I’ve been trying to figure out why my sales have dropped since eBay introduced catalogued listings to the tech categories and it’s all about visibility.
I had thought one of the major problems might be how highly catalogue product cards were ranked in search results. I was concerned that my listings were being demoted in search results. I might have been wrong on both these counts as it appears that buyers simply might not be able to find my listings no matter how hard they try.
Today I did a search for a “17” monitor”. I clicked to view just items from “Desktop PCs & Monitors” and then scrolled down to select the exact category “Monitors”. I then selected the brand I was interested in – IBM – from the sidebar product finder.
eBay happily tells me that there are 16 matching listings to my search (that’s good, 3 of them are mine!), but eBay only display a single listing! (You can click the screenshot to see the full page image)
Why is this? Why do eBay have 16 listings but are only showing one to buyers? Why are eBay not displaying my listings and the other 15 listings available to buy?
There’s a simple answer, eBay search is broken. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason the Item Specifics selected aren’t returning the products requested in search results.
To demonstrate that this is a problem with eBay Best Match I did one last thing. I changed the sort order from Best match to Time Ending Soonest and magically the missing listings appear. How many buyers will do this though and instead simply think eBay doesn’t have the inventory they want to buy?
The image to the right shows two screen shots side by side for the same search term, on the left is the search under Best Match and the only difference to the right hand side is that the sort order has been changed to Time Ending Soonest.
I returned to Best Match and the search which should show my monitors but doesn’t and tested one last thing. I added the word “IBM” to make the search string “17” Monitor IBM” and that miraculously helps Best Match find the monitors I’m selling, along with those from the other sellers. I shouldn’t have to do this though – I’ve already selected “IBM” from the Item Specifics.
There are some further complications in that eBay separate “IBM” and “Lenovo” as two different Item Specifics, (essentially the same brand with a name change). However that’s not the root cause of the problem as I’ve used both options on different listings.
The problem is that on the initial search eBay say that there are 16 matching items in search results but only choose to show me one. Buyers aren’t as persistent as me, they’ll get fed up and go away to buy somewhere else.
16/11/11 Updated to add: eBay appear to have fixed this glitch.