Yahoo: Auction Listing Drop Part of the Plan

Yahoo auction listings have dropped significantly since the portal added fees in mid-January.

The Auction Guild reports that listings have decreased by 86 percent, while says listings placed on Yahoo through its service dropped 80 percent.

Yahoo's listing fees include 20 cents per item for products starting bidding at one cent to $9.99, ranging to $1.50 for items $50 and up.

“It's their [sellers'] business and livelihood,” said Larry Jordan, vice president of marketing for Auctionwatch. “All of a sudden, they're charged more money, and they're going to be upset about it.”

Brian Fitzgerald, senior producer of Yahoo Auctions, said the reported declines are “just speculation,” but acknowledged that listings have dropped off considerably.

“That's right in line with our plan, that buyers would think about the likelihood of the item even selling [before they place listings],” Fitzgerald said. The items that are now up for bid are “good items that people want to buy,” he added, and the bidding activity and sellers' gross merchandise sale have remained the same.

Fitzgerald said sellers' feedback has been positive. “The success for these sellers is increasing dramatically…compared to a couple months ago,” he said. In fact, the fees started at the sellers' suggestion of a nominal fee to improve the quality of the site.

If Yahoo can prove that the site has “liquidity” — sellers are able to sell their products at good prices — they will stay, Jordan said. It is still not clear how much liquidity the site has, he added.

Because eBay has so-called liquidity, its sellers have remained steady since its slight fee increases in late January, Jordan said.

Kevin Pursglove, spokesman for eBay, said the site experienced a dip in listings for the first three days or so, but now auction listings are higher than they were in mid-January. The increase can be attributed to the fact that the first quarter of the year is traditionally strong for eBay, Pursglove said, but its sellers also realize the site “even with the fee, is an incredible value to reach a wide and diverse group of buyers.”

“Even after the price increase settled in, people realized that they had established a business presence on eBay and wanted to continue doing that,” Pursglove said. The site lists about six million auctions on a regular basis, compared to four million at the same time last year.

“The seller is willing to list the item if there are more buyers and bidders and the price is going to escalate,” Jordan said. “That's why eBay hasn't really seen any type of hit to overall auction listings.”

Initially, however, Pursglove said there were a good number of complaints about the fee increase on eBay's discussion boards and through customer service e-mail. Initial listing fees rose from $1 to $1.10 per product bidding at $25 to $50. Items selling for one cent to $10 rose from 25 to 30 cents.

EBay also added a new fee category: sellers are charged $3.30 for any item with an opening bid over $200. If the seller wants to be featured on eBay's home page, the insertion fee would be $99.95. In addition to the initial fees, eBay charges a final value fee, which is a percentage of the price the item sells for.

MSN Auctions does not charge an initial fee, but has a final value fee, ranging from 1.25 percent to 5 percent, depending on the item.

Meanwhile, auction listings on Amazon, which has also charged fees since last summer, have also been steady, Jordan said. Its final value fee ranges from 1.25 to five percent of the final value, and its initial listing fee is a flat 10 cents per item.

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