25% of listings hidden on eBay.com

I’ve been looking at how listings are presented in the new search results on eBay.com to check how they’ll affect sellers. Up to 25% of listings in some categories are hidden which leaves some current listing strategies no longer cost effective.

I searched for a “Laser Printer” with the brand “HP” in the “Computers & Networking > Printers” category and was presented with 813 printers to choose from, except I wasn’t shown 813 printers.

Closer examination shows that with the default 50 results per page and 12 pages there are a maximum of 600 items returned in the search – less than 75% of the available items. The remaining 25% plus items are hidden from view and can only be seen by clicking the “To view all identical listings” link.

Other searches produce similar results – searching for media such as writable “dvd disks” displays 923 items with less than 600 viewable.

Many large sellers have in the past relied on prominence in listing results to achieve sales. They’ve scheduled listings to ensure that they will always have items ending soonest, and the largest sellers literally have items ending every hour of the day in the categories they trade in, especially in consumable and commodity products.

Under Best Match, the default search on eBay.com sellers will no longer be able to rely purely on swamping their categories with listings. Buyers simply won’t see them, it’s time to use new tactics to ensure your items are presented to buyers.

One of the most important factors in Best Match will be listings with sales/bids. Multiple item listings with the most sales or auctions with the most bids will be considered better matched than those with few or none, so longer listing durations Shop/Store Inventory Format (SIF) could become more important and it’s not unthinkable that SIF in core will re-appear on eBay in the near future.

One thing is certain, flooding eBay with listings will no longer be a guarantee of success. New listing strategies will emerge but sellers need to be wary they don’t fall foul of the Search & Browse Manipulation policy. Listing items across multiple User IDs in order to gain more then 10 items per page of search results is likely to be considered manipulation.

Currently there is no indication that the choice and multiple item policies will be implemented in the UK. It’s been stated that eBay UK “don’t have the product solutions implemented in the UK” (PS log in required), to enable the policy changes to take place.

If anything these changes should benefit the smaller seller, as the dominance of larger sellers will be restrained compared to the past. How larger sellers adapt to maintain their market share is yet to be seen, but from now on it’s a whole new ball game on eBay.com