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eBay Survey Hints at Paid Search Model

Sellers asked if they would pay higher final value fees for improved search exposure.

As eBay continues to rework its search engine, it may be considering a move to tie sellers’ placement in eBay search to how much they are willing to pay in final value fees.

eBay forum posters last week discussed what such a move would mean after some sellers received a survey in which eBay asked: “How would you feel if you could bid on your final value fees, which would improve your ranking in search results?”

Another version of the survey asked: “How would you feel if you had an option to pay an approximate 25-percent fee premium to guarantee a ‘top 5 listing’ in search results?”

“It sounds like eBay is considering turning search placement into a pay-per-click auction like Google AdWords,” says an eBay discussion board poster going by the name serious_coder. “This would give some control back to the seller, if it were implemented correctly. But if eBay continued to let the diamond sellers bigfoot everybody else for free, it would be no different from the current situation.”

Many commenters add that a bid-for-placement scheme would be detrimental to smaller sellers.

“This would give some control back to the seller, if it were implemented correctly”

“This is just another way for eBay to make the stores with the most money come out on top of search,” notes rmge. “I’ll pay 11 percent; well I raise you—I’ll pay 15 percent. As if the platinum sellers needed any more boosts in Best Match.”

Some pine for the way things used to be. “Remember the ‘old’ eBay where your auction was on top for the first day and the last, and you could buy a ‘featured’ auction for $14.95?” muses avamac410. “People actually saw my items.”

“What is wrong with providing a simple search results page (or pages) without the Best Match feature?” asks prettywoman-2012. “Problems started popping up when Best Match was introduced. Just get rid of the thing and we would all be happily selling!”

Still others are neutral on the idea of paying for eBay search placement.

“My own opinion is that search placement doesn’t mean all that much,” asserts blades46537. “If someone wants what you have, they’ll find it. Just look at the lookers you get for products that don’t sell at expiration time. I don’t care one way or the other if eBay institutes such a program. I’ll bid for as low a fee as I can every time. It’s a no brainer.”

About the author

Crista Souza
Crista Souza is founding editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. A journalism graduate of San Jose State University, she spent 13 years as a business and technology reporter in Silicon Valley. Crista has been writing about B2C and C2C ecommerce since 2008. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Rck_info

    This would only improve (maybe) results for the large sellers who could afford it, further driving sales down for the small seller.  It will be like taxes.  They never go down they only increase.  If you agree to pay for listing placement, then you are agreeing to pay for increases when ever eBay demands them.

  • Dogged4life

    Will ebay ever stop searching for ways to squeeze money out of sellers who are already barely making a profit?!!!!!!! The little guys always get pushed out one way or another.

  • Jimbo

    Pretty soon eBay will probably start charging for completed item searches too. Then we can’t research the value of an item before purchasing it to resell.

    Just another attempt at their charging fees for anything they can. They are the big kid on the block, and will continue the silly rules and such until another site can compete with the traffic they generate.

  • Music1960s

    Although I have been selling on Ebay for 11 years and I am a power seller and a Top-Rated Seller,  they are about to outdo themselves (and maybe crash and burn). And yes I do remember the NICE EBAY. 

     I do sell on other, NICER, venues. Ebay has recently lost a ton of money from me from sales not affiliated with them. The Ebay Star system is the stupidest, most biased piece of work they have come up with. Add in the ridiculous 14 day day return policy and you have a seller, like myself, finding other, more sales friendly venues to sell on. I do hold 4.9 to 5 stars in every category on Ebay, but that still doesn’t make the whole system stink.

    I sell one of a kind type items so I don’t care about placement. My items will continue to sell.  I am not paying them for placement nor best matched. Whenever I click into ebay and wind up in best matched, I quickly go to new listings. I don’t even bother looking at best matched. From the ratty looking dolls I see from the first few items….these are the brown nose, getting high placement. The items aren’t especially nice or one of a kind.

    • PatMc93117

      Comparing eBay to other selling venues, which other venues ones would give the highest recommendation to?  Which venues have the most buyers in your opinion?  I’ve suspected that other venues may sometimes cost slightly lesser sales, but with auctions not hot like they once were, I suspect traffice on other venues may only compare fractionally with eBay traffic, although now that I think about it, I haven’t bought or sold on eBay for about four years.  What do you think about the difference in traffic and total costs of sale?  Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone who tracks the regular fees and FVFs plus Paypal fees knows how much they’re already paying Ebay. In my case, it’s usually already over 25%. This is just one more example of how greedy Ebay has gotten, and yet another reason why I’m leaving as soon as I finish my degree…

  • Dogged4life

    Amazing how a company can grow to become so greedy. I guess they forget that small sellers are actually humans behind the name. Some day the walls will come crumbling down for ebay, and after the dust clears, they will realize how they began in the first place, and stop trying to be like other online retail giants, and go back to their roots. Greed has destroyed  many businesses from the inside out!

    • Wandjsouth

       eBay doesn’t CARE about the little guy anymore. Why? Because those who started the site are no longer THERE – they sold out to these money mongers.

       I would be willing to bet that there is not ONE of eBay’s executives – or those who sit up at night looking for ways to get more money out of us – has EVER SOLD AN ITEM on eBay. If they HAD, they would not be so anxious to give away 25% of their hard earned dollar.

      I wonder if any of these people have stopped to figure out that if a seller lists an item for $.99 with a shipping cost of $3.00 (First Class Mail) – and that is what it SELLS for – the “profit” – lol  – is 21 CENTS!
      $.99 – 9 cents FVF, minus 27 cents (9% of $3.00 shipping) MINUS 42 cents to COLLECT YOUR OWN MONEY from PayPal = 21 Cents.  Yep, We haven’t even MENTIONED the COST of the ITEM to begin with.

      Makes me want to jump up and go list 100 items!

      I have been an eBay seller for 13 years. I USED to list 100 – 150 items per month. Now I try to keep it under 50.

      I just saw something where they want to try SAME DAY SHIPPING! Are they nuts?

      When I first started selling on eBay, NEW items were NOT ALLOWED – only antiques and collectibles.  NOW, the NEW items are probably 85% of eBay’s offerings.

      •  I understand the fear and frustration displayed on this page after reading about the recent “ideas” being tossed around by ebay. I dont like what I am hearing either. But I think there is a bit of over-reaction and exaggeration. First off, if you are selling products on ebay or any marketplace for that matter, that are not profitable, then you need to find better sourcing or simply different products. As was mentioned by a few posters, google cpc is outrageous. The ROI is normally not worth the money unless you are a huge company. It is very difficult to generate enough traffic to a stand alone website to compete with the sales generated through an ebay store. I’ve been there and done that and I am still trying to do that. At the end of the day, nothing gets the traffic and conversions like the money spent on ebay fees. Places like ebay and others do the work for you. They bring you the traffic for a % of your revenue. That is a fairly fair arrangement. I dont know where some of you are getting this 25% fees. I would not being selling anything online if I was paying that much. My fees to sell on ebay.. FVF, store subscription, paypal fees.. all of it averages out to 11.93% of total sales revenue. The cost to generate that kind of sales on your own website would be much more than just under 12 cents of every dollar earned.

  • sonny

    Just when I thought they couldn’t find any other way to squeeze more money out of sellers.  I can bet my last dollar that eBay has a whole team that their only purpose is to squeeze more dollars out of us sellers.

  • PatMc93117

    If eBay wants to make more money, why doesn’t eBay just try to mend fences with sellers that they dumped and sellers that dumped eBay?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think having us ebayers pay for pre click like google. is really a joke.  and the people with the most money wins.. and the small guy loses again.   I have no problem with ebay making money they do a lot of advertising.. That is what  we paid for but to have a pay per click like google isn’t right even if that was just the fees I mean 100.00 can be gone in a matter of hours.. and the joke is if you have ever used google pay pre click.. it is  lot of pages that are just ads  that are not on a page of any content.. just a page full of ads.. I big waste of money…
    from ebayer  HerasOnlineMarket

  • PastfinderAntiques

    I am a very small Ebay seller because I am an unemployed accounting professional and I need to pay my bills. I sell antiques and collectibles. Ebay is not on my side and does very little to boost my sales. I just wish I could get a job so I can go back to NOT relying on Ebay income to pay my bills.

  • Bonsai1

    Australia is the testing ground for ebay’s greedy policies and they get away with it here 98% of the time because Aussie ebayers just sit there and cop it without lifting a finger or doing anything about it.Whinging from a keyboard WON’T cut it – Come on Aussies,DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS.

    • Auctionbusters

      Totally agree with you, but the reality is there is a massive language barrier as the eBay operations team is located in Asia. You can’t communicate with eBay and it’s funny, if you wanted to make a complaint about eBay, there is no way you can do it as it is not even on their ‘help’ or contact us pages. They just don’t care

  • Surley if everybody  plumped for the fee for top five placings just how many can get into the top five, get my drift ?
    If there’s five ok but how can you show the top five all at once who gets priority out of millions and millions, hard to put it over but see if you can work out what I’m getting at.
    Don’t you end up at square one ?

  • Renegade722

    e-bay has become= pay -pay-pay for less-less-less, and that includes customer support for sellers. i am fed up with making calls to rectify a problem buyer who abuses the system and gets away with it and i call – get disconnected with their “pass the buck” system = hoping you will cave in and give up…… i pay almost 25% of a sale to a partner who has no investment in my inventory and makes rules that only accomodate lying buyers. then take that liar and use it to promulgate my inability to receive my hard earned possible 20% discount. i could go on & on. total nonsense- definitely going elsewhere to sell.  i will pick a new thief partner soon.

    • Anhsales

       You have hit the nail on the head with me. Exactly the same situation. Lost the 20% because of a buyer who never even set eyes on the product because she wanted to return for refund. Mad at me because I would not give her the refund 3 Hr. after it was bought and shipped out. How can this nasty fowl mouth lady even state that the product was not as described nor how can she say the product was not delivered in time. etc.etc. Yes she does have the right to her say but not when she blatantly lies and threatens me with negative feedback.
      Her atttitude is not what I am ticked about. It is the fact that one persons views on a sale is what cost me that 20% fail. Not only for 1 month but 3. Phoned ebay about here proven lies and proven threats. Ebay sticks up for a customer that does not pay 1 dime towards their massive income. While it costs me over a thousand dollars extra in fees.

      Ebay runs the show and us small time sellers are doomed to die as per eBay wishes

  • Angela

    If you’re a small seller, might as well forget about making any money on eBay. I make nothing after sales. They have me in a position where I’m lucky if two people look at my items in seven days. The Best Match system is discriminatory and ugly. I go right to low prices first when I search. I never deal with Best Match ever!  I’ve been on eBay since 1999, with 100% positive feedback, and they reward me by dropping me to a standard rating because I don’t sell more than 100 items in a year. Might as well think of it as a hobby if you’re a small seller. No money here, that’s for sure.

  • Vnmnvn

    I pay over 25% to eBay and Paypal. One would think that, that would have some economic weight for them to consider sellers as valuable clients.  The Feedback system set up all in the buyers favour shows that sellers are the bottom dwellers. Negative or Neutral Feedback by a buyer should not be posted until the buyers have contact with a seller first. I have discussed this with customer service reps., but they are so brainwashed about the virtues of buyers that they cannot even comprehend the thought. The discussions don’t go anywhere. eBay is a good site but they have turned the corner on sellers. I suspect eBay sets up buyers to give Negative and Neutral Feedback just to keep sellers FVF discounts down.

    • where do you get 25% from? I would like to see this breakdown in fees.

      • Go to Sales reports. Scroll to sales. Scroll to fees. Calculate total fees to total sales %. Big suprise EH. From Canada



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