2019 Update: eBay Catalogue & eBay Product Based Shopping Experience

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eBayPresident & CEO Devin Wenig, has issued some guidance around their push to get sellers registering their listings with the eBay Catalogue and progress on their new eBay Product Based Shopping Experience.

The back story is that eBay (probably correctly) decided that having 150 listings for an iPhone 6 for buyers to scroll through isn’t a great shopping experience. It’s page after page of listings with no real way to cut and dice the listings in search to find the best deal for you. By getting sellers to add their products to the eBay Catalogue, eBay could be assured that all of the listings were for the same product and compress search results, rolling 150 individual listings into a single search result with the new Product Based Shopping Experience.

Sellers hated this as it’s a ton of work matching products to the eBay Catalogue, and often having to create new catalogue entries or correct errors in existing entries. You might think it’s easy to list a product with as few variations as an iPhone to the eBay Catalogue… but not for instance if it’s tied to Sprint as there wasn’t a catalogue entry for this and the additional slowed the entire listing process down and in some instances prevented the product from being listed at all.

Traditional eBay buyers apparently also weren’t impressed and the new buying experience failed to engage them so towards the end of 2018 eBay stalled their plans to further roll out mandatory eBay catalogue matching in ever more categories. Indeed, searching eBay today it’s hard for long term buyers to find any sign of the new eBay Product Based Shopping Experience.

But there’s a problem. Whilst sellers and buyers equally detested the new eBay Product Based Shopping Experience, new buyers to eBay appear to have loved it. For eBay to grow and attract new buyers they need to give them a modern eBay interface and that means compressing listings in search and giving them options on a single screen which is what the product based shopping experience does.

eBay Product Based Shopping Experience updates

In the latest eBay Earnings call to investors this week, eBay CEO Devin Wenig issued guidance on the marketplace’s progress on the new eBay Product Based Shopping Experience:

Sales slowed with existing buyers so eBay have stopped showing them the new experience

“While some of the simplified buying experiences we launched have been positively received by new buyers, they were causing some conversion pressure with our existing buyer base. Give that dynamic, we stopped scaling these experiences to our existing customers. This in turn has created some downward pressure on GMV as we lap acceleration from last year. We’ll continue to roll out these experiences with new buyers…

…For existing customers we’ll focus on conversion and frequency, removing friction, leveraging our vast customer data and providing additional ways to compare values and surface unique inventory.”
– Devin Wenig, President & CEO, eBay

eBay will continue to update pages for SEO

“We are rapidly moving significantly more SEO pages to a catalog structured data foundation”
– Devin Wenig, President & CEO, eBay

eBay will automate adding listings to the eBay Catalogue

Sellers hate having to try and match their listings to the eBay Catalogue. In a glimmer of hope Devin stated that eBay will try to reduce their workload and automatically match listings on their behalf.

“The expansion of our catalog has historically been constrained by the rate of seller adoption, but new AI capabilities will allow us to opt in millions of listings in the torso and tail of our inventory that we believe will drive SEO and social traffic moving forward.”
– Devin Wenig, President & CEO, eBay

This is of course a double edged sword – whilst removing the workload for sellers will be welcomed, it opens the doors to mismatched products and complaints from buyers who rightly buying from a product page will expect the product described. The best course of action for sellers it to continue to match against the eBay catalogue but for those that don’t you’ll be relying on best efforts by eBay.

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