Why eBay’s Item Specifics don’t work for me

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Item specifics simply aren’t working for me as a buyer on eBay. There I said it! The biggest source of my frustrations with buying on eBay (and I know for sellers as well) are summed up in that one sentence.

eBay Suit Search

The last couple of days I’ve been looking for a new suit. I’ve got to go to a wedding in a couple of months and I know my size – ideally a 42″ or 44″ chest, 36″ waist and 34″ inside leg. It should be simple you’d think?

eBay Suit Item SpecificsWhen I search eBay the Item Specifics I’m offered are as shown here. I’m not too worried about brand or colour, I just want a suit (any suit!) in my size so the first specific I go for is the chest. 44″ sounds about right.

This is where the problems start – eBay offer a “Trouser Size” Item specific. Even as a seasoned eBay user this confuses me – is it the waist size or is it the inside leg measurement? Eventually I figured out that no one has a 38″ inside leg so it must be waist. 36″ it is then.

Finding the inside leg Item Specific is tricky. If you click “View All” you’d expect to see it but it’s not there. It only appears by clicking “View All” AFTER you’ve filled in the waist size (or Trouser Size as eBay call it). I don’t know about other people, but I’m not interested in browsing beautiful suits that don’t fit me – I want eBay to make it easy to show me just the clothes in my size.

Even when you find the size options, eBay only offer two inch increments – many suits have a 33″ inside leg but eBay only display 32″ or 34″ which means all 33″ leg suits are invisible. There’s also a Length item specific – Short, Regular or Long but selecting that only found one suit (a Tuxedo) in my size.

There is also another bizarre quirk of eBay. Three measurements for a suit are specified in three different ways – Chest is “44”, Trouser size (waist) is “36 in.” and Inside Leg is “44L” (that L isn’t for long, it stand for Leg). As all the measurements are in inches surely it’s time for eBay to standardise how they display measurements.

Moving on, it’s a wedding so I’m only interested in a new suit. Clicking “New with tags” gives me just nine suits to choose from. One’s a £99.99 Tuxedo. The remaining suits range from £220 to £260, seven from one seller and the last suit from a third seller.

I did eventually find a suit on eBay. All my time trying to narrow my search with Item Specifics was wasted though. The seller specified Chest Size: 36″ to 46″ and Trouser Size: 30″ to 44″. By specifying a range of sizes and then using a multi variation listing to detail the exact sizes it was nigh on impossible to find.

I don’t blame sellers for not getting the item specifics correct. They’re just far too difficult and confusing to complete, especially on clothing. I know eBay put hundreds of man hours of work in trying to tweak them but it’s just not good enough. For what it’s worth it’s even worse on Amazon where I couldn’t find a single suit in anything approximating my size.

If anyone’s interesting, here’s the suit I’ll be wearing to the wedding. I didn’t find it by using Item Specifics by but constantly entering different search terms until I found a suit that fitted me. In truth I did so many searches I can’t even remember the one that worked. Please eBay, make it easier to buy a suit next time I need one.
eBay Suit

14 Responses

  1. Item specifics are borked. eBay seems to approach them as if they were Victorian butterfly collectors trying to catalogue everything. Rather than help us buy a bloody suit.

    It is frustrating. I had much the same quandary recently.

    And yet a suit should be easy. I know my jacket size. I know my trouser size. I also usually know my fabric type.

    But there is no chance on eBay. I bought my new suit on Amazon. And it arrived the next day with Prime.

  2. ~
    Dan, you do a gross disservice to ‘Victorian butterfly collectors’! They would have wriiten IS in a logical way and constantly improved them as new knowledge became available. On eBay, as the piece highlights, neither is happening.

    For every ‘hundreds’ of hours put in by eBay on IS, sellers have probably invested tens of thousands. It is one of the worst facets of the listing process. And many sellers seem to do ok without bothering!!!

    I visited eBay a while back and whilst there met people from the ‘team responsible’ for categories and IS. I offered to help them clean up and improve IS in my usual listing category. I left them my contact details but sadly as yet no contact.

  3. As a seller Item specifics are like insurance you do it because you might need it but dont really think its worth it

  4. As a buyer I still find it easier to buy clothes on eBay than on Amazon. Fashion and car parts may well be the only categories where making a purchase is still easier on eBay than on Amazon.

  5. I wrote to you months ago regarding item specifics but it seems you only write about situations that affect your own business.

    You have not replied to most of my reports which is disappointing.

    Here it is again.

    Item specifics are a complete mess that has no intelligence. The previous Voyager search engine before Cassini was much better. You had no need to insert the month in the title of a listing as it searched item specifics. Cassini does not. Try searching for one issue below. 7 out of the 9 date variations return ZERO results! Item specifics state Febuary 1974

    NME 9/2/74
    NME 9/2/1974
    NME 9th Febuary 1974
    NME magazine 9/2/74
    NME magazine 9/2/1974
    NME magazine 9th Febuary 1974
    NME magazine 9th Feb 1974
    NME magazine 9 Feb 1974 SUCCESS!
    NME 9th Feb 1974 SUCCESS!

    Item specifics state Febuary 1974

    This along with the fact nobody in USA can buy from the UK using the shopping cart is crippling my overseas sales. Every time someone from USA buys multiple items from me they pay postage for every item & ask for a refund even though I have sales set up to offer FREE postage cost for every extra item.

    I have spoken to three ebay agents about this & they all say it’s down to site design & NOT a problem to be resolved. I find that rather spurious. They are trying to make money out of our postage by forcing us to use the Overseas shipping programme that does not offer a standard price. It would be better if we sold more I would have thought.

    It makes no business sense whatsoever as I would sell much more if US buyers could see the fact I don’t charge extra postage on my overseas sales because they have no access to the shopping cart on UK sales. It defeats the object of creating a sale in the first place. A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME! It’s infuriating!

  6. Sometimes I think eBay use the item specifics to exclude listing from generic searches rather than exclude ones without the item specific in the search from the results.

    The items with less item specifics usually come higher up best match the opposite of what eBay keep telling us

  7. The problem is that IS cannot be varied for each item on a multi variation listing. The only other option the seller you purchased from has, is to list each size separately. Item specifics would then work as expected. I have a similar problem with my listings: Several variations but eBay only allows one MPN. Or listings with several dozen variations where the weights and dimensions vary greatly but eBay only allow one set to be entered. BONKERS

  8. Item specifics have been a mess on eBay for ages. IMO the main problem is that they try to be specific but don’t have the specialist knowledge that the sellers do, so they try to pigeon hole everything into what they think is right.

    To me, there’s nobody working at eBay (at least who has any authority) that ‘gets’ retail. It’s time they hired some quality people with genuine retail experience who know how it actually works. Or at least consult experienced sellers about each category’s foibles.

    A classic example of this lack of knowledge is that nobody at eBay seems to have thought that a buyer might like to return something for an exchange, but no, they only cater for refunds when ‘managing’ returns.

  9. Item specifics are seriously time consuming but knowing cassini I feel I have to add them.
    I also disagree with the terminology they enforce. Its known as a polished watch case not ‘gloss’. As Joe said above they don’t have the specialist knowledge. For example automatic and kinetic are not the same thing but they once came up in the same option.

  10. If you realised that eBay contracts out its programming to a bunch of 10 year old school kids I’m sure you wouldn’t be quite so harsh in your criticism. It does however explain why eBay have so many disasters on the programming front. It also explains why the waist size only goes up tp 38-inches when many Americans have a waist several times that. For a 10 year old anything above 38 is inconceivable.


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