eBay UK Seller Release Spring 2019 – Item Specifics the focus for 2019

No primary category set

eBay’s new catalogue based approach to buying and selling was met with mixed reviews. New buyers loved the experience but existing buyers less so. Many sellers also weren’t particularly fans of matching products to eBay’s catalogue. This led eBay announcing that they would “adjust our plans regarding the expansion of our Shop by Product initiative” and cancel immediate plans to expand the initiative over the Christmas period and sellers saw an increased focus on Item Specifics.

Then in the January Investor Relations Earnings call, Devin Wenig made the following statement:

“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…

…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

In today’s Spring Seller Release, eBay have announced an adjustment in their approach so that in the future they will reply more on using Item specifics to identify products and matching to the eBay Catalogue will be recommended but not mandatory. This does mean that in certain categories, eBay are making more item specifics fields mandatory. These item specifics they say are the ones which help your items to be found and sell faster. eBay are also updating the filters buyers will see when searching to make it faster and easier for them to find what they’re looking for.

Is this the end of eBay Shop by Product?

“We’re still fully committed to Shop by Product as we believe it is the right direction for our customers. The items that you’ve already matched to the catalogue will get a head start in most cases as many of the Item specifics will have already been added to your listings automatically when you linked them.”
– eBay

How can Item Specifics help you sell more?

eBay give examples of how Item Specifics can increase sell through rates:

  • Listings in the Dresses category that included the “Style” and “Dress length” Item specifics sold 81% better on average than those without.
  • Listings in the Dresses category that included the “Dress length” Item specific sold 76% better than those without.

With eBay forecasting close to zero growth for investors in 2019, it might be reasonable to speculate that if sales aren’t growing that growth for some sellers will result in less sales for others. Regardless, whether completing Item Specifics simply moves sales from one sellers to another or if it increases the size of the pie, if uplifts of 76%-80% are possible it makes sense to edit existing listings and ensure new listings are in good shape.

“Last year, we announced our plans to move to a new shopping experience for buyers with ‘Shop by Product’.

We knew building the eBay catalogue would take different adaptations and versions to get it right. We want to include your feedback and make it work for everyone on eBay. With this in mind, we’ve listened and adjusted our approach.”
– eBay, Spring 2019 Seller Release

eBay Item Specifics

Item specifics are descriptive terms that tell a buyer about your item which you enter when you create or amend a listing. They could include the brand, size, type, colour, style or many more and will vary depending on what you’re selling.

“Making sure that your items have all the information available will give you more visibility in search and the potential for an increase in sales. It will mean that in the future we’ll be able to use Item specifics to identify products and showcase similar items together in many of the new buyer experiences on eBay.co.uk.”
– eBay Seller Release

eBay say that they have listened to sellers and are now aware that in the past tools were lacking and time to prepare too short. There was no easy way to tell which Item Specifics would need updating whenever new attributes were mandated leading to seller to take a wait and see approach when listings failed. Having stock which isn’t listed on eBay is a cardinal sin, especially with the news that the only fixed price format moving forward will be Good ‘Til Cancelled. eBay have committed to be super clear where new Item Specifics are required and any new mandates will not impact existing Good ’til Cancelled listings unless a seller wishes to revise them in the future.

eBay promises to sellers

eBay have committed to:

  • Let you know the most important 3 or 4 Item specifics you need to fill in for each category that could benefit your conversion rate
  • Provide you with 8 weeks notice when Item specifics are required in a category
  • The requirements will apply to all new and revised listings
  • Any Good ‘Til Cancelled listings will remain the same until they are revised, however, they encourage you to add the relevant Item specifics to those listings to see the benefits of the changed approach

Upcoming 2019 Item Specifics Changes

Layer 2 Category

Layer 3 Category

Timeline

Women’s Clothing Tops & Shirts November 2018
Dresses January 2019
Skirts May 2019
Shorts May 2019
Coats & Jackets May 2019
Boots May 2019
Sandals & Beach Shoes May 2019
Tops & Shirts May 2019
Jumpers & Cardigans May 2019
Men’s clothing Shorts May 2019
Coats & Jackets May 2019
Trainers May 2019
T-Shirts May 2019
Hoodies & Sweatshirts May 2019
Casual Shirts & Tops May 2019
Formal shirts May 2019
Home & Garden TBA Later in 2019
Electronics TBA Later in 2019

2 Responses

  1. Wenigspeak translated for beginners:

    “While some of the simplified buying experiences we launched have been positively received by new buyers”
    Translation : “Sh*t! That didn’t work”
    “they were causing some conversion pressure with our existing buyer base”
    Translation: “Someone turn a light on, no-one can see a goddamn thing in here”
    “Given that dynamic, we stopped scaling these experiences to our existing customers”
    Translation: “The dumbass who came up with that idea is now cleaning my car”
    “For existing customers we’ll focus on conversion and frequency”
    Translation: “Come back! Don’t all f*uck off to Amazon!”
    “removing friction, leveraging our vast customer data”
    Translation: “Let’s just pretend the whole thing never happened”
    “and providing additional ways to compare values and surface unique inventory.”
    Translation: “Nope, I don’t know what that means either. But hell, it sure sounds good, don’t it?”

  2. As with many other eBay ‘improvements’, the catalogue has been awfully implemented.

    For example, we have a listing for a Samsung HW-MS650 Soundbar. It’s in the eBay catalogue and all the details are, surprisingly, correct. It places it in the ‘Home Cinema Systems’ category.

    So far so good you might think.

    But, if you then head over to the site or the app and search for the exact same model, the eBay search decides to search only in the ‘Speakers & Subwoofers’ category, so you can’t actually find the bloody listing! 7 hits only. It’s then a very long winded process on the app (filter, change category, back up a level, done, search again) and you actually noticing that eBay are looking in the wrong place, and then you might come across the product along with the other 50 listings….

    Worth noting:
    Speakers & Subwoofers 8% fees
    Home Cinema 5% fees

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