Do we use algorithms as a scapegoat?

How many times have you heard or said ‘Has someone switched ebay off?’ or ‘Can someone switch my ebay shop back on please?’  There are many conspiracy theories floating around but is it fair to blame low sales or customer activity on the algorithm?

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Rather than always placing the blame at the feet of something or someone else, can we take ownership ourselves and look at ways in which we can actively increase our sales and visibility on ebay?  Let’s approach this, instead, by looking at the quality of our products and our listings…

Your Gut is your guide…  It is easy to fall in to a trap in which we over think and over analyse things when it comes to our business.  At the core of each business there are basic things to put in to place and to consider in order to create stability and success.  However there is not a one size fits all, and each business, in this case each business on ebay, is unique.  Therefore what works for one business may not work for another.  It is vital to recognise this and to use your own intuition, knowledge, and experience to guide you, rather than simply looking for a generic answer, and attempting to put solutions into place that do not suit your business model. That said, let’s explore:

5 Ways to Engage Customers With Your Listings and Products…


Is the look of your listing appealing to the eye?  As a buyer would you be drawn to it among other similar listings?  Does it stand out?  How can you improve it to attract your customers?

Photos are crucial.  Customers have come to expect professional, clear looking photographs when browsing.  You don’t need to use an expensive camera to achieve this.  Mobile phone cameras are more than adequate.  Make sure that you have a clear plain background.  It doesn’t have to be pure white.  Many people use this option, but a plain single colour is just as good and can in some cases be more attractive.  Use good Lighting.  Natural lighting is fine if you are able to utilise it.  If you use studio lighting make sure you have a daylight bulb to achieve a better colour match and white balance.  Take some time to look at other successful, completed listings, or product photography online to get some ideas on staging, and presenting your item at its best.

Use Keywords in your title.  Ask yourself what words you would use to search this product yourself and add them.  Use all the characters available on the Title line if possible.  For instance if I was listing a dress I would include what type of dress (i.e. fit and flare), the colour, size, use (i.e. wedding, festival, party, dancing etc) and any other descriptive words such as pattern etc.

Always include a small Description – although the description is not as vital or important as it used to be, as a buyer I like to see at least a small description of the item, even if it is only a couple of lines.  As a seller I include a description in all my listings.

Always give Good Customer Service this will show in your feedback and encourage buyers to use you above a seller with a similar item and a lower rating.  You can’t, of course, please everyone, therefore don’t sweat over the odd neutral or negative.  As long as you have a great overall rating your customers will trust buying from you.


The Item Specifics section of your listing is now more important than the title keywords or the description.  Use this to its full potential.  The way in which people now shop online has evolved.  It is usual practice now for customers to search for an item they are looking for using filters.  The information you add to the item specifics in your listing will be picked up during a customer filter search.  They are also picked up by search engines if a customer is looking for a specific item outside of ebay.


More than half of internet traffic comes from a mobile device. Therefore it is very important to ensure that your listings are mobile friendly.  You may assume that ebay listing would automatically be mobile friendly.  Currently that is not the case.  Above the Item Description box on the right, there is a link entitled ‘Mobile-Friendly Checker‘.  Make sure that you click on this before you complete your listing to ensure that your listing is optimised for mobile devices.

With this in mind and a growing trend for mobile internet shopping, Social Media Marketing is a must.  Ebay put in place a quick way to do this.  When your item is listed a box will appear notifying you that your item is for sale.  In this box are 4 icons – Email, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  Utilise these sharing buttons as much as you can.  If you have a business Facebook or Twitter page, share your items to them.  If you have a customer database or mailing list, email the item to the customers you think would be interested.  Probably the most important of all the sharing buttons is Pinterest.  Google LOVES Pinterest.  When searching for specific items on Google, Pinterest will always come up on top.  If you don’t have a Pinterest account I highly recommend that you set one up and learn how to create boards to market your items to a wider internet audience.  Once your social media accounts are in place it is a 2 second click of a share button.  Although this is another step to add to your listing process, it is worth doing.  If you have an Instagram account for your business this can also be used for marketing purposes or for sharing your ebay shop and items you think your followers would be interested in.


Ebay set out a basic set of rules for sellers.  If you comply with these you will achieve Top Rated Seller status.  If you don’t comply they will penalise you and it will effect your seller status, product visibility and put your account at risk.

As a Top Rated Seller you will be rewarded with exclusive benefits, such as higher ranking in search results and eligibility for discounts on final value fees. However, if your seller level falls Below Standard, you will see a decrease in search results visibility across your listings. You may also be subject to selling and listing restrictions and will not be able to subscribe to a Featured or Anchor Shop. (

Ebay expect you to:

  • Dispatch items on time.
  • Have the item in stock that you are advertising.
  • Describe your item accurately, including lots of pictures and item specifics in your listing, to set the right buyer expectations and minimise returns.
  • Accept returns and clearly state your return policy.
  • Offer at least a 30-day returns policy.
  • Dispatch your items on time.
  • Respond promptly and politely to questions from the buyers and buyer requests.
  • Refund your buyer as soon as you receive their returned item.

As long as you comply with the above you should have no problems in maintaining your seller standard.

Once again tailor any expectations from ebay to your own business.  There are certain things that they suggest that you do, or that they will reward you with greater visibility etc for implementing.  One such thing is free postage.  Ebay are really pushing for free postage to be offered on all items, and in addition would like you to also offer free returns.  This is a reaction to current buying trends.  In many cases this may work for your business.  However, on a personal note I have tried a period of time offering free postage and have recently returned to adding postage to my listings as I have seen no difference in sales but certainly a difference in my profits.  In fact it seems that my sales have increased since adding postage again. Therefore I advise trying their suggestions but tailoring them to what works best for your business.


Ebay now offer the chance to promote your listings, giving them greater visibility which would in turn increase your sales.  I have yet to try this for myself.  It has certainly had a mixed response from other ebay sellers who have tried it.  Some have been really pleased with the results, while others have not seen it make any difference to their sales.  I would suggest that you try it if you are finding sales slow.  Ebay is such a vast marketplace now, it is easy for items to become lost among the volume.  A promotion fee will only be applied if your item sells with the promotion applied.  You can customise the percentage of the competitive ad rate which will in turn adjust how much your fee will be if the item sells.

We Relist our listings on 10 day cycles as we believe this will give them greater visibility.  The items will then appear at the top of the page when first relisted and when they are due to finish.  As we have a featured shop and over 600 listings it makes sense for us to do this.  I wouldn’t suggest trying this if you have under 400 listings or if you don’t have a featured shop, as it would not make financial sense.  However, ebay appear to prefer it if you relist or sell similar which shows activity on your account, rather than using Good Till Cancelled.


In conclusion, before asking ‘Why are my products not selling?’ make sure you have all the basics in place, as above.  Yes, there is an algorithm but it is not always to blame and it is possible to navigate it and to use it to your advantage.






3 thoughts

  1. Ive been on ebay for nearly a.month listed 20 items, and sold 2!? Pics i think are fine descripirltons seem good enough, but obvously somthing is a miss? Funny i on you tube you get peo0le saying there first month on ebay over a 1000 dollers ect but i make 14quid ?? Lol


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