Will eBay auctions become a thing of the past?

Diehard fans of the once popular auction-style listings on eBay may be disappointed to learn that last week Bloomberg Businessweek reported that some Stanford University researchers think the online auction selling format might soon become a thing of the past.

This speculation stems from a recent study where researchers noted that now fewer than 15% of sellers still use the online auction format for their eBay listings. Instead, they found that most people are now choosing to list their auction-style items with a “Buy It Now” price, or use fixed price style listings.


While some think that this shift is due in part to buyers having less time and patience to place a bid on an item and then wait up to a week for the outcome, research showed that this changeover had perhaps started back in February 2008 — when eBay decided to play around with its search ranking algorithm. That was when many sellers started noticing that instead of search results being displayed in “ending soonest” order, they were ranked by “best match”. Since auction style listings weren’t appearing as often in search results, bids started dropping, and many sellers stopped using auction style listings altogether.

Though the debate continues about whether it pays to use auctions to sell items, the fact remains that eBay is starting to look more like a fixed-price marketplace, and the “fun” element of bidding on auctions seems less compelling. Some sellers believe that when an auction is done correctly, it can generate interest, and many savvy sellers feel that they can continue to use auctions as a way to help showcase their store or their fixed price listings.

There is also the growing theory that since fewer people are bidding on items, buyers are getting better deals. This theory doesn’t sit well with most sellers, who feel they are constantly facing rising fees. It may explain why there are starting to be more local listings on Craigslist, where sellers can list their items for free and keep more money in their own pocket.

This guest post was contributed by Kat Simpson. Kat is a trusted eCommerce author, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur. Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is an eBay Education Specialist and Gold Level PowerSeller, as well as a successful Amazon merchant. Currently Kat is the hosts the popular weekly eCommerce Podcast That Kat Radio and an active Facebook Group ThatKat.

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