|Wed Sept 30 2009 22:56:43|
Changes to eBay Item Condition and Search Display Ahead?
By: Ina Steiner
Thursday's newsletter has information about changes eBay is making to Item Condition, including displaying the attribute in search results (link to story). As I was wrapping up the story and the blog post below, a reader sent me a copy of a survey they had taken that showed eBay was considering displaying other pieces of information on the search results pages as well.
The most startling was the Place Bid Button: "Click this button to begin the process to place your bid." We've created a mock-up of what such a page could look like - this image was not included in the survey - but it appears eBay thinks such a scenario is at least worth considering in a survey.
Now on to some thoughts about Item Condition changes.
According to sources, eBay is making changes to the Item Condition attribute, including displaying condition in search results pages, and it will make it mandatory in some categories. There are a number of likely reasons why eBay is paying attention to Item Condition. As it focuses on attracting secondary market goods - overstock, salvage, returns, etc. - it needs to make sure buyers are crystal-clear on what they are purchasing. Anecdotal evidence from sellers show that shoppers on eBay often fail to read details of the item description.
This may also make it easier for eBay customer service representatives to deal with Item Not As Described claims, as eBay gets more involved in the dispute process.
Finally, some sellers have been complaining for months that their eBay feeds to Google Base have not been working, and one theory that surfaced early on was that it might have to do with Google's then newly introduced item condition field. This was confirmed on Tuesday by Jim "Griff" Griffith on the eBay Radio show.
And last week, an eBay spokesperson told AuctionBytes it was actively working with Google to ensure that seller listings appear within Google Base via a single feed from eBay. "There remain some open issues, such as being able to map eBay's item condition to how Google accounts for item condition. We want our sellers to know that we are actively working with Google to resolve these issues."
It seems unlikely that eBay refinements have much to do with Google's requirements - after all, Google only allows users to select New, Used, Refurbished (Google Base Condition Attribute). But making the attribute mandatory in some categories may have much to do with it - Google requires product feeds to indicate item condition, and is making other changes as well (see this AuctionBytes news story).
I've tried to get answers to questions about Google Base, now called Google Merchant Center for retailers, but it's been difficult to get information from Google itself. I researched other marketplaces - Bonanzle said that since Bonanzle item traits offer sellers all kinds of different conditions ("Like new," "Mint condition," etc.), it automatically translates the condition sellers specify on Bonanzle into one that Google will accept.
Amazon of course has its own item condition attributes as well (Amazon Condition Guidelines).
Sellers may have mixed reactions to news about new Item Condition requirements from eBay. If it helps reduce buyer questions and reduces negative feedback caused by confused shoppers, then it will be viewed as a positive. But if it takes a lot of time to edit listings, and if sellers get fewer click-throughs and lower prices, it will be viewed as a negative.