Last week eBay announced the latest Seller Update which I’ll cover in a separate post on Wednesday. But earlier this year, eBay made an announcement about duplicate listings that many people seem to have missed. And this is some SUPER IMPORTANT stuff any seller should be aware of!
What are duplicate listings?
Put simply, listings are considered duplicate if they are for items that have no significant difference between them.
For example, let’s say I have a bulk lot of identical micro USB chargers that I want to sell. These chargers are generic and will work on any phone or tablet that uses micro USB.
I want to sell them quickly so create 10 different buy it now listings, with these titles:
- Micro USB Charger for Samsung Galaxy Phones
- Micro USB Charger for Google Nexus Phones
- Micro USB Charger for Samsung Galaxy Tablets
- Etc. etc.!
This is not allowed and they would be considered duplicate listings because they are the same, generic product – there is nothing about the charger in listing no. 1 that makes it different from the product in listing no.3 or that means it will only work on Samsung Galaxy phones.
I would instead have to list them all together in one multi-quantity fixed price listing.
With AUCTION style listings (with NO BIN option), the rules are different – you can create un-limited number of auction-style listings, however only one auction with no bids will be shown at any one time. That means that if I list say 10 in one go, only the first one will show. Then once that receives a bid, a second listing will also show, etc.
Just so that it’s 100% clear, here is what you are allowed to list at the same time:
- Un-limited number of auction-style listings (with NO BIN option) AND
- 1 fixed price listing OR
- 1 fixed price multi-quantity listing OR
- 1 fixed price listing with variations OR
- 1 auction-style listing with Buy it now
And here is what you are NOT allowed to do:
- Use separate fixed price listings to sell generic or universal items (such as AA batteries, generic lens caps, generic cases, and cables) and list them as being specifically compatible with certain products when they are generic.
- Use separate fixed price listings to sell items compatible with several products or models where the same compatible models are displayed in all listings, but perhaps presented in a different order.
- Create more than one fixed price listing for items that aren’t significantly different.
- Add an additional item of insignificant value to the listing of identical items in order to create a listing that appears different.
- List more than one identical fixed priced item separately from the same seller, including listing the items:
>>> Under another eBay user ID
>>> In different categories
- Create a fixed price listing and an auction-style listing with the Buy it now option for identical items.
- Create multiple auction-style listings for identical items with any of the following:
>>> Buy it now option
>>> Different start prices
>>> Different reserve prices
>>> Different titles or descriptions
This is all very simple and really you can work out what a duplicate listing is just by using your common sense.
Please don’t try to be “smart” here and outwit eBay! You’d be surprised about how many emails I get asking if using a different postage method, or different packaging, or wording the title differently, or including a different free gift will mean you can use multiple listings for the same product.
The answer is no! eBay will know and your listings (and possibly account) will suffer as a result.
And that’s actually what today’s post is all about. Let’s go back to that July announcement that I mentioned at the beginning:
In that announcement eBay stated that they “will reduce listing visibility in Best Match for the small number of sellers who violate our duplicate listings policy”.
No big deal though, right? After all, eBay have always punished duplicate listings by reducing their search ranking…
Well it is a big deal, as they go on to say that:
“If a seller violates our duplicate listings policy, then all the listings from that seller – including those created using any of the seller’s linked accounts – will have reduced visibility”.
This means that not only will the offending listings get reduced search rankings, as was the case before, ALL of the listings on your account will be affected. Even more, all accounts that are linked to you, so if you have multiple accounts on eBay for different businesses/niches – they are all in trouble!
I think it really goes without saying that the best option here is to not try anything risky.
Just stick with the proven formula of having one main fixed price listing (preferable a GTC listing) and then you can run additional auctions to get some extra traffic and sales in.
But remember, you still have to follow the rules outlined above – which means no BIN option for these auctions, they have to have the same starting price, and the same title and description.
If possible, list all different options for your product as variations within the one main listing. I’m talking about things like:
- Different colours
- Different sizing
- Different quantities (even though eBay do state you can have more than one listing for vastly different quantities).
This way you can be confident that eBay won’t penalise you for duplicate listings, it’s a lot easier for your buyers to find the product they want, and most importantly – you can build a big sales history under one listing, which will give it a big boost in the search rankings.
If the category you sell in doesn’t support listings with variations and you only have a single variation (such as colour choice) then state clearly somewhere in the listing that buyers should message you after buying with their preference, otherwise a random colour will be sent.
And that’s about it! This is a fairly basic topic and something that you are probably already aware of. However, I thought it would be a good idea to do a post on duplicate listings, in light of the more severe punishments introduced by eBay for offenders!
If anything is unclear, or if you have some questions about your own multiple listings, then feel free to post in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you personally.
Will be back on Wednesday with a detailed post on the latest eBay Seller Update!
All the best,