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Wed Aug 28 2013 13:52:24

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

By: Julia Wilkinson

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If eBay were a patient getting advice from a counselor, it might be, "It's not what you do so much as the way that you do it." While several sellers liked the different eBay Stores design types being rolled out to a random test group, others mainly had a problem with how they were handled. First, the changes are happening (or potentially happening) right on the cusp of the prime selling season, Back-to-School-through-the-holidays.

Second, some time ago eBay promised its sellers it would give them plenty of advance notice before any future changes. With random sellers reporting different-looking stores the weekend prior to the redesigns' official announcement, it's hard to say the changes did not take these sellers by surprise, not to mention the other sellers reading the bits and bobs of reports of different designs and features.

Some people were presented with a complete survey; some people just saw a pared-down version of their store. Others saw an Etsy-like layout that was graphic-oriented and with a space for a bold store logo, and potentially a banner as well.

The positive comments seemed mostly about the Etsy-like design; one eBayer wrote "Interesting layout and very professional looking.  I like it." However, this same seller said, "I've never been a big fan of using the main store page with a random listing of stuff you have on offer as the landing page for the store." They added, "I think a custom page with maybe a couple of items you want to feature displayed at the top, a little bit about what you stock and maybe about you, with a scrolling gallery of your top 10-15 items below that is good since interested buyers can click on a category and be taken to that page."

Another didn't like the version of the Etsy-like store design with the banner/"billboard" up top; it "takes up too much space which should be used for showing people your stuff so they might actually buy it."

But many sellers just did not like another change, and one so close to the crucial prime Fall/holiday selling season: "I hate the new look.  I'm going to call them today and find out where my "opt out" button is," complained one eBayer on a Powerseller discussion board. "Really, right before Christmas?  And I don't want my store to look "cleaner", I want my store to be an individual reflecting me and my tastes, I want to be as unique as I can be."

And on my recent blog post about the store redesign "rumors," one commenter wrote, "While I think a store front update is a good idea, I thing both buyers and sellers need a break from these constant changes.  There just seems to be no end to them."

Another store seller who is focused on the upcoming holiday season said, "I do not want to see any redesigns, including TESTS OF ALTERNATE DESIGNS run from September through December!!" He said "eBay never gets things right the first time," and "the holiday selling season is not the time for changing the interfaces buyers have been familiar with - that is unless the plan is to intentionally sabotage sellers 2013 holiday sales."

His suggestion: if eBay is considering storefront redesigns, "THEY should be soliciting input of ideas, and begin testing sometime in 2014!"

What do you think? Would different timing and plenty of advance notice have made the stores redesign much better received? Do you like any of the new designs, regardless of the timing? Post a comment here!

Update: See Thursday's Newsflash article about the Store redesign.




Comments (17) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed Aug 28 16:57:48 2013

As usual, eBay management displays their total disrespect and lack of consideration for their sellers by imposing these changes during the Back to school - Holiday selling season.

eBay's semantics game is clearly at play here.

eBay considers this abrupt unannounced program a "test" and thus does not consider it a change. This is likely why there was no announcement.

One problem is that sellers are forced by eBay to participate and are not given any opportunity to opt out of the test.

Another problem is that for sellers, the "test" is still a change and sellers are entitled to the advanced notice eBay's CEO promised sellers, especially since eBay is playing around with the store front sellers pay for.

Worse still, effected sellers are intentionally kept clueless with regard to any options which may be at their disposal in the event these changes become permanent.

Additionally, clueless management has not informed effected sellers how long they will be forced to have the test format in effect.

The actions of eBay's disconnected management with regard to implementing these "tests" is totally asinine.

Sellers who have been forced into this test may be asked later if they liked the design, layout etc... but given that sellers have no clue as to customizations if any which may be available at some future point, sellers are woefully uninformed and thus and evaluations will be useless.

Additionally, with this test, sellers may see a decline in sales since buyers will be startled and likely confused over what they are seeing.

Given that eBay randomly selected which stores would be used in the test, I am sure sellers would like to know if eBay has any plans on compensating them for any lost sales.

I think sellers already have the answer to that question... No Way, eBay!

If eBay wanted to play around with store fronts without sellers knowledge, the least they could have done was to piddle around during the summer, not the start of the busiest time of the year.

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 28 19:22:46 2013

I wonder " Where is Ebay user agreement does it state that the seller is entitled to anything anymore."

Ebay will do what it wants, when it wants, and for whatever reason it wants. Its their play ground and they can.

The seller is nothing but the grains of sand beneath Ebays feet. The more they walk on you the deeper you go in the pile.

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 28 23:35:14 2013

ric stated my thoughts exactly....  what we consider a "change" and what ebay considers a "change" are two very different things.

seeing the screenshot above, i'm on the side of not liking it.  i didn't even realize i was looking at an ebay store

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Thu Aug 29 02:49:08 2013

Remember when eBay was telling sellers they should shoot their items against a white background?

I saw a store in the test laid out as the screenshot above. The poor unfortunate seller had shot their items against white backgrounds, and with the new store page being so white, the page was painful on the eyes.

Many eBay sellers just finished re-shooting most of their items to comply with the July 1st picture policy edict.

Imagine sellers who took eBay suggestion and shot their items against white backgrounds, and then get thrown into this test with the white pages!!!

If eBay implements that store page format many sellers will have the joyous task of having to once again having to shoot new pictures with colored backgrounds in order to keep their buyers from going snow blind.

Just another example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, and of management who obviously do not coordinate their projects.

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Thu Aug 29 09:33:55 2013

As I said in my comment on the other ''store view'' post, I'm going against the current here -

I like the simplicity of the test view. The photos of my items seem predominant & that is what I hope store visitors are interested in. The few white backgrounds I have  look just fine.  My big worry is eBay will want to fill the sidebar with advertisements. Sellers pay for their store - THAT should be sellers call.


Usually when I go ''into'' a seller's store, I'm interested in one of their items that appeared in a search, I'm watching one of their items, or I've just purchased one. Once at that point, I look at the seller's store or other items, as multiple purchases are usually a ''good thing'' for both buyer and seller.

When checking a seller's store, I like a simple, clear format with easily found tools to search within that store. If you have a large inventory I will NOT scroll through every page. For small sellers there is about a 4 ''page'' limit of offerings I will look through.

More likely to be looking at OOAK sellers than new, if I am looking at New items, quickly finding what I am in the store for (like business supplies)  is my goal.

It has been inconsistent on how to search within different stores. If I can't find the tools to search right away, I'm gone.

Many sellers have nice storefronts & obviously spend time to individualize it to reflect or brand themselves & their offerings. For simplicity loving buyers like me, just clearly display easily found search tools & good photos - that is really all I need.

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

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

Thu Aug 29 18:37:24 2013

Still life backgrounds should generally be light grey …

And the rest based upon the KISS principle …

“Good design can’t fix broken business models.”—Jeffrey Veen ...
Regrettably, eBay has little concept of good design either ... http://bit.ly/YvxFEg

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Aug 29 20:36:37 2013

I agree with Basset regarding the simplicity of the design. Some stores have butterflies and whatever all over the place that are extremely distracting. But the design in the capture above looks exactly like Ikea's website. I don't know if that was the look eBay was going for, but that's what immediately came to mind. But if I had a store, I wouldn't be happy that eBay made the decision to change my store design when I was the one paying for the store.

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 29 20:45:10 2013

Etsy is borrowing from eBay ... and now eBay is borrowing right back. Etsy is FAMOUS for making MAJOR changes right before the holidays.  

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

by: Royal Presence This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Aug 29 20:47:57 2013

I don't know why, but so many sites seem to make changes this time of year.  It can be scary because the shopping season is imminent and new looks, new policies, new systems can get users edgy.  

It's impossible to anticipate the changes designers and site owners want to make, but why they so often choose the timing of selling season is befuddling.  

One would think that the entities such as ebay would consider their end users 1st.  Sometimes the justification just does not add up to improved user experience.  

I get weary and wary :-)


To be weary:
''feeling or showing tiredness, esp. as a result of excessive exertion or lack of sleep.
''he gave a long, weary sigh''


Sigh

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

by: Elizabeth This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 29 20:48:04 2013

While I do appreciate the clean, simple layout, I really don't like the fact that there is no customization.  Also, I do not like that the search is limited to the title only.  There is no check box to include descriptions.  Personally, I utilize this function often.  Like many others, I wish that these types of changes would not take place right before the major holiday selling season!

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

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

Thu Aug 29 22:15:57 2013

They will persist in making these changes at any time because their simple child-like logic tells them that the change will help you—ops, sorry, will help them. With listed corporations, it’s all about me, me, me—not you; but with eBay such behaviour is harder to hide and it’s therefore so much more obvious …

“It’s easier to keep an existing customer than get a new one”—Anon ...
A lesson still to be understood by John Donahoe … http://bit.ly/YvxFEg

@Elizabeth,

eBay is deliberately doing away with such customization because they want to get away from the “flea market” analogy; they want to make the site attractive to international brands; about you they could not care any less …

“Our ambition is to be the strategic partner of choice for every leading retailer, brand and manufacturer across the world …”—eBay Employment Ad …
Donahoe is hallucinating, of course; but we are all entitled to dream … http://bit.ly/YvxFEg

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 29 23:32:00 2013

I too wondered when IKEA bought ebay.  However--I just got both the new IKEA print catalog and previewed the new IKEA LIVE web format--and--the "look"  there has completely changed!!!!   .  So much so that finding the item you SEE and want to see BETTER is difficult!  Ah well---

But yeah---I DON'T like this look for ebay as for the most part sellers are NOT pro photogs and do not have the time;  equipment and know-how to photo ALL things on a stark white background and have them look like West Elm (clever play there on that ebay mock up with EAST ELM huh???)  or some more abstract catalog pics.

I have not changed any of my pics and have not had any photo complaints from ebay but then again I would have to actually have some one from ebay notice that I am alive to DO that now wouldn't I.  

The timing of this is as always--absurd.   Looks like the MBA's have to justify what THEY did on their Summer Vacations in Tahiti.

And as DTV told me--You don't NEED to agree to our "User AGREEMENT"--if you use the "service"  you HAVE agreed to it--like it or NOT!"   It is obvious that ebay feels exactly the same as when you go to search for the various User Agreement clauses etc you get taken to a "Close My Account" page.

How DARE we question the Emperor of Ebay????

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 30 05:54:38 2013

My guess is eBay wants to have the desktop experience be close to the mobile experience. They are finding out that not everyone is all about mobile.

One way or another, they will shove the mobile experience down everyone's throat.

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 30 07:25:27 2013

They have to make changes to try to justify their salary? Gives the appearance to wall street that they are on top of ''new'' changes to the ecommerce world, thus-stock prices go up.
How many changes does Amazon make? Not many that I can recall. There is one change that they keep making and that is on a title for a certain camera. For some reason they keep switching what;s included in the title? Go figure. But no real changes as far as layout, requirements etc..
So why does ebay have to make constant changes????????

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 30 07:39:16 2013

So sad. ebay had the total control of the marketplace. Everyone new about and for the most part loved ebay. They made tons of money. Constant growth. They could have squashed any new site from becoming tooo large. ebay had all the sellers and buyers.
What happened?  IMO instead of becoming the most loved ( I know that is paypal) they are the most hated and untrustworthy  - except for the crooks.
Someone screwed up BIG time. It goes before JD, he just made the sinking faster. When he bails out(as with most captains in industry- they no longer stay on board a sinking ship)he will get a ridiculous amount of money for his contributions.
Keep making more changes is like drilling more holes in a sinking ship. Maybe that to them will fix the problem??? Kind of reminds me of the old Three Stooges films.

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Fri Aug 30 08:05:53 2013

I don't really like the new Ikea look either. The old was fine, tho - back to simplicity.

That simple format must have worked at least partially in Ikea's favor, if I had .01% of their sales I'd be a happy overwhelmed Basset.

Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near   Sellers Wary of Store Changes as Holidays Near

by: Lolly This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Aug 30 13:02:31 2013

I don't mind the store appearance changing. My store hasn't changed yet, but from what I can see the new design looks neat and clean.  I am on Zazzle, and they did the same thing to all of their stores about a month ago. They changed the look completely, with a cleaner design and no customization. However, My gut feeling is that the real reason behind the change in store appearance is not to try to compete with Etsy, but to compete with Square Market. Square Market has a lot more potential to compete with Ebay than Etsy does. I happened to stumble upon Square Market today. It is run by the people who founded Square - the system that lets you take payments with your iphone or tablet at bazaars and craft fairs.  The new ebay store design resembles the look of Square Marketplace shops - clean, white, etc.  I think the reason that Ebay is nervous is because Square itself is a payment system (it competes with paypal), Square was founded by one of the co-founders of Twitter (Jack Dorsey, which means he has a lot of money to put behind this project), and most of all...Twitter just hired the former president of TicketMaster (Nathan Hubbard) as their first chief of commerce. His job is to help people sell on Twitter. Remember that Paypal recently introduced their device to help you take paypal payments with your iphone or tablet.That was a direct response to Square. I think that the ebay store design is more of the same - trying to protect their turf against SquareMarket and Square itself.



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