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eBay Changes Affect Auctions with Buy It Now

Listings may violate Duplicate Listing Policy.

eBay’s decision to treat auctions with the Buy It Now option as fixed-price listings means some sellers will have to update their auctions before May 28 to ensure their listings will post.

With the new policy, announced today as part of eBay’s 2012 Spring Seller Update, auctions with the Buy It Now option will be considered fixed-price listings. This puts sellers with similar auctions at risk of violating eBay’s Duplicate Listing Policy, which took effect in late 2010.

The policy was meant to “prevent search results from being dominated by multiple listings of the same item from the same seller,” and allow more listings and sellers to get exposure on eBay, according to the Duplicate Listing Policy.

When initially announced, the policy only affected fixed-price listings. However, “reducing the number of duplicate listings for an identical item from the same seller has paid off,” eBay states in its spring update announcement. “It’s made it easier for buyers to find what they want—and significantly increased exposure and sales for more sellers.”

So the site decided to expand the requirement to auctions with the Buy It Now option. This means that by May 28, similar auctions from the same seller must be “significantly different” to post on the marketplace, eBay adds.

What is ‘significantly different?’

“Significantly different” listings are those that address “a significantly different user need or offers a significantly different value to buyer,” according to eBay.

To decide if listings from the same seller are significantly different, eBay looks at listing information, including price, color, size, compatibility, use or purpose, quantity, item specifics, as well as title, description, item condition, photos, subtitle, location and product ID, the site notes.

eBay adds that differences must be reflected in a listing—and they must be “significant” in the value it will give buyers. eBay uses the example of a new Dell Latitude laptop that comes with a pen. That would be considered a duplicate listing of a new Dell Latitude laptop that comes with a mouse pad if the only thing that is different about the listing is the mention of the pen. According to eBay, the pen wouldn’t give the buyer a significantly different value compared to the mouse pad.

eBay recommends sellers make at least two fields (e.g., description, photos, price, etc.) in their listings substantially different to prevent problems.

How sellers can avoid duplicate listings

Rebecca Miller, an eBay seller of more than 12 years and the product manager of, the largest third-party developer of eBay tools, encourages sellers to start reviewing similar listings they offer to make sure they won’t be affected by the policy change.

“May 28 may seem like a long way off, but it will be here before you know it, and you don’t want to be caught off guard,” she says. “I’d say, start reviewing listings now!”

eBay notes that sellers can remove the Buy It Now option in their auctions to prevent these listings from being considered fixed-price. However, it adds, sellers should not take this to mean they can create duplicate listings.

Miller says Auctiva customers with affected listings can use Auctiva’s Bulk Edit tool to quickly remove the Buy It Now option in their saved listings. However, if these listings also include an immediate payment requirement, the requirement should first be removed from the seller’s checkout profile, as it is not allowed on auction-style listings.

For new listings, sellers can use the Parts Compatibility feature (for eBay Motors) or create multi-variation listings to prevent similar items from being flagged as duplicates.

For more information on this new policy, read eBay’s official 2012 Spring Seller Update.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Smittyscarz

    Soes this also affect the final value fees for these items? Do they now fall into the FVF for fixed price? (in effect creating a back door fee increase!)

  • I HATE being forced to list my items in a certain way.   I don’t want to use the multi variations for my listings.  I sell clothing xsmall to 5X.  Ebay now considers my listings with different sizes to be duplicates.  When I do list on the auction side, I do not list all sizes in a certain size.  That is my selling strategy.  Now I have to move all sizes in the multi listing together thus I have to list items on the auction side that I don’t want there.   My only other choice is not to list on the auction side.  I am also not happy with the return policy.  People “rent” my clothes then return them and get their money back.  E Bay is making it harder and harder to do business.  Lin

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