Are auctions dying on eBay?

Auction sales on eBay declined 26.2% year on year in February according to ChannelAdvisor.

ChannelAdvisor publishes a monthly digest of relevant numbers and insights regarding ecommerce based (as I understand it) on the data they garner from the sellers and retailers that use their service. It is a vital and fascinating regular snapshot on the health of online marketplace trade.

You can take a look at the latest SSS (Same Store Sales) report here and it includes comment from CA’s venerable CEO Scot Wingo too.

One aspect of the report leaps out to me. And, whilst it isn’t necessarily alarming or unexpected, it is notable. The auction side of the eBay business isn’t doing well. CA says that auctions were down 26.2% Year on Year in February 2015, down 16% YoY in January and that’s on top of a December 2014 decline of 12.9%. Indeed, every single month in the last year has seen auctions diminish.

Now, here’s a note of caution. The bigger sellers that use CA (and, as far as I can see, these numbers are based on their experiences) are not necessarily natural auction sellers. They will likely depend on BINs etc to make the bulk of their sales on eBay. So this might not be the most appropriate sample. That said, it is a huge data set.

Would a decline in auction sales be a problem? For some sellers, yes. And it would dent eBay’s brand, I suggest, if auctions died entirely. eBay is still, in the popular consciousness, an internet auction site despite the pre-eminence of fixed price selling.

I’d like to see eBay actually expend some time and effort to protect auctions because they are vital to the eBay brand and experience. Auctions have served it so well for so many years and it is vital that they remain part of the mix.