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Tue May 17 2011 20:46:02

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

By: Ina Steiner

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A new eBay feature lets shoppers preview items on search results pages rather than going directly to the item pages - see Wednesday's AuctionBytes Newsflash article for details. It's an "experimental" feature that shoppers must opt-in to on the eBay Garden page if they wish to use it.

The preview pane gives a glimpse of what standardized eBay listings might look like minus the templates. There's been speculation in the past that eBay could do away with customized templates and use a standardized listing page - I'd be curious to hear what others think.

What's nice about the new "preview pane" is that it stays in place while you scroll down the search results page looking at other listings.

However, sellers may be concerned with the fact that eBay has included Buy Now and Bid buttons on the preview pane. This means shoppers can buy an item without ever visiting the item page and reading all of the information the seller has provided.

I asked eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff about this, and she said the information shown on the preview pane was based on what customers told eBay they wanted to see before purchase, and that those who want additional detail can find it from the preview pane in several ways: "see full details," "read details" (returns) and "see full description" (description).

"In the research we did for the development of preview pane, approximately half of the respondents requested direct purchase from preview pane so we are making that functionality available in the Garden version," Hoff said.

In a search for "Rolex watch," I noticed that when I clicked through to the item page of one of the listings, the seller provided information that the watch would fit up to a 7 3/4" wrist. On the item preview pane, that information was absent.

By including the Buy Now button, is eBay making it a bit too easy to buy?

It reminded me of something Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos said last week at the ShopSmart Summit. He was talking about providing information to shoppers that might make them think twice about buying a product.

For example, Amazon.com includes negative product reviews, and it includes messaging on product pages if the consumer had previously purchased the item - Amazon.com doesn't want the customer to accidentally purchase a duplicate item. Bezos said Amazon.com doesn't make money when it sells things - "we think we make money when we help customers make purchase decisions."

Giving shoppers tools to help them wade through search results is good, but letting them actually buy things without reading the details the seller has provided is not.

If buyers are unhappy when items arrive because they failed to read the listing details, not only would sellers have to take the time to process returns, it could lead to disputes, claims and poor seller ratings - and these days, with DSRs and open claims penalties, that spells big trouble on eBay.




Comments (37) | Permalink

Readers Comments

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Tue May 17 22:14:26 2011

One word: ''Homogenized''

Two words: ''Disruptive Innovation''

What's ''optional'' today will be mandatory tomorrow.

Inch by inch. Bit by bit. Degree by degree. Frogs boiling (and all that.)

I think the main objective is that everything should look the same and be the same. Perfectly blended. No personality. No uniqueness.

For a sample of what's in store, please visit the following sites:

www.walmart.com
www.bedbathandbeyond.com
www.dolla
rtree.com
www.kmart.com
www.tigerdirect.com
www.egghead.com
www.staples.com

If
it doesn't have a UPC and if eBay doesn't already have a stock photo of it, then you're probably not welcome... and should consider Bonanza.com or eBid.net

It's not as innocent as it looks folks! Mark my words!

Especially when you read phrases like ''customers demand it'' and ''buyers expect it'' and ''it's industry standard'' and ''optional'' or ''opt-in''.

RED FLAGS EVERYONE! RED FLAGS!

Run away! Run away fast. Run away now! (Unless, of course, you happen to be a purveyor of imported Chinese junk and radioactive Japanese junk or counterfeit Taiwanese junk... in that case... WELCOME HOME!)

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Yubba Dubba Doo Doo

Tue May 17 22:33:47 2011

Annie, what exactly is UPC and will Donahoe likely require UPC or you will not be allowed to sell items on eBay, even if you bought $15,000 worth of items with no UPC to sell ?

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Wed May 18 01:11:49 2011

“… she said the information shown on the preview pane was based on what customers told eBay they wanted to see before purchase, …”

And which eBay customers told you that Johnna?

“… half of the respondents requested direct purchase from preview pane so we are making that functionality available …”

Undoubtedly, more disingenuous eBay spin. I would suspect its more likely that eBay is simply hoping that buyers will buy at this earlier stage and thereby use less of eBay’s server/bandwidth resources.

Hey, Ina, when you did that search for “Rolex”, did you come across my old friend “beckertime”? If so, did you notice that he no longer generally starts the great majority of his auctions at 99c. After all these years, eBay must have finally told him to desist his, so obvious to me, shill bidding, so now he has to start his auctions at the lowest price he is prepared to take, or use BIN; and it’s about time too. But, gee, the sales are so much harder to come by than they appeared to be previously with the 99c starts; then I suspect that previously a lot of the stuff he was selling, he himself was buying. Life’s tough!

What you need to know to protect yourself from PayPal:
http://forums.auctionbytes.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=165263

What you need to know to protect yourself from/on the eBay:
http://forums.auctionbytes.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=23540

Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Gary Overton
Web Site

Wed May 18 05:52:12 2011

This is an invitation for disaster.
Over 50% of the customer inquiries I receive are asking about something that is plainly stated in the listing
eBay should be encouraging buyers to fully read descriptions instead of making it easier to buy without reading descriptions.

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed May 18 05:53:29 2011

UPC:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Product_Code

Not every seller buys brand new, factory-made, mass-produced inventory in bulk.

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Charlie W.
Web Site

Wed May 18 06:38:51 2011

I can see how this format could be beneficial to many of eBay's sellers, and as long as it remains 100% optional, then perhaps it could work.

It is most certainly a departure from the format that has been so beneficial over the years, and the personalized format that creative small sellers have come to rely upon to help distinguish themselves from the competition.

From what I can see, the new one-size-fits-all approach won't really fit ''all''. If it ends up being true that this is the eventual format that everyone will be required to use, it will definitely present a new challenge for me because 95% of the items I sell on eBay are custom printed and personalized. For my business model, it's crucial that my listings be as flexible as possible so that I can describe the product AND explain the procedure for providing their personalization info.

I'd need to learn more details about the new listing style, but at first glance, it appears this format would not be a very good match for my eBay business. Perhaps the new format will evolve into something that's a little more flexible. Maybe in the future, there may be a more compelling reason to use this ''generic'' format. However, as it stands now, I would not choose to use it.

The other downside is the possibility that this format could become the de-facto standard format that eBay prefers. Even if it remains 100% optional, it could be the default setting---in the same way that Best Match is the default. It's unlikely that the average eBay shopper, or first-time shoppers, will adjust their default settings to include listings that appear in both formats.

If such a thing happened, it would have the effect of *segregating* and *isolating* those sellers who choose to stay with the ''classic'' format. Ultimately, it could be wild success for one type of seller, while being devastating for other types of sellers.

I'll be watching this carefully.

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: justme

Wed May 18 07:15:33 2011

More important, how will they choose which sellers products will be on that 'preview page'? 100%, all 5 star DSR, some other hoop to jump through?  I do agree with no details and the ability to buy right then it will be a nightmare of returns.

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Kevin

Wed May 18 07:43:00 2011

On new in the box items this might be fine, but it would not work well for any open box, used, or blem items and those are all over ebay.  

I think unless they restrict this to NIB items only it would cause alot more problems than it would solve

All I need is to sell something for parts that the buyer expects to be working, but didn't look at the detail page.  Now because Ebay didn't think things through (business as usual for them) I've got a return to deal with and the liklihood of low dsr's goes up

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Yubba Dubba Doo Doo

Wed May 18 07:45:24 2011

So sick of eBay trying to change this, change that. What happen to basics ?

Sellers takes picture, describes item, item sold, item shipped end of story

The part I hate the most, is a buyers opinion, whether factual or not will stick against a seller for 1 year, with no recourse, no help from eBay

eBay is set up to run you off if your not a large merchant, with hundreds to thousands of items listed

The biggest and best change eBay could ever do, is something they already had long ago, TIME ENDING SOONEST as default

And come up with someway to stop evil buyers from leaving low dsr's without any accountability

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: nancy

Wed May 18 07:50:17 2011

@ Philip Cohen

Nope, your ''friend'' beckertime probably figured out that he will get what we like to call ''one bid wonders'' over and over.

So he STOPPED trying for .99, 'cause that's all he'll get.  He likely decided since just about everything gets 1-bid-and-out, he might as well price things at 3, 5 or even 9.99.

And if ebay manages to tick off a few more people, he'll get NO BID WONDERS soon.

Never saw a company more hell bent on destroying a perfectly good thing.

Tell me, do the featured first sellers pay extra to be the one shown on the preview?? Or do they get free listings too, like the diamonds????

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Mike

Wed May 18 11:31:01 2011

A major cause of grief for small sellers is that Buyers don't read the full auctions description and terms of sale ... this will only get worse ........

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Scott
Web Site

Wed May 18 11:44:15 2011

Wow, this is certainly going to be interesting to see play out. I can't see many sellers being happy with this, more so those with bespoke designs.

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Bob@eBay11K

Wed May 18 12:01:06 2011

Well now.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls.  It tolls for unique OOAK sellers who take the time to fully document each detail and personally service every buyer.

Not that eBay cares to even acknowledge that POV, much less bothers to answer it.

Funny too - how they continuously cite 'buyer's desires' as driving every piece of disruption they spew.  I've served over 15K buyers in the past four years alone.  NONE of them have expressed a 'desire' for this.

In fact, up till recently, they came to eBay to AVOID it.

But I don't sell mass-produced trinkets either.  

But I have, however, actually read and heard plenty from buyers who expressly do not like nor want what eBay has promoted previously as 'buyer desires' either.

WHEN is someone going to call them out on this? Is there no one in position with unimpeachable (or un-ignorable) voice with courage to do so?  

Buyers desires my A.S.S. designation.  Says who?

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Helena Troye

Wed May 18 12:07:39 2011

''A major cause of grief for small sellers is that Buyers don't read the full auctions description and terms of sale ... this will only get worse''

Youre right, Mike!

Using the sample listing that's shown above, it's quite possible that the buyer of that item will complain: ''WHAT? THIS IS A MODEL!! I thought I was buying a REAL Chinook helicopter! Yeah, sure, it was under $50 but nowhere in the title does it actually SAY the word 'model'... and who actually reads descriptions anymore?'' and eBay will probably take their side.

Items that can't be FULLY described in the title only, will have SNAD claims.

When the site and listings are dumbed-down, then that's precisely the type of buyer that we can expect as well.

Sad.

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Becky

Wed May 18 12:21:57 2011

she said the information shown on the preview pane was based on what customers told eBay they wanted to see before purchase<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

that was one of those prompted question... which one do you like...a.b.c.or d.  I doubt customers wrote in asking for certain things.

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed May 18 12:28:47 2011

As usual, this works for eBay and it will be implemented despite the objections of sellers.

Why does this work for eBay?

1) They can tell investors they have made it easier for buyers to complete purchases. No more pesky annoying details like reading descriptions, return policy, item conditions etc... Just look click and pay.

2) This will result in unhappy sellers. eBay seems to take pleasure in implementing anything that sellers object to.

3) Buyers will end up unhappy with more of their purchases because they will not take the time to click through and read item descriptions and seller terms. Of course their dissatisfaction will be taken out on sellers.

4) This will result in higher levels of returns and refunds. Returns generate additional revenue for eBay in the form of the full refund fee and the seller's re listing fees when they attempt to resell the returned item.

5) eBay as usual will wash their hands of buyer dissatisfaction issues and instead point the buyer towards the seller for revenge in the form of negative feedback and low DSR scores.

6) eBay benefits financially as otherwise great sellers see DSR scores decline which results in them losing their TRS and 20% discount.

7) Small sellers will not qualify for inclusion thus tilting the field further in favor of the preferred class of Diamond Sellers.

The advantages are many for eBay, and few for sellers. No doubt eBay will implement this and kill off a few more small sellers in the process.

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bob

Wed May 18 13:40:57 2011

Great. Another excuse for sellers to fill their product image with captions, graphic designs, free/fast shipping exclamations, TRS badges, company logos, slogans, etc. With some sellers it's hard to see what they're actually selling in the image.

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Ron

Wed May 18 14:08:06 2011

I agree with Philip.

I'm really tired of eBay using the old excuse that "the customers told us that this is what they wanted".   This, of course, is total bull.  An auction bidder on an antique or collectible wants this?  No.  eBay is targeting a certain buyer segment, the type that buys catalog/standardized new product and eBay is trying to streamline their interface to suit that type of buyer.  Period.

So, Joanna Hoff, cut the crap.  eBay's management is so transparent, a little honesty for a change would be refreshing.

Admit that you are simply chasing after a certain type of business and doing so in as crass of a way as possible.  eBay's approach is diametrically opposed to that of Amazon's.  Read how Jeff Bezos states that Amazon doesn't make money when it sells things - "we think we make money when we help customers make purchase decisions."

That's the right approach.  If eBay really wants to copy Amazon, copy that.

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: another side of the coin

Wed May 18 14:15:10 2011

IMO once all of eBay's uniqueness is gone, it will become just a blip on buyer's radar and easily passed up. Buyers aren't flocking to eBay now and certainly not staying. Paypal will also become just as forgettable.

So when is the sale of eBay to the Chinese? Looks to me to be soon.  

New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?   New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?

by: Rhea L'State

Wed May 18 14:29:14 2011

''So when is the sale of eBay to the Chinese? Looks to me to be soon.''

The same way that people ''dress up'' the house they're trying to sell.....by adding some fresh landscaping and a new coat of paint.....all in the hopes of attracting a buyer.....I also think that Ebay is doing these things to make Ebay attractive to a buyer.

Ebay, it's a great ''fixer-upper'' for first-time buyers. Luxurious gated-community nearby, close to police station, top-rated reform school district, bus stop nearby, just a few minutes walk to liquor store, gang truce in full effect for 3 straight months. Newly installed alarm system and bars on windows. Must see to appreciate! A bargain! Price reduced!!

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