Sunday, November 18, 2012

eBay's Best Match Placement

Experienced eBay buyers know that they should always change the sort in eBay's search from "best match" to "ending soonest."  Since eBay has had "best match" as the default for years, a good many buyers use it to search and do not see most of the results.  eBay will soon restrict the number of results that appear in "best match," which will mean that items that are suppressed will never be seen at all by any of those buyers.

Last year, eBay gave the auction listings a boost in "best match."  I was able to use the auction listings to sell items.  It was nice, and I was able to become a top-rated seller in June.  eBay is always changing its policies back and forth, and now eBay has suppressed the auction results in best match.

Originally, auction listings were given a boost, then they were suppressed.  Next, auction listings were given a boost again, now they are suppressed again.  Could eBay make a decision and stick with it?  That's why so many of us now sell elsewhere.  We can't deal with stupid changes for no clear reason.

The result is that I am struggling to maintain the top-rated seller.  I may have to let it go in January, since I will have great trouble meeting my January sales requirement of 21 items.  In theory, I should be able to meet the requirement, but since my eBay sell-through rate on auctions is around 5%, the outlook is grim.  And I thought I had it bad four years ago when my sell-through rate dropped to 25%.  I had no idea.

eBay is running another of those "by invitation only" seller promotions for unlimited free auction listings.  As usual, I was invited.  I'm not sure why eBay bothers since nothing sells.  More to the point, I'm not sure why I bother since nothing sells.  Nevertheless, I have listed a bunch of items in hopes of meeting my January sales requirement.

Since I have listed some Connie Blair and Vicki Barr books and since those searches return a small number of items, I thought I should check to see exactly where I rank in "best match."  I know my items are suppressed, but actual data would be helpful.

I ran a Vicki Barr search for "title only" and in "best match."  The search returned 121 items.  My items are #50, 58, 66, 74, 82, 90, and 98.  The situation could be worse, but it is still bad.

I next ran a search for Connie Blair for "title only" and in "best match."  The search returned 84 items.  "Best match" is supposed to favor items that have been relisted that have sold in previous listings.  It is supposed to suppress items that do not get viewed or that have been viewed many times without selling.  Therefore, I fail to understand why an overpriced $620 Connie Blair lot is #1, and it has been listed for months without selling. 

In the Connie Blair search of 84 items, my items are #43, 52, 57, 61, 66, and 71.  This is pretty bad.

I am not going to try to find my Nancy Drew items, since a "title only" search returns 9,570 results.  Applying what I just discovered with my Vicki Barr and Connie Blair searches, my highest Nancy Drew book is probably between #4,000 and #5,000.  Consider when eBay begins limiting results in its new searches.  eBay is expected to show only the first 200 items.  When that occurs, buyers will never see my items.

And that is why items don't sell on eBay.  Perhaps I should reconsider trying to keep top-rated seller and just let it go.  Once the search begins limiting results, my items will be completely invisible.  They are already halfway to invisible, so the situation will only get worse. 


Coffeegulper said...

Hi Jennifer,
Don't worry. This is one Ebay member (who buys and sells) who has never had any use for the "best match" option in searches, and judging by the vast number of acquaintances I've met on Ebay over the years, I can't count one single person who doesn't use the "ending soonest" option.
"Best match" is a useless tool! As you mentioned, so many worthwhile listings are never visible, and if people don't use the "ending soonest" option, they're going to miss out on a lot of great deals!


Donna said...

I agree with Richard. I never use Best Match either. I get daily emails by New Listings in case I want to Watch items to get a feel for sales and prices, and then check the Ending Soonest when I'm ready to deal.


Jennifer White said...

I agree with both of you that all experienced collectors avoid "best match" like the plague. We all know that it hides desirable items in order to thrust random stuff in front of us that is overpriced.

What I meant in my post was that inexperienced buyers do not know this. The default at Amazon is "relevance," which is their version of "best match." People who don't know all the nuances involved don't know at first that eBay is not actually showing the best results. Those people are missing out, and this does affect end prices for auctions.

My auctions last year did fabulous because auctions were heavily favored in "best match." I see a big difference this year now that auctions are no longer favored.

The trouble is that none of this can be proved one way or the other. We don't know what percent of searchers are using "best match" rather than one of the better search sorts. It could be only 25%, but what if as many as 50% of searchers are using "best match"?