News from eBay: structured data, Seller Hub, changes to search on the way

eBay New Logo FeatSteve Fisher, Chief Technology Officer at eBay, has made a blog post called: “Replatforming eBay: How We Are Delivering the Shopping Destination of Choice

It’s well worth reading it because the developments outlined will have a significant impact on eBay sellers.

As Fisher notes: “Over 20 years, we’ve built one of the very best search engines optimized for ecommerce – we pretty much find you what you want to buy almost all of the time. And, we’ll keep investing in search science innovation.

But one of the biggest opportunities we have is to organize, catalogue, curate, and present our vast inventory in ways that enable every person who shops on eBay to find their version of perfect, no matter what it is.

That’s why we have embarked on an ambitious, multi-year evolution of our shopping platform at eBay that aims to deliver relevant, persistent and personalized experiences for consumers.”

The meat of the announcement can be boiled down to:

– The Product Identifier path is where eBay is going and it looks as though this will see a dramatic change to the control sellers have over individual listings. Yes, a more Amazon-like catalogue approach. As Fisher says re structured data: “This is an important change we have embarked on that will eventually extend across our inventory.”

– Machine learning will use past shopping data to personalise what shoppers see as they browse and search. He notes: “We’re creating new browsing flows and persistent product pages, allowing users to see relevant and tailored items, specifically based on their shopping behaviour.” (There are some specific examples in the blog post to help you understand what this could mean.) And some of these new flows are already in place and being tested.

– Changes to the selling service. The Seller Hub will roll out to all countries and be beefed up with improved analytics tools. Fisher says: “We are in the process of equipping our business-to-consumer sellers to figure out buyer demand gaps that need to be addressed and help them re-configure inventory accordingly.”

Thoughts

So what does this mean in the short term for sellers? Probably not much, even though some of these new features are already in the wild. But in the longer term there’s no doubt that the plans revealed will be significant. The universal roll out of Seller Hub will mean changes to your daily routine. There’s no escaping structured data and product identifiers.

And there’s more to be revealed about how listings will work in future. Watch this space. Browse and search is going to see significant change.

It’s notable that as I write this that today is the first anniversary of eBay splitting from PayPal. And, in that year, there hasn’t been much big news from eBay on a product front. But this is big news, have no doubt.

What do you make of it?