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Have You Noticed eBay Is Faster?

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Have You Noticed eBay Is Faster

eBay techies are working to make the site faster. Senthil Padmanabhan is a Vice President, Technical Fellow at eBay where he heads the front-end and user experience engineering across eBay’s marketplace. He took to the eBay corporate blog to publish an update on the performance of critical eBay flows across all platforms – iOS, Android, and Web in a post called “Speed By A Thousand Cuts.”

Much of it looks daunting for the non-techie, but one section jumped out at us having to do with how long it takes a search results page to load, and how Padmanabhan’s team seems to have figured out a way to make images load faster:

Search images eager download –  In the search results page, when a query is issued at a high level, two things happen. One is the recall/ranking step, where the most relevant items matching the query are returned.

“The second step is augmenting the recalled items with additional user-context related information such as shipping. Previously the search results were rendered only after both the steps were done. It is still the same now, but after the first step, we immediately send the first 10 item images to the browser in a chunk along with the header, so the downloads can start before the rest of the markup arrives.

“As a result, the images will now appear quicker. This change is rolled out globally for the web platform. The cut here is the download start time for search results images.”

The search results page is the most image-heavy page at eBay, according to the post, and Padmanabhan discussed other methods of optimizing images to speed load time for users.

But what about ads – do they slow down the site?

An interesting conversation took place on LinkedIn between Padmanabhan and Steve Lerner, who had been a Senior Member of Technical Staff at eBay between 2013 and 2017.

Lerner was curious about the impact of ads, asking, “How has advertising played a role in page time load changes?”

Padmanabhan responded, “3rd party ads are loaded after page load in an async fashion. They don’t impact the initial speed numbers. We are adding a new metric (TTI) to track impact of ads.”

That sounds encouraging – sellers would not want ads getting in the way of users’ search and browse experience.

He ended his eBay blog post by noting that optimization techniques vary from things that are very basic to a few that are advanced, “but it is the basic that is often overlooked.”

“2019 has indeed been a meaningful year for us, as we got a chance to deliver something of value to our customers, in this case, a faster experience,” he said, and he said to look for further performance improvements in 2020.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
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). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

5 thoughts on “Have You Noticed eBay Is Faster?”

  1. Ha ha, nope! In fact, I’ve had more “WE’VE LOOKED EVERYWHERE for the page..” (blah blah) error than usual for the past few days. And on my selling pages, there have been a number of graphics that don’t fill in.
    Complete opposite of the nonsense stated in that article.

  2. The only faster thing we have notice on Greedbay is how fast they take our money. Other than that they make a turtle look fast.

  3. Well, to be honest, I have to say when I’m adding new listings to a sale, it used to take hours, sometimes a day. Now I can get the item listed in about 15 minutes, not faster than Etsy, but a huge improvement.

    As for the search being faster, everyone needs to read the eBay forum’s WEEKLY CHAT from Jan22nd. I have never seen the Blues under so much attack before. It was hilarious. People were really sticking it to them. You could tell some tempers were getting flared a lot.

  4. I haven’t noticed any speed improvement. Even if pages load faster search is ineffective in the Stamps category. Left panel filters seem to depend on exact match with predefined Item Specifics. Unfortunately, eBay has chosen recommended values inconsistent with abbreviations commonly used by most stamp dealers. Other recommended values mirror coin terminology and are inconsistent with the Scott catalog, used by most US stamp collectors. Worst of all, search by catalog number is not supported except for string matches in titles that return too many irrelevant results.

    How could search latency be improved:

    1. Stop returning obviously irrelevant results. A catalog number for a stamp is not a price or a motorcycle part number. String searches should screen out prices and owner inventory numbers.
    2. Recommended item Specifics values should not be abbreviations or acronyms.
    3. Filtering should not fail if characters match but punctuation is different.
    4. Searches should not wander out of category unless categories in different trees have a nexus. This is necessary for some books and other items that may be listed in more than one category. It does not excuse matching a stamp catalog number with an electronics part number.
    5. In-category indexes or accelerator tables, if they exist, should be more carefully defined. Subject matter experts, now lacking at eBay may be needed to resolve some chronic search issues.

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