Monday, March 4, 2019

eBay Forces All Fixed-Price Listings to Good 'Til Cancelled

Rumors began last year that eBay was planning to force all fixed-price listings to Good 'Til Cancelled (GTC).  The rumors began when eBay's mobile app quit allowing sellers to select any fixed-price duration other than GTC.  No word came from eBay on what was up, but sellers knew that they had just cause to be concerned.  eBay has a nasty history of abruptly forcing unwanted changes on sellers.

Late last week, eBay gave sellers about two-weeks' notice that all fixed-price listings will have to use GTC beginning in the middle of March.  How nice of them to give us just two weeks to try to figure out what to do.

This change is a big problem for many of us, and I have not seen such a large seller backlash about an eBay announcement in many years.  Sellers are upset and furious with some talking about closing their stores or leaving eBay.  In my case, I am dismayed and quite at a loss as to what to do.  I really do not know, and I do not have much time to figure it out.

Why is this change a problem?  

The change is a problem because many sellers float more than their allotted monthly free listings.  I tend to have between 250 and 300 listings that I float on my 250 free listings.  I do this by not renewing some ended listings until after my free listings reset at the beginning of each month.  I end up with extra listings when I take advantage of the occasional eBay free listings promotion, which gives me extra listings.  I guess I will never be able to take advantage of one of those promotions ever again.

The reason why is because GTC listings will auto-renew, taking away my control of when the items get relisted.  If the listings auto-renew, I will no longer have the float.  I will be forced to pay listing fees on all listings above 250 items.

Forcing sellers to use GTC is also problematic because listings go stale due to the auto-renewal.  The GTC listing will never show as a new item in search except for when it is initially listed, and it will never show as an item that is about to end.  Most of us who understand how eBay search works sort by "newly listed" and "ending soonest" so that we can make sure we spot everything.  GTC permanently keeps listings out of those results.  The only time a GTC listing will ever show in "newly listed" is when it is first listed.  Each subsequent month will be an auto-renewal which does not reset the start time.  The GTC item will never end, so it will never show up in the "ending soonest" search results. 

I have read anecdotal reports by sellers about how their sales increased when they changed their listings from GTC to 30-day fixed-price.  Other sellers reported that their sales went down when they changed their 30-day fixed-price listings to GTC.  This change is not good, even though eBay is trying hard to spin it as positive.

I have not followed the eBay message boards closely in the last few days, but most threads are about this change.  I read some comments about how eBay employees are shutting down threads and deleting them if they are too negative.  

My hope—which is most certainly in vain—is that somehow eBay management will realize in the next 10 days that this change is a very bad idea.

I am quite glad that I have been working on reducing my stagnant inventory and am now down to around 230 eBay listings.  At least I am not over 250, so this looming change is not an emergency.  However, I cannot abide by my listings being GTC, so I will have to figure out a schedule where I cancel them at day 29 so that I can relist them to keep them from going stale.  This is going to be very tricky and will require me to keep close track of my listings in the coming weeks. 

The easiest way to manage this is to get my listings on a schedule where I cancel and renew all of them in batches, like half of my listings on the 10th and half on the 20th.  In order to get on that kind of schedule, I will have to let ended listings remain ended until I am ready to relist the first batch of listings.  If I take this approach, I will likely have low listing numbers at times in the next month or so.

I have some books that I need to list on eBay, but I am completely unmotivated.  I am glad that I have a shop on Etsy, because it looks like Etsy will have to be the place where I list most of my books.  I need to consider closing my eBay store in the next six months.  I cannot do it immediately without penalty, since I am just halfway through the subscription that auto-renewed on September 1, 2018.  So, eBay has me trapped for now, but I could end the relationship in just under six months.

If eBay would just let sellers run their businesses how they want without trying to micromanage everything, sellers would have better sales and be more productive.

For a look at my online stores, visit these two links.


frugalcybermom said...

Thank you. This is the first article I have seen outside of Ebay about the pending change to GTC. I do not have a store but I have 3 Ebay accounts each with about 100 items. I count it being free to list items. Sometimes it takes a year or more for an item to sell. Much of what I sell is oddball collectible items but also books clothes and jewelry. This change is really going to mess with how I do business. Is it your understanding that the things that we currently have as unlisted will not be touched when the change goes into effect? I like your idea of ending the listings on the 29th day. I wonder though if that will be easy to see within ebay or will we need to track that on our own.

Jennifer White said...

I'm pretty sure that current unlisted items will remain so until we list them again. Of course, when we do list them again, they will be GTC, at least once the change is in effect.

I'm not how the time left will display in My eBay. I hope it is as easy to see the time left as it is now for the 30-day listings.