wiped out businesses that relied upon that platform. They’re about inventory management, and us not having the (free) tools to manage our stock across eBay and Amazon and our own sites. They’re all good business decisions, and if eBay thinks that sellers are only concerned about fees, then that just shows how out of touch with their sellers they are.
So for a bit of mid-week fun, our own, totally unscientific poll. Would you list more on eBay if fees were lowered? If the answer you like isn’t in my selection, then do feel free to leave it in the comments.