eBay test hiding descriptions on desktops

See Full Item DescriptioneBay are currently running tests in the US, hiding seller’s descriptions and replacing them with a button reading “See full item description”.

This is an interesting one as it’s aligning the desktop view with the view that you’ll see on the eBay mobile app. On a mobile you never see the item description unless you specifically click the description link and, in the test, that’s what buyers are seeing across all platforms.

Whether this is a good thing is a moot point – sellers are likely to claim that buyers need to see their carefully crafted descriptions (often for casual sellers with a ton of information which isn’t descriptive of the product but is their terms and conditions or aims to tell the buyer what a great seller they are). Buyers on the other hand are likely to be more prosaic and I have to admit to rarely bothering to read item descriptions these days.

Whereas once upon a time I’d have to read a description to check if the product really is what I thought I was buying, today with multiple gallery images, title, condition, item specifics, and sometimes multi-variation drop downs, I should have more or less all the information I need at my finger tips. I don’t need to be told “From a non-smoking pet free home”, I assume you’re not going to send me a flea ridden stinking jumper when you’ve described it as “new”.

What do you think about hidden descriptions? Do you honestly read every description when you buy something on eBay, or do you only refer to the description when you need more information? Do you use the description button when buying on eBay mobile? Would you be desperately concerned if it became a permanent feature of eBay desktop the same as it already is on eBay mobile (remember something approaching 60% of all eBay sales are touched by mobile).

Probably the two groups of people who will be most pleased/upset are the scammers who put in their description “You’re only buying a picture of the iPad” or “Please note this is a fun auction for an iPad box” and the companies who have built their businesses around eBay template designs and widgets to embed in eBay listings.