eBay Cassini Search: A Seller's Perspective
By Ina Steiner
eBay hasn't revealed much about the new "world class" search engine it's readying for its marketplace next year, but entrepreneur and eBay seller Ty Neil has been using and analyzing some of the features made available on a section of the eBay Research Labs website.
Neil, who sells men's neckties on eBay, has used the insight he's learned from testing the features and said he's already seen an increase in sales on those listings he's optimized.
Using the TVS Beacon, described in today's EcommerceBytes Newsflash newsletter, Neil was able to influence search results ranking by dialing up one of four factors: Trust, Value, Diversity and Relevance.
But what has him most excited is a buyer sentiment tool called Emosi Sosial (also described in today's newsletter). "I'm a passionate tie seller (on eBay), and I'm getting severely negatively impacted by Best Match searches, and I think eBay knows it," Neil told EcommerceBytes.
Part of eBay's current problem is there are too many sellers with 100% feedback, Neil said - tools like Emosi Sosial will help differentiate two sellers both with 1,000 positive feedback. "The intangible data is more valuable than DSRs. I'm not a Top Rated Seller because six out of 800 buyers left me less than 3 stars. That's absolutely ridiculous. eBay is finally doing what they should have done."
Neil, who is a licensed CPA but is now in sales, said the "Mecca of data" is what people want. "This whole search model will force users to customize search results, and eBay will know that much more. eBay will know a million times faster what I want." He compared the new search to Facebook. "Facebook is worth $100 billion because they know exactly what I want based on my interaction with people," he said.
Neil said eBay significantly throttled back how many listings displayed in search results in the testing ground. Whether the search engine found 1,000 matching listings or 10,000 matching listings, the results were limited to 200 listings. He feels certain that eBay will indeed limit results in the new Cassini search engine and that as a result, eBay will eliminate listing fees.
The testing ground is extensive and includes "gadgets" such as Historical Trend, Category Suggestions, Query Builder. Doing a search on eBay.com today for "iphone 5" (a product in eBay's product catalog) brings back a more refined version of Query Builder customized for the Apple iPhone. At the top of the search results page there's a box called "Compare iPhone Models" and it lets searchers select the iPhone model, Carrier, Storage Capacity and Color.
Ty Neil, who is based in Atlanta, Georgia and Palo Alto, California, is an entrepreneur and blogs on Dufkin.com. He posted a review of his findings along with screenshots of eBay's testing ground on his blog. Notable is his optimism about Cassini's potential to make eBay search more relevant and help buyers distinguish between "good" sellers and "bad" sellers. Let us know if you agree!
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About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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