An eBay seller became concerned about the impact that customer claims could have on his visibility in search after listening to a presentation at the eBay Open conference last month where executives described the latest factors that influence search ranking.
When a buyer searches for a product, eBay’s search engine identifies matching listings. eBay’s algorithm then uses a number of criteria to determine which of the matching items to display in the first page of results – for example, price. This “Best Match” search determines the default sort order of listings on the search results page, called ranking.
In an eBay discussion-board thread titled, “eBay’s Ranking Algorithms Are A Joke,” the seller going by the user name djdaniel2015 wrote in part:
“As part of eBay Open 2022, director of product management & search, Pravesh Katyal, explains how eBay is further punishing sellers ability to rank based on aspects that remain completely outside of their control.
“Katyal explains the more SNAD and INR claims you receive, the lower you will rank.
“Too bad sellers have no control over the garbage estimated delivery dates eBay gives to buyers. eBay ignores sellers shipping policies, including handling times, and eBay is the one who decides what the estimates are.”
An eBay moderator responded in the thread by identifying three parts to the problem raised by the seller:
- Whether eBay should hold sellers accountable for timely delivery or not.
- Whether eBay should do a better job in taking into consideration seller’s challenges with shipping estimates
- Whether eBay should penalize the sellers based on off cases from fraud buyers trying to game the system.
The eBay moderator went on to address those three areas and wrote, “Ranking doesn’t get impacted by these one-off used cases, unless a significant portion of buyers complain that they don’t get the item on time, we don’t hold it against the seller.”
She bottom-lined it for the seller: “Our recommendation will be to increase your handling time for the listings that may take longer to deliver.”
The reason eBay and sellers zeroed in on estimated delivery date was because if it is unrealistic, customers may file a claim of non-delivery (Items Not Received) before giving the order enough time to arrive.
As the seller had written, ” How are we supposed to avoid INR’s when we haven’t an ounce of control over what the delivery estimates are?”
The seller replied to the eBay moderator, saying he found that adjusting his handling time had no effect on the estimated delivery date displayed to shoppers, though some other sellers said they found it did.
During the eBay Open presentation, Pravesh Katyal, eBay’s Director of Product Management, Search, stated:
“The customer service that you provide which gets reflected in your history. So any escalations like item not received, items not accurately described, or any of the former bad buyer experiences impact your ranking in a negative way,”
That seems to be somewhat at odds with what the moderator stated when she wrote on Thursday, “unless a significant portion of buyers complain that they don’t get the item on time, we don’t hold it against the seller.”
The eBay Open presentation included a slide that showed how eBay Search works: it looks at Listing Title and Item Specifics, and category intent and relevance. It then ranks the results based on the following criteria:
- Conversion potential
- Listing quality (title, image, item specifics, description, etc.)
- Shipping speed
- Return policy
- History of bad buyer experiences
- And more
During the presentation, eBay’s Katyal also shared some changes the marketplace had made in how it uses category information in search and how it handles duplicate listings:
“We are improving our category constraints for searches that belong to particular categories.
“List the item in correct category, even if it’s the less popular one. You will have higher chances of visibility in queries for the right category.”
“We are pushing out duplicates from the same seller for some of the sort types to provide a better experience for users.”
Given the importance of search visibility, the presentation is worth watching. Let us know if you see any surprises. And let us know if delivery estimates are realistic and whether customer claims impact your visibility in search results.