Diversification, Duplication, Parity and Other Seller Nightmares

What are all these terms? What do they have to do with your online business? Ignoring them can have serious consequences. This article is a brief primer (def. #2) to get you started in the right direction and help you avoid the pitfalls that could put you out of business…

First and most importantly, these terms are all related. What you do to fix one may result in problems with another therefore an integrated solution is required.

Google (in theory) does not index Auction items because they are transient, (def. # 1 - 3) what follows only applies to fixed price listings, wherever you sell online.

Diversification & Duplication

These two are as intertwined as newlyweds on their honeymoon.

For the last three years eCommerce experts have been urging sellers to diversify their sales venues. In plain English Auntie May says the same thing, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”

If only life were that simple!

Diversification is not as easy as putting everything you have for sale on every sales venue you can find. That will run you into violation of Google’s fixed price item duplication policy and will eventually result in being dropped from their search as implementation rolls across the web.

While eBay has a duplicate listing policy the larger picture is that so does Google!

See Google’s policy. Google says

“If products are available on multiple sites under the same ownership, one site must be chosen to exclusively submit those products. For example, if you own two websites that sell the same product, you may not submit that product for both sites, regardless of pricing or promotional differences.”

Key words - “submit that product for both sites

  • If your venue is submitting feeds to Google products you should not submit feeds containing the same product for your website but instead rely on organic search.
  • If you are selling the same items on more than one venue, both of which submit feeds to Google products you should suspend one feed
  • Suspending a feed on a venue means you are relying on the site search for visibility. Since almost nobody browses looking for something to buy these days your item’s visibility will be severely impaired at best. Worst case scenario your feeds will be blocked by Google across the board.
  • Why bother? If one venue is the best thing since sliced bread why are you listing on multiple other venues?

My opinion: Best solution is to avoid duplication altogether. Pick your product for your venue, don’t sell the same item in multiple locations. If you want to shift an item from one venue to another end your existing listing at least 24 hours before doing it, longer is safer.


Parity (def. #1) as used in eCommerce is all about pricing. Just about every venue has a parity clause, this is not unreasonable and Amazon have been in the news recently for enforcing it.

Simply put Amazon does not want third party sellers pricing the same items they sell on Amazon lower on another venue, or their own website. You will read comments on various forums suggesting the solution is to use a different selling ID … my advice, don’t do it! There are too many ways to get caught. The consequences of breaking Amazon’s rules? They will suspend your account. Game over.

  • Amazon’s policy in the USA can be found here.
  • An excellent guide with FAQs to UK policy here.
  • eBay is now so complex I couldn’t find it, but I know it is there. If you know please make a comment with a link.
  • Bonanza prohibits listing items which

“(bb) are identical to other items you have for sale but are priced lower;
(cc) are concurrently listed for sale on a web site other than Bonanza’s”

What are you doing to diversify? Do you have duplicate listings on multiple venues? How have your views and sales patterns changed in the last six months? Discuss in comments!

Y’all come back!

Related articles:

TameBay  “How do you cope with price parity on Amazon” November 2011 and January 2012
EcommerceBytes (formerly AuctionBytes)
Letter to the Editor about eBay’s duplicate listing policy.

One comment.

  1. That was a good heads-up, I wasn’t at all aware of Google’s policy. Does Google warn you about this, or just silently block your feeds?

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