Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue June 25 2013 14:20:15

Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay launched its new search platform Cassini on eBay.com this month. The official announcement didn't come through a post on the eBay Announcement Board or through any communication sent to buyers or sellers. Instead, eBay's head of search Hugh Williams told a writer for Wired magazine.

"This month, the company has quietly rolled out to U.S. users its new search engine, known inside the company as Cassini," according to the article published this morning.

eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore confirmed that Cassini was "now fully serving U.S. customers," but could not provide the date eBay had rolled it out fully to eBay.com - "this month" was as specific as he could get when reached this afternoon.

Williams had told sellers during a recent webinar that Cassini was scheduled to roll out fully in North America by the end of this year, and internationally "by 2014." But there's been so much talk from eBay's executives about the need for a new search platform and so many delays in launching the new search platform that many users believe Cassini had already launched last year.

Why the secrecy about the official launch? It could be that eBay wanted to measure the impact on search behavior as in a laboratory - or sort of like a market research taste test where you don't know the restaurant has given you decaf instant coffee instead of regular brewed. Surprise!

However valid the intention might have been, it's just the kind of behavior from eBay that has sellers feeling marginalized. Especially when Williams was willing to share the information with a technology publication before sharing the news with eBay's own users, which it has still yet to do.

Wired magazine said eBay executives will measure the success of Cassini by how much better it converts searchers into shoppers, and it wrote, "EBay doesn't get props as a technology company the way archrival Amazon does. Despite his cheery disposition, that lack of cachet clearly bugs Hugh Williams."

In the world of online sellers, Williams can look forward to being painted either as a hero or villain, depending on how well their sales perform in the coming months. One sentiment they may share upon hearing the news: at least eBay didn't roll out the new platform during the all-important holiday shopping season.

While not quite an apples and apples comparison, today I observed a difference in eBay.com search results from the identical search on eBay UK. A search for "McCoy Pottery" on eBay.com brings back mostly listings of pieces of McCoy pottery, while on eBay.co.uk, there are many books about the pottery included in search results.

The eBay UK results are picking up items included in the "Price Guides & Publications" subcategory of Pottery & Glass, while the eBay.com results appear to be only picking up books that were mis-categorized by sellers as McCoy pottery. How eBay is doing that and whether it's an advantage for all types of searches remains to be seen.

The question for sellers becomes whether their items are ranked higher or are left out of results thanks to the new technology and algorithm.

What are your observations about eBay's new search platform, and what questions do you have about Cassini that you'd like to see answered?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jun 25 14:40:41 2013

Interesting. Spoke to a CSR just this week.  He was clueless about Cassini.  

Early voting for Williams-- VILLIAN.   Sales are the worst ever.

Why is everything that Ebay do veiled in secrecy?   If they hide something like this that is so important, what else do they hide from sellers?

I can only hope that revenues at eBay drop like a rock, because it is the only way they'll see the damage that CASSINI is already doing.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Jun 25 14:57:11 2013

More lies, more secrets.

Actually, based on the some lengthy research I've been doing, I believe they launched it about six weeks ago.

If there's one thing sellers can predict and expect from ebay, it's pathological lying from sociopathic, pathological liars in the pursuit their never ending greed.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Jun 25 15:00:57 2013

''This month, the company has quietly rolled out to U.S. users its new search engine, known inside the company as Cassini,''…



Perhaps the word ''quietly'' is key here.

I'm having a rather ''quiet'' June

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jun 25 15:01:41 2013

I think Ming is right.  Likely mid-May because this is when many small sellers started complaining about sales tanking.  Small sellers are not stupid.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 15:14:43 2013

"at least eBay didn't roll out the new platform during the all-important holiday shopping season." No problem, they've got plenty of time to screw that up too.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Tue Jun 25 15:27:14 2013

Sales for May & June are the lowest ever for us. We had more sales when we first went into business on ebay than in the last two months.

Really pissed of at ebay CSR not knowing what the word Cassini is. They ask me what is Cassini?

One bizarre pattern i am seeing this week is that we are selling in pairs. some listings that we have with multiple quantity are selling with two sales in quick secession.
I did a search for one item we sold and we are the highest price in search result and we sold two on the same day.

Omniture page views are not showing an uptick in traffic.

Thanks ebay this has been the worst 11 months in a row ever.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Jun 25 15:39:05 2013

"EBay doesn't get props as a technology company the way arch rival Amazon does. Despite his cheery disposition, that lack of cachet clearly bugs Hugh Williams."

If Mr Williams is so bugged by eBay's lack of props as a technology company, perhaps he should then address the multitude of IT glitches that plague eBay buyers and sellers on a daily basis.

eBay is so at ease with the day in day out glitches that they have relied on the catch phrase issued by Customer Service Agents when contacted about any given glitch.

Hearing the oft repeated statement: "Well, eBay is a big site and there are bound to be glitches..." hardly qualifies eBay for IT execution of the year awards.

Sure, Amazon has their OCCASIONAL site issues, but the number and frequency of those issues pales in comparison to the daily site issues eBay forces buyers and sellers to contend with.

Denying site issues exist by failing to announce and publicly acknowledge their existence does nothing to resolve the issues or improve the user experience.

Getting out in front of issues with the transparency of announcements would go a long way to improving the user experience.

The next step after improving transparency and communication would be to implement fixes which are permanent so that the same issues do not reoccur time and time again as has been customary with eBay.

Mr Williams...you want props?? You need to do more than waste revenue creating a search algorithm with a space age name. Until eBay runs largely glitch free the way Amazon and most other ecommerce sites do, you deserve no props as your mission is a failure.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 15:44:34 2013

Another smokescreen to fool us.

Cassini was launched late last year.  Until today, they could not control all the tuning knobs to completely suffocate us secretly.

Ebay experimented on small American sellers like live laboratory rats by subjecting them with different toxic chemicals to various degree and measure their heart beats.

One more note to take to the court.

Refund us 6 monhts of fees!

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 15:48:34 2013

@map.
  CSRs' mouthed are sealed.  JD ordered COMPLETE BLACKOUT.  What is the best way not to comment on Cassini compared to not even heard about Cassini at all.
  Fancy name.  Not suited for use in CATASTROPHY Cassini is now in.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 15:51:36 2013

@Rexford for the posts above... not @map... sorry.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 16:16:30 2013

No "surprise" to me.
Cassini has been here for the last 6-8 MONTHS.
MH

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Tue Jun 25 17:05:18 2013

I think Cassini has been working since August 2012. That is when we saw sizable decline in traffic from ebay search engine.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: AgendaSwallowsAll This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 17:51:25 2013

Like anyone with even the slightest shred of intellect shouldn't have already figured out it had rolled out at least partially if not in full. We couldn't do what has become of our sales if we tried 50,000 times our hardest to do so. My research says partial prior to this past week give or take, full blown since.

ebay Read my Lips

AgendaSwallowsAll

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Tue Jun 25 18:31:09 2013

It was ''quietly'' rolled out for one reason only.

eBay didn't want observant sellers to be able to associate any sudden decline in sales (on a specific day) as a definite ''cause-and-effect'' in conjunction with the new search engine.

Also... as with most roll-outs, eBay ALWAYS manages to eff-it up. So, since this Cassini thing is the Crown Jewel of JD's ''accomplishments'', they wanted to have some sort of plausible deniability.

They were playing it safe... and *IF* they screwed-up with the Cassini roll-out, they would NEVER admit it! And any glitch it caused would have been attributed to some OTHER cause.

A ''quiet roll-out'' suggests to me that NOBODY at eBay had any confidence in the process, or in the skills and abilities of their I-T team.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: COH This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 18:42:33 2013

Anyone ever heard of Hunch?  Ebay owns it.  Explains Cassini and the ebay thought police:

Hunch’s ambitious mission is to build a ‘Taste Graph’ of the entire web, connecting every person on the web with their affinity for anything, from books to electronic gadgets to fashion or vacation spots. Hunch is at the forefront of combining algorithmic machine learning with user-curated content, with the goal of providing better recommendations for everyone.

Hunch provides personalized recommendations on Hunch.com and is now partnering with other companies to power custom recommendations on 3rd-party sites and applications.

Hunch was started by clever folks who were exploring how machine learning could be used to provide smart, taste-driven, highly-customized recommendations.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: COH This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 18:46:15 2013

Yeah, right, Ebay.  I believe you started last APRIL.  It was evident in the TWO (at least) user interfaces that kept switching back and forth at will.  

I took their stupid seller 'survey' asking if I would recommend ebay to other people.  Guess what?  I told them what I think in no uncertain terms that, NO, I would NEVER recommend it and I listed all the reasons why, Cassinin being one of them.  THEN - I got a call from them - not a robo-call but a REAL call.  I pretended I wasn't me.  Now I wish I had.  Will they call back to get my clarifications again?  I HOPE SO!

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: COH This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 18:47:20 2013

That is Hunch.com, by the way.

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: ThebigR This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 19:39:19 2013

Sales in June 012 7 grand sales in June 013 $700.00

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: JB This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 19:51:16 2013

Stock was up today, Could it be....they had their employee's and favored sellers bang heavily into the analytic s  of cassini.

I think I need a couple of coke's.  

Perminate Link for Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay   Surprise, Cassini Already Launched on eBay

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 20:13:57 2013

eBay stock. Get ready for a Pump & Dump.

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