De-Duping Your Listings

Get the inside scoop on eBay's new Duplicate Listing Policy and how to comply.

by staff writer
- Dec 20, 2010

Have you updated your listings in accordance with eBay's new Duplicate Listing policy? Although this policy took effect two months ago, it seems that many eBay sellers have yet to comply, whether due to lack of information, or lack of tools (or where to find them) to help get the job done. So we've updated our article, originally published Oct. 19, 2010, to give you even more ways to ensure your listings meet eBay's new requirement. — Ed.

If you sell a lot of the same items, listen up: eBay has begun enforcing a new policy that directly affects you. The new Duplicate Listing Policy took effect Oct. 26 and states that concurrent fixed-price listings must be "significantly different" to stay live on the site. eBay will automatically end listings that aren't.

While the marketplace will reimburse merchants' insertion and listing enhancement fees the first time their listings are ended early, sellers forfeit their listing fees for any subsequent removals. So you should get yourself into compliance.

If you're wondering why eBay put this policy in place, and how it impacts you, don't worry: We'll take you through it—and we'll tell you how you can cope.

Are your listings affected?

As we mentioned, the Duplicate Listing Policy only impacts fixed-price items. If you only sell in the auction format, there's no need to review your items—they are unaffected by this policy. However, if you're opting for fixed-price items, you should log into your eBay account and use the eBay look-up tool to see if any of your items are deemed "duplicates." With a simple search, this tool will return duplicates that you may need to revise. Read on and we'll show you how to make this process as painless as possible.

If you think you're off the hook because you sell using multiple eBay IDs, sorry to say, you're not

Auctiva tools help you cope

First and foremost, don't launch any new listings that are duplicates. One way to ensure your listings will be allowed to run their full course on eBay is to schedule identical listings to launch in succession, only after the previous one ends. This way you won't have more than one of the same listing live on the site at a time. Auctiva users can do this easily by creating an Auto-Relist profile for listings they wish to automatically repost. Or, using the free Scheduling feature, they can create listings whenever they want and have them post after an identical listing ends.

If you decide to go ahead and end a listing early to avoid violating the duplicates policy, you'll need to do this manually within eBay. If you have created an Auto-Relist profile for the listing through Auctiva, you'll need to first end the listing through eBay and then cancel the Auto-Relist profile from your Auctiva Saved Listings page. Once you've done this, you can apply a new Auto-Relist profile to the listing.

But you can completely avoid cancelling live listings by simply revising certain aspects, such as images, item specifics, prices or titles. Using Auctiva's Find & Replace feature, you can revise up to 100 listings at a time, including:

  • Buy It Now price
  • Duration
  • Description
  • Start price
  • Subtitle
  • Reserve price
  • Title
  • Domestic handling time
  • PayPal e-mail address
  • Return policy

eBay officials recommend having at least two fields be substantially different. Don't simply tweak your item description and expect that to make a difference. The title is a good place to start. But if you do alter your listing title, make sure it's more than just a slight change or it might still get flagged as a duplicate.

If you list items on eBay Motors, you can use Auctiva's Parts Compatibility feature to create one listing that will show buyers all of the makes and models your automotive part fits. You could also use the Multi-Variation Tool to create one listing for multiple similar items if you sell in the Clothing & Accessories category. These not only save you time, since you only have to create one listing, they also save you money for the same reason: You'll only be creating one listing.

Auctiva's Help section offers step-by-step tutorials for using our Parts Compatibility and Multi-Variation tools.

Now, if you think you're off the hook with this new policy because you sell using multiple eBay IDs, sorry to say, you're not. All of your listings must still abide by this policy. In fact, eBay says all sellers are restricted "to one listing per item across all [their] selling accounts."

The only exception eBay is making is for items that are made to fit specific products, models or brands. This includes car parts, connector cables and phone chargers. However, there is a limit on these, too. You can only have five duplicate listings of these types on the marketplace at one time.

You can list two laptops that are the same brand and have the same memory space and still be in compliance

Policy aims for better experience

So why did eBay decide to put this policy in place? According to the site, the policy will improve the buyer and seller experience on the site by providing shoppers with more relevant search results and giving more sellers more exposure. You see, some merchants overflow the marketplace with multiple listings for one item, each with different ending times. This way when a shopper searches for an item using the "ending soonest" Search option, several of the seller's items will be near the top. While this may help that particular seller, it doesn't help other merchants, and it may not be very helpful to shoppers, either.

One quick way to check if your listings will be affected by the new Duplicate Listings policy is to log into your eBay account and use eBay's look-up tool. As we mentioned, this tool will return any items eBay considers "duplicates," so you know which ones you'll need to edit to be in compliance with the policy. If the look-up tool doesn't return listings, you're in the clear. However, if it does, resist the temptation to end these listings early. eBay won't refund insertion or listing upgrade fees if you end listings early. The site must do that for you.

A 'significant' difference

We keep referring to the phrase "significantly different," and you may be wondering what this means exactly, so we'll take a moment to explain.

"A difference is considered significant when it addresses a significantly different user need or offers a significantly different value to the buyer," according to eBay. However, a listing must also do something else: It must contain a difference in the listing itself, for instance, in price, color, size, compatibility, user or purpose, quantity, item specifics, title, description, item condition or photos.

"By clearly reflecting significant item differences in multiple areas of a listing, including title, price, photo, description, item condition and/or item specifics, you not only ensure your listing won't be identified as duplicates, but you also help ensure your buyers won't miss these differences," eBay notes.

So you can list two laptops that are the same brand and have the same memory space and still be in compliance of this new regulation—as long as the computers differ in price, color or condition. On its seller information pages, eBay provides some great examples of listings to show you which are "significantly different."

eBay has already begun shutting down delinquent listings, so if you haven't yet taken action, now is the time to begin reviewing your items. We suggest you log into your account and see if you need to do some "de-duping," before it's too late.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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