eBay will begin prohibiting duplicate fixed-price listings next month to declutter search results and give more sellers greater visibility, the company announced today.
Beginning Oct. 26, eBay will begin enforcing the new Duplicate Listing policy, which mandates concurrent fixed-price items from a single seller be "significantly different." Sellers who want to sell identical items in the fixed-price format will have to create a single multi-quantity listing.
"The purpose of the policy is to maximize sales for all sellers on eBay by ensuring that buyers consistently see the widest, most inspiring selection of items relevant to their search," says Laura Della Torre, senior manager of strategic partnerships within eBay's Seller Experience team. "The policy is specifically intended to prevent situations where search results are dominated by multiple duplicate listings from the same seller—one of the most common complaints from sellers and buyers."
Enforcement and scope
Once the policy takes effect, eBay says it will automatically end listings that violate the new policy (and credit sellers for their insertion and listing enhancement fees). The new policy affects only fixed-price—not auction format—listings and will apply to all eBay categories as well as eBay Motors.
All merchants must adhere to the new policy, eBay notes, even those with multiple eBay IDs. Sellers who fail to abide by the new rule could have their listings cancelled, have limits placed on their accounts, lose their seller status or have their accounts suspended.
Many sellers flood the marketplace with duplicate listings to maximize their exposure in search results sorted by 'ending soonest'
The only exceptions to the "one listing per item" rule are products that fit specific items, models or brands. These include items like car parts, connector cables or phone chargers, eBay notes.
So what makes listings "significantly different?" Attributes like color and size, according to eBay.
"A difference is considered significant when it addresses a significantly different user need or offers a significantly different value to buyers," eBay explains in its FAQs. The company cautions that merely adding the Best Offer option does not make a listing significantly different from another.
The new policy seems sensible to Auctiva Product Analyst and Top-rated seller Rebecca Miller.
"It's good to declutter search results by prohibiting duplicates of the same listing by the same seller," she says. "If I'm selling multiples of the same item, it makes sense to have only one listing. Why pay the extra insertion fees when you don't have to?"
Nevertheless, the practice of flooding the marketplace with identical listings is common.
"I believe many sellers use this technique to maximize their exposure in search results sorted by 'ending soonest,'" offers Auctiva Communications Manager Robert Green. "Instead, Auctiva users would be well-advised to utilize our Auto-Relist feature to immediately post a duplicate listing as soon as the original ends, whether it simply expires or ends in a sale."
eBay has asked for Auctiva's help in communicating this new policy—whose deadline is fast approaching—to our users. We'll be e-mailing our customers, posting alerts on our Community Forums and the Auctiva Blog, and adding alerts on several pages throughout Auctiva.com.
"One of the benefits of using a service like Auctiva, the largest certified third-party developer of eBay tools, is this kind of coordination," says Senior Product Manager Tony Maxey. "We talk to eBay officials regularly and, as such, are able to keep our tools in sync with the site's latest features and policies, while helping our users stay well informed."
The new Duplicate Listing policy reverses a policy eBay announced in November 2008, which stated it would stop hiding duplicate fixed-price listings from the same merchant. Before that policy, eBay only showed one duplicate listing per seller, as it will starting next month.
Read eBay's announcement.
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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.