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AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Thu Sept 19 2013 22:07:20

Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search

By: Julia Wilkinson
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Some eBay sellers are lamenting that with both the influx of new auction-style listings from the "million-item" promotion and also with eBay's recent notice about no promises being made that your item will ever actually show up in search results, their sales are down from where they usually are. And, of course, the question is begged, how might they get them back up?

There are no easy answers, but I was looking over info on the various ways Cassini works - Ina wrote "Ten Things You Should Know about eBay's Cassini Search"
last October, for example; and Terapeak has an interesting article under "Terapeak How-To: Crucial Factors in eBay Search for the New Cassini Platform," and it made me realize (and remember) some things. One of the things Cassini looks at is how fast you turn things over. So while in the past it may not have mattered if you had 5000 things listed, but only a small percentage of them selling regularly, these days those stale listings can drag you down.

Here are a few things you can try:

- Try ending, then relisting or doing a "Sell Similar" on an item that's stale.

How long until an item is stale? That depends on a lot of things, but one rule of thumb that was thrown out was a year, so an item can be exposed to all four seasons.

- Send out a mailing to your customers. If you don't have a mailing  list, think about creating one.

There's eBay's Store newsletter, sure, but if you get people interested in your types of products to opt-in to listening to what you have to say, you can communicate with them directly without worrying whether Cassini sees your stuff or not. If you don't have your own mailing list yet, try creating a simple blog about your niche, and make it fun and info-filled so it's not just a sales pitch. Include a link on the blog to your newsletter.

- Try the Markdown Manager. No one said you had to slash prices 50%; even a small cut may make a difference. While I do not know exactly how Cassini reacts to Markdown Manager sales, I know it usually helps my own sales.

- List more items. Duh, right? But the key is to make them items that will likely sell soon, and without losing money or breaking even on them.

- Add a "Best Offer" to any fixed-price listings that don't have it, if you have the margin.

I've personally seen an uptick in offers on my high-end items, and they're even not insultingly low! But for the listings I have now, I refuse to consider them "stale" until we get through the holiday season.

What strategies work for you? Have you noticed a sales slowdown since the "million-item" promotion? Or, are you starting to see the beginning of a holiday pick up? Post a comment here!



Comments (75) | Permalink
Readers Comments

Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
This user has validated their user name. by: Map
       
Fri Sep 20 00:00:38 2013
More of the same. Guess & Tweek and hope for a good day.

Go look at what Terra Peaks is reporting by color indicator of sales in all ebay categories.

Grey like a dead horse is the dominate color.

Ebay has been so busy smacking small professional sellers that ebay's advertising to lure individuals to sell casually their used items really makes me upset.

The individual person selling casually has no record of being a reliable seller.

No track records of selling as described. No record of dependability with shipping and packaging.

Ebay is insane that they are recruiting millions of unproven to come on and just sell a few items laying around the house.

Millions of rookie unproven sellers equals bad service to millions of OUR customers who come to ebay and get good service from many sellers who are getting cut off visibility at ebay.

John Donahoe you are causing me much undue distress and pain. When you have the keys to the programming.

I am so tired of calling your offices and dealing with your people who are now openly admitting to me there is nothing that they can do for me because they can not access the department or the people who have control over the programming.

You do! knock this crap off and let us sellers sell.

It's like the Customer service department is a moated barrier between sellers and corporate ebay.

I am sick of this bad service.
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
by: JOHNNY MASADA This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Fri Sep 20 00:02:31 2013
I had hoped, but I just don't see ebay ever just going back to showing the customer exactly what they were looking for,  instead of all the interference with Best Match,  the new search parameters remind me of a whack-a-mole arcade game, now you see me - now you don't.
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
by: Terry in Texas This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Sep 20 00:08:31 2013
I took advantage of the free promotion (the 500 listings in August and now the 25,000). and then i put everything in my store ON SALE. i've gotten more VIEWS on the sale items in 3 weeks then i've gotten in more than a YEAR. (i sell clothing.) usually i was lucky to get one or two views, now i have LOTS of double digit views including some more than 20.......

i did make minor title tweaks to about half the listings before relisting.

however, while i have seen a nice spike in views, it still has not translated into sales. pre-june 2012 my average items sold per month was 250. in august 2013, i sold 13 (yes, THIRTEEN) items. as of september 19, i've sold 25 items.

so yes, markdowns have helped with VIEWS. not such a huge help with actual SALES.
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
by: sellmore This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Sep 20 10:41:42 2013
The easiest way is not to sell on ebay. Don't buy there either for that matter.

How many people would go to a restaurant where they may or may not serve you food for your money, or use a gas station where they might give you a tank full of water depending on some secret terms that change on a whim?

Is anyone really that stupid? Duh!
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford
       
Fri Sep 20 10:49:43 2013
90% of my energies go into building my own website these days.  Tired of eBay's guessing games.  If eBay won't give transparency around Cassini it is because either they themselves don't know how it works or they do not want small sellers to be successful.  I suspect it is the latter.

In the mean time they desperately try to recruit new sellers to replace sellers whom they could have kept had they treated them right.  The arrogance of this company is just too much to bear.

Love the whack the mole reference above.
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
This user has validated their user name. by: Map
       
Fri Sep 20 11:21:54 2013
@sellmore

Easier said than done.

Started this business from scratch built upon the promised partnership with ebay that business could sell on the ebay site.

I do not have a local storefront.

Too many regulations for me on that end that require lots of money.

2010 the year i started business on ebay it was great and i paid off all my start up cost.

2011 we nearly went bankrupt because we lost all visibility with our listings because ebay could not convey the importance that they had with their search engine to train the sellers that the use of Motors compatibility was the pinnacle to be seen in search. 5 months
of tweeking and calling CS before i found someone who knew what to instruct me to.

2012 was able to recover & salvage my business by including compatibility in the listings. Completed my vision of a full assembly line with 6 employees and had the capacity to increase inventory.

July 2012 Omniture tanked and by September we went to 2000 pageviews per from a monthly average of 30,000 pageviews.

Traffic has never returned.

2012 i had $162,000 in sales to function my business.

2013 so far $37,000 in sales and my maxed out credit lines have kept me afloat.

I have a perfect internal infrastructure to deliver the goods to customers with the capacity to ship 100 orders per day with same day handling time & free shipping.

However we sit here mostly idle because ebay will not show our listings to the masses.

Other selling venues are not an option for us either at this time.

The time is long past for the FTC and Justice Department to take action against the Ebay Corporation.

It is not just me having this situation with ebay.
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
by: cybergirl This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Sep 20 11:27:56 2013
Sales and views have dropped to almost nothing since the outage on August 23rd and the new recent User Agreement announcement. My sales are down 80% from last year and are the worst i have seen in the 9 years I have been selling on eBay. I have always been a Powerseller, TRS, 100% feedback and 5 stars in all dsr's. No matter how much tweaking I do, nothing has improved my sales. Many others sellers complaining of the same thing for them on the eBay forums and elsewhere. My answer to this is reduce the price of my items as much as I can without a great loss and as soon as my inventory is gone, leave eBay for good. That's right, I'm done!!! Bye Bye eBay!!! You will cause me stress no more!!!
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
by: Eric Saeger This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Sep 20 12:29:50 2013
I always get ready for a whole lot of downtime with those stupid promotions.  Sales are completely in the toilet since the million-listing thing.  And who has a million listings to run in the first place, aside from the Big Retail guys and all those Chinese dudes with their duplicate listings?  Who are these idiotic promos targeting?  

You know, it'd be really cool if eBay would actually do just one thing for smaller sellers, like 50% off the Stores fee or something.  All these guys seem to care about is improving the bottom lines of the big boxes.
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
       
Fri Sep 20 13:49:14 2013
WHO HAS TIME for all of this trial and error BS? That's no way for anyone to have to run a business!

You know... it's one thing for sellers to spend time trying to *optimize* their listings for *better* placement in the search results... but it's ANOTHER THING ENTIRELY when sellers must jump through all these increasingly difficult hoops just to realize MINIMAL EXPOSURE.

Try this... wait and see. Try that... wait and see. List, relist, write, rewrite... more waiting. No cigar.

Why would anyone trust their livelihood to a venue where one must constantly have to try and game-the-system and play ''guess-and-see'' with their listings?

Congratulations if you hit upon a magic-combination that works! But don't count on it working tomorrow! The rules will change again.

Good grief! What a mess! So glad that I escaped from that rabbit hole.

Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
by: midcenturygallery This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Fri Sep 20 14:04:37 2013
My new business plan to fix invisible ebay listings is to move all operations to china. Maybe get some slaves and sell lucky real jade pendants made of glass  
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Sep 20 17:08:24 2013
Ebay reminds me of Monty Python's ''How Not To Be Seen'' sketch. Once they see you, you get blown up.  
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
by: ConsumerAtLarge This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Sep 20 19:04:28 2013
I don't care how they intend to herd people, I'm helping a friend list an entire estate and we're pricing it according to what that person wants for each item.  

We're also listing everything on Gumtree at the same time = double exposure in google searches at least.  

That way if someone is googling something for sale, the same listings on both sites should show up.  Don't play the game - simple.
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
by: LAbay This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Sep 20 20:12:08 2013
Sales are picking up. The summer months were very slow.  I think the early bird holiday shoppers are purchasing.  Many like to be done by Thanksgiving. The article has good advice about getting rid of old stale listings but interestingly enough, I have been selling my stale listings without those changes. I am not a large seller on eBay, just a bronze level TRS.  
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
This user has validated their user name. by: Ric
       
Fri Sep 20 20:49:57 2013
One sure way to assure visibility in Cassini is to have a high sell through rate.

Many sellers with multiples of an item tend to list their entire stock in a single listing to encourage multiple item purchases. The downside of this is your sell through rate will suffer. Sell one item out of 10 listed and your sell through rate is only 10%...not what eBay is looking for.

So, if you have inventory with multiple items on hand, avoid putting your entire inventory into a single listing. Instead list 2 or 3.  When one sells, your sell through rate is either 33% or 50% which will boost your overall sell through percentages.

As items sell, pay attention to the item sold notice, to keep an eye on the number of items remaining.  While this process is a little more time consuming, it is a necessary evil to survive in Cassini.

In 2 short weeks, we improved our sell through rate 30% by reducing the number of items available in our listings. Our item views have increased as well and our sales have not suffered as so many sellers are experiencing.

Another recommendation would be to use eBay's clunky but workable Turbo Lister tool. Turbo Lister is a decent listing management tool that will make it easier to revise your listings.

If a listing is stale, you can duplicate the listing and then rework the title and description while saving your original listing for future reference.

Another tip with Turbo Lister - when relisting items, go to the ended listings folder and relist items from an ended listing that sold instead of relisting a fresh listing and never relist an ended item that has no sales - use a fresh listing with revised title and description.

One last tip with Turbo Lister. Create folders for items to be listed during listing promotions. We set up a folder for Fixed Price Promotional listings and another for auction promotions. Stale inventory which we pull from out regular listing rotation are moved into one of these two folders. When a promotion is announced, we now have a bunch of items ready to list during the promotion.

Back to Cassini...

Keywords are a factor with Cassini, especially since Cassini searches descriptions for keywords relevant to the buyers search. If you have an item that is compatible with other makes or models, be sure to reference those specifics in your description to increase the chances your item will show up in more results.
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
by: teddychan This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Fri Sep 20 22:06:14 2013
The million item promotion was stupid. Flood eBay with all kinds of crap. My eBay sales have been in the toilet since it started. Fortunately my website sales are doing fine.
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
This user has validated their user name. by: Map
       
Fri Sep 20 23:20:59 2013
@Ric

That is a very good.

We will be adjusting our quantities ASAP.

Why the hell can not ebay put this helpful information out there about how their system works.

Ric, it will be a fact that sellers are soon going to here what you discovered when sellers call ebay customer support that they will be pushing your observation now that you pointed it out in public but it will be like their idea like they just came up with it.

I have long suspected that CSR's are so in the dark that many of them troll ecommercebytes looking for information & ideas to help survive their job and help some sellers because they them selves get little info from corporate way over there beyond the moat.

Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit
       
Sat Sep 21 01:50:21 2013
Wonder what would happen if all sellers put the word Cassini in their titles and/or descriptions. Would Cassini implode? Would our listings get more views and perhaps more sales?
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
This user has validated their user name. by: Basset
       
Sat Sep 21 10:20:49 2013
The sell-through rate Ric indicates - I've heard that other places, with the more sales you have in your category, the better.

I've read elsewhere the amount of time that you spend logged in doing actual listing activity putting new items on. (or refreshing stale items as new items, if that’s the case)  helps.  That supports what Ric said, with the emphasis on ''time spent''.

Strangely, before Cassini took over, it seemed like the less inventory I kept listed, the better my sales. Doesn't make sense, but I experienced a better sell through rate with less. I'm not sure if this applies with Cassini.


a few others to note:

Use of templates involving lots of html can hurt.  I believe M Howler advised us that simpler is better.

Reasonably quick response to emails helps. Don't ignore them on weekends, or the weird ones. I think some emails are eBay ''tests'' like a secret shopper.



Then there's my favorite Cassini search boosting action:

Pulling up my eBay App on my mobile device and holding it up to the full moon at the stroke of midnight when the temperature is at least 80 degrees and doing the eBay sales blessing cha-cha while wearing a tropical themed  muu-muu with the ''Congratulations You are an eBay Powerseller'' certificate taped to my backside chanting ''Find more of what you love''.

That works about as well as anything! Until the police arrive.








Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
This user has validated their user name. by: Basset
       
Sat Sep 21 10:29:42 2013
On my comment about less inventory, I did not make clear that I sell more OOAK and not multiples like Ric describes.  
Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search   Ways to Avoid Being Invisible in eBay Cassini Search
This user has validated their user name. by: Ric
       
Sat Sep 21 13:18:42 2013
Map asks: Why the hell can not ebay put this helpful information out there about how their system works.


This is an example of the schizophrenia that prevails at eBay.

On one hand, eBay (allegedly) wants sellers to be successful.

On the other hand, eBay has said time and again the reason they do not define the secret sauce behind their algorithms is because they do not want sellers to "game" the system. Their efforts to prevent sellers from "gaming" the system amounts to eBay virtually assuring casual/small sellers are placed at a disadvantage with regard to visibility which translates into fewer sales.

This is a perfect example of how screwed up the corporate culture has become at eBay.

I suspect however that the information eBay hides from casual sellers is most definitely passed along in great detail to eBay's Diamond sellers in order to assure them top placement in search results, and thus, the highest search visibility.

Casual/small sellers are supposed to simply plod along blindly and achieve sales the same way a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut to survive.


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