July's category disappearances

No primary category set

eBay have just announced category changes for July. There’s a new “Local Services” category, which appears to cover everything from PC repairs to delivery services: it looks to be an interesting development, though with categories for both Babysitting and Nannies, I hope someone is looking at the legal implications.

Likely to be much more controversial is the disappearance of many subcategories, to be replaced with item specifics alone: this affects Antiquarian, Children’s, Fiction and Non-Fiction Books, and CDs. I have to say that when they did this in Women’s Clothing, I hated it: where previously I’d been able to browse an entire category, I was having to fiddle around with a combination of search words and item specifics to find what I wanted, and of course as many sellers don’t bother to use item specifics, or eBay’s item specifics don’t fit exactly what I’m looking for, I can’t find it. Plus there’s the well-documented issue of “translatability” between sites of the specifics: “beige” on .co.uk was at one time shown as “nude” on .com, for example, but ask any buyer of tights: these are two completely different colours.

I’m also told by Richard from Magnum Opus that this exact change was tried on .com a few years ago: it caused such a drop in sales that it was reversed.

What do you think? If you’re a seller or a buyer in these categories, leave us a comment.

10 Responses

  1. Ever since subcategories began disappearing I’ve been expecting it to happen to CDs and have been dreading reading the “This month’s category changes” announcement for some time. Luckily for us, we only ever used one subcategory (the karaoke one, obviously) so hopefully the change won’t affect us too much, but I fully sympathise with the mainstream CD sellers such as Richard.

  2. I know why they’re doing it, and it’s all to do with findability – they’re want people to use item specifics. It’s a pain in the ass though – I search with keyword and then narrow it down by category. In the past I could search for a printer (say an HP 2200) and then select the Laser Printer subcategory… that cuts out all the inkjet printers as HP have both a Laserjet and an inkjet 2200.

    The only saving grace will be the search inclusion of item specifics and the ability to create custom item specifics when they one you want to include in search isn’t present!

  3. Some Pink once told me that 75% of buyers search, 25% of buyers browse… so you can see why they’d think that being able to pin-point exactly what you want might be useful… but not at the cost of A QUARTER OF ALL USERS having their habits upset. That’s a major, major change, and just having item specifics “firmly established” isn’t enough: the two are NOT an either/or scenario.

  4. If it is CD’s this month, DVD’s can’t be far behind, probably just in time for the Christmas rush…

    I search for items much the same way as Mountie, they compliment each other, it shouldn’t be an either/or scenario.

  5. I think the important message sellers should take away is that it’s going to happen and regardless how many buyers they lose it’s the ones they’ll keep that count. Anyone who currently doesn’t fill in item specifics (and I have to hold my hand up to sometimes only filling in the ones that will show on the listing header and skipping those that won’t :-o) will lose in the long term.

    Finding is going to change on eBay, sellers need to understand how Finding will work in order to make sure that their items are presented to buyers.

    Having said that with my buying hat on I WANT to be able to find all items that are misdescribed, in the wrong category and that don’t have item specifics detailed because often they’re the ones with least bids and the best bargains! Can someone explain how I’m meant to do that if eBay make it easier for me to find the relevant ones and impossible to browse through millions of auctions to the odd ball ones?

  6. As a CD seller its a pain – but the biggest problem will be for those selling new releases or pre-sales as often the item specifies don’t exits on ebay until a couple of weeks after release. The one positive is that it will make items listed in the UK more visible on other ebay sites as often there is a mismatch of categories between sites for CDs.

  7. As a collector (as well as a seller) I search by artist so having them all in one category makes no odds to me! – I’ll still be happy buying what I want. With this in mind, I believe it may be a rather long search for those collectors used to looking at the sub categories which tell you what type of genre they are.. Could be interesting ! – we’ll see.

  8. Des when Finding 2.0 becomes a reality that won’t be a problem. sellers add new items specifics for products and as buyers search for new terms eBay will organically learn which terms sell product and and which don’t

    Basically as sellers add item specifics and if buyers search terms include those keywords eBay will add them automatically into the standard drop down lists. There are two advantages:
    1) When a new model comes out sellers can add that to item specifics immediately. An example cited was a red ipod when there had never been red ipods before. It took a couple of weeks to be added to item specifics but it could be added straight away by sellers.
    2) eBay won’t have to research a zillion products and decide which specifics should be listed on the site – it will happen organically as sellers and buyers tune the system by selling and buying 😀

  9. This may work with defined items such as IT major peripherals, or even with DVDs and CDs, but there are a lot of items where it won’t.

    Take a look at the model trains category for example – even with all the current sub-cats people still can’t find the items they want and have to browse all listings.

    The wargaming category is currently a hybrid – it has the standard subcategorisation used in the off-eBay industry, but a lot of completely inappropriate Item Specifics are creeping in alongside ones that are appropriate for Games Workshop products only. The 1000’s of other manufacturers products don’t fit the Games Workshop Item Specifics, but luckily can stillbe found through the sub-cats. Once those sub-cats go, eNay will be killing off a very active and large category.



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