|Sat Oct 27 2012 23:55:25|
eBay: All Style, No Substance
By: Ina Steiner
The latest eBay search fiasco speaks volumes about how out-of-touch the marketplace is with its buyers and sellers and third-party developers and is another sign that the company remains focused on style over substance.
EcommerceBytes received confirmation from eBay it was deprecating wildcard search capability and reported the news on Monday. Not only was the company unapologetic to buyers and sellers for making the change, it still hasn't informed its users about doing away with this important search function.
eBay did not respond to EcommerceBytes' requests for information about how the change would impact the Finding API that affiliates use extensively. But three days later, eBay apologized to third-party developers who make their money through its affiliate program after they read the EcommerceBytes report and made inquiries of their own.
eBay has no internal advocates for buyers and sellers, but apparently it does have an advocate for affiliates who drive traffic to the site. The next day, Friday, eBay was yet again apologetic to affiliates and said it was able to push back the deprecation date of wildcard searches from the October 29th target date to November 5th. (Still no announcement of the change to buyers and sellers.)
eBay is having some serious issues with technology. Among the glitches impacting the eBay marketplace - sellers are currently unable to use analytics and traffic reports thanks to technical issues.
It's been 4 years since eBay announced it needed to overhaul its search engine, but Cassini, which was scheduled to roll out this year, has been postponed.
Previously planned migrations of clients to GSI's next generation ecommerce platform (V11) have been delayed into 2013 and beyond. Only 15 GSI clients leverage eBay.com as a distribution channel to expand their businesses domestically, along with a few clients who are using eBay to expand their global footprint outside the U.S.
Rather than hunkering down and focusing on core technology issues, eBay threw a big party this year to announce a new logo and a new homepage design that added a Pinterest-like element to the page. This, not a new search engine, was "the new eBay."
This week, eBay was surprised at the reaction from developers about wildcard search deprecation, and that's because eBay has neglected developers who provide tools to buyers and sellers. In 2009, eBay opened up its platform to developers so that sellers could access third-party applications without leaving eBay, hailing the opportunity as a way to leverage its ecosystem of developers. But, as usual, eBay was ambivalent about giving developers too much access or control.
In November 2009, eBay threw a big PayPal developers conference to launch its open platform called "PayPal X." The following year, it didn't even have a conference for eBay developers. (Update: that should read, In 2011, it didn't have a conference for eBay developers.) In October 2011, it threw a big X.commerce Innovate developers conference emphasizing Magento and to a lesser degree PayPal.
This year, eBay closed the marketplaces open platform and held no developers conference for eBay or PayPal. (Magento carried on with its own Imagine conference.)
The media who attend these annual events get amnesia about the previous year's message. Those who seemed so excited about PayPal's open platform and then about X.commerce "ecommerce operating system" were excited to see a "new eBay" this year - but there were no questions about previous years' stalled initiatives.
eBay is a bit like the landlord who freshens up the outside of a building each year with cosmetic changes while doing nothing to improve the living conditions for tenants inside.
But it seems rather like the same eBay on the inside to its users.