eBay duplicate listing

Decoding the eBay Duplicate Listing Policy: What Sellers Need to Know in 2024

March 7, 2024

Selling on eBay comes with many challenges, including confusing terminology and seemingly bizarre polices that dictate everything from listing practices to customer service. As a marketplace, eBay has grown and evolved throughout the years to offer a wide range of buying and selling experiences. As it grew, eBay's policies evolved to facilitate simple online commerce and ensure that buyers and sellers play fair on the platform. One policy that's become a cornerstone of eBay's selling guidelines is its policy regarding duplicate listings. Like many things on eBay, however, what constitutes a duplicate listing, what it means to have duplicate listings, and what is and isn't a violation of the duplicate listing policy is not always straightforward. Understanding what a duplicate eBay listing is is crucial to preventing the accidental creation of listings that are in violation of the eBay duplicate listing policy, and ensures that your eBay store will be able to continue selling for years to come. In this guide, we'll take a look at eBay's duplicate listing policy from a seller's perspective, and help you understand everything you need to know about duplicate listings on eBay.  

eBay duplicate listing policy

What is the eBay Duplicate Listing Policy?

The eBay marketplace has a strict policy prohibiting duplicate listings, or multiple listings that offer the same item for sale from the same seller. This policy applies a bit differently to fixed-price vs auction style listings, allowing some degree of duplication with the latter but prohibiting it almost entirely for the former. What constitutes a duplicate listing is not always straightforward, and at first glance it's not immediately obvious why eBay has a duplicate listing policy in the first place. Here, we'll clearly define what a duplicate listing is according to eBay, explain why eBay has this policy in place, and go over the possible consequences you could face as a seller for violating the duplicate listings policy on eBay.

Definition of Duplicate Listings

Duplicate listings on eBay are defined differently depending on whether they're fixed-price or auction style. For fixed price listings, duplicate listings are defined as more than one active listing for identical items by the same seller at a time, even if they're listed under different eBay usernames. Additionally, listings that are created to bypass this policy by adding a small insignificant item to the sale to artificially create a bundle is also prohibited. Listings created on separate eBay sites (i.e. eBay.com and eBay.de, for example) with different shipping options are not considered duplicate listings.

Somewhat paradoxically, for auction-style listings that do not have a "Buy It Now" button, duplicates are permitted if they are identical, however only one listing will appear on the site at a time. As soon as one listing receives a bid it will no longer be visible to buyers, and the second listing without any bids will appear.

Why Does eBay Have This Policy?

At face value, this policy may seem unnecessary and convoluted, but it serves an important role in maintaining eBay shoppers' buying experience and ensuring fair competition on the platform. Its main purpose is preventing larger sellers from drowning out the competition by flooding search results with identical listings, but it also ensures that smaller sellers don't try to game the system by creating several eBay selling accounts with the same intention. Prohibiting duplicate listings ultimately ensures that buyer searches are as fair as possible to both buyers and sellers, and encourages healthy competition on eBay.

Consequences of Violating the Duplicate Listing Policy

Like with many policy violations on eBay, it's impossible to predict the consequences of violating the duplicate listing policy with 100% accuracy. That said, most first-time offenders will more than likely be notified of their transgression and have their duplicate listing removed from eBay. Further violations of the policy can result in account restrictions, and particularly egregious violations or attempts to bypass the policy may even result in account suspension and termination.

Duplicate listings on eBay

Tips for Avoiding Duplicate Listings

While it's important to never intentionally violate eBay's duplicate listings policy, there are many instances when sellers have had their listings removed as duplicates without actually being duplicate listings. Hashing each instance out with eBay support can be tedious and tiresome, and may not necessarily result in expungement of the offense from your eBay selling account. In our experience, following a few best practices when creating your eBay listings is a reliable way of getting ahead of false duplicate listing violations and spare yourself the headache of appealing them to eBay. In this section, we'll outline a few best listing practices to adhere to that will help you avoid unnecessary duplicate listing violations and keep all your listings active and selling.

Use unique titles
3Dsellers eBay listing tool allows you to easily update titles and description.

Create Unique Titles and Descriptions

The first thing eBay's search algorithm, Cassini, scans when "looking" at your listings is their title. The first parameter in eBay's Best Match sort order, this is how listings are primarily matched with buyer queries, and is also how eBay flags listings as potential duplicates. As such, the best way to avoid unnecessarily triggering duplicate listing violations is ensuring that you have unique titles for each one of your products. In most instances, unique titles are specific titles, making them better for your listings' search performance, too. If you're selling a selection of Stabilo pens, for example, including the MPN in the title is a good way to ensure a unique listing title for avoiding duplicate listing violations, while also improving your listings' rankings in buyer searches at the same time.

Use Different Photos for Each Listing

Each one of your eBay listings warrants a selection of high-quality item images that showcase the item being sold. If your listings are not duplicates of each other, there is no reason to use the same image for multiple listings. Using unique images for each listing will not only help you avoid being flagged for potentially violating eBay's duplicate listing policy, but also give you an opportunity to present your items to your buyers. The importance of unique and high-quality listing images cannot be overstated; in lieu of physically interacting with an item before purchase, buyers rely on product images to make informed purchasing decisions.

Avoid Relisting the Same Item Multiple Times

Duplicate listings are listings that are not just copies of each other, but multiple listings that are for the same item by the same seller. This means that you cannot sell the same item through multiple listings, even if you have several units of the item available for sale and even if you're selling them under different eBay usernames. Selling multiple units of the same item can be done through multiple quantity listings, which enable buyers to purchase more than one unit of an item through a single listing. Remember, the reason eBay has a duplicate listing policy in place is to avoid one seller dominating search results and hurting other sellers and buyer choices; it’s not to prevent you from selling more.

Utilize the "Good 'Til Cancelled" Option

Sometimes you don't necessarily want to offer multiple units for sale at a time, and prefer to sell units of your item one by one and list new units as old ones sell. In cases like these, you can avoid creating duplicate listings by listing one unit in a "Good 'Til Cancelled" format. This simply means that, instead of your listing ending if your item doesn't sell, your item will be relisted every month until it is sold. Once sold, you can choose to keep your listing live but inactive (i.e. an out of stock listing), and use 3Dsellers to automatically up the quantity to keep the listing active.

Price listings differently
Bulk update your listing prices with 3Dsellers!

Price Your Items Differently

While you generally cannot list the same item with multiple listings, listings for the same items are permitted if you have different shipping terms and prices and you create each listing in a different eBay site (i.e. eBay.com and eBay.co.uk). Your listings must be priced differently, and must not offer overlapping shipping options in a way that results in more than one listing cluttering up the search results of each individual site.

How to handle duplicate listings on eBay

How to Handle Duplicate Listings If You Have More Than One of the Same Item

At face value, eBay's duplicate listings policy seems unnecessary and limiting for sellers. Upon further inspection, however, it becomes clear that the policy was put in place to protect both sellers and buyers on the eBay marketplace. The policy is not intended to limit how many items an eBay seller can sell, but rather safeguard against larger sellers monopolizing search results and driving smaller sellers off the platform. As such, eBay has several ways for sellers to list multiple items without duplicating listings. In this section, we'll take a look at your options as an eBay seller for listing and selling more than one of the same item on eBay, and discuss how you can get the most of these options with 3Dsellers.

Use Variations to List Multiple Items

eBay has full support for product variations within its listing structure, but leaves it to sellers to determine exactly how they want to use product variants for different versions of the same items. It limits "duplicate" variant listings – that is, separate listings for each variant of a product – to five. This means that if you have more than five variants of a product (for example, a dress available in more than five sizes) and want to list them all simultaneously, you'll need to list them under the same listing as variants rather than create a standalone listing for each one.

When you use 3Dsellers to list on eBay, you can create fully customized product variations and easily publish listings with variations. Decide how you want to differentiate between variants, allocate the differentiating attributes, and create custom variant SKUs with their own stock. The benefits of using a single variant listing rather than several individual ones are manifold: you have fewer listings to manage, will be able to list more efficiently with 3Dsellers, and you will only have one listing to optimize for SEO so that new variants can take advantage of a strong listing's search engine ranking right off the bat.

Create Bundles or Lots

Bundle and lot listings are listings where you sell a set of items as one purchase. The individual items that make up the lot or bundle may still be sold separately in other listings, but they are offered as a package deal through a bundle or lot listing. Bundle listings are for a selection of different items sold as a package deal (e.g. a kit of jewelry making supplies comprised of tools and materials like pliers, assorted beads, and a selection of jewelry wires), while lot listings offer multiple unit purchases of the same item (e.g. 50 beads). Bundle listings are a great way to sell more items at attractive prices, while lot listings are ideal for items that don't make sense to sell on their own.

When you list with 3Dsellers, you can easily create custom bundle listings with your existing SKUs, as well as create a unique SKU for lots of a specific product. These unique SKUs, whether for bundles or lots, can be linked to individual product SKUs, so any time a bundle or lot is sold, the quantity for all related SKUs is automatically adjusted!

eBay duplicate listings

Final Thoughts & Key Takeaways: Following eBay's Duplicate Listing Policy

eBay takes the issue of duplicate listings very seriously, and ensuring that you're compliant with the duplicate listing policy is essential to maintaining your eBay selling account in good standing. With the right approach to listing multiple units of the same item, the limits eBay places on duplicate listings can only help your business thrive on a platform that emphasizes fair competition between its sellers.

Remember that the eBay duplicate listing policy is not in place to limit your sales; it's intended to ensure fair competition between sellers on the platform and provide shoppers with more buying options to choose from.

FAQs about eBay's Duplicate Listing Policy

If you still have some questions about the eBay duplicate listing policy, or if you're still not sure what constitutes a duplicate listing, browse through the frequently asked questions below to help you better understand duplicate listings on eBay.

Q: What is considered a duplicate listing on eBay?

eBay's duplicate listings policy considers multiple listings that are selling the same item by the same seller as duplicates. This includes listings under different usernames, as well as listings created as artificial bundles in order to circumvent the duplicate listings policy.

Sellers can list the same item in separate listings simultaneously in two cases: if the listings are multiple identical auction style listings without a "Buy It Now" button, or if they are fixed-price listings listed in different eBay sites (i.e. eBay.com and eBay.au) with distinct pricing and shipping options.

Q: Can I list the same item in multiple categories on eBay?

No, eBay's duplicate listing policy prohibits the listing of the same item in multiple categories. In some categories, you may be able to categorize the same listing in more than one category. If you choose to categorize your item in more than one category, you'll be liable for an insertion fee.  

Q: How does eBay enforce their duplicate listing policy?

For first time offenders, eBay may simply remove duplicating listings and inform you of their removal. Repeat offenses can result in penalties ranging from account limitations to suspension, and will ultimately hurt your eBay account's standing and health.

Q: What should I do if I accidentally create a duplicate listing on eBay?

If you've mistakenly created a duplicate listing, take it down as quickly as possible. If you're able to do so before eBay discovers it as a duplicate, you may not even be penalized for it. Avoid unnecessary mistakes like this by managing your eBay listings with 3Dsellers, the simple eBay listing tool that enables you to manage your products and listings more efficiently.

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