EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2928 - November 05, 2012     1 of 6

eBay Deprecates Wildcard Searches: the Implications

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eBay sent an email to users informing them their saved searches would be changing on November 5, but one reader points out that the change will make it much harder, if not impossible, for him to find the types of items he seeks on eBay.

As EcommerceBytes reported two weeks ago, eBay is eliminating a feature called "wildcard" searches that enable shoppers to broaden their search for an item by finding plural forms of nouns and alternative endings. A search for "base*" would find all listings whose titles contain the words "base," "bases" or "baseball," for example.

But it's more than just spelling variations, wrote one reader, who said wildcards are required when trying to search by part number for some items:

"I have a search for SMC VV5Q17*. It's very good at matching things like "VV5Q1702UIB970117", "VV5Q17ULB970007", and "VV5Q1702UIB97011", all of which are actual part numbers, from actual items currently listed, returned by this search. There is no possible way to enumerate the part numbers that could be returned by this search, so without wildcards, these parts will become impossible to find, impossible to purchase, and lose eBay final value fees."

eBay was originally scheduled to deprecate wildcard searches on October 29th, but developers who read EcommerceBytes story complained to managers of eBay's affiliate program and got a one-week reprieve.

Some readers have told EcommerceBytes they have better luck finding things using Google's search engine rather than searching on eBay, and one reader suggested doing that in the case of wildcard searches. "With eBay removing its wildcard search feature, here is a workaround. Go to google and type word* where "word" is the word you're searching on. I don't know how well it works, but it's worth a try."

Here's the text of the letter eBay sent to users who had saved searches containing wildcards.

Your saved searches will change on November 5
Dear xxxxxxxxx,
You're receiving this email because we noticed that you are using a wildcard (search terms with a *) in one or more of your saved searches in My eBay.

Starting on November 5, we will no longer support wildcard searches. We encourage you to revise your saved searches to whole words without the *.

Why are we making this change?
We've made many recent improvements to our search capabilities on eBay that now take into account many spelling variations. This has helped us to offer better search results to our buyers and sellers.

However, after November 5, your wildcard searches will not return the same results you're used to seeing. This means that you may possibly miss out on the new and recently-listed items that you're used to seeing in your saved searches in My eBay and in the emails that we send to you.

Here's how to revise your saved search terms
Replace any * in a wildcard search term with whole words.

EXAMPLE: Replace "Floral silk scar*" with "Floral silk scarf"
You can also include various spellings in a single search term by adding it in parentheses, with each additional term separated by a comma.

EXAMPLE: Replace "Floral silk scar*" with "Floral silk (scarf, scarfs, scarves)"
You can also exclude items from the results for your saved search by adding a "-(items to be excluded)".

EXAMPLE: Replace "Porcelain minifigur -lot" with " Porcelain (minifigure, minifigurines) -(lot, lots)"

Please update your saved searches today, so you can stay on top of the things you're most interested in finding on eBay.
Thanks for shopping on eBay!

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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

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