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: disappointed sad eBay seller This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 12:15:38 2018

Sadly after 19 yrs on eBay, I have been looking & listing on other sites. Nothing compares to eBay but I have no choice. I resell vintage, collectibles, OOAK, a few new items & a few clothes. Anything to pay for my monthly medication sadly I’ve not been selling enough to pay for it lately.
My sales are down over 80% from 2 yrs ago.
It’s sad but it’s ebays fault. I’ve never believed in the doom sayers but this time I believe they are right.
Will the last one out please turn the lights off?
I may give away my eBay identity with that one but so be it. No one here has any reason to harm my account. We are all in the same sinking boat.

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 13:29:27 2018

Thank you iheartjacksparrow!

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: RKTOYS

Mon Feb 26 14:24:20 2018

Like on Amazon, there's really no way to stand out.  They pick their favorite for the front listing page and then stuff everybody else into a list sorted entirely on price.  Looking at prices in my category, I couldn't come to any other conclusion than I was competing with shoplifters and counterfeiters.

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

by: DingDong This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 15:11:08 2018

"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"

This is eBay's way of making sellers use the new Sellers hub.
I guess for the little time I have left on this site I will have to use that Seller's Hub.  

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

by: BargainzBabylon This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 16:01:44 2018

@Frustrated's experience with the circuit breakers is a perfect example of why this entire change worries me - it's not the change itself, it's eBay's ability to implement it. Their track record has been pretty dismal for this type of conversion.

As for another site 'stepping in' - that possibility left the room well over a decade ago. Those near ghost towns known as Bonanza, eCrater, etc. ARE the attempts for another site to 'step in' (yes, I've used both those sites with no luck). This MAY spur their growth if eBay sellers feel that they need another venue, which would be good.  

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 17:48:02 2018

Regarding selling on other sites, my own experience.

I sell pre-owned comics, books and magazines.

As recently as 2013 I did 87% of my business on eBay. Things started to go badly for me there in April 2014. I mean it hit like a tidal wave of misery. Super Storm Cassini.

Last year eBay accounted for 58% of my sales. Amazon was second with 23%. Etsy was 12% and Bonanza was 7%.

Over the last couple years the trend has been steady decline at eBay, steady growth at Etsy, Amazon has been stable forever. Bonanza was a bit down in 2017, but the sales data there is sketchy due to small sample size.

The items I sell are right in EBay's traditional round-house zone. Used collectibles and books. With some work, I have diversified to the point that I expect in 2018 eBay will account for less than half my on-line selling revenue.

Just one seller's experience. All the above are real numbers, not estimates.  

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: Marie

Mon Feb 26 18:05:31 2018

@dingdong

It is a limited amount of categories, not all sellers wills start getting notifications.  Ebay will start small and build this up over time.  However, IMHO it will take them a very long time if their history with big changes tells us anything.

For example the retirement of TurboLister.  Ebay was slated to do that in the summer of 2016.  That has not yet happened and that is because BEFORE the retire the program, they were going to give sellers something in the Seller's Hub that was similar to TL.  As of right now they are over 18 months behind in that schedule.  That is just one example.

While I'm with all of you, this change does not in any way make me happy.  My only hope at this point is that Ebay takes a very long time to implement this and maybe if we get lucky they will give up on it along the way.

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: Don Wagner

Mon Feb 26 19:25:54 2018

Why do I sense that Chinese sellers of marginal-quality merchandise are going to be the only winners in this?

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 19:56:14 2018

Don Wagner:  Because you're smart and intuitive.

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

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 23:27:34 2018

Have fun buying amazon products dropped shippedicure on ebay cause that and Chinese fakes will be all that's left in ebay catalogue listings

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

by: donald This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 26 23:47:51 2018



It does sound scary and I sure hate most changes eBay makes but my Amazon sales are higher then eBay so my eBay sales could improve if eBay copies Amazon.  Having said that I have items on eBay that sell better there and have items on Amazon that sell better on Amazon so I'll know for sure sometime next year.  In any event, I'm not happy cause they will probably make us redo our listings in one way or another.


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

Tue Feb 27 06:27:59 2018

Donald says "I'm not happy cause they will probably make us redo our listings in one way or another."

No question about it. You might as well end them and start from scratch.  They never stuck to their guns on white backgrounds either, but I wonder if that is coming too.  My head tells me that all of this is being done in hopes of being an Amazon acquisition target.  And who knows, those talks may have already occurred with Amazon asking for these changes for an easy integration.

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

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

Tue Feb 27 16:20:37 2018

Good grief.  Years ago Meg Whitmen said that Ebay was so successful that it could be run by monkeys and still be a success.  Here we are years later and they've managed to find at least 2 CEOs that are less qualified than these phantom monkies that could run the site.  I suggest that the board should be looking for a Monkey to replace their current CEO.  The changes they make boggle the mind.  There is no innovation at ebay at all, no ideas, their think tank consists of people that sit in a room and say "What can we copy from Amazon today?"  Like everyone else I branched out years ago, Ebay is ruining itself, ebay will be the next AOL, recognized in name only, completely irrelevent to almost anybody.  This move is going to kill off almost all the small sellers, not a single one of them will continue buying once their business is killed off or they get kicked to the curb.  When one feels wronged by a party, they don't typically continue doing business with that party at all, they'll stop using them and tell everyone they know to stay away from the scam site.  

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

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

Tue Feb 27 16:44:25 2018

One thing I am curious about.  Why does everyone assume they are leveraging themselves for an aquisition by Amazon?   What would Amazon even want to buy ebay for?  Ebay sucks at everything it does when compared to Amazon and they've only tried to copy Amazon.  What value would Amazon see in eBay that would even make them consider purchasing them?  Surely it isn't because they're also in online ecommerce.  I believe ebay is unintentionally devaluing their brand and no other company in their right mind would have any desire or reason to be interested in purchasing eBay.  It's an outdated technological mess that is sinking like the titanic, who would find value in that?

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

by: justchangecarriers This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 27 18:43:19 2018

I just searched for something of mine( a toy figure)  with exact words. I should have had 3 listings that fit that search. Used the group similar. Searched all over the 4 listings they showed. My stuff is nowhere on there and not shown.

If this is what they are going for as a preview of what its like how am I going to sell anything?

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: LasVagueness

Tue Feb 27 19:32:16 2018

Jeff Bezos can effortlessly make a billion or more a day. OF COURSE, eBay wants to ride his business model coattails.  

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

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 27 23:02:44 2018

I'll be glad to see ebay die or get bought out and we night and Donahue get jail time soon.

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

by: industrystones This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 1 23:59:45 2018

I'm not sure we have enough "Rules" yet.
What a disgrace this site has become.  Anyone remember how big 'MySpace' was?  
At its peak, it actually dwarfed Facebook. Type in www.myspace.com now, and see what the future of Ebay will resemble.
That's my take on it anyways . . . . .

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

by: bb6 This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 2 09:44:14 2018

I think some of you sell peanuts compared to what others of you actually sell. This is why you recommend a place like Ecrater. They have been around for 14 years and they are not some breakout website that everyone is flocking too. Most sellers have never heard of it, 99% of buyers never heard of it, and it gets all of its traffic from google. They run a free site so they don't advertise because they have no money to do so. And for the people that are complaining that 10% fees on sites, you should really stop saying you have a business. Anyone that runs a real business knows that 10% fee is pennies on the dollar when you sell products and those fees are written off on your taxes.

Ebay has a lot of issues right now. Trying to turn the titanic around with 1990s software, software engineers that don't know how to do it and a captain that wants it done 8 years ago. Wouldn't it be easier to make a brand new website with all the bells and whistles, then migrate all usable data like users/products/feedback over to the new platform?  And when is ebay going to start addressing the sellers questions about all these new changes? They keep throwing out big words hoping to impress us because they heard it used once in a board meeting but there is no context to it. Please tell us how to migrate our current products to the new system step by step, not a quick stick man ikea drawing for instructions, then have another department email us warnings and suspensions or hidden listenings because we didn't do what you want. And don't expect us to update 20k+ listings overnight. Some of us actually need time during the day to run our business and not do this side circus constantly updating listings just because some MBA degree intern had a new idea or because your programers don't know how to code! Please explain how things like File Exchange work with the new system for listing. Someone at ebay needs to sit down and write up a list of: If you have this, do this. Not just abandon all current programs and hope we forget about them. I'm convinced since no one at ebay actually uses the system it would be very hard for them to make this list.

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