eBay Sales Down? Here’s How eBay Might Be Working Against You

There is one question that sellers ask more than any other: “why are my eBay sales down?”

One month your orders are flying in and then, all of a sudden, sales just fall off a cliff. You didn’t change anything on your listings, and there is no obvious cause like the time of year, changes in fashion, or the release of new products onto the market. This leaves sellers stumped, unsure how to react, and left hoping that their slow eBay sales will turn around  as quickly and inexplicably as they dropped.

So why do eBay sales slow? Very often sellers, at a loss for any other explanation, blame eBay, concluding that the marketplace simply doesn’t like them anymore. While eBay may not be deliberately sabotaging your sales, the notion that your sales are suffering because of their actions, or changes that they have made, could well be true.

In this post, we are going to explore ten ways that eBay could be working against you, causing your sales to drop. These reasons are based on logic and observations about how eBay’s algorithms appear to work. It’s important to remember that the only people who know exactly how these algorithms operate are eBay themselves. 

That said, there are a variety of reasons why your eBay sales could be down and there are ways to improve your listings and increase your profit from eBay. 

1. Competitors improved their search ranking

Imagine this – you’re an experienced eBay seller, you know your competitors and you keep an eye on them regularly. But one day, you type in a keyword to scope out your top competitor, and they are now ranking above you.

Your natural reaction in this situation is probably to panic, but don’t! It could simply be that your competitor improved one of the factors that are generally believed to play a part in eBay’s search algorithm.

Perhaps they’ve used an eBay keyword research tool and optimized their title so that it ranks better for the most relevant search phrases. Maybe they’ve simply lowered their prices, started to offer cheaper and faster shipping, or improved their item specifics.

A more complex idea is that feedback could be playing a part. Only eBay knows for sure what the algorithm takes into account. But feedback and performance metrics certainly seem to play a part. Now, it makes sense for feedback that you received over the past 12 months to be weighted heavier than feedback from three years ago, because it’s more relevant to a seller’s current performance.

So, in this theory, if your competitor had bad feedback from May 2019, that feedback is no longer weighted as heavily. They have effectively “got over a bad patch” in their eBay sales history. The algorithm may see your competitor more favorably and boost their ranking accordingly.

So how can you increase sales on eBay if your competitor suddenly leaps ahead? First, take a deep breath. Then, take a look at how your listing compares to your competitors. Is there something you can do to improve your eBay listing? Can you add new keywords, images, or videos? Can you adjust your pricing? 

2. New competitors entered the market

If your existing competitors show no signs of having improved their listings, it could be that new competitors entered the market, and are ranking better than you.

This might be because they have a long history of selling on eBay in other categories, and are more established. If their feedback and performance metrics are better than yours, then they’re likely to get an advantage in the search results.

Another aspect that your new competitors could be beating you on is price. It could be that they are a bigger seller and have more buying power than you. This means they can buy stock in larger quantities from suppliers, at better prices, and reflect this in their offer to customers. They could even be the wholesaler or manufacturer of the products you sell, looking to cut out the middleman.

Alternatively, overseas sellers may have entered the market, who are able to offer your product at a much lower price, because their costs are minimal. Both labor and shipping can be cheaper for foreign sellers. All too often they don’t have to factor in sales tax or VAT, because they are under the limit or avoid paying them even when they should. This leaves you in a difficult position. Even if you compete on price with such sellers it could completely erode your margin and drive you out of business.

You also need to watch out for your wholesaler, or the manufacturer of the products that you sell, entering the market themselves. Their costs are far lower than yours and, as such, they have a far bigger margin to play with, meaning that once again you could be priced out of the market.

In this scenario, all you can do is differentiate the products that you sell in another way. If your new competition is from overseas sellers, then offering quicker shipping could be an option. If the manufacturer or wholesaler is new to eBay, you’re likely to have better feedback that you can leverage. If you are a larger seller with more buying power, increasing your visibility through Promoted Listings and running sales could be a way to claw back a share of the market.

3. eBay’s traffic dropped

When you sell on eBay you rely on customers going there to search for products. Part of that comes from eBay pages appearing prominently in Google’s search results. So, when eBay itself has a slow month, or has a problem with its own search ranking, your sales may suffer.

A prime example of this was the infamous incident of 2014, when Google applied the “Panda 4.0” update to their search engine algorithm. As a result, many well-known websites no longer ranked highly in search results. eBay rankings were the worst affected, and were no longer appearing for 80% of search results where they previously ranked well.

The knock-on effect for sellers was that only 20% of eBay’s previously high-volume search terms were bringing traffic to the site, so sellers were competing for fewer buyers and sales. They were more reliant on their own marketing efforts to generate traffic, and if they were multi-channel sellers, on their income from other marketplaces.

Now more than ever, Google’s constant algorithm changes can lead to drastic changes for ecommerce sellers. Although in 2019, eBay’s CEO denied that Google’s changes affected eBay traffic negatively, algorithms operate in a black box. Sellers have little insight into whether or not their eBay sales dropped due to a Google algorithm change.

Unfortunately, there is very little that sellers can do in this scenario. The only silver lining is that if ranking changes are due to problems on eBay itself, then it should be able to fix the root problems and the search ranking should slowly but surely come back – or at least improve. 

4. eBay changed their search algorithm

Algorithms govern so much of the internet now, and they’re updated more often than ever. Sometimes this is just to update aging technology, or fix bugs, but often it’s a deliberate update to make them act differently to how they did before.

In May 2020, Google rolled out a core update, one of the largest in recent years. Each core update seems to focus on rewarding sites that provide high-quality content to its readers. Updates affect each industry or niche differently. Other platforms also operate with regular algorithm changes. This includes Facebook, Instagram, and other social channels. 

eBay is not immune. They have their own algorithm, Cassini, which is frequently updated with both minor changes and major updates. It may result in sellers seeing slow sales on eBay, at least for a period of time. Some changes will be subtle and complex – and probably happen all the time – while others will be big and disruptive, and take place less frequently. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to how to respond to an algorithm update in order to boost eBay sales. As the algorithms become more sophisticated, though, they often say the goal is to focus on more quality than quantity. Where once an eBay algorithm change might have favored offering the lowest price to buyers, a more recent change might be focused more on shopping and seller feedback. 

eBay’s Cassini algorithm is more buyer oriented than seller oriented, so it’s important to approach changes while always keeping the buyer in mind. Avoid keyword stuffing in favor of quality descriptions and clear images, while providing the best customer service possible. If you’re eBay sales slow because of an algorithm change, it’s impossible to know specifically why, but look at improving the quality of your listings. 

5. eBay is performing random tests

eBay is constantly looking for ways to improve the buying experience for its customers. So, when they want to try something different, rather than roll out a change to everyone at the same time, they’ll perform some random testing first. These tests can last anywhere from a few days to over a week, depending on the stage of the testing process.

Recent examples include hiding seller feedback and Top Rated Seller icons, because eBay thought that they might be too distracting for buyers. Another example, according to EcommerceBytes, was when eBay tested making the Immediate Payment Required feature compulsory on listings that satisfied certain criteria.

If you’re one of the sellers randomly selected to take part in these tests, it can have a positive or negative effect on your sales. For example, hiding seller feedback could mean that buyers don’t trust you and you lose sales. Or, they might be less distracted and buy more. It’s a test, so by definition we don’t know how it will turn out.

Either way, you’re at eBay’s mercy with this one. Very often, sellers don’t even know that they’ve been randomly selected. But this may be a reason why, suddenly, your eBay sales stopped, or decreased for a short period of time.

6. eBay is giving someone else a chance

Logically, you might think that eBay would give each sale to the best seller for that particular product, to ensure buyers have a good experience and purchase items on eBay again in the future. But eBay’s algorithm appears to do exactly the opposite. At times, they boost some sellers while holding others back, seemingly to share the sales around.

Why would eBay do this? Well, there are several possible reasons. The first is that eBay wants to make sure that there is healthy competition. If one seller is getting all the sales, they essentially control the market and can start to increase their prices. eBay doesn’t want this to happen. To increase efficiency and keep prices competitive, maybe the algorithm has been designed to split sales between sellers.

Another possibility is that the algorithm tests new entrants to the market, to see how well their listing converts and whether their offering is appealing to buyers. Google sometimes does a similar test when websites publish new material. They trial it at different search positions to see how much traffic it receives and, in turn, discover its relevance for certain keywords.

Perhaps eBay also doesn’t want to become too reliant on certain sellers. If one seller is taking the vast majority of the sales, and then decides that they don’t want to sell on eBay anymore, or they hit difficulties, eBay’s going to lose revenue. By spreading it out, they should always have at least one reputable seller offering each product.

Whatever eBay’s reasons, this one is outside your control. Some sellers will set up second (or more) eBay accounts to try and have multiple “irons in the fire”, but that strategy is likely to get you into trouble.

7. Competitors started advertising

In a land far far away from the pay-per-click advertising of Amazon and Google, is eBay’s Promoted Listings, which your competitors might have started leveraging to eat into your share of the sales.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with eBay’s Promoted Listings, you bid between 1% and 20% of the sale price in return for enhanced visibility in search results, and also placement within listings. Only when someone clicks on the ad and buys your product do you pay eBay the fee, in addition to the usual listing and final value fees. It’s an investment, but it is one tool to use when considering how to boost your sales on eBay. 

There are several factors that might explain why your competitors are advertising ahead of you. For a start, it could be that you aren’t using Promoted Listings, in which case it is an easy (but expensive) fix – set up a campaign and compete for that ad space!

If you are advertising, but they are still ahead of you, this could be because they are offering a larger percentage of the sale price than you are. Equally, it could be that their listing was doing better than yours before they started advertising, as eBay sales history plays a part in which listings are promoted.

In this case, one strategy is to drop your price to boost organic sales, and put yourself in a more favorable position when you switch on Promoted Listings. Or, increase your Promoted Listings bid by a few percentage points and increase sales that way, trialing a lower bid every week to see if you can bring that percentage back down and still have your listing promoted. These advertising strategies can help to increase eBay sales, but also affect your profit margin. 

8. Competitors improved their conversion rate

When buyers are looking for products on eBay (and anywhere else, for that matter) a popular technique is to take the top few results, open them in separate tabs, and compare them to each other.

In the past, when buyers compared your listing to your competitors’ listings, perhaps yours looked the most appealing and so converted the best. Now, though, a competitor has made some changes to their listing, improved their conversion rate, and now buyers are choosing their product over yours. Conversion rate is also a factor in search ranking, so improving it is something of a double whammy!

Conversion rate can be improved in a number of ways, including:

Product photography

Maybe your competitor used to have a couple of poor quality images supplied by the manufacturer. Now, their listing has several professional-looking, high definition images, that show off different angles, key features, and the dimensions of the product. This can give the buyer more confidence that they are buying the right product.

Listing design

Their listing used to have an old, clunky design, but now they’ve had a template designed to create a modern and professional looking listing. Maybe your competitor’s listing is the only one that is mobile optimized, and now they are winning more of the customers looking at the product on their phones.

More descriptive text

Instead of just covering the standard things, like the size and condition of the item, your competitor added a paragraph giving a nice narrative about the product. This has not only given the buyer further information, but it has injected some personality into the listing, which makes it stand out from the millions of “to-the-point” descriptions on eBay.

Returns policy

Perhaps you used to have the most generous returns policy, but one of your competitors got wise and changed their policy to match or exceed yours. If this was your key source of differentiation – your unique selling point – then this may be why your eBay sales have dropped. If you’ve reached the point where your policy couldn’t be any more generous, then you can’t leverage this any more. Look to improve other aspects of your listing.

9. eBay just screwed up

eBay, as many sellers know, is not infallible. Sometimes their mistakes can cost sales.

A classic scenario is when it experiences outages, where neither buyers nor sellers can access some or even all of the site. In 2017, eBay experienced a significant outage, where sellers were unable to list items from the new Seller Hub. In 2020, a major outage hit eBay in the UK due to “technical difficulties”. 

If you can’t list your items, you can’t sell them. In the world of marketplaces, where margins are notoriously thin, having no sales on eBay while eBay was down for half a day, can make a real impact.

While outages are awful, at least sellers can either see that the marketplace is down, or find out from reports online, and prepare themselves for the hit. In some ways this is preferable to sporadic shopping cart bugs, which can happen without you even noticing.

eBay has suffered bugs where buyers can’t add items to their shopping cart, or get through the checkout and pay for their order. This hits sales, and may reduce eBay’s overall traffic, because buyers start to lose confidence in their service.

It can also affect your conversion rate, as buyers may be clicking on your product and adding it to their baskets, but can’t checkout. If the problem persists they are likely to get frustrated and try elsewhere. The longer this occurs, the larger the effect on your conversion rate.

Only eBay can fix bugs on their site. There’s nothing you can do beyond keeping up to date with eBay news and being vigilant on the site.

10. Bad buyers damaged your feedback or stats

You may think that the impact of bad buyers is easy to see – lost revenue, bad feedback and a nasty headache! But the unseen impact they have on your metrics and, as a result, your search ranking, can be harder to gauge.

For example, it would make sense for the search algorithm to give a heavier weighting to feedback from the last 12 months, than to feedback from three years ago, because it’s more relevant to your current reputation. So, if you’ve started having trouble with buyers in the last six months, that could have a big, negative impact on how the algorithm sees your products.

It is widely thought that your key performance metrics are also taken into account by the search ranking algorithm, although to what extent remains a mystery. If buyers are hitting you with false “item not as described” claims, or saying that your items never arrived, this is going to have a bigger impact than just making your blood boil.

There are a number of ways you can attempt to beat bad buyers on eBay and Amazon, but it’s unlikely you will have the time, determination, and luck to win every case. One indirect way to minimize their impact is to try and get as much good feedback as possible, to water down the effect of negative seller feedback and order defects.

11. Some combination of the above

Sometimes, the reason that your eBay sales are down is much more complex than one single cause. There could be many factors in play, going for and against you.

Maybe several of your old competitors left the market but were replaced by bigger sellers with a better reputation. At the same time, eBay was testing a new design which gave your sales a brief boost. Then eBay’s search traffic dropped for certain keywords, and their own search algorithm gave other sellers a chance for a while. The combination of factors went against you overall, and your eBay sales dropped.

Confused? That’s totally understandable. Marketplaces have so many nuances and secret mechanisms that it’s often not possible to pinpoint every factor that is affecting your listings. In fact, the very nature of eBay may mean that by the time you’ve worked out why your sales were down, everything has changed once again.

Let’s hope that this time it goes in your favor.

Comments

Chris
Chris

I'll add some new things I noticed yesterday - it's absolutely deliberate. I have 100% positive fdbk, so no reason to do this to me either. Yesterday noticed 80% of my relisted items had at least one of the following happen:

*they moved it to another, irrelevant or worse category
*they removed my keywords
*where I KNOW I had made my listing mobile friendly, they'd reverted it back

Then all evening yesterday things keep bogging up so badly that in two hours I got nothing posted and gave up. You get to the very last step and suddenly you get that 'Thinking on it" rotating status which goes on forever. I used to be a powerseller. Hate eBay now with a passion and I know all the marketplaces make things hard on their sellers. Only thing I've seen that could be positive or negative is eBay is now offering some type of 50% reimbursement on returns in certain situations (you'd have to look it up on eBay, new update). Although if the buyer doesn't get their full money back, they're likely to hit you with negative feedback anyway. I've only been doing this casually for extra income - left eBay for real many years ago because of their shenanigans - but now I may even be leaving totally. There are some new marketplace alternatives now (sorry, I can't share ALL I know) anyway, can't hurt to try.

Ben Wright
Ben Wright
In reply to Ben Wright

The only site I've ever been on selling, who did right by its sellers, is a site called TopHatter. If you have the inventory you can make a mint. In fact, the operators of the site encourages you to have more inventory then you might think you need. Every sale happened withing 1 or 2 minutes at most. It's a site like Wish, but everything is sold at auction in usually 30 seconds. My only problem was I couldn't keep up, due to inventory. I sold out twice, and had to wait for items to be shipped from China. And one thing about that site is, they don't like waiting too long before releasing you. Though they do give you chance. I haven't come across any other site like TopHatter ever since. Trust me, I tried to get my family to invest, but they all looked it like something too good to be true. But now I realize that some things actually isn't too good to be true.

Chris
Chris

Oh one more thing - yesterday while shopping eBay wasn't allowing things to be added to a watch list (yes, there was room in my list). I'd click, but nothing would happen. It either went in your cart or you buy it now. They probably think they're forcing the customer to just buy, but I think that's a mistake.

Joe Leach
Joe Leach

So WebRetailer after reading the article, what do you recommend the sellers to do? Thanks

Chris
Chris
In reply to Chris

They answered it in the article, by each topic... you'll just have to read. A lot of it there simply aren't really answers to, but where there were, they did try to help.

I came on to add that tonight when shopping eBay has withdrawn the ability to ask sellers a question. THAT is NOT helpful to sales. They have to pick NOW to screw with things (the holiday season - where some sellers years are made or broken?)?!! Seriously, I wish they would hire someone at the top who has experience selling online - and preferably on eBay! Idiots!

Mark Hetherington
Mark Hetherington
In reply to Mark Hetherington

I'm not sure where you have got that from, it's always been possible to contact sellers and still is.

The "Ask seller a question" link was changed to "Contact seller" because many sellers were complaining that a lot of people were ignoring the listing description and asking questions instead.

I can assure you that most sellers find it extremely aggravating to have posted comprehensive information about the product on their listing description, only to find that people are asking questions that would be answered simply by reading that description.

Additionally we found that less than 1 in 20 replies leads to a sale, regardless of how polite you might be. Most are just "tyrekickers", but some people even find the item cheaper from another seller and buy from them but ask you the questions because the other seller didn't reply, and that happens more than you think.

If I had my way I would remove questions completely and leave people to read the descriptions. I don't believe there's anything they could ask, in most cases, that they couldn't find the answer to by reading the description or doing a quick search and many of us are happy to pass up the chance of a sale that waste our time answering pointless questions that in most cases don't lead to a sale anyway.

Mike G
Mike G
In reply to Mike G

" I don’t believe there’s anything they could ask, in most cases, that they couldn’t find the answer to by reading the description "

As a buyer of retro vintage gym kit, I frequently need to ask sellers for a simple measurement that should be required in all cases where shorts are listed: what is the STRETCHED waistband? That is the best guide to fit - side codes like 'small' and 'medium' vary considerably between manufacturers and, more importantly, over the decades.

Actual inside leg width at the hem, and inside leg length, are two other useful measurements rarely given.

Peter Butterfield
Peter Butterfield

I agree - from about September 2016 things have taken a dramatic turn for the worst. Despite changing titles, descriptions and images, nothing has improved. We have a feedback rating of 99.98% and two negatives in twelve months. A Premium seller top rated for more than three years.

Jono
Jono

4 years ago eBay added immediate payment only to all my listings. I spent two years pleading with eBay agents to investigate why this was happening and eventually found out that it was a test. removing the option to turn off immediate payment killed off all my multiple overseas sales in one swoop. my takings are 1/3 of what they used to be 4 years ago. this is why I started my own website. the problem with eBay is that the people at the top are trying to impress each other and the shareholders only they have no care whatsoever for small business. eBay has now reached its highest level of incompetence. I suggest everybody here Google two words. Peter principal. it explains everything that is wrong with eBay Amazon and all the other corporate Giants.

casam
casam

My sales have been in a downward spiral for at least a month. Coincidentally Ebay keeps advertising a 'promoted listings' campaign. This gives them the opportunity to take a higher final value fee yet for my business that profit loss makes my business no longer viable.

Think about it - If Ebay has the ability to promote listings and sellers they also can do the opposite and restrict listings and sellers. What a violation of trust. Something seems so cambridge analytical about it all.

Rob
Rob

I'm amazed to see that most of my listings now are not even getting any views. Never happened before.

Mark Hetherington
Mark Hetherington

Sadly I'm not amazed, or even surprised at all. I think the way it is run is a shambles.

10 years ago I had my first day with no sales, having been established for two years. It was almost another year before I got another day with no sales. Now it's common, I get several every month and I have more listed now than I did back then.

Yes, there is more competition and so on but there is nothing to help established sellers despite eBay's claims that Top Rated Sellers, those with better returns policies, free postage and all that garbage get better rankings.

I can still look down the listings and find that new, inexperienced sellers with little feedback, worse feedback, poor photos, poor descriptions, poor policies etc. etc. etc. rank higher than my listings do, and not always just because they are cheaper.

It's a total lottery now. It doesn't help that their search doesn't work properly, if at all. I used to use search to quickly find one of my listings, now I'm lucky if it finds anything I search for.

One simple but effective change would be to rank us above sellers from other countries, which is what buyers want the most, but how often do you se all the Chinese sellers at the top?

Rob
Rob
In reply to Rob

Chinese sellers at the top largely because US government/usps favors them with rates a fraction of what they charge us Americans. e.g. ePacket and upu. Look it up!

Irene Brandt
Irene Brandt
In reply to Irene Brandt

Yes what you say is so true! I've been selling on eBay for over 15 years. The past 3 years I've seen a steady decline in sales even with many more items listed. I did much better the years I didn't subscribe to an eBay store, although I cannot figure out why that makes a difference. I've tried "Promoted Listings" and saw very little improvement. I'm just a small seller of vintage items, so maybe they would rather have the large sales volume of Chinese merchants. I am looking into several other types of selling venues. I like the selling protections they offer, but the advertising in searches sucks! Also, my costs have gone up so much over the years with the fees on shipping and increased seller's fees.

I hope they read these articles and find ways to improve quickly, or they may be on the way to their extinction.

Chris
Chris

Mark Hetherington - couldn't agree more with your comments. - 4 days without a sale except for one sale which had to be cancelled because the buyers account had been hacked. Now they have removed live chat and phone contact and the only way of contact is by email. In 2014 we would sell 25 items a day - eBay is in a death spiral unless management changes with experienced people and not mess around hiding listings.

jono
jono

I meant to say a pit of Shame. Hah!

joe
joe

yes its true E bay is screwed up
and they don't know how to fix it!

they just only interested how they can take money away from there small distributors

Tom
Tom

I'm strictly an eBay buyer, and focus almost exclusively on some specific old comic books and magazines.

I don't have a clue about what eBay might be doing that makes more difficult for sellers, but I'd like to offer an observation --

I check the same listings day after day, and I see what sells and what doesn't. Many, many, many, many times I see listings for items that do not sell and most likely never will sell because they are overpriced, starting at about 2x the average prices paid and sometimes ranging up to 10x or 20x what any knowledgeable person would pay.

Yes, I realize that eBay culture dictates that buyers are not supposed to complain about sellers overpricing items. Fine, I won't complain. I will simply say that if you have seemingly desirable goods that no one buys, you might want to take a look at the "completed listings" and see what people are actually paying.

Just a few minutes ago, I snapped up a 7-issue lot of comics that had previously been offered at $20 B-I-N for weeks. The seller reduced the price to $15 and I jumped on it. In my mind, that $5 difference in price was everything.

Jim
Jim

This is a very interesting article since I hit the 20 year mark with eBay and buy this December January 2018 my business fell off a cliff then I was late a couple times with shipping and they took my global shipping away which was 1/3 of my yearly business they bankrupted me nothing is really selling anymore ,one or two items every week from 50 to 60 items a month It’s sad from day one I was making so much I closed my physical stores and just sold online 20 years later I am at square one I’m too old to open a store The algorithms have killed me google control the earth !

robert
robert

You say competition causing problems? How to fight with corporations then? Small and middle businesses are history in this battle...

Chris
Chris

Jonathan - this would mean it is happening in Australia too - no wonder we can't sell anything - we have no hope of competing.

mel walker
mel walker
In reply to mel walker

Well, at least in Australia the government have stepped in - a 10% tax charge is added onto all ebay uk purchases shipped to Australia - and collected by Ebay! At least of my sales in jewellery.

Now, if ebay can do this for the Australia, they could end up collecting VAT for the UK government, another reason to end the VAT threshold - of course it will kill off loads of small business but there you go!

Brendan Hose
Brendan Hose

Hi all. A great reason to work on your own site SEO is the following. I was selling two items a week and generating about 400 dollars profit or thereabouts. Separately I had some issues with an unauthorised paypal payment to Linkedin. I had this reversed but I cancelled all my authority to pay on paypal. Ebay then let me know that I needed to set up an automatic payment system and that this would affect sales. This is despite me having paid my ebay fees on time. Now its been weeks with no sales.

Mike
Mike

So finally today I figured out whats going on. Or to be more correct - how these guys put down any seller of their choice. My sales also suddenly droped. And here is how. Fortunately I have an item on sale that is the only one on the whole ebay. Now let me show how they do this. Item #1723034534. Item title - BMW E31 840i 850i ON BOARD DASH CONSOLE COMPUTER DISPLAY UNIT OEM 8354469 . So if ordinary buyer put something like BMW E31 COMPUTER DISPLAY in search string he will get page with the only one my item and some stuff under Results matching fewer words line. But if he/she put any additional word that in search query that doesn't exist in Item Title the buyer will get page with NO MATCHING RESULTS and the same or even more stuff under Results matching fewer words line. My listing just DISAPPEAR in search results!!! Checked this with bunch of other listings and results are totally the same. So what they actually do they choose pool of sellers with kind of their "smart" algorythm and apply USE EXACT MATCH search option. And your sales go down because you just cannot predict what buyers can put in search string beside few basic and common keywords. Genious! You have no chance to beat exact match search. The biggest problem.... I don't have enough power to prove in court that eBay do it by intention. Spent few hours today with customer service and at least have well documented situation with audio and video.

Mark Hetherington
Mark Hetherington
In reply to Mark Hetherington

I think it's just a classic example of how search doesn't work on eBay. I don't think it's deliberate - they're not that clever.

casam
casam

Sales are still down, still slow but I'm surviving. I don't want all my eggs in one basket and thankfully have the ability to set up another enterprise apart from Ebay. These days you need to be like a farmer who rotates crops and diversifies. IMO for Ebay to thrive they need to promote themselves for being a green option, the world's biggest recycler of commercial goods. For some reason Ebay tries to compete with Amazon and compulsive consumerism while the concept of Ebay was the exact opposite.

Mark Hetherington
Mark Hetherington

Re. Mike, I've complained about the search being complete and utter crap for a long time. I mentioned earlier in this thread I think that I was the one and only seller of one particular item and when I did a search for it, it came up as the SECOND of two results. The first result was of course a completely different item.

Today I did a simple search for HARRIS BRUSHES. I don't know if they're known in the US but Harris are a well known paintbrush manufacturer in the UK. Guess what came up? DOZENS of results for HARRY POTTER kiddies paintbrush sets.

Now it's quite simple ebay, if I search for HARRIS brushes then I expect Harris brushes to come up at the top of the results, NOT Harry Potter brushes because they're more popular, because they happen to be the kids toy of the moment. It's pathetic.

I did find them after scrolling through hundreds of Harry Potter brushes of course but that's not the point. Other people might have given up and gone over to Amazon, so the seller loses out again. You get this time and time again on ebay, it's just completely screwed.

As I type this I'm 47% down on the same period last year and May was my worst month for over 18 months, despite spending hundreds of hours researching products and investing an extra 10k in stock. During this time I've spent LESS time and money on our website and sales are up on the same period last year. No excuses ebay, it's just total bollocks.

B Miller
B Miller
In reply to B Miller

Ebay is doing terrible now. My website that is on the "Field of Dreams" plan is outperforming ebay two fold right now. My website has no fees for hosting, I pay nothing for any advertisment, I only applied basic White hat SEO tactics so that the SERPS would just pick up my listings on their usual crawls and I listed my products. I built it and the buyers just started showing up, like Field of Dreams.

Ebay on the other hand tells me that I should waste my time by making slight alterations to my listings everytime they don't sell which I don't have time for, especially when there's no evidence that it makes a difference. The provide piss poor conversion, when I started I had a 99% sell thru rate, then Donahoe came and ruined everything, now I get 4.5% and that's when I'm doing ok on ebay... PATHETIC! In May I made $700 on the website and commission was $0. In May I did $337 of which $56.99 were taken for ebay fees and $18.79 for paypal fees. Leaving $69.16 of which was shipping covered by the buyer, That leaves me with $192.06 and I still have to pay Uncle sam, so they get another $67.22, now I'm down to $124.84 and still have to pay the state the "Privilage of doing business" tax they just passed, so I am left with $112.16. This is a total waste of time, you'd be better off working a minimum wage job than selling on ebay. High fees, terrible search, low conversion rates. Nothing positive is left on ebay.

Cayne Brookes
Cayne Brookes

Makes you wonder also when ebay asks you to fill in a questionnaire about your experience using ebay and if you would recommend friends and family and if you marked all your responses low would an algorithm pick up on this and possibly also have an affect on your selling. Would not keeping up with leaving feedback have an affect or failing to not update items that havent sold in 15 months or so when warned by ebay. Im almost to scared to leave bad feedback for a seller incase ebay sees me as a trouble maker and uses this as another part of an algorithm to knock me down the selling order even further. Paranoid i know but i also cannot understand why im losing £700 a month due to lack of sales. I get by but only just.

Paul
Paul

Richard Branson should come in with a Virgin platform

Jacky Newton
Jacky Newton

I would like to know how I have watchers on an item with no page views! What's going on? Also most of my items have zero page views which has never happened to me before. And yes sales are down surprise.

Mark Hetherington
Mark Hetherington
In reply to Mark Hetherington

I wouldn't read too much into the statistics, they have never been famous for their accuracy.

Mark Hetherington
Mark Hetherington

You can turn off some of the emails you receive. Since I'm logged into ebay all the time and eveything goes into ebay messages. I've turned off email notifications for pretty much everything.

On eBay, go to "Hello (You)" at the top left corner and click on "Account Settings from the drop-down.

Click on "Communication Preferences" on the left, then on the main page you will see a whole list of various preferences you can set.

Click on the "Show" link to the right of each one to see your options. You can turn almost all of them on or off.

IAN SCATTERGOOD
IAN SCATTERGOOD

You have hit the nail on the head,i have had to close my business account down due to the amount of "not as described goods" being returned,nothing wrong with them its just they no they can return for free.Ebay always rule onside with the buyer.Trouble is they have the market sewn up,no real competition for them.Selling on gumtree i find is better,but the buggers even own that site.

Mark Hetherington
Mark Hetherington

Yes I've said that for many years. It gets my back up that a company tried to tell us how to do "customer service", when their own service, both in how the site behaves and how they deal with seller complaints, borders on farce.

How can a company that's never sold anything advise us how to sell? The answer's simple - they can't. There's a complete lack of understanding of how retail selling works. I mean, who in their right mind actually encourages returns? Yet they send emails to buyers reminding them that they still have time to return an item if there's a problem, and the first button you see on your purchase history is a big blue "Return this item" button.

Their claims system is 100% biased towards the buyer. If you get a item returned that's been used or damaged they tell you "Sorry but we didn't see the item when you sent it so we can't make a decision". Correct. Yet they are making a decision, a decision to refund the buyer.

I object to effectively being called a liar when I report a new item I sold has been returned used or battered, and I object to eBay acting as judge, jury and executioner and handing MY money back to the buyer with absolutely no evidence to go on whatsoever - even if the buyer has never claimed the item was damaged or used. Why should eBay side with a buyer with a handful of feedback against a seller with five-figure, 100% feedback? Doesn't that count for anything? Obviously not.

We have a system for dealing with this sort of thing, it's called the Small Claims Court (in the UK) and is what eBay should be instructing the buyer to use, because it's only the thieving scamming public that do this.

Bill
Bill

As a long time buyer, Ebay was the best for collectibles which are a real drag to find now. Also, it was the best to evoke impulse buying. The Web Designers do not understand retail. Just one eample, As a collector i used to go on about thirty different searches. For example one would be "Art Deco Tea Cups". It would come up. I would open the first sale and close it to mark the lettering a different color. Now the colors are disappearing or to close to see a difference. Multiply that by thirty and there isn't enough time now to deal with the madness and defaulting to "Best" as opposed to "Newly Listed". A mess and please stop Micro Managing the buyer. I feel SORRY FOR THE SELLERS every time I attempt to look for anything. Since Meg Whitman left, there has been created an ego-driven company that will join Radio Shack sooner than we think. CEO step down. You and only YOU are to blame.

ava
ava

EBAY is sinking fast ---- Very sad to see this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Robert
Robert

Definitely an interesting article even though this was published a couple years back but probably not much has changed since you post is article.

I personally think eBay needs to stop meddling with the search algorithm and just let the free market work period when the free market Works everyone wins, bad sellers will be punished based on how they treat customers, if they do not do a good job in listing their item, have a poor description, poor images well sellers who take time and pride in creating a good description, have detailed images and treat a customer how a customer should be treated by putting them first and trying to assist them every way they can.

I think eBay doesn't want sellers to compete with each other which I think is wrong, eBay need to stop meddling with the search algorithm and just let the free market work Kama competition in business is a wonderful thing because it forces everyone to do better and the best part is to consumer our customers win and it weeds out bad businesses and bad sellers.

Besides new items are constantly being added to the site and items are constantly being sold so in a way what eBay is doing is sabotaging everyone. If I can't find the merchandise that I'm interested in while I'm not going to buy anything and I probably won't come back to eBay for a while and that means Less ad revenue for eBay, less eBay fees they can collect on sellers and sellers might just leave eBay all together in which it creates does vicious cycle like if you're going through a revolving door and it just won't stop.

Steve Hug
Steve Hug

Search algorithms don't appear to have any effect on many of Ebay's niche markets. Buyers in these markets know what they're looking for - for the most part - and so their searches usually result in everything that Ebay sellers' have listed for that particular item - not merely for the listings with the best keywords.

Ebay however, has increasingly restricted sellers by applying many bad polices across the board - effectively ignoring seller feedback ratings and applying the same selling restrictions to every seller regardless. No single bad policy change by itself can explain the decline in buying and selling on Ebay...but taken all together, it has been like death by a thousand tiny cuts.

Ebay should have thought twice about doing anything to restrict their own sellers' selling abilities. Why would they want to make selling more difficult and more costly all? Especially for their sellers with the best feedback ratings and no histories of cheating anyone? The 2 worst bad policies that come to mind (but there are dozens more) was restricting returns policy options - even for the sellers with no history of cheating anybody. The items being sold belong to the sellers for one thing...they don't belong to Ebay. Ebay has stepped out of line when they began dictating what sellers' returns policies have to be - for items that don't even belong to Ebay. And if the seller wishes to accept checks and/or money orders, then they should once again have that right.

On the buyer's side, Ebay is screwing up too. They've slowly but surely kept adding new hoops to jump through for buyers who just want to find and then buy any given niche market item.

And Ebay is sending out tens of millions of spam emails to their ebay account holders every day. And it's clearly not working. For every buyer who buys an item because Ebay sent them a spam email about it, there are probably dozens of people who become annoyed and so stop using Ebay...there's no way to measure the effect of spam, but clearly it's not helping Ebay generate revenues...

And it's up to buyers to spend the time to figure out how to be left out of these spam email lists. The default for every account holder should be to be left off these lists...don't place the burden on the buyer to figure out how to opt out. Most buyers also don't appreciate being monitored in terms of all the items they're viewing either. If they don't save an item in their watch lists, then they shouldn't (by default) be sent spam about it simply because they looked at it.

I could go on and on...When an item in the average buyer's watch list ends, and when that would-be buyer looks at the ended listing, Ebay now tries to direct them to a completely different item. They leave a tiny little link to the original item...and it's up to the buyer to find that tiny link. These are the types of extra hoops that Ebay has been imposing, and it's clearly not translating into enhance sales. Again, I could go on and on and on...

Ebay is not Amazon. But apparently, Ebay management is hell bent on becoming like Amazon (a completely different business model). Ultimately, it's not going to work and Ebay is only going to succeed in destroying what was once a thriving business.

john
john

You forgot to mention organized crime taking over eBay, and Amazon and using them as a fencing operation to sell their stolen goods under the Amazon Prime protection program . and we have the Money laundering problem on eBay , high volume stores selling items at or below cost for the purpose of laundering their dirty money. The FBI should be watching them very closely and scrutinizing high volume sellers with lower than cost pricing , and 0 net profit !

Ben Wright
Ben Wright

The only rule that makes sense is rule number 6, which is all anyone really need to know that it's Ebays' fault for your failure, especially when you were once doing good. It is specifically stated in ebay policy that they, themselves will prevent your listings from being searchable if you are caught breaking policy rules. In other words, it's ebay who chooses winners and losers, and they do realize that. They show favoritism toward Asian sellers over american sellers, purposefully, because the Chinese government compensate them greatly to do so. As the Chinese government subsidize Chinese sellers on american eCommerce sites shipping fees, which is why a Chinese seller can sell a $2 item and ship it for .25 cents, and still make a profit. While it would cost a US seller more than $2 just to ship the same item. I sell New, authentic Apple Beats on ebay, at the lowest price than anyone else, I haven't sold even 1 pair in 3 weeks, while others, with the exact same item have sold 8 pairs in 24 hours. You tell me ebay isn't the sole perpetrators of choosing who fails and who succeeds, depending on who pay them more, up front. And I have a perfect 100% rate and a perfect seller score. There need to be class action law suite filed against ebay for their, intentional, sabotaging business practices, plain and simple.

JONIE NOLAN
JONIE NOLAN

I had a yearly subscription for a basic store thinking of going to a premium store. My yearly subscription ended December 1st. However, the 10th or 11th month my sales started dropping. (during 4th quarter - supposedly the best time to sell). During December my sales dropped an additional 50%. I decided to go monthly until I could figure out what was going on. Then my sales completely stopped. I have called and talked to people, but no one has an explanation.. So January I will go back to a starter store. If I don't recover than February I will go back to only 50 items free listing,. I am unable to fight whatever category that has blocked my sales

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