Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sat Sept 17 2022 10:26:53

eBay Sacrifices Usability for Sake of Mobile-Desktop Consistency

By: Ina Steiner

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Sellers continue to find fault with eBay's new "unified" listing tool, but eBay remains committed to rolling it out to all users. eBay explained the rationale for the new tool as follows: "The new tool provides a unified listing experience across desktop and mobile web browsers, so sellers can efficiently list at home or on the go."

We heard from yet another seller on Friday who encountered the new tool for the first time this week, and his complaints are similar to those we've been hearing from sellers since eBay formally announced it on January 19, 2021:

"This morning I went to list an item on eBay and found there is a new item listing page. Completely different than the previous one. 

"I called "customer service" at eBay and the old page is said to be retired. No way to opt out. 

"It is too clever by a hundredfold. Just about everything has a drop down menu to select from. I think it was designed to be done on a phone, not a laptop. 

"IF I use it, productivity will be down 75%. The old listing page was stupid and slow to use. This is just about unusable. Not sure where I am going with this. And I have been selling on eBay since Pierre was peddling PEZ dispensers."

Other sellers who also found themselves suddenly migrated into the new listing tool this month began discussing it on the eBay discussion boards on September 8th.

Here's a roadmap to some of our coverage since the launch, including additional letters from readers:

"eBay to Change Seller Listing Experience" (January 19, 2021) - Link to EcommerceBytes news article
Excerpt: "Listing items for sale on eBay can feel different depending on whether you’re using a mobile device or a desktop computer. eBay set out to change that, and today it announced the new “Unified Listing Experience” and made it available to some sellers. eBay said the new capability brings greater consistency to how sellers list across devices."

"eBay Makes Listing on Desktop as Difficult as on Mobile" (March 25, 2021) - Link to Letters to the Editor blog post
Excerpt from seller's letter: "I think more publicity needs to be given to the new eBay unified listing experience tool. We need a unified pushback as sellers to this horrible update."

"eBay Loses Chief Product Officer Pete Thompson" (March 22, 2022) - Link to EcommerceBytes news article
Excerpt: "eBay announced in a filing on Tuesday that its Chief Product Officer Pete Thompson is leaving the company next month. The news comes just 12 days after Thompson spoke to Wall Street analysts about the company’s vision for a “tech led reimagination” at eBay Investor Day on March 10, 2022. In his presentation, Pete Thompson reviewed some of the projects he had worked on, included seller tools such as a unified listing tool and the ability to add video to listings."

"eBay Forces Sellers into New Unified Listing Tool" (April 22, 2022) - Link to EcommerceBytes Blog post
Excerpt: "Sellers report eBay is forcing them to use a new listing tool that they say makes the job of adding items for sale more difficult. If you have a feeling of deja vu, it's because the same thing happened a year ago. In March 2021, a seller had written in a letter to the Editor that more publicity needed to be given to the new eBay unified listing experience tool, calling for a "unified pushback" to what they called a horrible update."

"eBay Works on Mending New Listing Tool but Hits a Snag" (June 5, 2022) - Link to EcommerceBytes Blog post
Excerpt: "Sellers have pleaded for weeks for eBay to fix its new listing tool foisted upon them last month, and last week, they reported signs of improvement in the tool. But last week's update also seem to have resulted in a glitch impacting sellers listing books and music involving ISBN and UPC codes in Item Specifics."

"eBay CEO Tells Shareholders Old Strategy Was Not Working" (June 14, 2022) - Link to EcommerceBytes Blog post
Excerpt: "eBay CEO Jamie Iannone told investors at a presentation following the company's annual shareholder meeting on June 8, 2022, that the company's previous strategy was not working."
...
"The CEO said eBay was delivering a better user experience for buyers and sellers, citing videos in Stores; a new image listing tool; and a unified listing experience that has begun rolling out. Iannone also said that by taking over payment processing, eBay was reducing unpaid items.

"Seller Abstains from Listing Since Launch of New eBay Tool" (July 14, 2022) - Link to Letters to the Editor blog post
Excerpt from seller's letter: "I was just hoping (and what seems like thousands of other full time sellers) you could shed some light in the fact that it's been 3 months now since eBay forced the new unified listing tool on a portion of us. It is a mobile app that was extremely poorly adapted to a desktop. Not adapted at all really - that is the problem."

As we noted in April, relying on a platform's own tools isn't always the best option. Third-party developers often offer additional features marketplaces don't necessarily offer, but they usually come with fees, leaving sellers to weigh the cost versus the benefits.

It's vital for marketplaces to provide sellers with the ability to complete tasks accurately and efficiently on desktop and on mobile. But why not provide tools that play to the strengths of each format? Is it a cost-saving measure so eBay programmers need only work on a mobile-friendly design to which desktop users must adapt? Sellers and programmers, feel free to weigh in. 

We're also curious to hear from sellers who've been migrated to the new tool since 2021 - has eBay improved the unified listing tool since you've been using it?

Updated 9/17/2022 to add link to eBay discussion board thread.

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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Sacrifices Usability for Sake of Mobile-Desktop Consistency   eBay Sacrifices Usability for Sake of Mobile-Desktop Consistency

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Sep 19 06:56:36 2022

Jamie is more like the Ford Edsel.  Like the Edsel he is a failure (my opinion) and like the Edsel he should be discontinued.

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by: spooky This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 19 09:55:58 2022

I agree 100% with Amberlin. I was forced into the new form last week and found it very confusing. I had to call eBay which I seldom do as I dread it but I was able to figure it out while I was waiting on the phone. I have been selling since May 1998 and have also paid eBay a mind boggling amount of fees. I remember the days many years ago eBay gave me my own "concierge" to help. Now I hate opening the page as I am sure new changes are foisted on us regularly

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by: trader_chris This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 19 10:50:41 2022

I've used Garage Sale for Mac for years. It's a third party app, very easy to use once you get the hang of it, and extremely easy to make templates and list multiple items (for large collections) quickly and efficiently. The staff is always responsive to questions and concerns and I rarely have problems with the software. I prefer to use smaller software companies for my business needs whenever possible, as they are much easier to deal with. You should give it a try!

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by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 19 14:03:16 2022

I agree with @Amberlin! Surely there's a way to offer a listing tool which works well on desktop and a different one which works just as well on the eBay app. There is no freakin' reason they need to be the SAME tool. If sellers like to go back and forth between the desktop and the app (i.e., take photos on their phone and then write the description using a real keyboard), they could do that. If dinosaurs like myself want to use an "old school" (real) camera to take photos and upload them, we should have that option! I make minor edits using the app, but I simply cannot work on such a small screen (my phone).

Is eBay still offering both "My eBay" and "Seller Hub?" I know they offered both for a long time, but I've been using Seller Hub for many years now, so I'm not sure if "My eBay" still exists. At any rate, if they still have both, there's the best argument, it IS possible to offer two different, yet similar, tools.

I *tried* the new listing tool on my laptop several months ago now (probably April or May of this year), as soon as the notification popped up in the upper right corner that it was available. I was interested enough to take a LOOK at it but, when I had to CALL eBay to figure out how to get OUT of the new tool, despite eBay saying I could switch back any time, I knew it wasn't going to be a good thing. BTW, the eBay rep had to check with her supervisor ... who apparently had a more advanced version than either the rep or myself because we didn't have the "3 little dots" or whatever he mentioned (or maybe he was using it on the app rather than desktop?). I was able to get back to the "old" listing tool a couple of days later but what a nightmare!

The new tool reminded me of a temp gig from hell I had about 20 years ago. It was for a company in the real estate or mortgage sector. The interface was an image of a house. I was one of about 20 data entry people hired for the job. We had to click on a window and enter some data. Then we clicked on the door and entered something else. Then on another window, and so on. The younger employees (20-somethings) thought the house interface was cute. Those of us who had been doing data entry for years just wanted a damn spreadsheet!

I was also not amused by the new image editing tool. I ***love*** the current (or "old"?) tool, but the new image tool was nothing like that when I checked out the new listing experience. Images are SOOOO important when selling online that I find it hard to believe a well-known selling site would DOWNGRADE their image editing tool!

I'm amused that eBay's Chief Product Officer left the company not long after this nightmare was announced. He probably realized he'd made a hot mess of things and wanted to get out while the getting was good!

I am a long-time eBay seller, having first looked into eBay in the Summer of 1998. When I went to register for an account, I learned that I was already registered on the original version of eBay (called AuctionWeb). LOL!  

Perminate Link for eBay Sacrifices Usability for Sake of Mobile-Desktop Consistency   eBay Sacrifices Usability for Sake of Mobile-Desktop Consistency

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 19 15:16:46 2022

eBay’s ‘innovative IT vision’ is blind to the advantages of multi-option tools, insofar as those would attract and help retain the largest possible gene pool of sellers.  One size fitz all.  

Clearly keeping ‘current’ - attempting to influence it even - is critical to business growth.  But to neglect leveraging what’s in the bank in the process, in favor of blowing it all on demolition and “reimagining”, especially when leaving the blocks way after the pack has entered turn one, will only result in an exhausting sprint.  Moreover, doing it on the cheap results in nothing but a glitchy gadget nobody benefits from.  

This opacity is rooted deep in management psyche though.  Because it requires an investment of profit over the long term to maintain what amounts to two separate api call architectures that then need to mesh into one ‘process’.  Which sounds more complicated that it really is.  Well, for anyone competent that is.  

This is as true at the macro level (e.g. ‘Classic eBay’ firewall), as it is at the micro (fixed v. mobile apps).  Astonishingly, that kind of approach to anything eBay was purposefully trashed when they “let go” of their “successful past”.  Cheaper to reap her customers, quarter by quarter, one log on the frog pot fire at a time.

Thus, along with everything else remaining purposefully dysfunctional while the ‘next’ new and improved is percolating, is how eBay evolved to be the epitome of Significantly Not As Described.  And NSFW.

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by: sfauctionsmith This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 19 15:39:43 2022

There's a reason why systems have "line item details" so you can quickly and accurately put information into each line - Guess eBay just doesn't understand this and would rather have us mess around with drop down menus and boxes with 3 to 4 options in them so we can't find anything, all the while wasting our time - absolutely ridiculous! Also who has experienced not being able to paste your description in OR needing to hit the preview button 3 times before it actually works? This isn't rocket science!

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by: gemjane This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 19 19:26:35 2022

Years ago when ebay introduced the first 'new and improved' lister I changed to Auctiva for my ebay listings, and I have never regretted it. I have very, very few problems, and when I do have a problem I message Auctiva and I get a helpful response in a timely manner--not a canned response. There is a cost to Auctiva, but it is worth the peace of mind several times over.

Perminate Link for eBay Sacrifices Usability for Sake of Mobile-Desktop Consistency   eBay Sacrifices Usability for Sake of Mobile-Desktop Consistency

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 19 19:36:53 2022

got forced into it last week and it brought my listing to a standstill.  most unintuitive page they have ever created.  the only good thing i can say about it is that it now allows you to edit the catalog info, so when it's wrong you can fix it.  in the books category ebay doesn't seem to understand the difference between a "topic" and a "genre".

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by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 19 23:45:10 2022

@Rexford

No the rotten sales is more likely because buyers are no longer able to view sellers other items and it is easier to type w-w-w-.-a-m-a-z-o-m-.-c-o-m than attempt to navigate though the terrible store view. Something that COULD be bypassed by those willing to use promoted listings.....but now they doubled the fees and will only show trash that has the highest % of promoted listings. If you go to buy an engine for an old Camaro they will show the manual for a Buick because someone offered to pay 10% Promoted listing on the $5 item priced at $50.

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This user has validated their user name. by: cfrphoto

Tue Sep 20 21:10:15 2022

I hated the old eBay listing form. I am not sure if I would be able to distinguish between the old bad and the new worse. How could any socially responsible company contemplate adapting "smart phone" technology to dumb down desktop computers? Does eBay not understand that the seller demographic is likely to be older than average and less  able to use  painfully cramped smart phone keyboards? I am happy that I switched to Seller Assistant Pro in 2004 after TurboLister mysteriously lost some eBay listings.

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 26 13:06:08 2022

time travel back to 2001 ebay - like so many here I USED to run 3500 items till ebay started the flogging. Now I run about 70 just because it's free and only leave items no one on the planet has left. I sell 1 item per month - skip over all the definitions - sell it or not - I really don't care.

Perminate Link for eBay Sacrifices Usability for Sake of Mobile-Desktop Consistency   eBay Sacrifices Usability for Sake of Mobile-Desktop Consistency

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 26 13:08:24 2022

One more thing - my website tells me exactly where  my orders come from and all these tekie dudes that think everyone on the planet are shopping on thier phones - well for me at least desktop still beats mobile 2-1

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