eBay Tips 2008: eBay Shops and the Listings Mix

It is vital to bear in mind that the content of this post might very well become outdated in the next few weeks when eBay’s fee and other changes are announced later in the month. We don’t yet know the substance of these changes but it’s a fair bet that they will include substantive changes to eBay fees (probably a greater emphasis on Final Values Fees rather than Listing Fees), significant changes to item visibility and how your listings are displayed in Search and Browse and possible changes to the nature of SIF (Shop Inventory Format). I expect that these changes will come with a bang not a whimper, but until the announcements we’re flying blind and speculating. So let’s deal with the current situation and look at what we know. Funnily, I suspect that much of the old, generic advice will stay true.

Relying on one format sucks.
Today, if you’re sticking to a single format, you’re missing out. Selling using auctions only and BIN only (in 99% of cases) is not wise. eBay has lots of different types of buyers. Some love the thrill of the auction, the obsessive poring over bids, the adrenalin of sniping and the hope of a good old-fashioned bargain. The love of auctions, from a buying perspective, is a remnant of the old eBay. In the age of collectables and antiques it was the only way to go and I, personally, love it. But it doesn’t appeal to the convenience orientated shopper who isn’t interested in the ritual and waiting of the auction game who will very happily think Amazon (or plump for a High Street purchase) online before taking a risk on an auction. These eBayers prefer Buy it Now. They want to know what they will pay, do it quickly and receive the goods in a matter of days. Don’t limit your customer base by being dogmatic about formats.

It’s about a mix.
Both BIN and pure auction formats can serve as very useful signposts for eBay sellers. This is where you start thinking not just about individual items but rather the entirety of your catalogue. You can direct buyers to different goods, sale items and different formats. But most importantly, under the current regime, ‘core’ listings can be used to drive traffic to your eBay Shop and your SIF items. SIF items aren’t tarts: they are shy, demure BINs. They only show their faces in Search and Browse under certain circumstances. Sometimes I see sellers who depend too heavily on SIF alone and they grumble but sellers who are cleverly using the merchandising features, cross-selling tools and shamelessly pimping their Shop and SIF listings will happily say that all’s well with the world. Displaying your Shops header and category structure in all your listings is a good idea and pimping complementary items really does work. When they buy a pair of shoes, upsell cleaning products and the like.

SIF also works if you have a customer base that will search for very specialist terms. SIF items show when there aren’t many ‘core’ items to display. So SIF really works on highly niche terms and sellers with buyers who search for things like serial numbers or use unusual part names. Canny buyers, such as myself, will also toggle their search options in the hope of finding a bargain.

Don ‘t do anything yet.
Please don’t run out and start changing your listings on the back of the post. Within the fortnight we’ll know what eBay has in store for your business (yup, you’re the last to know). So, sit tight and try and spot the Eliot and Browning quotes I’ve included (as per Biddy’s Challenge) in this post. ;O)

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Tomorrow: eBay Shop Email Marketing

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