January 6, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 10 Comments

What’s Best on eBay – Individual Listings or Listings with Variations?

Welcome back!

It’s time for another Reader’s Question post and today we’ll be looking into the listing with variations or individual listings dilemma. So which is best when you sell similar products on eBay? And how will your choice affect your sell-through rate and search ranking?

Here’s an email Anne sent to me on this topic:

Hi Andrew,

First of all thank you for all the very useful advice you publish, which people like me benefit greatly from.

I created a business eBay account earlier this year with a handful of items. Over the subsequent months I added a few more but I was becoming frustrated at the lack of exposure my listings were getting and decided to upgrade to a basic shop.

Despite reading this wasn’t really worth my while unless I was selling 50 items plus a month, I was not happy until I had the Good ‘Til Cancelled listing option. I was planning on adding more items anyway and figured I would never move up the rankings if my Amount Sold went back to 0 every 30 days.

I thought I could push my items a bit more, so I decided to list my listings which had variations individually too, i.e. by colour.

Initially I thought I had so many free listings with my shop subscription I may as well use some of them up. Even today I realise that I am not getting the best value from my shop but to be honest having GTC has been the best thing ever and I would rather fill those listings gradually as I grow.

And it has definitely helped me to raise my profile. Lately, however, I checked how many views I am getting on eBay per item, and my listings with variations get way, way more. I also sell a lot more this way.

So my question is this…..first of all is it worth listing my items individually and duplicating them and more importantly am I doing this to the detriment of my variable listings? I think what I am trying to say is does it take away focus from my more successful variable listings or should it not make any difference?

Many thanks,
Anne

Hi Anne,

Thanks for your email and questions.

First of all – you DON’T need an eBay shop subscription anymore to use the Good ‘Til Cancelled (GTC) listing format, not anymore! Yes, this is a new change on eBay, introduced very recently so you may have missed it but it’s true – anyone on eBay can now use GTC format – with or without a shop subscription.

So if you’re selling just a few items, it’s probably not worth paying that subscription fee anymore.

Now, onto your dilemma on listing individual products versus one listing with variations – you have basically already answered that yourself. If the items you sell are the same but in different colours, you want to list them all under one listing, using variations.

Just think about this from your customers’ perspective – they are searching for a product and maybe don’t know what colour/size/type they want. If you have all variations listed under one listing, it makes it very easy for the customer to make that choice.

But if all variations are listed individually, they may never even see/know that you have them for sale! They could land on one listing – see the item in Black and go back to search results looking for other colours, probably from other sellers (if they don’t click on your shop/related items link).

Then there’s the conversion rate factor, which is SUPER important in eBay’s search algorithm. Conversion rate means how many people who look at your listing actually makes a purchase. So for example, if you get 100 views to your listing and make 1 sale, that is a 1% conversion rate.

The higher the conversion rate, the higher your listings will appear in search because eBay makes money from final value fees! They are interested in pushing listings with high conversion rates higher in search results as they will make more in fees from every view, compared to listings with a lower conversion rate.

And I can guarantee you that a listing with 5 colour variations WILL have a higher conversion rate compared to a listing with just one colour. That’s plain common sense.

Lastly – sales history. You have probably noticed how important sales history is nowadays on eBay. In most cases listings that are in top search positions have a huge sales history. If you list items individually, you’re actually diluting sales across many listings, which doesn’t help. On the other hand, if all colours are listed under one listing, all those sales will count towards the sales history for that one listing.

A larger sales history means higher positions in search, more views, more sales and so on!

You should also be aware that listing items individually and then listing them again in one listing with variations is actually a breach of eBay’s duplicate policy rules. And this means that you’re actually lowering your search positions for ALL listings by doing this, which doesn’t help!

So to sum it up – you can cancel your shop subscription if you only signed up for it to be able to use the GTC listing format AND cancel all individual item listings and instead concentrate on getting your variation listings higher in search. In the long term this will give you much better conversion rates, bigger sales history for that listing, and subsequently improved positions in search results.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Leave your comments below this post and if you have a question you want me to cover in future Reader’s Question posts, get in touch with me via my help desk here. I will reply within 24 hours, Monday – Friday, EVEN if your question won’t be selected for future blog posts.

Hope this helps & have a great weekend everyone!

Andrew

10 Comments
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  1. Hi Andrew

    Thank you so much for your reply. I didn’t know that you can now use a GTC listing without a shop. I will now cancel my shop on that basis. I will subscribe to one again when it is worth my while. That is very useful information you have just given me which I was unaware of and now regarding my dilemma, things are much clearer to me now. It will also save me money for the time being. Thanks again for all of your much appreciated advice. Anne.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re very welcome Anne! 🙂

  2. Hi Andrew, Happy New Year! I am confused about the duplicate listing policy. I understood that you could have a GTC listing plus 1 auction listing for the same product.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Gaye,

      Happy New Year to you too! 🙂

      I have a separate post which explains in detail duplicate listing policy:

      https://andrewminalto.com/duplicate-listings-on-ebay/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  3. All my listings are in variations but there does not seem to be any product reviews for these listings so I am considering relisting them in separate listings the same as most of my competitors especially now the product review stars show in the main search, potential customers now see all my competitors with stars and mine with none, I know which one I would choose if I was the customer, the one with all the positive reviews obviously….

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Daniel,

      I haven’t noticed this yet – do reviews really start to show up in search?

      Can you give a search keyword example that brings such results?

      Many Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Yes for example search vitamin d tablets and you will see some with the stars showing, I find this very unfair as I’m sticking to the rules of listing in variations where my competitors are getting all the reviews, I imagine it will only be a matter of time before listings with the best reviews will get higher search positions also…

        1. Andrew Minalto

          hmm, still not showing for me… It could be that they’re trialling this out right now with customer segments.

          But Many Thanks for pointing this out, will definitely look into it.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. yes it must be being trialed then, I have done a screenshot, see link:

            http://www.use.com/J9OWB

            cheers

          2. Andrew Minalto

            Thanks for that, looks interesting! 😉

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