eBay limits items from a seller to 10 in search

There are two changes rolling out on eBay this week (or at least eBay.com, there’s been no announcement for the UK as of yet): the removal of the choice listing policy and the removal of the multiple item listing policy.

The reasoning behind this is that Finding 2.0, the technology that presents search results to buyers is now smart enough to remove duplicates from search results and limit the number of items from one seller shown to buyers.

This limitation will affect the listing strategies of many sellers who have in the past ensured their listings all finished at peak times, or who listed multiple identical items to ensure they were always at the top of search results.

If you list multiple identical listings only one will show in search results. It doesn’t matter how many identical listings you launch, buyers will only ever see one, although which of the identical listings they see will vary according to how they sort search results.

An important factor to bear in mind is that under Best Match auctions with bids or fixed price listings with sales will be considered better matched than those without. Once auction listings have bids and different prices they will no longer be considered identical.

There will also be a limit on how many different (not identical) listings will be shown in search results from a seller. No more than 10 items per page from a single seller will be displayed, if a seller has more than 10 items the remainder will appear on subsequent results page, still at no more than 10 per page. Removal of the choice policy allows sellers to offer more options than previously so that buyers can still access their full inventory.

One important change which has hitherto not been spelled out is that these policy changes apply to ALL sort orders, not just Best Match. Even on “Ending Soonest” no more than 10 items per seller and only one identical item will be presented to buyers. When listing products sellers will need to space out start times to ensure products aren’t removed from buyers view just as they’re about to end.

There are however still some questions which need addressing. The FAQs state “If you sell computers, you can offer a specific brand and model laptop with a choice in components such as hard-drive size, processor speed, etc.” This however doesn’t explain how sellers should allow for price differences if a buyer selects a larger hard drive, more memory or a faster processor. Whilst the choice policy goes some way towards more flexibility (e.g. for a choice of shoe size, colour) it doesn’t lend itself to products where there is a price differential.

Finally there is a new policy to be aware of – Search & Browse Manipulation Policy. This prohibits sellers from any activity which could be interpreted as gaming the system, including but not limited to keyword spamming, inappropriate titles and “any other activity that eBay deems as inappropriately diverting members to a listing or harming the finding experience for buyers.”. This should be interpreted to include listing identical products on multiple IDs as eBay have indicated their technology is capable of detecting it.

Overall these changes should benefit both buyers and sellers. Buyers will be ensured a choice of products from multiple sellers whilst sellers should be able to save fees by no longer needing to flood eBay with listings in order to compete with other sellers that do.