Amazon, eBay and finding

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Amazon and eBay have two quite different solutions to assist buyers to find the product they’re looking for. Up until now eBay have relied on ending soonest, a lottery of which product happens to be at the top of search results at the time the buyer happens to search. Amazon in contrast present just one listing for each product with the best price/availability highlighted to the buyer.

eBay is about to change radically to present products based on Best Match, a complicated algorithm including relevancy, prices, feedback and soon popularity as judged by recent sales. (It’s worth spending five minutes to read eBay’s best match patent). eBay’s biggest issue is how to present the most relevant item a buyer is searching for, out of many instances of the same product.

Amazon’s radically different approach has always made relevancy easy. With only one listing (known as the ‘Detail page’) for each product, price/availability/seller reputation are all that’s needed to present the best item to the buyer. Even here though there are issues such as the way that listings are created.

On Amazon the first person to sell a particular item creates the detail page with the picture and description. The product will be assigned an Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) which all other sellers of the same item will then list against.

In the future other sellers may update the product information, the decision about whether or not to display any changes is processed automatically according to automated business logic known as ‘ASIN Authority’. The information displayed on an Amazon detail page is drawn from multiple seller contributions based on this logic and so the information the buyer sees is a collaboration of different sellers listings.

This ‘Wisdom of the Crowds’ approach brings with it it’s own problems. You may have listed a particular product against an ASIN when another seller with makes edits to the detail page. This could then result in selling an item you don’t possess due to the changes made by another seller. With a large inventory it may not be until buyers start to receive their items that the change is revealed.

Amazon advise that because the product details for an item are drawn from multiple sources, it is your responsibility as a Merchant on Amazon to continually monitor your listings for accuracy.

eBay and Amazon’s approaches to displaying the most relevant items to buyer both have their flaws. In the future eBay’s will rely heavily on displaying listings from the best sellers with the most relevant products, but each seller will be in control of their descriptions and are able to ensure accuracy. Amazon ensure every item detail page for every product has the same information in the same place, but this can produce mis-matched products as contributions from multiple sellers (including Amazon themselves) are rationalised into one detail page.

The next few weeks as eBay roll out 30 day listings with recent sales influencing search results will be interesting. With sellers able to ensure product descriptions are 100%, eBay should have an advantage over Amazon on accuracy. If the search result page produce a similar set of sellers to Amazon’s detail page, ranked on price/availability/seller reputation then buyers finding experience will be much improved.

7 Responses

  1. Had a recent experience with that happening to me on Amazon with our garden business, been selling for about 6 months on there and no one had the same products. We spent a fair bit of money have products photographed so they were bespoke to us and not the usual supplier picture.

    Then last week noticed one of our ranges someone was selling from our listings, all the titles changed to (but of course not the pics!) and they where selling cheaper although their postage was high. The titles changed for the worse in my opinon, so we now have a battle with changing them back and also just a bit ticked that they were selling of our pics which were a million times better than the suppliers ones. So we have now changed all the pics back on amazon to the standard ones, is this good for customers? Plus the odd thing was we suddenly sold more than before even with the fact that the other seller was cheaper than us!!!!

    So we will just monitor it, but I’m glad I don’t sell in a popular area like electronics on Amazon as it must be a nightmare to keep up!

    With ebay’s system do you really want a computer to tell you what the best match is? and will it take the fun out of searching ebay which in my opinion was what I enjoyed most about it!


  2. #1 That’s the trouble with Amazon, once you give them your pics/title/description it’s theirs to do with as they please with no way to ensure they never change. It’s a tricky one as in theory with everyone contributing the item detail should be as accurate as it possible can be, but that might not be as you wanted it.

  3. On Amazon we have had competitors change the item description or picture causing major headaches.

    We listed a pack of 4 AA nicads with the relevant pic and EAN only to be changed twice by another seller to AAA, not surprising the buyer was not happy when he received the wrong size. I am not sure if it was a deliberate ploy by a competitor but the way I see it the Amazon system can be open to abuse,


  4. yeah I suppose it could be, then what’s the alternative have lots of the same item listed!

    I think there could be some better way, not sure what tho lol but I have to say with one range we sell on Amazon sales are flying unlike they used to on ebay because that category was full of crap from the far east!

    Swings and roundabouts I guess

  5. Listing on amazon is easier, but for products that already exist but its very annoying when amazon display the cheapest item at the top, with a glamourised tick etc..and the constant battle among sellers to reduct prices by pennies to appear at the top. Navingation through amazons site is not as easy as Ebay. Also if you are a professional seller with inventory of new product purchased from distribution then its very hard to compete and gain sales through amazon as one off or grey kit sellers will then show up at the top of the page, and with amazon making out the cheapest price/availability more attractive to buyers, as all the descriptions are the same then majority of what will be sold is top of page. What i mean is if a laptop available with the same description is available on amazon , then why shouldnt a buyer buy from the cheapest seller. Amazon do not take into account the complex workings of ebay listings in search results. At the moment i am more inclined to sell on Ebay.

  6. Amazons catalogue model is a farce and open to widespread manipulation. I know this because I am doing it! On products where I have ASIN authority I change the images and descriptions to match my model. This I know will increase th buyer dissatisfaction rate of a competitors account.

    On the other side, I am always in IP dispute with other sellers who think that they “Own” an ASIN just because they inserted it. They fill out and send in notice forms that they have Ip rights, when they don’t. I have 3 such legal disputes in progress.

    With amazon, you get no account manager or TSAM. Nobody to talk to!

    Don’t like them. Stick with eBay.

    Keywords : amazon seller central

  7. # 6

    👿 If you altered any of our listings in anyway, I would sue the pants off you. Why be a bi*ch, when you could be a good seller. Not surprized Amazon staff won’t talk to you.
    Funny that as we don’t have the same non contact problem……………..

    Jealousy is a dangerous thing george, Thankfully you can’t get away with it on ebay….


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