“We were third on Best Match and now we are 10th! What just happened?! I didn’t do anything different.”
This is a common complaint amongst eBay Sellers. While the Seller might not have done anything different to their listing, a lot is happening on eBay’s marketplace that is impacting ranking. For example:
- Thousands of new listings are being listed all the time.
- Relatively innate listings are covertly gaining sales momentum from increased visibility on other keyword searches, eBay Deals or promoted listings.
- Some Sellers have invested in customer service and are now getting better at retaining their Top Rated Seller status.
The Best Match algorithm hardly changes, but the selling environment is in constant flux, creating a level of volatility that could disadvantage or greatly benefit your listings if you are aware of what is happening before you.
The chart below follows the day-to-day journey of the top 15 ranked listings in a very high velocity and competitive category, “iPhone Plus Case,” over a period of 7 days in March. What you see is that:
- The top rank listing has secured their position. It has the right combination of the right product, the right sales velocity and stability in the seller’s trust metrics.
- Listings 2,3 and 4 jostle for position that ultimately results in a drop in rank.
- Listings 5 to 15 struggle. Some make nosedives into oblivion while others manage to retain a position in the top 20.
The next chart overlays listings that have darted to the top of search results from latter pages.
- 9 listings rise from much lower ranks to take opened placements.
- Over the 7-day period, a total of 24 listings make an appearance in the top 15 ranked positions.
- Listing 115 (page 3) and 83 (page 2) leap to positions 4 and 6 when gaps appear. They ultimately squeeze their way to position 2 and 5 – all within a swift 3 days.
Drilling down at a listing level.
- Most listings have strong sales history dating back 6-12 months.
- All listings offer multiple variations, typically by phone model/size rather than by product attribute.
- Listings are selling well – up to 200 units a day at £1.99 to £6.95. The top ranked listing is £3.99.
- Although there are branded iPhone Plus cases, the majority of products in the top 15 are unbranded.
This is a fiercely competitive category with a very low unit price and very low margins. Sellers in this category are optimizing for sales velocity rather than margin. Unfortunately, the nature of this type of product creates an inordinate amount of rank volatility that could be attributed to:
- A constant flood of new-but-similar products entering marketplace. Barriers for entry are low. Standing out is a challenge.
- Aggressive listing optimization, such as title and price, responding to new listings, competition and other marketplace movements.
- Sales velocity creates operational burden and risk to fulfilling selling standards. Sellers in these categories are known to dip in and out of seller performance levels, greatly impacting their listing rank.
How can a seller compete in this sort of environment?
- Be more aware of your selling space to take advantage of early indication of inventory, pricing, listing changes coming your way. Respond tactically to solidify your rank while you work on a greater inventory strategy.
- Have the right inventory line up to take advantage of gaps that might appear. During this period, “genuine leather” iPhone cases were coming against “clear case covers” with “shockproof cases” gaining traction. Thousands of buyers are buying iPhone cases everyday and you need to be ready when the tides change for a certain type of product attribute.
- Although the category is dominated by unbranded products, sooner or later, a Seller will put a stake into the ground and invest in product innovations, branding and product identifiers to build credibility and buyer loyalty. Then suddenly the category will shift again. Be that change rather than respond to change. Stay ahead of the curve with your merchandising strategy.
At ShelfTrend we are committed in helping Sellers become more competitive with the right marketplace data to give them a heads-up of things to come. Join free to see how the data could benefit you and then upgrade to Premium for more data and features.