EBay Expands Free Listings to Boost Marketplace Unit

EBay Inc (EBAY.O) said it would allow sellers on its auction site to offer as many as 50 items per month without charging them a listing fee starting next month as it seeks to draw more business to its mature marketplaces unit.

The new pricing, which kicks in on April 19, follows similar initiatives in 2010 designed to attract new sellers and new listings to eBay's auction website.

EBay's marketplaces unit connects online buyers and sellers and offers the company high profit margins, but the PayPal online payments unit has led its growth in recent quarters.

The company pioneered Web auctions during the dot-com boom, but the novelty of its marketplaces business eventually waned and growth faltered. Improvements in search technology and trust and safety have made shopping in eBay marketplaces easier and more secure.

The company estimated last month that the marketplaces unit is set to grow into a $7 billion to $8 billion business by 2013 from $5.7 billion in 2010. It is targeting total revenue to reach $13 billion to $15 billion by 2013.

EBay shares were down 0.9 percent at $30.50 in morning Nasdaq trading.