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Chinese Sellers the Source of eBay Search Oddity

Chinese sellers are dominating search results on eBay.com and eBay Canada for certain search terms. It’s unclear how they are able to do it, but it leads to an odd shopping experience for customers, and it shuts out sellers located in the U.S. and Canada.

An EcommerceBytes reader noticed that when she searched for the term “jumpsuit” on eBay on Sunday morning, the results looked very similar – no matter which category for women’s clothing she selected.

On Sunday evening, we typed in the term “jumpsuit” on eBay’s search bar without selecting any category. The same strange results came back, as shown below.

As the reader noted, quite a few of the items were duplicated several times on the page one. “It reminds me of a catalog that one would find on a Victoria’s Secrets type website. The word “sexy” was predominate in the ads,” she wrote. “Turned me off, but perhaps young women and men like looking at such ads. Has anyone else noted that eBay is moving toward a Playboy format when they shop on eBay?”

We clicked on many of the listings on page one of our search results for the term jumpsuit and all but one had something in common: all of the products were located in China or Hong Kong and advertised “ePacket” delivery.

ePacket is a shipping service available to eBay sellers in several Asian countries thanks to deals entered into between the USPS, eBay, and Asian postal services including China Post. ePacket helps sellers in Asia send small packages to the U.S. in a much shorter period of time than regular international delivery services – and amazingly, given the price, provides tracking.

eBay has tried to crack down sellers who list duplicate listings, but clearly something is not working. eBay’s much-vaunted Cassini search engine was supposed to prevent the kind of skewed results as those discovered on Sunday.

Curious about other terms, we found that “loose top” also came up with results dominated by duplicate listings from Chinese sellers, while a search for “polo shirt” did not. Let us know what you think and if you find other anomalies with eBay search.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.