|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1627 - September 24, 2007 - ISSN 1539-5065 3 of 3|
I love to try new programs. When Microsoft Office 2007 launched, I got it almost immediately. It was a shock seeing that so many of the functions (previously second nature to me) had changed. But in time I realized that it is a much better program and has some really cool new features that previous versions didn't. How is this relevant? Well, I think of the new search feature on eBay the same way. I've been trying to get into the test group for a while, so when the Playground was announced, I got right into it and I've been using it ever since.
At first, like Office 2007, it was a shock. There is a lot that is different. But as the months have gone by, I've come to really like some features and really dislike others. This article is based on my opinion having used the new beta site. I am a seller, but this is specifically from the point of view of a buyer and deals specifically with the new search feature. I invite you to visit the Playground with me to follow along: http://www.playground.ebay.com. (You'll have to manually return to the main site after you have finished your tour - there's a small link at the top of the Playground page.)
Things I Like
I also like that on the list view, you can change the size of the thumbnail picture. So if it is irrelevant for you, you can make it small and increase the number of items showing on each page. If it's important, but you prefer list view to other views, then you can make it larger.
I like how eBay has chosen to use a sliding color bar for the main color. I think this is a brilliant idea. Not only is it a space-saver, but it neatly removes the issue of what color has what name. For example, it's much easier to identify tan, brown, khaki, taupe, etc. by color than by name as everyone has a slightly different idea of what each color looks like. I'd like to see more color choices, but in general, I like this feature.
I also like the sliding scale for the price range. It's quicker, more visual, and shows you the maximum price of items in your results. It's a space-saver too, and ties in well with the color sliding bar.
Things I Don't Like
On the list view, I really don't like how they show the total price. We all thought we would finally get an actual total price, not a + sign between the two columns we're used to seeing. I was very disappointed in this. Buyers want a real total. We know that if you add the current bid and the shipping cost we get our total. The point is, we don't want to have to do it. We want a figure total on the page so we don't have to do any adding.
Things I'm on the Fence about
I've heard buyers say that there is no point to having both snapshot and gallery. I think snapshot may have been an idea for redesigning gallery, but it's very different from what we're all used to seeing, so I think eBay is giving us the choice. I don't have a problem with having two different views. I will be using snapshot though.
I'm not sure about the keywords either. It's very similar to eBay Express in that format. I do like that you can remove one search term without affecting the others. However, I don't like that you have to scroll to the bottom of the Refine Your Search box to add another search term. I'd prefer to see that higher up.
Some buyers report getting fewer results using the new search. I tested this using the regular site and the playground. I found it differed by my search terms:
This is great in theory, but can cause a lot of mis-matched results too. Consider what eBay user Austin_Militaria discovered. He searched for West Point (meaning the Navy academy) and got over a thousand results for coins that were made at the West Point mint (completely unrelated). He can remove these results using -coin in his search term, but this is only just one example. It looks like the theory is there, but the application doesn't always work. Maybe a "smart search" option would be a good idea so buyers can choose whether or not they want eBay to find all relevant items rather than just searching the title keywords.
The common concern on the boards seems to be that this form of search is great when Item Specifics are used (clothing, electronics, etc.) but are absolutely awful when there are not set options for every item that would come up in that search. Buyers (and sellers) in the collectibles categories are up in arms about this. They find items by browsing. Item Specifics do not work in collectible categories where items are often unique, rare, or there are just too many variables to categorize. This is not accounted for in the new search and it is really frustrating people who frequent these categories. Let's hope eBay takes note and does something to make it possible for buyers to still find collectible items.
The results being shown are only from the most popular matching categories. I expect this is to make sellers use the popular categories rather than mis-categorizing items. The term "search manipulation" has been used numerous times on the boards. This is what many veteran buyers think it is. And I think that is the crux of the complaints: These changes are made for novice buyers, who don't know any better. In the process, it is alienating many veteran buyers. eBay is needing to show growth, and since most veteran buyers won't actually close their accounts even if they go elsewhere, the new buyers this draws in will make it appear like it is a success. However, in the next year or so I will be interested to see how the percentage of active users versus registered users differs from today.
All in all, I think there are some good and not so good changes. I'm certain there will be buyers (and sellers) who disagree with me, but the point of these redesigns is to appeal to as many people as possible. Features I dislike, may be just what another buyer was hoping for. It's a difficult task for eBay trying to please all buyers in all categories, but I think they've come up with some good changes. I hope they take on board the comments the testers are giving because there are some major bugs to work out and decisions on who they really want to appeal to that need to be made before the final launch.
Note from the Editor: eBay has not announced whether the new search technology, which it calls Finding 2.0, will be implemented across all categories when it rolls out on the main site.
About the author:
Lissa McGrath is the author of three eBay books, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to eBay" 2nd Edition (Alpha, 2010); "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to eBay Motors" (Alpha, 2008); and "20 Questions To Ask Before Selling On eBay" (Career Press, 2006). She is also the editor of eight other eBay books. You can reach Lissa directly at lissa (at) lissamcgrath (dot) com or through her website http://www.lissamcgrath.com.
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3 of 3
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Snapshot View Improves eBay Buyer Experience - September 16, 2007