Massive eBay seller invited to flood T-Shirt category

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What would you do if a massive eBay seller flooded your category with product? That’s the issue that faced T-Shirt sellers in the US this past Christmas.

The back story is that eBay apparently looked at the T-Shirt category and decided that they were short of inventory. They reached out to another marketplace – Teespring – and invited them to list more product on eBay which they apparently did. Today, Teespring have 41,047,907 listings in the T-Shirt category out of a total of 57,056,117. That means four out of every five T-Shirts is listed by Teespring.

Teespring is a marketplace for custom made items where designers upload their designs and consumers can then purchase a product with their chosen image. Everything you’ll find on Teespring will be made for you and shipped by the Teespring team in Kentucky. Now, Teespring are listing on eBay it’s akin to a complete marketplace within a marketplace.

The issue was raised by a cheerleader for the new eBay Managed Payments solution still in early testing in the US – Danny from Honeville1 who we’ve written about before and was the poster child for eBay Managed Payments. Danny claims that since the category was flooded his sales have nose dived and the competition is unfair. The issue was raised on eBay’s latest Selling on eBay podcast.

To compare Honeville1’s listings with Teespring’s 41,047,907 T-shirt listings, Danny has 2,433,190 listings and just 259,430 of these are for T-Shirts.

eBay’s Bob Kupbens addressed Danny’s question as to why the category was flooded and even went so far as to admit they may have overcooked the amount of listings they allowed onto the marketplace.

“We looked at key categories, fashion obviously is a key category, and said, ‘Wow, there’s just not enough listings here. So, we went out on purpose to try to add listings to the marketplace. Did we overdo it a little bit in the T-shirt category? I’d say probably. And, in fact, we’re going to look at how we back that down in the very, very near term, but that said, we’re always going to be looking”
– Bob Kupbens, Vice President of Seller and Marketplace Operations, eBay

It’s worth pointing out that Teespring aren’t a new seller on eBay. They have 133,762 feedback, which consists of 14,473 in the past month, 42,491 in the past six months and 92,240 in the past 12 months. This means that they sold just as much over the Spring and Summer as they did in the Autumn and Winter and although their sales were up in the past month, that is only to be expected over the peak season.

None of Teespring’s past history is any consolation to Danny who is firmly blaming his lower than expected Christmas sales at eBay’s doorstep. Inviting a marketplace to sell within a marketplace is almost certain to impact traditional sellers and the advice given on the podcast – have superior products and pay for eBay Promoted Listings – doesn’t seem to have calmed him down.

“If you [eBay] will do this with the Teespring marketplace, what assurance does anyone have that you won’t do this same agreement with other marketplaces, like Etsy, Walmart, Wish or Amazon?”
– Danny Hone, Honeville1 eBay seller

Of course, one question that is impossible to answer is if the absence of PayPal from eBay Managed Payments had a positive or negative impact on Danny’s listings in the run up to Christmas. Competition from Teespring doubtless had an impact, but could shoppers in a hurry have been put off from having to enter their credit card details?

12 Responses

  1. Hmmm… Ebay – ‘we could make more money here. We just have to show total disregard for our existing loyal sellers, and flood ebay with one company. Job done. Oh and happy Christmas.’
    Sounds alittle too familar.

  2. Has everyone only just noticed this they are doing this everywhere.
    The companies in the UK are called Tesco and Argos to name just 2 all marketplaces within the marketplace eBay just want their money and stuff the rest of us.

  3. Ebay did something similar to me on a much smaller scale when they launched promoted listings – an eBay account manager took a small seller and told her to copy exactly everything I was doing (admitted by eBay) and produce it in every colour way to flood my category. My items are handmade! Sometime later they then ended all my listings, many of which had several thousands of sales and told me it was a ‘glitch in the system’. I had to re list all my items with zero sales numbers. I then discover that all my reviews have been given to other sellers. All I got from eBay was would you like an account manager and sorry for the glitch. This copy seller was the first one to be put on promoted listings in my category and has been kept at the top ever since with many duplicated products which is not supposed to be allowed, then doubled again due to the promoted listings. What is their reasoning? They have lost a lot of income from me as I now only list a few products and their protégé is not doing that well. On the upside, I feel a lot happier being ‘free’ of their site.

  4. Tescos Argos Magpie…..and then of course all those counterfeit goods by the hundreds of thousands from China, which totally saturated the fixed pay to play search over the last year.

  5. Oh yah, that makes a lot of sense. “We ONLY have 16 million T-shirts on eBay. Let’s add 41 million more. ”

    How many freakin’ T-shirts does one site need?

  6. And do you believe that Tee-Spring (or the sellers of counterfeit goods from China) pay fees to list? You can bet your bottom dollar they do not.

  7. To clarify, teespring hovered around 8 million variations until second week of Nov. when they jumped to 93 million variations. Both Sept and October went down as my best ever because I had grown by 35% myself. I was up 44% on 11-1 and down 30% by Dec. 15th. Today I stand down 44.1% last 30 days over same days last year. That sort of destabilizing volatility is life changing for me. But enough about me… Ebay itself is down in this category >10%… They tripled the category and wound up down. sad indeed. Lastly, they made me out to be anti-competition. On the contrary, I’d welcome EVERY seller like me on eBay. Professional sellers with $50,000 or more tied up in their business, bringing unique designs exclusively to eBay. Sellers who touch every shirt that goes out their doors and who back their customers with a 100% no hassle free return policy. eBay was the best place to shop for printed shirts online because eBay attracted professional sellers committed to their business. Ebay went to a marketplace where 13 year olds can design shirts with NO expertise and those designs flooded the market… for FREE. Yes, there are some awesome designers on teespring, but by and large, because it’s 100% free it attracts wannabes who bring junk to the market and that junk landed on eBay… THAT is my contention and THAT is why ebay is down in sales in that category… Worse yet, If any of us did exactly what teespring did we’d be bankrupt because the listing fees would be greater than the gross income from sales. So obviously, they’re not playing by our rules. On 12-1 I became a teespring designer. My plan is to massively build there, for free, and next time eBay does a product dump like this my designs will be well represented in that mix… for free!

  8. It’s been 20 minutes, my post didn’t show up so I’ll break it down into smaller thoughts.

    1. By revising my question it came off as anti-competition. So I want to go on record as saying I welcome every professional seller, like me, to eBay. eBay wins when professional designers with over $50,000 in assests bring their business’s to eBay with their unique, professional designs, touched by their own hands, shipped daily, and backed with a free return policy. Collectively WE make eBay “where the world shops first” for printed designs!

  9. “Today, Teespring have 41,047,907 listings in the T-Shirt category out of a total of 57,056,117. That means four out of every five T-Shirts is listed by Teespring.”

    That didn’t happen until about the second week of November. Teespring went from 8 million total listings (including “t-shirts”) to 93 million basically overnight.

    This created sharp destabilization and volatility the likes of which I’d never seen (since 2006). Yes, I’m down… but this isn’t about me… it’s about eBay! according to my seller hub the eBay market is down >10%

    eBay wins when quality, high professional designers, just like me, bring unique designs to eBay, shipped fast and backed by great return policies to ensure buyer satisfaction. Together, us professional printshops are what makes eBay a great and unique place to shop for printed shirts. I know I’m just a small part of that and I’m surrounded by other great folks just like me. I’d take as many people, just like me, as we can get on eBay! People dedicated to bringing unique designs exclusively to eBay. You don’t need eBay to buy the stuff teespring brings to eBay’s table… it’s on their marketplace, all over facebook, and on amazon, etsy, wish, Wal-Mart and plum near everywhere… and most of it (not all) are low quality designs done by unskilled people, as young as 13 yrs old, with no skin in the game and zero working knowledge of the business.

    I have the deepest respect for Bob. I’ve talked to him in person and will again next week. But his claim that the best product wins… THEY WERE WINNING! but this isn’t about me… it’s about eBay and what’s best for it. If the company believes that massive product dump that includes unskilled designs from people as young as 13 years of age, and with no working knowledge of the business, is better than a site filled with professional printshops bringing unique designs exclusively to ebay that is their decision to make. But make no mistake about it… when 4 out of 5 shirts on ebay are teesprings there is no room for the rest of us here. You force us to teespring where we can design for free with no skin in the game and where our designs can be scattered not just on eBay, but across the rest of the net as well.

  10. Sounds like what they did over a year ago courting Korea makers and sellers of counterfeit high end brands including Hermes and LV. They flooded the market with fakes – which were then reported but allowed to relist endlessly. Sorry to say that Ebay doesn’t care about flooding the market – with cheap CCC or Korean counterfeits as long as they make money. Even if it comes from counterfeits – which they actively support with the theory “the buyers want these items cheaper.” Uh, what about federal law? It’s why alternative markets have opened and are doing so well. Authentic items are hard to find on Ebay and the alternative markets are taking big $$$ away fro Ebay. Same with jewelry. They flooded the site with fake cheap Chinese crap and allow scam buyers on the site that source from other jewelry sellers then play games to charge back their purchases. Invaluable alone has taken billions away from Ebay in this category and there’s no reason, with Wenig at the helm and his bad decisions, to assume it will change.

    Wenig and Bob Kupens have done more damage to Ebay than they know. And it continues.

  11. If Ebay want to ditch the smaller seller they are doing a great job at doing so. But if a big seller goes bust its a bigger hole to fill. Not a great way to do business .


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