Some eBay sellers continue to struggle with issues resulting from product attribute changes eBay rolled out in mid-October in the Clothing, Shoes & Accessories (CSA) category.
The problems began
on October 15, 2019, when eBay rolled out changes that it said were designed to make it easier for buyers to find items and to give sellers guidance about Item Specifics (product attributes, also called aspects).
"We STILL don't have an option in the required size Item specific for the following: 0X, 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X, 6X
"The above choices are retail industry standard sizing for womens plus size and has been for DECADES. They are size selections plus size buyers search with. The CORRECT options have been missing since your supposed fix last October. When do you plan to fix this, eBay?
"You do have 2XL, 3XL, 4XL etc but those aren't the same thing. Those are used in missy, junior and mens sizing. NOT WOMENS PLUS SIZING."
On February 7th, a seller who is also a buyer provided further insight into the problems users continue to face, submitting it as a post
to be considered for eBay's February 25th Town Hall event:
"The item specifics in the Fashion category continue to be incomplete and the taxonomy at times inappropriate - for instance, plus sizes (1X 2X 3X, etc.) are STILL not in the drop down. Common types of fabrics are missing (rayon) but obscure options (elastomultiester) remain. Tops, blouses, jackets, coats, etc., need more appropriate type specifics. The entire listing process is riddled with inappropriate choices (adult theme clothing?), and is both repetitive and inadequate. Please - this really needs an overhaul into something more sane and simple. The problem is not resolved from the mess in mid-October. I speak as both a seller and a buyer. Thank you."
While eBay hasn't posted an update since November, eBay executive Harry Temkin provided an explanation of what had gone wrong during a presentation to New York sellers that was posted to the eBay podcast index
on January 14th. eBay made changes to Item Specifics while also making some of them required fields, which created a lot of havoc, he said.
Temkin said the problem stemmed from eBay's attempt to "normalize" Item Specifics. As eBay explained after the October rollout:
"We have been migrating categories into three types of item specifics - required, recommended and additional. As we roll out these changes, item specifics in certain categories may change, be added or removed, so that we can create better descriptors, which help to further index the listing in search and provide better visibility to buyers.
"For example, the various item specifics that represent size in the sub-categories of clothing, shoes and accessories (ie: Size (women's), Size (men's)) were updated and consolidated into one normalized item specific - size."
Temkin told attendees at the New York event, "We have spent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (since October 15th) going back, making sure all those (fields) are mapped correctly," he said. "We're going to copy the data for you, actually, from the old size field to the new. And based on your feedback, we're going to go back and put women's size back, and men's size back. We recognize we didn't do a good job on that one in that Structured Data release. And we're going to do way better next time, because we really learned from this one."
Temkin continued, "Based on your feedback, we're going through and reupdating a lot of the CS&A categories for you to make it work better. A lot of the aspect values were co-mingled - men's and women's - those are getting fixed as well. So when you're listing something in women's, it'll only show aspects relevant for a woman, versus a man. Because today, they're together. And I know a lot of you provided that feedback."
The idea that eBay didn't understand gender differences in product attributes in its catalog is remarkable, especially given the fact eBay had made structured data a priority back in 2015.
While the CSA attribute debacle is concerning to sellers in fashion, all sellers may be left wondering what eBay is doing to better understand retail, especially those who remember that eBay was soliciting volunteers
to help it through the "eBay Product Experts Program
" (PEP) introduced in 2018.
In his presentation that was posted last month, Temkin didn't say when eBay would rollout changes and reverse the commingling of product attributes in the Clothing, Shoes & Accessories categories, but it would seem sellers should be prepared.