Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Feb 25 2018 15:57:54

eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is moving to a product-based shopping experience this year, as we reported last week. We got our hands on eBay's official playbook that outlines the plan's two phases along with some key dates sellers should know. Expect to see eBay address this in the first Seller Update of 2018, which could come as early as this week.

According to the playbook, "eBay is transforming the Shopping Experience to make it easier to browse and find the items buyers are looking for. This will be a Product-Based Shopping Experience vs the current Listing Based Experience. The result will be a pleasant and consistent buying experience with improved conversion rate and better search engine optimization both on and off eBay."

To get an understanding of what eBay means when it says it's moving from a listings based experience to a product based experienced, use the Grouped Similar Listings feature, which eBay states is an "early version" of Product-Based search. You can read more in this EcommerceBytes Newsflash article.

As we reported, when eBay makes the product experience the default, whichever seller gets the main Buy Box gains a tremendous advantage, just as they do in the Amazon experience. And like Amazon, eBay gives persistent shoppers the opportunity to view other items if they wish.

Note that eBay uses the product identifiers sellers provide in their listings to make product matches - as the new experience rolls out, sellers won't be able to list certain items unless they match it to eBay's catalog using the product identifier.

eBay Will Roll Out Changes in Two Waves in 2018
In the playbook eBay provided to developers in January, eBay provided an overview of the changes it will roll out in 2018.

In "Wave 1," sellers will be required to list against an eBay catalog product for specific brands within a select number of eBay categories. (See accompanying Newsflash story for list.)

In "Wave 2," eBay will expand the Product-Based Shopping Experience to whole categories (and not just select product lines).

Key Dates:

March 2018
Sellers will start getting notified of non-compliant listings by various means such as My eBay Messages, by email, and in Seller Hub.

May 2018
Sellers will be required to list against an eBay catalog product for specific brands within a select number of eBay categories. ("Starting in May, if we determine that you are selling a product in the product lines listed but you did not select a product from the catalog for it, you will be unable to complete the listing.")

June 2018
For applicable brands, the new product-based shopping experience will only display listings for the initial set of product lines that have adopted a product in the eBay catalog.

August 2018
eBay will expand the Product-Based Shopping Experience to entire categories.

2019
The mandate will start rolling out to additional international markets in 2019 and beyond. (In 2018, the mandate will apply to US, UK, AU, and CA (English) sites.)

Catalog Restrictions: Item Specifics and Photos
Sellers can't modify item specifics defined in a catalog product. However, sellers will be able to continue to supply their own unique photos and relevant item specifics to a listing in addition to the photos and item specifics that are sourced from the eBay catalog data. 

If a seller adds one or more of their own photos, the View Item page for the listing will only show the seller-provided photo(s) and not the stock photo. However, the Product Page will show both the stock and seller-provided photos.

Vintage and One of Kind Goods
We've heard from sellers of unique products who are concerned about what eBay's plans means for them. eBay hasn't specifically addressed how its new product-based shopping experience would impact vintage and one-of-a-kind goods, but it has previously addressed how its product identifiers policy affects these categories:

I sell used/collectible/vintage/one-of-a-kind items. Do I have to add product identifiers to my listing?
No. Although we recommend that you use product identifiers whenever possible to maintain search visibility, they are not required for listings of used, collectible, vintage, unbranded, or one-of-a-kind items at this time. Use "Does not apply" in the required fields.

It's interesting to note that while eBay provided details of its plans to developers, it glossed over the pending changes in recent posts on blog posts read by sellers. In this post, eBay Vice President of Buyer Experience Mohan Patt said: "We'll use structured data in a more holistic way than we've done before to take the next step in transforming the user experience on our platform, by launching a full product-based commerce experience for relevant inventory."

And Bob Kupbens, Vice President of B2C Selling and Global Trust, touched on the changes in this blog post: "We'll help buyers find what they want quickly by leveraging product based commerce and our advances in structured data. We'll invest heavily in cutting-edge technologies including artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and more, creating an eBay like you've never seen before. We'll also ask for your valuable expertise and feedback in regards to the eBay catalog as we continue to roll out our new model of shopping."

The number of products is quite limited for Phase 1 (May 2018), but Phase 2 (August 2018) includes entire categories, not just specific products. See the accompanying article for a list of Phase 1 products impacted by the mandate.

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Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: stevel This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 09:19:19 2018

Every-time eBay makes a change like this, to be more like Amazon, it shouts out to eBay sellers... why aren't you selling on Amazon. I heeded this eBay message. I was 100% eBay five years ago. With all of the eBay  "improvements", my sales are now 22% eBay and 78% Amazon. Same five years, my AMZ stock is up 605%!

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Bidonmine

Mon Feb 26 09:31:41 2018

So glad I spent the last five years developing my Flea-market-attendance, Antique-store-booths, website, Amazon, Etsy, Bonanza sites. Ebay is now about 10% of my sales... 10 years ago ebay was 90% of my sales... I now only list items on Ebay that cannot be listed or sold on any of the other sites I use.... Ebay is now my last choice for selling... I saw what was coming and adapted to the future.
Oh, and I hardly ever buy on ebay anymore (it has become to hard to find items I want because of how ebay manipulates search).

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: spooky This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 09:39:04 2018

this is for Amazon type sellers who have items listed same as countless others. I sell in the way eBay was founded - unique items listed on 7 day auction and most are rare "one of a kind". I sold an air rifle last night for almost 400 and it was the only one listed on eBay in many years. How is a "new" search experience going to affect me?

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: JohnGermaine This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 10:05:25 2018

The insanity continues!  Shaking My Head!  This should end them.

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: uppercutknives This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 10:12:41 2018

I don't see this as a positive move for small sellers. I also fear the product catalog will not correctly identify with an item resulting in more returns because of this confusion. If ebay wants to be a retail store they should just open a new retail ebay.
I for one have already decided this will be my last year on ebay and I have already started exhausting my existing stock of merchandise. Ebay is too much of a hassle anymore for little profit.
If I want an Amazon Experience I shop Amazon as a Prime Member.
This looks like a train wreck about to happen. Very little time for small sellers to absorb what is going to happen.
Bad Move. I foresee a large number of sellers leaving the site this year.
21 Years it was a good ride. But I don't see a future with ebay.

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 10:24:17 2018

it most likely will be messy at first, and a ton of sellers will completely loose their ebay business, but I do believe at the end of the day ebay will come out the winner, they have years of data of what items and sellers bring them the most money, so I am sure they are basing their decisions on that.

ebay really does not care about anything other then themselves, and destroying a few million sellers business's for the sake of making them more is acceptable.

you are witnessing Pure Evil,  

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Feb 26 10:27:02 2018

Reading this article made my head hurt. I'm so glad I made the jump to eCrater as all I have to do is list and sell. Other than knowing what Google Attributes to add to each item, there is nothing complicated or confusing about selling on eCrater.  

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Bidonmine

Mon Feb 26 10:29:07 2018

Everything Ebay does is about how they, Ebay, can wring the most money out of the sellers. If this means highlighting only items they, ebay, can profit from the most, that is what will be done. I am sure that ebay has done cost analysis on how the loss of sellers will affect profit. Nothing ebay does is for the customer (we sellers).

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: ladywoodspirit This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 10:39:24 2018

I used to love ebay, but over the last couple of years they've made it so difficult to buy & sell on their site that my love for them has long gone. As a buyer, I used to be able to locate whatever I was looking for with ease. Now with their new search, I have to spend an enormous amount of time using various search words to find what I want. It's become so frustrating & time consuming that I don't buy as much as I used to. As a seller, they make it too difficult to be seen. Items I used to sell readily sit with zero or less than 10 views for the entire 30 day listing time. I'm giving other market places a try.  

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Feb 26 10:43:45 2018

iheartjacksparrow, curious--do you use the eCrater templates that look more like a store format (I think that there is a fee involved) or are you using the original format?

If you went for the fancier templates, did it improve your sales?  I am still using the original format.

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: Mark4 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 10:59:20 2018

10th weekend in a row, more sales on Bonanza.com than ebay.  My buyers are complaining they can't find our auto parts amongst all the chinese junk flooding ebay.  
Now ebay wants to catalog that junk, unreal. Thank god for Bonanza, Ecrater and Toucandeal.com   These sites are growing fast the more that ebay fails.

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: extremetm This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 11:05:24 2018

Never in my wildest dreams did I think a CEO could be worse than that fascist John Donahoe. Yet here we are.

I have never seen a company so disconnected from what ebay is. They might as well change their name to Amazon-Alibaba 2 and be done with it already.

If now isn't the time for a new alternative site to pop up, there never will be.

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: geoffreymason This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 11:10:13 2018

Maxmad:  I am sure that ebay does have "years of data", but I think that their decisions are really based on assumption, with a little bit of vindictiveness added to the mix.

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Mon Feb 26 11:14:57 2018

''The result (of this new search) will be a pleasant and consistent buying experience with improved conversion rate and better search engine optimization both on and off eBay''.

This is certainly MAKE OR BREAK time. The future of the company is at stake.

I would assume that ''Improved Conversion Rate'' would mean increased sales for EVERYONE who sells on the site. Not just large entities or Asian sellers, but ALL who wish to use eBay as the vehicle to drive their businesses.

In my case, if my dollar volume drops as a result of this change to search, I will have no choice but to close my eBay Store. Cannot spend money every month if I do not receive anything on the back end. And I am sure there are many who share this same sentiment.

These Stores are a ''cash cow'' for this company- they gain a great deal of income just by charging a fee to sellers who have many items to list. And we are paying eBay for one thing: TRAFFIC. If views and sales decrease because of this change, why should anyone in their right mind pay for a monthly subscription? Doesn't make sense!!

This will have two possible outcomes:
(1) The change is effective, eBay increases their profits & revenue, and their stock price soars. Everyone is happy- most or all sellers are making more money than ever before, and shareholders are rewarded.
(2) The ''new and improved'' search is a failure, and eBay is then ripe for a takeover, since the greatly reduced stock price would make the company attractive to an investment firm (or Amazon).

Small businesses who use the site will either succeed or leave. In either event, the eBay corporate brass will be paid handsomely.

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Rural artist

Mon Feb 26 11:18:55 2018

The more I think about this the angrier I become.  Those who predict the sky is falling in a very real way are right. You’ll have the retailers and China competing.  The rest of you are small potato’s in the eyes of Stockholders. All that encompassing disgust is a lesson to learn. And that is what Americans should be discussing. To start; all those buying up retails unsellables, truckloads of stuff nobody else would bet-on is a Never-mind in the New World Order.  What is the answer? My opinion if you find another site demand it stays in it’s true self simple form.  Demand if they allow stockholders that their only there as a favor.  Look how we live now. Stockmarket takes a dive because people got a much needed raise, while they don’t mind other countries climbing.  We should be down-right angry. Internet auction sites are moving at lightening speed that took years in the brick and morter.  The end results are corporate take-overs only a few will ever be valued or see a profit. Yes, the skies are going to fall for the independent person who enjoyed working.  

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Rural artist

Mon Feb 26 11:37:53 2018

And if this follows my previous post it will make sense. Two things: As Americans we took it to heart “We are the Best” We are Number One” it wasn’t a Slogan for stockholders. Number Two “ For 1 example; the foriegn instructions that can’t even label Left and Right correctly? Answer; They are selling to US—not each-other. That is the American experience or difference, we built our products with Pride and sold it to our neighbor’s, we weren’t dependent on shipping it across the sea’s to make ourselves relevant or wealthy. Think about that!  

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Feb 26 11:37:54 2018

@Rexford - I'm using eCrater's standard format, like the ones at the very bottom under their Templates heading. Since the majority of my sales appear to come through a search on the site (virtually all of them are listed as "Marketplace" sales), I don't think having a sassy store page is that important.

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 11:54:20 2018


the ceo sure knows how to connect with the small sellers

his foot connects with your a@@

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: JQ This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 11:54:24 2018

This whole topic brings to mind a potentially interesting question:

1. Will Wenig be fired shortly after eBay tries to roll out this disastrous change? or

2. Will Wenig be fired before he is able to roll out this disastrous change?

It is a real toss up.

Perminate Link for eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search   eBay Playbook Reveals Phased Rollout of New Search

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 12:09:08 2018

I'd love to know what E crater's annual sales volume is - pretty sure they don't publish it.  As for Bonanza - well hell will pretty much freeze over before I could depend on sales there. I'm sure it's my category specifically since they too have allowed the dreaded Chinese in who have flooded that site as well.  I'd love to see an American only site pop up.  We simply can not compete against folks who just want another bowl of rice.  We do not exist in their environment. We are not subsidized by our government - that's for sure.  Bonanza example - rhinestone pin - listed 23,120  sold within the last year 97.  I actually do appreciate that Bonanza is telling me not to waste my time there selling jewelry and much like ebay I'm competing against the Chinese.  I can't even imagine how ebay is going to sort out all that chinese crap that is miscategorized  and hundred of like items just so they can game the system.  Whatever happened to no multiple listings of like items? So much for enforcing the rules.  And as per the standard ebay method of breaking out new changes they leave very little actual information on the table for sellers to digest.

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