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

From algorithm updates to site outages and random testing, there are many ways that the mechanics of eBay can cause your sales to fall.

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 sales will pick up as quickly and inexplicably as they dropped.

So why does it happen? 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 appears to work, but it’s important to remember that the only people who know exactly how these algorithms operate are eBay themselves.

Let’s take a look at why your eBay sales are down.

1. Competitors got better at 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 go and 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 has improved on 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, or are offering cheaper and faster shipping, or have 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’ve 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 October 2016 and it’s now November 2017, that feedback is no longer weighted as heavily. They have effectively “got over a bad patch”. The algorithm may see your competitor more favorably and boost their ranking accordingly.

2. New competitors entered the market

If your existing competitors show no signs of having improved their listings, it could be that new competitors have 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.

Alternatively, overseas sellers may have entered the market, who are able to offer your product at a much more lower price, because their costs are minimal. Both labor and shipping can be cheaper for foreign sellers, and 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, because 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 which 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, and 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 are going to 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 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.

Google’s search algorithm is immensely complex, and although we haven’t seen further changes as catastrophic for eBay as Panda 4.0, search rankings for individual keywords do vary on a daily basis. If eBay takes a hit on a group of search terms that are important for your products, sales could suffer significantly.

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 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 met 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.

5. 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, boosting 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 don’t want this to happen, so 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 decide that they don’t want to sell on eBay anymore, or they hit difficulties, eBay’s going to lose revenue. By sharing 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.

6. eBay changed their search algorithm

Algorithms govern so much of the internet now, and from time-to-time they get changed. 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.

A good example is Google’s unconfirmed ranking update “Fred”, which shook up search results because it appeared to favor sites that added value to readers, over low-quality content that was written with revenue in mind.

Some changes will be subtle and complex – and probably happening all the time – while others will be big and disruptive, and take place quite rarely. What would this look like on eBay? A simple example would be if the algorithm used to favor having the lowest price over everything else, but an updated version gives shipping and seller feedback more weighting.

If you fall foul of an algorithm update it can prove costly, as it’s not a short term change – once the update takes effect, it applies “forever” from that point in time. All you can do is experiment with changes to your listings to try and fall back into favor with the search engine.

7. Competitors have 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.

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 historic listing performance 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 percent 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.

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’, 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 that had been 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.

Description text

Instead of just covering the standard things, like the size and condition of the item, your competitor has 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 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 one of the most recent outages, sellers were unable to list items from the new Seller Hub.

If you can’t list your items, you can’t sell them. In the world of marketplaces, where margins are notoriously thin, a few lost sales 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 good 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 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 were 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 went down.

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.

52 comments on “eBay Sales Down? Here’s How eBay Might Be Working Against You

  1. Ebay ARE sabotaging sales, they just don’t realise – probably – that they are doing it. All I will concede here is that an act of sabotage needs to be deliberate and the reality is that it is mostly down to incompetence on their part.

    For the purpose of this post please disregard that we might be doing something wrong. After 30 years in business and proof elsewhere that “it’s not us”, such as consistent performance from our website, assume that we have done all the checks on competitors, keywords, and so on. It’s partly irrelevant anyway because I have proved time and time again that eBay’s algorhythms does not work. On one search I did for an item that we were the ONLY seller of, the search result for that exact item brought ours up as the second of two results.

    That simple test was proof enough that the system doesn’t work, but there have been others. We had an item priced at just under £10 that sold around half a dozen a month. That’s with a 100% 5-figure feedback rating, Top Seller rating, free postage, informative description, item specifics, various hi-res photos, the works, you name it. A competitor came along with under 0200 feedback and a score of 97.8%, not declared himself as a business seller. He listed the same item at the same price using OUR exact title wording, one poor photo, no description, no items specifics. Inside two months he had sold over 600.

    Answers on a postcard…the reality is it doesn’t work. even ebay staff admitted they were stumped. Even if he had one or two metrics done better than ours (he didn’t), we STILL should have easily beaten him on every other aspect. We should have been the ones selling 300 a month.

    After that I looked at a number of other listings and sellers and found the same pattern time and time again. Sellers with no history, low ratings, poor descriptions were regularly getting better sales even at higher prices ahead of many long established professional businesses who were doing everything the way ebay told them to do it, as we were. It’s a total farce.

    Other aspects are some of eBay’s policies. 30 day returns, free postage, free returns, all these things are not good news for small businesses, you know, the ones who make up most of eBay’s seller base. Why? Because small businesses simply cannot afford these luxuries.

    For example, a large chain will not worry about the cost of returns, free postage, free returns and so on so much because the staff and management won’t care how many they get because it’s not coming out of their salary, and those at the top are earning so much they won’t care either. They’re only doing free returns because the competition are. But for small business owners in most cases the cost of this is coming out of their back pocket. It doesn’t increase sales enough to pay for the cost, and as I have mentioned on here before returns are now becoming a serious bind on smaller traders.

    The majority of buyers are wrongly and fraudulently claiming the item is defective because they get free return postage. It’s 21st century human nature – if people can get something for free they will, and ebay highlight the fact that if they want to return something because they change their mind they will have to pay for it. So they choose the “free” option.

    We noted everything that had been returned on the past year as faulty. a HUGE 94% were NOT faulty, but many of them were not retuned in good enough condition to resell as new. That’s hundreds of pounds extra in postage costs on top of all the refunds we were forced to hand back. None of this happened until ebay introduced Managed Returns and other tech sellers we know are saying they are experiencing a similar trend. And as more and more buyers realise how easy it is, it will only get worse.

    this is what I mean by eBay’s incompetence. It’s not just the appalling algorhythms that doesn’t work, it’s policies like this that are not suited to small traders but ebay either don’t understand this, or they don’t care. The latter because they think obsessing over the customer in this way will bring in more sales. The reality is it just brings in more scammers.

    As you say, small businesses are better off concentrating on other methods to attract buyers. We have a couple of methods that work to a degree, but that’s becoming more difficult now because you can’t now highlight things in the photos such as a free gift. You can’t add your phone number or email so that people can call you with enquiries (we sold at least five or six high ticket items a week because we were able to talk to people on the phone who wanted more information before buying. That’s gone now.)

    And the main tool we have, the big description panel, has been sidelined by ebay. You have to click on “See full description” in the mobile view and I’ve noticed recently that it’s the same on a PC on many items, the description is now hidden by default so it looks as though that’s something else they’re changing gain for the worse. Now all most buyer will see to entice them is the cheapest postage, and with nothing else on view to tempt them to buy from you it’s another move that’s going to kill sales even further.

    Look at how High Street stores work, both in their physical shop window, their websites and their YouTube/TV ads: Clear, bright posters to entice you in, free gifts with items highlighted in big letters on the poster. You can’t do that on ebay photos any more, and hiding the description is like trying to promote something by placing on the top shelf at the back of the store. Even with sales and promotions you only get a few words at the top of the listing, and the real madness, ebay display the original price of the item, NOT the sale price. Who in their right mind runs a sale and advertises the original price? It’s incompetence.

    People love ebay for what it is. They don’t look for cheap postage in particular, many people have told us they would rather pay more for a faster service rather than free economy delivery. We do offer not one but TWO extra services, but unless you click eBay’s tiny “see details” link you wouldn’t know it (we do show the option in most listings, if people even get to see the descriptions).

    I could go on for hours, and while all of the above issues quoted in the article might paly a part to varying degrees depending on the seller and the circumstances within their sector, overall I believe eBay’s main problem is simple: They have never sold a single retail product and have no idea how to. The result is they’re thrashing around blindly, trying to change things and they don’t have a clue what to do.

    1. 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.

    2. 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 !

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Yes I wonder if it’s deliberate too. People think you’re crazy to suggest such a thing but I can tell you after 30 years in business I’ve seen things that will make your hair curl. Look at how corrupt the banks have been for example, the things that led to the economy in general being in such a bad state.

    Corruption in business is rife and businesses will do what they have to do to suit them. If that means blocking your listings, say perhaps because you’re undercutting one of the major retailers, they may well do that. Amazon do – an endless list of sellers will tell you they were blocked from selling certain items, only to find a couple of days later that Amazon were then selling the same item themselves, with NO competition, at a higher price.

    Back on ebay, errors are constant too. Click on a listing title in your messages and most of the time a blank screen opens up. If a potential customer sends an enquiry then clicks back on the product link at the top of the message and gets a blank screen, you’ve lost the sale. Not just that sale but all of them, every day (the way around it is to send them an offer from the link in the message but again you’re losing money, forced to sell it a little cheaper or not at all).

    Sales just do not fall off a cliff for hundreds, if not thousands of sellers, overnight. Have you ever walked into Tesco or Asda and seen them completely empty after being busy the previous day? It’s not normal, something has to bwe happening for sales to just completely die like that. Even your local corner shop doesn’t experience a drop in sales like that.

    Ten years ago I had one single day in February, which used to be my quietest month anyway, when I sold nothing at all and I went into a panic wondering what was wrong. I never forget that day. In over three years on ebay at that time, even at the very beginning, I NEVER have a single “blank” day. Now that happens several times a month. It’s “normal”, or at least on ebay it is.

    We’re now working to boost our website which currently produces around 30% of our income with NO promoting or advertising and only takes up a tenth of the time on ebay. We don’t know if it will work out or not but if we could leave ebay tomorrow we would do.

    And before anybody starts on “if you don’t like it don’t sell on there”. or “it’s their site, they can do what they like”, that’s not the point. We are paying them for a service, and we’re not getting that service. It’s not just listing fees and commission on the sale, it’s a marketplace and I believe we have a fundamental right to expect the very best service for our money, not zero sales, getting scammed every other day and poor to non-existent support.

    Oh and by the way, if the buyer sends a new item back in a used condition, yes you can deduct up to 50% if it’s sent back because they didn’t want it. BUT they can appeal and if they do ebay will give them the rest of their money back immediately and automatically, just as they do in other cases.
    However, as I outlined in my earlier post most buyers will claim there is something wrong with the item (I’ve had two today claim the USB cable doesn’t fit in the phones they each bought, 2 different phones, standard cables that fit ANY phone except iPhones of course). Basically they’re just lying to get free return postage, i.e. paid by the seller, and in those circumstances you’re not allowed or able to deduct anything and as I say you’re forced to pay return postage too.

    Ebay is screwed now, but the sad thing is it could still be so good but would need a complete change of management at the top who understood the market, the site and the sellers. Sadly they have tinkered with it so much now it’s full of bugs, too big to rewrite and almost certainly will never be the same again.

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

      2. I have seen it to, it changes so maybe they are implementing system changes. but when i am logged out and search for my listings they do not have a contact seller , or ask a question. Nothing. I have checked my personal settings and they are all fine. A few days later my listings will have the feature. You can always tap the persons username try to contact them that way but that is not a feature you can use on all mobile devices, which most customers are using now, and not everyone knows that, or how to do it, especially if someone is trying to buy something quick. I have also been interested in peoples products and have not been able to contact them. On top of that if you have a buy it now or best offer feature they will block your messages. I know this first hand because my automobiles were getting no questions, I typically use to get 10 to 12 messages per listing a week, my feedbacks were perfect, my cars were all priced below everyone else selling the same model. Nothing, emails just stopped, i received offers through ebay was getting traffic, but no questions, and when i attempted to contact the people making an offer to weed out the non paying bidders and ever growing dead beats… no responses. Well I had multiple employee’s from home send us test questions from their personal accounts…. and as you can guess we never got their emails.. My theory is they are terrified you will sell outside the site, and are starting to make it so you can not contact anyone. We transitioned our autos to hemmings, we can list a vehicle there for the same price as a 21 day auction on ebay but our add runs until canceled on with hemmings, we can add videos on the sites, easier, more pictures, and we see all most as much traffic. However contact is made super easy,if someone is interested in my car and messages me, I see their real name, location, phone, email and address, and they do mine as well. We just close the deal on the phone.There is no non paying bidders, relist fees, unpaid item bs. I started on ebay back in the early 2000s before it was a household name. Im sad to see what it has become, but they are so focused on customers they forgot us sellers where their customers, and they have built a business around the thoughts that we need them not the other way around. My ebays fees on cars were over 5000.00 a month some months which i was happy to pay because we made alot of money on ebay. Im just one average guy, I wonder how many other sellers like me they forced to look elsewhere.They will be out of business sooner than later if they do not figure it out.

      3. ” 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.

  5. Along with all the other listed frustrations above, you know it’s bad when their customer service rep (that you’ve been working with for months!) agrees that he can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong either. Sales literally tanked in September 2016 and we kept scrambling to “fix our problems” for months. This was our case back in March and April. Things have SLOWLY picked up, but not anywhere near what it was 2 years ago. We did everything they told us to do, including revising more than 800 listings individually two times in a period of a month! It’s not us!

    I used to know who my competitors were. Some are still there; others came out of the blue with big feedback numbers. I can’t tell if they used to only list in other categories, or if the rumors are true that eBay solicited some of the bigger, more cut-throat sellers onto the site with promises of more revenue, preference and feedback manipulation. I actually wouldn’t put it past them anymore. I also asked the customer service rep who’d helped me all those months, “Who’s getting paid off?” He assured me that that doesn’t happen, and I told him, “That you know of…because it sure seems like that’s one of the last logical arguments I can think of.”

    The other thing I’m seeing is that some of these newer sellers are selling “new” branded items cheaper than I can buy them for. While I recognize that some may have more buying power than I do for bigger discounts, I don’t think that the discounts can be that much! Especially if you factor in eBay fees and shipping costs on top of your product costs – it just doesn’t make sense unless they’re possible counterfeits. I came across some known counterfeits and eBay didn’t do anything about it. I reported them at least 18 months ago and they’re still there, listing the item as the branded product, but shipping from China. This particular brand has even posted a notice on their wholesale website warning customers that they do not ship from China, or have any authorized seller who does. eBay has made it clear to me that they really don’t care!

    I too have started my own site, list on Amazon and am looking at other platforms. I will leave eBay when I’m comfortable that those others are solid and doing reasonably well for us. I’m tired of the games that eBay is playing. I’m an experienced reputable seller with integrity. I appreciate that in others and can’t respect or do business with those who aren’t.

    1. 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.

    2. 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 !

  6. I’ve been selling on eBay for eleven years and have never seen anything like it before. Sales have dropped by 34% in 4-5 months time and all eBay can do is to keep sending the same bi-monthly email with their exercise in stupidity called ‘Top Tips for Selling on eBay’: 1.)Qualify for the Top Rated Plus Seal. Why? We used to qualify for that worthless seal but then you raised the requirements… twice… so why even bother? And it doesn’t get you to the top in the listings. 2.) Add Product Identifiers. They’re already there, all of them. Stupid eBay. 3.) Adjust Your Price. After selling on eBay for 11 years you don’t think we’ve done price comparisons? (They’re sounding a lot like Amazon: lower your price, lower your price, lower your price…) And the one that tops them all, tip number 4.) Restock Popular Items. Really? Who was the genius that sat up all night conjuring up that suggestion? Really?

    A ‘good’ week now results in 50% of the number of sales that we had just a few months ago. I’ve called eBay many times and, of course, they have no way to explain it. Sellers with lower feedback ratings, fewer sales and higher prices out rank us. They have fewer products for sale and fewer sold. Some of them even violate eBay’s listing policies. (External links in the listings, text on the main image, etc.) eBay’s algorithm needs to be scrapped and replaced. The same goes for eBay’s upper management.

    Even though everything that we sell is listed as “Good Until Cancelled”, we’ve been experiencing ‘disappearing’ listings for at least eight years. One day they’re there, the next day they’re gone with not one word from eBay as to why they were dropped. If the listings violated eBay’s rules in some way, eBay would send us a nasty note telling us that listing number whatever was removed for X reason. But that is not the case. Instead, they’re just gone. On the many, many occasions that I’ve called eBay and inquired about the disappearing listings (yes, I still hold out hope that one day, some fine day, I will get an eBay rep on the phone that actually knows something about how eBay works… that’s silly, I know) I’m always given the same two responses: either “We don’t do that” or “I’ve never heard of that before”. How could you have NOT heard of that before? I feel as if I’ve reported it to at least half of the reps working at eBay. On one occasion I was actually asked for the eBay item numbers of listings that disappeared. Uh, to know that I would have to SEE the listings but, as I said, they no longer exist, remember? Absolute genius…

    We have devoted all of our resources to developing our own web site. It’s a slow process and, though we’ve made some mistakes along the way (and, hopefully, corrected them), it is the only thing that we can see that we might be able to use to replace eBay.

    After all of that, I suppose I do have one good thing to say about eBay: at least it isn’t Amazon!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. A very good percentage of this list is not ebay causing anything. It’s your competition stepping up their game and doing a better job than you are. Don’t get me wrong, ebay is a terrible place to put all your eggs. Instead, just use them as you should, just another tool… A venue to move your product. Spread your eggs out to many baskets and make your own site if you can. Always direct traffic to your commission free site. One thing I see ebay suggest that is maddening is telling you to go out to social media and advertise your crap to bring in traffic. Why the hell would I do that? I’m not in your affiliate program where I get paid for doing so. If I garner that traffic that I had to do the footwork to get, I then have to pay ebay their commission for that sale? I’m paying ebay to bring that guy to me, it makes not sense to do that in reverse. So all those venues that suggest you bring traffic to your store on their site via any method, ignore that and do it for your website. All you need to see is your monthly sales over time. That is where you will clearly see that ebay has mapped out your success story on their site. Your earnings will be nearly identical every month until they decide to change it, it’s consistently near the same exact dollar amount month after month, whereas other venues and my own website show no such pattern whatsoever and I have data going over the same timeframes for 5 years. I have good traffic on all sources including ebay. Ebay controls my visibility, if I list more, I’m seen more. I don’t promote my listings because it’s a ripoff and I do just fine outside of ebay, Ebay now charges the most money and produces the least profit as well.

    My advice is use ebay as they use you while you transition into more lucrative options. I guarantee that is exactly what ebay is using you for right now and has been since at least 2008. Their site looks nothing like it did, they’ve transitioned slowly over that timeframe losing the original sellers that made it what it was while replacing them with large retailers that will be able to fill their “catalog” in their quest to copy Amazon. Use Ebay as they are using you.

  10. 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?

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

  11. @ Bryon Miller

    “A very good percentage of this list is not ebay causing anything. It’s your competition stepping up their game and doing a better job than you are.

    Found on: https://www.webretailer.com/lean-commerce/ebay-sales-down/#comment-104403

    Sorry Bryon, and I make no apologies for being blunt here, because it’s THE one thing that annoys me the most, but that’s complete bollocks. In fact with all due respect it’s the sort of thing the “experts” keep telling us because they have no real answers either.

    We spent not just hours, but weeks and month using Terapeak and other tools, analysing listings, looking at competitors and so on. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, to suggest any sort of pattern where competitors “doing things better” were the reason for the debacle that eBay is now.

    Can anybody explain this classic scenario that I wrote about 6 months ago at the top of this thread, and repeated here:

    “We had an item priced at just under £10 that sold around half a dozen a month. That’s with a 100% 5-figure feedback rating, Top Seller rating, free postage, informative description, item specifics, various hi-res photos, the works, you name it. A competitor came along with under 200 feedback and a score of 97.8%, not declared himself as a business seller. He listed the same item at the same price using OUR exact title wording, one poor photo, no description, no items specifics. Inside two months he had sold over 600.”

    Can you answer that? Can eBay? Can anybody? No.

    Well I can actually. It’s because the system doesn’t work. It’s completely screwed and has been since the days they dropped “Ending soonest” as the default view (surely even now the fairest way, at least everybody’s listing got to be top at least once) and introduced “Best Match”.

    All the proof you need is in my second example, where my item came up SECOND in a search for that exact item DESPITE the fact that I was the ONLY seller of that item.

    Or the times you search for your OWN ITEMS and can’t find them, but find some crappy poorly conceived newbie listing at or near the top.

    Yes of course, there will be sellers who are not doing things right. There will be sellers who are sat on their arse waiting for the sun to shine out of it. there are those who simply don’t get that there are more and more people selling every day. But there are far too many established, intelligent sellers and businesses out there who are suffering not because of anything the competition are doing right, but because the system simply does not work. Why do you think nobody has mastered it? (some claim they have, then one day the black hole hits them too and they haven’t a clue why. They can’t work it out because nobody can.)

    It’s garbage. I’ve had items selling well for months, items that nobody else is selling, that die overnight for no apparent reason. No competition, no alternative, no logical reason for it whatsoever. Not just as a one off, it happens regularly.

    At one time I knew what stock to order, what to be wary of and what to avoid purchasing in my sleep. Now I can buy something that sells well, reorder them and then sell nothing for no apparent reason. Time and time again. That’s just not real. Can you imagine going into (for example) Asda and suddenly finding that every day the bread shelves are full because people suddenly stopped buying bread? It just doesn’t happen. Ever. Anywhere.

    The only thing wrong with ebay is they have screwed around with their algorithm for so long that it’s now a complete mess that doesn’t work. I’ve even heard former programmers say that the site is now so badly messed up, has had so many alterations over the years that it’s impossible to work on and that makes perfect sense. I know myself from experience with our own site that with WordPress, the platform on which eBay is based, you only need to mess up a tiny bit to screw up the whole site so it’s anybody’s guess what sort of a mess eBay is now in.

  12. 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.

  13. I am no longer receiving any “You’ve sold your eBay item” emails. I am from UK selling on the UK site & for almost a month I have had this problem. When I sell something I am having to rely on the “Notification of Payment Received” PayPal email. Nothing from eBay on all four of my selling accounts. YES all four of my selling accounts are affected. I get a few of my favoutite searches in dribs & drabs instead of all at once but not all of them & absolutely NO messages from members and no best offer notification emails yet I still get all the annoying promotional emails & relist your item emails. I have one business seller account & 3 private seller accounts and all are suffering this communication breakdown. eBay have been blaming TSOhost & TSOhost have been blaming eBay. None of the eBay messages are reaching my TSOhost webmail but my 3 buyer accounts on gmail are working fine. This situation is a complete mess & I feel like a dying lab rat. I detest the way eBay is run by such incompetant souless fools who have absolutely no idea how frustrating selling on eBay is. Every single day there are the same ongoing problems we have lived with for years. Almost every area of eBay needs drastic improvement. I once relied heavily on eBay for my main income but I had to seek other outlets…now I don’t rely on them thank god…but I am wondering why I am still paying £90 a month for an eBay shop subscription as there are very few benefits to having a shop now. I would probably do better spending £90 a month on google adwords for my website! My eBay sales are 74.3% down on this time last year with 100% feedback no low DSRs or defects & and 20% more stock totalling 1600 items for sale! Not to mention the fact that for 3 and a half years I still can not TURN OFF “Immediate Payment required” which lost me all my multiple overseas purchasers overnight. eBay cant figure out why it’s happening & most of the time I get different often conflicting answers to the exact same question. eBay is a pit of same.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

    1. The thing is you’re talking, presumably, about a private sale which is very different from a business transaction. With private sales the actual original cost of the item is irrelevant, it’s the value to it’s owner that matters. Some owners might place a value of $20 on those 7 comics and refuse to accept anything less. Others might be happy to take $10 or $15.

      With a business sale it’s very different. Business have to take into account the cost of purchasing the item, the cost of postage (shipping) and packing and any other costs of running the business, including the cost of returns and being forced by ebay to pay return costs when the buyer claims there is something wrong with the item.

      Let’s talk about shipping for example. Contrary to popular belief, sellers rarely make a profit from shipping costs. People should remember that both eBay AND Paypal charge commission on everything, including shipping. On top of that the cost of packaging has increased a lot in recent years, so “free” shipping probably costs us double what it did 10 years ago.

      Ebay effectively force sellers to use free shipping by elevating their items in search if they do, or conversely demoting your items in search if you charge for shipping. But shipping isn’t free. We still have to pay the carriers and generally have to pay extra for insurance as it’s our fault if something goes missing. In fact we’re just collecting the fee on the carrier’s behalf and paying eBay and Paypal commission on it! It’s absurd.

      “Free” returns is eBay’s next big plan. Of course in the real world they’re not free, so we’re now going to be forced to pay for returns too. this is going to increase returns, more people will return items if they don’t have to pay for it, and that’s going to increase the cost of everything as it’s all going to have to be paid for which means factoring it in to the price of the item.

      This is another area where ebay fail and don’t understand small businesses – larger companies get big discounts on deliveries and can afford free returns, although the reality is that most companies actually charge for delivery and, correctly, the buyer has to pay for returns themselves. Small businesses and sole traders simply cannot afford to do it and stay competitive.

      There are times where it feels like you’re just working for ebay and the carriers, but that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that people just don’t understand how much all of this costs the seller. Don’t believe me? List something with “Best Offer” and watch the offers for half your asking price roll in. People are simply completely oblivious of the fact that you can’t sell a $20 item for $10 and pay for postage, ebay fees, and the rest of your business expenses and still make a profit.

      I think we should be allowed to itemise the cost of shipping, ebay/Paypal fees, packaging and logistics (do you have staff that you have to pay to pack and post? Do you use a vehicle and fuel every day to go to the post office?), and add it to the price of the item instead of all this “free” shipping nonsense.

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

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

    1. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    1. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

    1. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. What most people don’t realize about eBay’s search system is that, by default, it is not a phrase-match search – it matches ANY words in the search term, not ALL words, and that may or may not return what you are looking for.

    I used Mark Hetherington’s search term HARRIS BRUSHES and ebay returned anything with the word “harris” OR the word “brushes” in it. It also returns anything that contains both words as well but they wasn’t necessarily at the top of the list. As much as I dislike siding with eBay, this is not wrong – it’s the way most database searches work. (That’s what is behind eBay: many HUGE databases.) If you want to match both words, or multiple words as a phrase instead of individual words, enclose the phrase in double quotes. eBay will then treat it as a phrase instead of individual words. With the double quotes it will be like telling eBay “Show any listing that contains the words ‘harris’ AND ‘brushes’ “. Without the double quotes you’re telling eBay “Show any listing that contains ‘harris’ OR ‘brushes’ “.

    Keep in mind, however, that neither search method is perfect. While searching for those Harris paint brushes the search also returned a listing for a Harris acetylene welding kit that had a cleaning brush in it. It also returned Harris Bed Bug Killer that came with an applicator brush along with a few others that weren’t what was expected. Most of the 81 matches were, though, brushes made by Harris. However, when i searched for “harris brushes” enclosed in double quotes, eBay returned only three matches. That wasn’t all of the listings shown in the first search by any means and many listings for Harris brushes were left out because the listing didn’t contain that exact phrase. What you see in the search results depends, for the most part, on how the seller wrote the listing.

    As an example of the AND versus OR search, a customer of ours called yesterday to complain that the part he received from us didn’t fit his motorcycle. He said he typed 1998 Kawasaki Meanstreak (the year/make/model) in the eBay search field (without double quotes) and our part came up so he thought it would fit. Our part does fit a 1998 and it does fit a Kawasaki but it does not fit a Meanstreak. He assumed, like many people, that since he typed in a phrase it would return perfect matches but that isn’t the way search engines work. Had he enclosed that phrase in double quotes he would never have seen our product and eBay would have shown him only listings that contained the exact phrase “1998 Kawasaki Meanstreak”.

    To see how eBay’s search engine works, try searching eBay for APPLE GLAZE without double quotes (I got 814 matches) and again WITH the double quotes (I got 4 matches). Many of the 814 items were exactly what you might expect to see for that search but they weren’t returned in the four from the second search.

    Note that search engines such as Google and Bing do not respond the same way as most standard database searches. Companies such as Google or Bing have put a lot of time and money building intelligence into their search engines and their results (usually) return a more intelligent set of matches. (Though still not perfect.) Most people commonly use this type of search engine and are accustomed to it so that is the way they expect eBay to work. Who is to say which is the better method but, to be sure, neither is right or wrong. Of course, eBay doesn’t help users by not having any kind of instructions for the use of their site posted. It’s the only large site I can think of that doesn’t. They tell you to “ask the Community”.

    Remember that eBay’s search function searches ALL parts of the listing including the title, the description, option fields and other areas. You may not even see the words you were looking for but they will be there… somewhere.

  25. Yes, technically I understand your point and you are correct. But it’s still wrong, in that if people type in Harris Brushes (without the quotes) then that is what they should expect to appear in the results first and foremost, NOT Harry Potter brushes or anything else for that matter, not at the top of the results. I understand that other items with either/or those terms are going to show up but if eBay used a decent search engine then we wouldn’t have this problem..

    I know that while search systems can vary, on any shopping site if you type in a phrase such as that example then anything with Harris Brushes in the title, in that order, should appear first and foremost, and on most sites they do. But eBay have got it completely wrong and their search engine is a complete mess. In my example it was clearly misinterpreting “Harris” as “Harry” and possibly taking into account that people had mis-spelt Harry, but that’s frankly an absurd way to go about things. Furthermore, if you need to place your search phrase in quotes then eBay should add a simple line with instructions immediately below the search box, because 99.99% of buyers wouldn’t know that. Quite simply, it’s not set up correctly.

    Like eBay, we also use the WordPress platform and I can assure you that if we sold both Harris Brushes and Harry Potter brushes, if you typed in Harris Brushes that’s exactly what would come up in the results. I’m not posting our site URL on here, but as an example go to argos.co.uk , who use the same system as us, and type in Harris Brushes. Your result will show Harris brushes and ONLY Harris brushes. That’s how it should work. Most other sites can manage it so why can’t eBay?

  26. Your comment ‘eBay is constantly looking for ways to improve the buying experience for its customers’

    eBay’s customers are the sellers that pay the extortionate fees to them supposedly, to market the products the sellers are attempting to sell.

    The buyers are the sellers customers, NOT eBay’s. The sooner that eBay acknowledges that it is supposed to be an introduction platform and NOT the Godzilla of ecommerce things may start to improve all round for everyone including eBay!!!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

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