eBay offered sellers some advice on how to make their listings show up once it moves to a "product-based" marketplace, away from its current "listing-based" format. Mat Ste-Marie, who manages C2C Selling Experience, presented information about eBay's new shopping experience and how it would impact sellers during a webinar on Wednesday.
As the company explained in February, eBay will group listings so that search results will display products (rather than showing all listings) "to help buyers quickly find the specific product they are seeking." Phase 1 of the deployment is impacting a very small number of product lines, and eBay said this week it would expand the number of categories this year, with more information to come in May.
In his presentation, Ste-Marie addressed how buyers would see a seller's listing in the new product-based experience, and he displayed a slide showing a product page for an iPhone, specifically an "Apple iPhone X - 256GB - Space Gray (Unlocked) A1865 (CDMA + GSM)." (This link
should bring you to that live product page.)
The product page featured one offer (called "Our pick") with a Buy It Now button - meaning a shopper could buy right from the product page without seeing other offers (listings). In the example of the product page shown in the slide, eBay also featured "product cards" that offered shoppers alternatives to eBay's pick:
Brand new: lowest price
New (other): lowest price
Pre-owned: lowest price
"One thing that our sellers might wonder when they see a page like this is, "Where's my item going to end up?,"" St-Marie said.
"So again, we're just grouping things in buckets to make things easier for buyers," he continued. "Whether we have Brand New, Free Shipping, Guaranteed Delivery is another one we can have, Pre-Owned, Auction, or whatever - each of those cards have the links that you can drill down into all offers that match that description." (He used the word "offers" interchangeably with "listings.")
He said eBay's pick is what it considers to be the best value, which is not just driven by price, but other things such as returns policy, or seller reputation, etc. - "what today we call Best Match."
Different searches will yield different product cards, Ste-Marie said, and if you are searching for something really rare, you might have just one of those.
Here's the clincher: Ste-Marie said when sellers start a new listing in a mandated product line or category, they would have to pick a product from the catalog, which is eBay's database of products. That's how it maps a seller's listing to the appropriate product page, so presumably that means eBay won't show your listing for an iPhone on a product page unless you've chosen the specific iPhone product from eBay's catalog when listing an item. (Don't panic - only a few product lines are currently impacted.)
He also explained how sellers could map their products in existing listings to the catalog in Seller Hub, and he displayed a slide with the following message:
A Reminder for You:
1) Check Seller Hub and My eBay to see what's required of your inventory.
2) Associate your listings with the eBay catalog.
3) Follow the step-by-step guidance on Seller Center
The manager fielded questions that revealed some sellers are worried about how the changes would impact the visibility of their listings and how eBay would deal with unique, rare, or used items that can't easily be compared to other sellers' items.
One remarkable revelation made during the webinar came when a seller named Marcus from Ontario asked, "Will listings from International Sites be included in the groupings in the catalogue?"
At least for the first step, there won't be any international items in the product-based shopping experience, Ste-Marie said. It won't stay like that for long, "obviously we need to solve for that," he said.
He said Marcus's eBay.ca listings that are productized would show up on eBay.ca, but not on eBay.com unless he listed on eBay.com from his Canadian account.
One seller from New York named Stephen asked, "How will listings be prioritized and distinguished when a potential buyer is searching for an item? What are the priorities that eBay will be using to pick which listing to put up front as the default or top level?"
"The overarching principle is similar to Best Match, but we're trying to get a little bit smarter than Best Match," Ste-Marie said, by providing "best value."
Interestingly, he said what is best value would vary from buyer to buyer. The algorithm can learn about buyers "so that over time we get smarter about presenting the right products to the right buyers, or rather, the right buying offer to the right buyer."
That could be different from buyer to buyer - for instance, someone might care more about free shipping.
A seller named Rita from Missouri asked with regard to antiques and vintage items, "how can a computer tell the difference between a beautiful item from example France or Italy with history, etc. worth far more than a cheap knockoff from China?"
eBay's Jim "Griff" Griffith told her not to worry. eBay's not trying to hide listings, he said several times throughout the webinar.