The listing format you choose, traditional auction or fixed price (Stores Inventory, “Buy it Now” or BIN), has an impact on the listing’s position in the Best Match search results sort order. Some factors, such as time remaining until auction close, influence auction style listings but don’t impact fixed price listings. Conversely, some Best Match factors influence BIN listings, such as recent sales, that don’t affect auction listings. Additionally, some categories actually favor fixed price listings over the auction style and vice-versa. This chapter will identify these different variables and explain how the seller can use them to their advantage to rank highly in the Best Match search results.
Auction Style Listings
The auction style listing is the classic bidder-controlled pricing format which eBay started with back in the early days of the internet. Along with trust factors, relevancy, and item information, time ending soonest is a significant factor in determining ranking the the Best Match algorithm for auctions. This means that listings closing in the near future are ranked higher than auction style listings for similar items closing later in time (assuming the other factors such as product information and trust factors are equal).
Because sales activity provides no advantage to this particular format, auction style listings are best when you have limited inventory of a particular item for sale. Additionally, Best Match provides auction style listings an advantage in certain categories, specifically those in which “multi-quantity listings are not possible and not rational.”1 Collectibles and antiques are clearly examples categories that fit this description.
On average, auction-style listings comprise 70% of the listings on the first page of the Best Match search results. This is a significant figure indicating that the auction format is the simplest way to gain visibility under Best Match – if you don’t mind waiting until the listing is about to close before you earn that exposure.
Including a Buy It Now price in your auction can help you take advantage of the exposure that comes naturally with the auction listing format while attracting customers who were in the market to buy your product – yet not interested in the bidding and waiting associated with auctions.
Fixed Price Listings
The fixed price format includes those listings such as “Buy it Now” and Stores inventory where the final selling price of an item is determined by the seller (as opposed to auctions where the bidder activity determines the final sale price). The factors used to determine the ranking (sort order) of a fixed price listing “include (but [are] not limited to) relevance of the title and category, total price (price plus shipping), the listings recent sales and seller DSRs.”2
Contrasted with the auction style format, fixed price listings are influenced by the item’s price and sales history. Contrary to auctions, where listings that are about to end receive a benefit under the Best Match algorithm, fixed-priced listings in the Art, Antiques, Coins & Paper Money, Collectibles, Dolls & Bears, Pottery & Glass, Toys & Hobbies, Stamps, Sports Memorabilia, Cards & Fan Shop, and Entertainment Memorabilia categories receive a boost when they are newly listed. time ending soonest does not make a significant impact on fixed price listings standings in the search results. Quantity (listing a single item or multiple items) is irrelevant to receive this initial boost in exposure.
Top Rated Sellers enjoy increased visibility in the Best Match search results for their fixed-price listings. This advantage does not apply to Top Rated Sellers’ auction-style listings.
Multi-Quantity Listing Overview
When a seller has a stockpile of inventory of a specific product for sale, it’s often advantageous to list in the multi-quantity, fixed price format. This format allows the items to be listed for up to 30 days at a time – indefinitely for Good ‘Til Canceled (GTC) listings. Sales accumulated by that listing relative to the number of times it has appeared in the search results (a metric called the listing performance score – explained below) can provide an advantage in the Best Match search result rankings.
Here’s an example of a multiple quantity listing. I recently found some salad plates my wife needed to complete her collection of Christmas china. The seller had more than ten available for sale at a fixed price. After I bought the four pieces I needed, the listing still remained active because the seller still had inventory remaining.
Improve Your Listing Performance Score and Improve Your Ranking
With the exception of the collectibles categories, eBay calculates something called a “listing performance score” for fixed-priced listings. The listing performance score is a ratio determined by the number of recent sales generated (for multiple quantity listings) divided by the number of times the listing has appeared in eBay’s search results. Scoring well for this particular metric positively influences that listings ranking in the search results under Best Match.
The listing performance score does not apply to items listed in the collectibles categories (see below for a complete category list). In these categories, newly listed fixed-price listings receive a boost in the search results over similar items that have been listed longer.
Categories In Which Listing Performance Scores Do Not Apply
● Coins & Paper Money
● Dolls & Bears
● Pottery & Glass
● Toys & Hobbies
● Sports Memorabilia
● Cards & Fan Shop
● Entertainment Memorabilia
For listings in these collectible categories, “fixed-price listings will not be sorted by listing performance score but by recency of listing to keep the freshest inventory at the top of the search results.”3
Calculating the Listing Performance Score – An Example
The formula for calculating a Listing Performance Score is as follows:
number of sales ÷ number of impressions
An “impression” occurs any time a buyer (or the seller) sees a search results page that includes the listing. If the listing in the image below is presented to 100 different visitors using eBay’s search during the course of a day, then that particular listing accumulates 100 impressions. (Duplicate searches by the same user do not count as multiple impressions.)
Therefore if the Guitar Hero listing above garners 5 sales for every 100 impressions, it’s listing performance score is 5%. That’s a higher score than a similar listing that earns 5 sales for every 1,000 impressions – a listing performance score of 0.5%.
Listing Performance Score: What Have Done For Me Lately?
In addition to the above factors influencing your Listing Performance Score, this metric is a weighted and moving average. According to eBay, “the more recent your sales and impressions are, the more they will count towards your score. So today’s listing performance counts more than yesterday’s, and yesterday’s more than the day before.”4
Recent Sales Carry-Over When You Re-list
If you’ve still got inventory available at the end of the listing period for a multi-quantity listing, you can re-list and maintain any recent sales advantage you may have earned.
To qualify, you must not:
Change the category
Change the title
Change the item description
You can make the following changes to a listing without penalty:
Change the item’s price
Add to the item’s description (leaving the original description intact)
Change the duration
Change the title
Add, delete, or change any listing enhancements
Convert listing format from auction style to fixed price
Chis Dawson reported on the TameBay blog that had a multi-quantity, fixed price listing that had earned its way to the first page of the search results by the time it closed through recent sales. “[He] re-listed the item with one edit, changing from a 10 day to a 30 day listing, and within a minute, the new listing was back in the same position (currently eighth from the top of the page out of 892 listings).”5
Conversely, a poor listing performance score carries over when you re-list. If you determine your title, price, or some other factor is impacting your sales, it’s best to create a new listing completely than to make changes and re-list your existing listing. (Click “Sell Similar” vice “Re-list”.)
If you want the exposure benefits of a new fixed-price listing, it needs to be a new listing. Simply clicking the re-list button won’t earn you the initial boost in exposure that the Best Match algorithm affords new fixed-price listings (in the applicable categories). You’ll have to click the “Sell Similar” button and start fresh.
Tips to Improve Your Listing Performance Score
Recall the formula for the listing performance score: sales divided by impressions. To increase this score, a seller needs only to:
● Decrease the number of impressions while holding sales constant;
● Increase the number of sales while holding impressions constant;
● Or a combination of the above.
Specific and relevant titles are more important than ever. If your title is too broad, it will show up (initially at least) in a lot of search results for a variety of queries. Many of those potential bidders might not be looking for what you are selling – generating numerous impressions without many corresponding sales. For example, while the title below may show up frequently in the results for “new iPod Nano” searches, it probably won’t be generating many sales — at least not for those buyers who actually wanted a new iPod Nano.
Like NEW MP3 PLAYER better than IPOD NANO
However, if the listing title were more accurate and included something like “Used 2GB Sansa Clip MP3 Player,” it might generate fewer impressions (due to a lower number of searches for that specific item), but it would probably have an excellent ratio of sales per impression and a higher listing performance score.
While casting a wide net used to be a good strategy to garner bids, sellers who want to perform well in the listing performance score now need to be more focused.
Increase Sales While Keeping Impressions Low
As explained above, the listing performance score is a ratio calculated by your sales divided by impressions. There are two ways of increasing this ratio:
● Increase the numerator (sales)
● Decrease the denominator (impressions)
But how do you garner sales without increasing impressions?
– By bypassing the eBay search results completely!
Send potential bidders straight to your auction listings. How? Link straight to your listings on your web site, Facebook page, blog, emails, Twitter account, and/or business card.
Increase Recent Sales
In order to get the boost in Best Match for listing performance score you obviously need to have made some sales recently. While I don’t normally recommend spending the money to purchase listing upgrades, in this scenario it can be a good, short term investment designed to help you get to the first page of the eBay search results. Once a listing has earned its way to the first page organically, sellers often find that they can cut back on, or drop the listing upgrades all together and still maintain their listing performance score by virtue of their first page exposure.
Best Offer is a great way to kick start your way to an improved listing performance score. By including the Best Offer enhancement, sellers are permitting potential buyers to email them with offers for their product that are below the asking price in the listing. Sellers then have the option to accept or decline the offer. Accepting a few Best Offers for a slight loss is an excellent strategy to build up a recent sales advantage and can be cheaper than purchasing Featured First or Featured Plus. Including the Best Offer enhancement is free.
Some sellers employ Best Offer to great success in conjunction with email marketing lists they maintain with former and potential customers. First, they list a product for sale with the Best Offer option. They then notify their subscribers of the listing – providing a link directly to the listing in order to keep impressions low – informing them that they will accept offers of a specified amount for a week or some other limited time frame. Any corresponding sales provide an immediate boost to the listing’s rankings in the Best Match search results due to the Recent Sales factor.
Chris Dawson from TameBay suggests the following additional tactics when using Best Offer:1
Make sure you have auto-accept/decline on all listings that have Best Offer on. The auto-accept should be set at the level that you’d be willing to accept for a single item. The auto-decline should be set at the lowest level you’d accept for a multiple item purchase. From then on you’ll only have to manually accept or decline offers that fall between the two levels.
Once you have an item showing well in Best Match with Recent Sales either remove Best Offer (or remove it when you re-list), or adjust the levels for auto-accept/decline.
Auction or Fixed-Price: Selecting a Format
According to eBay:2
Use the Auction-style format when:
● You’re unsure of the value of your item and want to sell right away, allowing the eBay Marketplace to determine its value.
● You have unique and hard-to-find items that could attract demand and spur a bidding war, maximizing profits from your listing.
● You are currently using Auction-style format listings, and you have a high sell-through rate (your items typically sell the first time you list them).
Choose Fixed Price when:
● You have multiple items that you can place into one listing.
● You know the value of your item or know the exact price you need to get for it.
● You have a lot of inventory and want to minimize your upfront Insertion Fees.
● You want your items to be available to buyers for more than 7 days.
Whether you knew it or not, the type of listing format you choose has an effect on your ranking in the Best Match algorithm. Auctions are good when you have a limited inventory or are listing in categories with a number of unique items for sale. Fixed price listings are beneficial when the seller has multiple items for sale and in categories which boast numerous listings of identical products.
The listing performance score is a Best Match variable that influences a multiple quantity fixed-price listings’ ranking in the search results. The savvy seller can influence the listing performance score by increasing sales while keeping impressions low.
Read Next – Listing Type: Auction or Fixed Price
1 eBay Developer Blog, “Developer Impact: Recent Sales and Best Match” 2 Ibid. 3 eBay.com, “Seller update: September 2009,” http://pages.ebay.com/sell/July2009Update/Details/, July 2009. 4 Ibid. 5 Chis Dawson, TameBay Blog, “Recent Sales and Auction/BIN Mix,” http://www.tamebay.com/2008/09/recent-sales-and-auctionbin-mix.html (September 2008). 6 Dawson, TameBay Blog, “Make an offer and get it for less on eBay,” http://www.tamebay.com/2008/12/make-an-offer-and-get-it-for-less-on-ebay.html, December 10, 2008. 7 eBay.com, “Seller update: September 2009."