The advantage large sellers get in search

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I hear many sellers nowadays complain that eBay are favouring large retailers over the smaller independent eBay seller. Whilst I’m convinced that’s not something that even eBay themselves consider desirable it’s interesting to see the side effects of their policies and just how much advantage large sellers receive.

One thing that’s irrefutable is that eBay are attempting to promote the best deals from the best sellers to buyers. When a buyer has a great buying experience and gets a great deal they’re more likely to purchase again in the future which benefits all sellers.

A good example of of what might be unintended advantage for large sellers is the Daily and Weekly deals program. A few days ago I highlighted what was a great deal for a USB Hard Drive – the 80GB drive was at a cracking price of £17.99 for one day only and sold just over 1700 units in a day.

Now the price is back up to £24.99 and the listing is still selling an average of 10 units per day. What’s more important is that it’s right at the top of search results when you look for a ““. It is still a good deal, but at that price it’s no longer a great deal. However it’s recent sales make it a very popular listing and after a week it’s showing no signs of slipping from the number one position in search results.

Larger sellers who routinely supply Daily and Weekly deals rapidly build up a large number of top performing listings across a range of categories. This is gives them an advantage in search results which simply isn’t available to smaller sellers.

I have no problem with the fact that larger sellers may be able to offer better prices than smaller sellers – that’s been the same for retailers in corner shops since before online retailing existed. However it does appear that larger sellers are able to be gifted the top position in search results on the back of Daily Deals.

Top placement isn’t a guarantee though, not even for enterprise sellers. If you search for “” you’ll find a Top Rated Seller has the top spot in search results even though a Weekly Deal seller has the same product 25% cheaper. In this instance it appears that lower sales and a higher price is more than counterbalanced by being a Top Rated Seller which indicates that seller standards really do come into play and are worth achieving.

7 Responses

  1. I disagree with you, Chris. eBay is almost certainly also promoting the big and the best over the small and better.

    I want to know how eBay intends to champion the little glittering players above the big shining normal sellers.

    I firmly beleive that small is beautiful on eBay and in ecommerce generally.

    eBay has forgotten that for too long. I ain’t.

  2. Very often in life the truth facts are very different to perception.

    As a small business seller I feel that eBay are ignoring me and other SME sellers in favour of the ‘Big Boys’. I feel a sense of injustice that different rules apply to different sellers. That eBay judges on revenue and not performance.

    As a full time seller I feel that eBay is on a slow road to self destruction. Anybody who was received unfair feedback, been threatened with negative feedback, received a unfair VeRO or sought help from CS will known that eBay are often disinterested , unwilling, uninformed or unable to help because of policy.

  3. Theres a one day sale today for a very well known “Big Boy” of online retail. Just tried to make a purchase , but the link doesn’t work. Not a great buying experience , if i was new to ebay alarm bells would be ringing , and i’d be looking elesewhere.

  4. The answer is don’t try and compete with the large sellers by offering the same products as the large sellers.

    It seems like blindingly obvious business sense but maybe I am right or wrong?

    ebay promote service but the bottom line is buyers buy on price not service. ebay will never be a premium site where you can sell run of the mill products for premium prices. Fact.

    ebay want to promote products that have a high sell through rate regardless of their source. It lines ebay’s pocket with mega bucks so of course they are going to do this.

    Regardless of everything else ebay purportedly stand for in terms of TRS, customer service, and all the other niceties, if an item is selling in high numbers from a single source then clearly that seller is doing something right regardless of eBay’s TRS system and should be rewarded in search.

    Discuss! 🙂

  5. I’ve known about this for at least 18 months and could have sworn I made a comment on this at some point here but can’t find it.

    What is really great about having a daily deal when the listing survives longer is that you get those sales with 0 impressions. As you know the majority of best match is sales per impression. I’ve seen sellers with 4x more sales than impressions days after their daily deal ended. Considering that the typical listing gets hundreds and often thousands of impressions per sale that is basically a guarantee of a lifetime at the top of search. So basically these guys have a score of 4 when their best competitors have a score of 0.01 or worse.

  6. And, of course, its about the value that ebay can offer to the seller

    Big sellers, the ones that ebay seems most interested in for its ‘outlet’ & DOTD progammes, all have their own websites

    Ebay has to do a good job at a good price if sellers like that are to continue to use the platform – including, the cynic would say, helping those sellers to manage their feedback & DSRs

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