Will the eBay Product Based Shopping Experience save eBay?

By Chris Dawson June 22, 2018 - 8:00 am

There have been many worries about eBay’s new Product Based Shopping Experience, or rather listing against the eBay Catalogue which is what will power the new way for sellers to list and buyers to find products on the marketplace. But why are eBay so keen to forge ahead with the new experience?

Issues sellers face with eBay Product Based Shopping Experience

Sellers are citing many difficulties, not least of which are incorrect catalogue entries and still the lack of an eBay tool to flag catalogue entries with incorrect details (which eBay say is coming late summer). Even when the tool arrives, eBay say there will be an unacceptable 24 hour delay during which your suggested change to the catalogue might happen before you can list your item. Additionally third party tools aren’t always up to date and whilst that’s not eBay’s fault, it is there problem. If your favourite listing tool can’t list on eBay you may well decide to sell your inventory somewhere it can list.

What is the eBay Product Based Shopping Experience

So a number of problems, what’s the upside? eBay’s Curtis Gavin explains in a blog post aimed at developers that put very simply it’s a bad buying experience to search for a product and have page after page of similar items without an easy way to compare them – Think of a product like iPhones where there are different colour and memory options but also new, manufacture refurbished, retailer refurbished and used to choose from, some of which may be sold on auction and others on fixed price listings.

“eBay’s product-based shopping experience makes it easy for buyers to find and compare products, identify the best deals, and make purchase decisions with confidence. With the current listing-based experience, searches can yield thousands of different listings and offers that buyers must comb through to find the product, offer details, and seller that are right for them.

With the new product-based shopping experience, similar listings are grouped by product and product aspects. With the new experience, buyers get a short list of products with pricing and relevant rating information to help narrow the search.

Once buyers select specific products, they can select product aspects, such as color. Then, they simply choose the buy box corresponding to the relevant listing details, such as item condition or listing type, to get the best deal.”
– Curtis Gavin, eBay

Is the new experience something new?

It’s worth remembering that there are two things taking place here. One is eBay’s desire to make search easier for buyers and that’s important. There is NOTHING in the new eBay Product Based Shopping Experience that isn’t already on the site. You can already search for a product, choose the buying format, choose the item condition and use Item Specifics to narrow down you search to a specific model or style. eBay already present what they consider to be the most likely listing you’ll buy – it’s called the top listing in Best Match.

What is new is eBay’s push to match listings against the eBay catalogue. Could they run the eBay Product Based Shopping Experience without the eBay catalogue? Certainly, but then they face the age old issue of mismatching products which is why when you use eBay pricing advice it often gives you stupidly low values, that’s because something has happened like a seller listing a USB cable for a printer in the printers category and it’s been mistaken for a printer thus lowering the average selling price. eBay catalogue will eliminate mismatched items forever, but only if it works.

Two changes – Catalogue and eBay Product Based Shopping Experience – What’s missing?

There are two changes taking place on the site – the requirement to list against catalogue and the eBay Product Based Shopping Experience. The former is where sellers are likely to, and indeed already are, running into problems. The later is simply a change in display.

My biggest issue with all the changes is that they don’t actually fix how I and how I suspect many other’s shop and why sometimes we shop on Amazon. eBay have failed to provide a way to search listings by buying experience. I can’t search for an item and narrow down my search to items that can be delivered tomorrow. Often the only options I get are ‘Free post’ and ‘Click and collect. Sure in search, eBay highlight listings with ‘Fast & Free’ postage, but that just means I might get the item three days from now which might be free by certainly isn’t fast.

There are many sellers who as this is published at 9am today could pick, pack and ship an order to be delivered to me tomorrow. eBay have never made it easy for me to find them without individually clicking into each listing and even then I’ll have to click the ‘Postage and packing’ tab to find out if their Express Delivery option is actually next day or if it’ll still take two days to arrive.

Many items on eBay can’t and won’t ever be catalogued. If you want to bid on an ancient one of a kind Ming Vase on an auction that will never be given a GTIN. The beauty of eBay is that you can find and buy pretty much anything. Items that can be catalogued are largely commodity items sold in the thousands, that is why there are so many on eBay and there’s a need to make an easier buying experience to sift through them. And that’s exactly why eBay need to focus on things like which seller offers same day despatch and which seller offers express delivery. We buy commodity items because we need them and we generally want them quickly. That’s where Amazon wins and eBay, even with their new Product Based Shopping Experience fails. It’ll be a better buying experience, just not quite good enough.

  • Geoff Turner
    3 years ago

    E Bay as gone down hill in recent times with practice of charging a commission on postage they don’t supply and then sending sellers silly advice.Most recently a product I had advertised for five pounds ninety nine didn’t sell and I had E Bay advise that I should reduce the price to ninety nine pence.
    Bearing in mind that in the last twelve months only one item I have sold as gone beyond the first bid this would be insane as I also offer free postage which in this case was two pounds ninety five.

  • SAM
    3 years ago

    “There are many sellers who as this is published at 9am today could pick, pack and ship an order to be delivered to me tomorrow” we could if you were willing to PAY for it.
    There is not this imaginary FREE NEXT DAY service you know. Nothing is FREE these days.

    Yes however one of our biggest gripes with eBay is the way the lump us in with the 2nd economy sellers their buddies Magpie for example.
    However we are not as cheap so will never sell anything like they do. However all our products are 24 and 2D delivery confirmation. (ebay is only interested in it’s FEES)…(a service the genius’s at feebay don’t class as PREMIUM soon, yet still class a 2nd class RMG slow Mail as.
    End of the day magpie can take a week to get a order picked packed and delivered, 99% of what we send (UK sales) today when RMG turn up will arrive on Saturday.

    • 3 years ago

      If they really need something next day, then I think people will pay, but only if the option is up there for them to find it really easily.

      If they have to go into each seller listing to check the delivery options, then after the first few turn out to be no use, they give up and go elsewhere to order.

    • Zorac Brown
      3 years ago

      Ebay has already announced that one of the filters (personal preference settings) will be for faster delivery.

      Moreover, their unvarnished algorithm for getting the buy box will be similar to Jet, where even if another seller is a small $ value more expensive, but shipping time is that much faster, they will get the box. Providing an overall better experience.

      The personal preference settings will allow a customer to select Lowest Price, Fastest Delivery etc…..

  • 3 years ago

    “eBay have never made it easy for me to find them without individually clicking into each listing and even then I’ll have to click the ‘Postage and packing’ tab to find out if their Express Delivery option is actually next day or if it’ll still take two days to arrive”

    This should have been number one on their list of things to do to improve the ebay search experience.

    Most pro sellers have to offer a next day delivery option to meet standards, so ebay have the data. All they would have to do, is add a button to delivery options for with next day option, then sort by how much the original price + delivery upgrade costs and when is the cut-off point for ordering. This should be so easy to do, you can’t believe they haven’t done it. As such a seller, we get messages every week, mostly on a Thursday, with buyers asking if they can definitely get the item on Friday as they need it for the weekend.

    Instead, I think the whole catalogue/grouping thing will be a giant steaming pile. Everything they’ve been fiddling with and trying out in the run up to it has been rubbish.

    As a buyer, I’ve already experienced their “our pick” recommendation for grouped items, which could not have been more badly recommended. They seem to have got rid of “our pick” for now, but basically, it’s like the amazon buy box, or you can think of it as “ebay recommends”. They’d selected as “our pick” an item that was £1 cheaper than the cheapest UK seller, but located in the USA. I knew that this would attract VAT & handling once it arrived in UK and went through customs, making it the worse deal possible in terms of price (50% more expensive) and delivery. But ebay had never mentioned this and were recommending it instead, proof that they don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to improving buyers search experience.

  • David Fear
    3 years ago

    I think ebay’s current main problem is that they don’t what they are trying to be; are they an auction site, a marketplace or retailer. As ebay doesn’t sell anything, are they trying to be an auction site or a marketplace.

    The experience for both sellers and buyers is far from great. For buyers it can be hard to find items and for sellers there are so many rules, some of which are arbitrarily applied. Also it seems that the bigger the seller you are the more favour carry with ebay.

    For buyers: it is hard to find sellers that will ship items today for delivery tomorrow. It seems you only need to add an express postage option to a listing to qualify for “fast & free”. I have seen many many “fast & free” listing where the free postage option is slow to very slow and the express postage option is VASTLY overpriced. An example would be: free delivery using 3-5 or 5 day courier and the express option using an express courier, but costs £50-99.

    Personally I am willing to pay a list more for an item that includes free 1st class delivery on light/cheap items or offer a first class post option for a reasonable additional charge.

    Also NOT all item specifics are available in all categories. I know some item specifics are specific to a category, but there are some item specifics that are applied to some categories and NOT to others.

    For sellers: ebay seems to be SO worried about ANY potential sales leaving the site, that they are introducing more and more draconian measures.

    Sellers CAN’T respond to messages asking the seller for their contact details, otherwise they face suspensions or bans; AND can’t do anything to effectively stop buyers from sending their details either. If a buyer sends their details and or asks the seller their phone number, the seller risks suspension or ban; even if they state on their listings NOT to send / ask for contact details. If the seller is a business seller, then their contact should be on the listing in the “Business seller information” section. Not all sellers show their details in the “Business seller information” section; AND private sellers are not required to show their contact details.

    Almost all features to be able to personalise your listings have gone or are going soon.

    .The eBay catalogue and GTINs are a joke. ebay seems to want to get to a point where all items are listed against their catalogue and have GTIN, even though some items don’t have a GTIN, Also the eBay catalogue is so riddled with inaccuracies that is neither useful for sellers OR buyers.

    GTINs / the eBay catalogue is pointless for most used items, as the item may never have had a GTIN or has been modified since they were purchased new, which makes the specs listed in the ebay catalogue no longer relevant.

    Also there are categories where ebay won’t let you list without linking it to an item in the eBay categories, so when you can’t find your item in the catalogue, you select the nearest item. This then leads to the seller having to state in their listing(s) to ignore the auto generated product details. This is confusing and sub-optimal for BOTH buyers and sellers.

    ebay has always made decisions based on the following hierarchy: ebay first, then buyers, then finally sellers.

    eBay resolutions are JUST random. Generally ebay sides with the buyer far more than they times they do with a seller. I have had a instance in the past where eBay came to the conclusion that the buyer was in the WRONG, but STILL gave the buyer his/her money back. What sort of message does that give????

    IF ebay policies had numbers / were in a numbered list then ebay could refer to the specific policy wviolation

    • David Fear
      3 years ago

      following on:……….

      IF ebay policies had numbers / were in a numbered list then ebay could refer to the specific policy when a policy is breached. An Ideal policy violation email from ebay would look some like:


      We have found you in violation of policy: Name and number: ,

      Specifically the following section(s)/sub-section(s):

      How the violation occurred:

      Remedy: .

      Sanctions for non-compliance:

      Tips to avoid future violations:


      Ebay seems to want to be more and and more like Amazon. At least you can search ‘properly’ on ebay unlike on Amazon. on ebay you can use fairly complex search queries to narrow down the items you are shown. On ebay you can do searches like: 8gb (DDR3,PC3-12800,1866) -(server,ecc,desktop,4gb,2gb,1gb). You just can do that type of search on Amazon. On Amazon when you search for a fairly specific type of item (e.g. 120gb SSD) amazon often shows results that are either not the item you are looking for or are the wrong size. if I search for a specific size of SSD then that is what I want to see. I don’t want to see listings for bigger or small SSDs, caddies, cables, cases or enclosures. I wouldn’t mind if related items were shown in a separate section. Often I have to wade through pages and pages of irrelevant listings.

      Also Amazon is NOT suited to selling used items, unless they are books, cds, dvd, blurays, video games, clothes and a few other items. If the item has been modified or is bespke, then they are hard to sell on Amazon. Amazon Handmade is starting to become available on a number of Amazon sites, but has a number of restrictions.

  • Wim
    3 years ago

    It will destroy ebay. This is not what ebay is about.

    As a buyer, if I want Product Based Shopping Experience I go to Amazon. When I go to ebay it is to find SPECIAL stuff.

    As a seller I was already tired of the constant changes on ebay. I think this is just too much. We opened a Bigcommerce store. See how far with get using the ebay fees as advertising budget.

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