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15th October eBay Item Specifics roll out SNAFU three weeks on

By Chris Dawson November 4, 2019 - 10:00 am

On Friday, eBay UK published a progress update on the 15th October eBay Item Specifics roll out that didn’t go according to plan.

Whilst it doesn’t particularly matter from a buyer perspective if there are duplicate Item Specifics (e.g. ‘Inseam’ and ‘Inside Leg’), what is crucial for the buying experience is to be able to find products that you want to buy. With that in mind, we sat down Sunday lunch time to check on how the other fixes (‘Most of the left-hand navigation filters are now working again and we expect this issue to be fully resolved shortly’ and ‘We are now copying the additional item specifics you previously provided into the required item specifics fields’) are progressing.

It’s worth noting that eBay are still in the process of copying values across and cleaning up irrelevant values so the work on their side is not complete. We checked multiple categories and found a similar situation in each, but are going to focus on Men’s Jeans as this is the category we first looked at in a previous article:

Men’s Jeans

Three weeks on from the 15th October eBay Item Specifics roll out, sizes for Men’s Jeans at last have returned (they weren’t there when we checked on Friday afternoon).

The first thing to note is that the new ‘Size’ attribute isn’t very useful but is the first one suggested to buyers. The problem is how do you know if you specifying what size waist you have or if it’s the inside leg that ‘Size’ refers to? The second issue is that eBay have not cleaned up the values, so if I want a pair of size 34/34 jeans I can pick one of five options: 34 in, 34 Tall, 34, 34W, or W34. eBay need to merge all the extraneous values into a single value because buyers can’t select five simultaneously and sellers don’t know which is the correct value most likely to be used.

15th October eBay Item Specifics roll out SNAFU two weeks on mens jeans size

If a buyer digs deeper, there are two much more valuable Item Specifics to use, ‘Waist Circumference’ and ‘Inside Leg’. Two thirds of Jeans (well over 400,000 of the 651,000 pairs of jeans listed) have neither of these attributes listed. We don’t even know if ‘Inside Leg will be staying or if it is still to be replaced with ‘Inseam’.

15th October eBay Item Specifics roll out SNAFU two weeks on mens jeans

There are still also some oddities, for instance ‘Size Type’ has values of Juniors, Maternity, Petites, Plus, Tall, Regular, and Big & Tall. If you are wondering how many men get pregnant and are in the market for ‘Maternity’ jeans, that’s part of the irrelevant values eBay are going to clean up – they are currently displaying both mens and womens sizes in clothing categories!

15th October eBay Item Specifics roll out SNAFU three weeks on

On Tuesday it will have been three weeks since the eBay rolled out Item Specifics and realised things had gone disastrously wrong and they are still not fixed.

Contributing factors

There are effectively three things that contributed to the 15th October eBay Item Specifics roll out debacle. I think it fair to give eBay a pass on two counts:

  1. If eBay believe Item Specifics are crucial to the success of the marketplace and yet sellers aren’t adopting then then perhaps a mandate is required. Let’s accept that no matter what a pain they are to manage that Item Specifics are important.
  2. Mistakes happen. The roll out was a disaster and whilst I’ve heard calls for someone to be sacked, people are human and sooner or later something is going to go wrong. Yes, you might think testing should have prevented this almighty cock up, but if anyone is to blame it shouldn’t be a tech that made a mistake that gets fired.
     
    However, on the third count sellers are finding it very hard to forgive eBay

  3. We are now a third of the way through Q4 and many categories of the site are still effectively broken. Major updates, even if eBay think they are minor updates, should never be rolled out in Q4.
     
    Sellers still don’t know which attributes they should be using. Sellers still don’t know what values they should be picking for attributes. New Item Specifics appear and disappear leaving sellers run round like headless chickens double guess which attributes they should use, not just to get their listings live today but to avoid having to redo the work in the run up to Black Friday. Soon, eBay will eventually announce everything is fixed and it is only at that point sellers can assess the damage.

Having seen this almighty mess unfold, it’s fair to ask why eBay head office in San Jose didn’t take a deep breath, cancel the roll out and restore the marketplace to the previous state. It might not have been perfect, but it’s better than being broken for two weeks in Q4 with sellers still facing a mountain of work once it’s finally fixed.

  • Shanna
    1 month ago

    On point 2. Mistakes Happen, eBay gets no benefit of the doubt. Every single time they do something, it is a big fail. What “Technology Company” does live updates on their main site without ever testing any of it? Name one thing eBay has done in the last ten years that was done correctly the first time.

    • Dav
      1 month ago

      Correct. Just about every single thing they do and every decision they’ve made for years has been a mess. No benefits to sellers or buyers. Everything about eBay is rigged for them to make money at everyone else’s expense. They couldn’t care less about anything else. Complete and utter sh*tshow.

  • DaveP
    1 month ago

    My god….

    Just come in today to this message:

    ‘Some of your listings are missing one or more required or preferred item specifics’

    Strange, as I haven’t created any listings for quite a few days. So, I click on the link and presto:

    ‘It’s not you. It’s us.
    Our server is down and we’ll have things back to normal soon. If you still need help, visit our help pages.’

    I sell in Sound & Vision, lets hope that they’ve not broken that too……

    • BFT
      1 month ago

      Exactly the same here. What are the Muppets up to now?

    • 1 month ago

      You know when they admit to server problems it’s going to be one of those days.

      I also get “internal error – try again some time later” when trying to update listings, or find that in revise item, it is missing the photos.

      Paypal notifications are coming in several hours behind them actually happening.

      Lots of people are reporting on various platforms that they can’t complete purchases.

      And all because item specifics that weren’t really needed were rushed out without testing.

      While ebay will suck for us for the time being, hopefully this will be such a costly error for ebay, they’ll actually learn from it (but I’m not holding my breath)

  • Don
    1 month ago

    I do see the merit of item specifics, if done correctly. Mistakes do happen and no, a techie should probably not get fired over this. Big mistakes are made at the management level.

    Why not roll out item specifics gradually? Small steps, take the next step after the previous step works. Learn the lessons along the way. And why on earth, make such a huge step (or gamble) at the beginning of Q4? It blows my mind how ill thought out this is… again.

  • Tom
    1 month ago

    This whole thing is an absolute joke. I’m finding new things they’ve changed daily. Where has this “Waist Circumference” specific come from? Suits & Tailoring is requiring this now instead of Trouser Size. Lots of suggested entries for Style in the clothing categories are no longer applicable.

    I have no problem with eBay changing item specifics or the item specific recommended values provided the changes are announced so I can make changes to our listing software and revise our active listings (which takes days). Having no record of what’s actually been changed and making sellers struggle through figuring out whether their listings are going to be picked up in the filters is completely unfair.

    I have no doubt this will not be fixed correctly. eBay will shortly release that everything is “fixed” and the sellers will be left to pick up the pieces of scrambling to enter the changed data.

  • 1 month ago

    1/ “Mistakes happen. The roll out was a disaster and whilst I’ve heard calls for someone to be sacked, people are human and sooner or later something is going to go wrong.”
    ================
    The primary flaw with this idea is the “sooner or later” part implying the site issues and programming glitches are a new occurrence – something rarely seen at eBay.

    The unfortunate reality is 𝐞𝐁𝐚𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐠𝐮𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐞𝐜𝐡𝐧𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐥𝐞𝐦𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬. This is not a new struggle for eBay.

    2/ “Yes, you might think testing should have prevented this almighty cock up…”
    ================

    Might think? Proper testing, release, and deployment procedures would and could have absolutely prevented this.

    Again, eBay’s countless technical issues are a deeply-rooted chronic issue eBay has long struggled with.

    3/ “It shouldn’t be a tech that made a mistake that gets fired.”
    ================

    Some random “tech” (suggesting an entry-level “fall guy”) isn’t who should be fired. The accountability for these (and many other) recurring technical missteps fall far higher on the org chart.

    eBay’s product and engineering have been in complete disarray since the shuffling (then re-reshuffling) of Steve Fisher to and fro CTO and payments, and ouster of RJ Pittman last year (this is arguably Wenig legacy ineptitude).

    Mazen Rawashdeh, Pete Thompson, and Harry Temkin are the execs who need to answer for these newest critical eBay functionality failures.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    4/ In addition to the above, eBay appears to be currently experiencing a 𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘵 spike in payments related issues.

    Unfortunately when buyers can’t check-out and purchase, sellers won’t ever know since cart abandonment isn’t communicated to sellers, and much like the UK fraud outbreak, eBay isn’t saying a word about it (while payments chief Alyssa Cutright performs on the payments conference circuit).

    As a point of fact, on eBay’s Q3 earnings call when asked about Managed Payments, interim CEO Scott Schenkel proclaimed, “𝐖𝐞 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐞𝐱𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧!”

    Sadly, buyer (and seller) feedback on social media and eBay’s discussion boards suggest Schenkel’s (non)answer about “feeling great” is overly optimistic (and perhaps misleading).

    👉 https://twitter.com/unsuckEBAY/status/1189137043038920705

  • Rob
    1 month ago

    Ebay need to understand that less is more when it comes to Item Specifics.

    When searching for a pair of Men’s Jeans, buyers are only really interested in the following:

    Brand, Waist Size, Leg Length and Colour.

    Any additional Item Specifics, make listing an item very long winded for the seller and overwhelming for the buyer to digest when searching.

    I sell clothing on a number of sales platforms. An item that takes me 1 minute to list on Depop or Asos Marketplace, takes between 5 and 10 minutes to list on eBay by the time I have filled in all the item specifics.

    The current Item Specifics you need to fill in when listing a pair of Men’s jeans on eBay are are ridiculous….

    Here’s the full list…

    Brand
    Colour
    Closure
    Department
    Fabric Type
    Fit
    Garment Care
    Leg Style
    MPN
    Model
    Product Line
    Size Type
    Size
    Type
    Vintage
    Waist Circumference
    Inside Leg
    Accents
    Character Family
    Character
    Country/Region of Manufacture
    Distressed
    Fabric Wash
    Features
    Graphic Print
    Handmade
    Hem Style
    Manufacturer Colour
    Material
    Pattern
    Personalised
    Pocket Type
    Rise
    Season
    Style
    Theme
    Thigh Width
    Trim Material
    Unit Quantity
    Unit Type
    Year of Manufacture

    • 1 month ago

      Rob, how many of those item specifics are mandatory (such that you can’t post the listing without including them)?

    • Rob
      1 month ago

      Ironically, only 3 of these Item Specifics are mandatory when listing a pair of Men’s Jeans… Brand, Size and Colour.

      The rest are recommended / Additional.

      Whilst it might be tempting to leave a lot of the Item Specifics blank and concentrate on the one’s that are mandatory, this is something I am trying to avoid.

      When a buyer searches for a pair of men’s jeans, they can filter the search using the majority of the Item Specifics in my post above.

      If for example I leave the “Waist Circumference” item specific blank because I have already filled in the mandatory “Size” Item Specific, my jeans will not show up in a search if the buyer filters by “Waist Circumference” instead of by “Size”.

      For this reason, I fill in every Item Specific that is relevant to the item I am listing, regardless of if it is mandatory or not.

  • tom percy
    1 month ago

    Hi, thanks for your updates online they are very helpful. I just want to air my graces and see if anybody responds with some advice? I am worried about the new item specifics that has been rolled out untested. I keep taking a look at the updates and the comments upon your site and agree with all sellers that there is a massive issue regarding our sales. At the moment we are living a total nightmare with sales sliding and plummeting like a doomed 747! Nothing seems to move as it once did and since the 15th October changes, we have hit the bottom of the barrel. After days on the phone and numerous calls we seem to be getting nowhere fast. I was just told today it will be probably be in the first quarter of next year when the real changes will come into affect and the new eBay catalog is unveiled? I was told it will get worse in Q4 before it gets better and to just hold on? I am approaching another week and another day with mounting fees and no way of knowing if we will survive the winter. We made a good business on eBay over the years. Tireless hours, up and downs but nothing this bad. Our business model focuses mainly on offering our customers unbeatable value men’s suits and tailoring. We have invested and re-invested but sit on stock and ponder our next move. With all the new item specifics coming into play we are lost and like headless chickens, to be blunt this is a complete waist of time and should be listing 100’s of fresh items today but instead I am sat staring at the screen with death around the eyes. I have added all the new item specifications to the best of my ability and checked the search engines and filters which are as good as a glass hammer. I now need to fill in around 40 item specifics for single items as well as variations with the products we sell? I keep ringing eBay for help and cannot get the advise needed to overcome this mountain of endless work. I rang again today and must be doing there heads in, I wanted to know about my variation listings as I am confused which I was told to add (Varies) in the chest size/ size and waist circumference as it only gives one value? I also ended all my promoted listings after learning that ad blocker is blocking all promoted listing through chrome and other search engines. I tested this in chrome, it is certified they do not show with ad blocker enabled. I just cannot understand why sellers are to remap an outdated bug infected system Cassini. I have tried everything to make the process faster. The bulk editor, downloading the CV files and uploading and optiseller which unfortunately for me offers no category for the men’s suit and styles we sell? I have single handedly changed each listing working 18 hrs a day like a slave adding nearly 15000 item specific entries by hand, I am still working and still going now as we speak. I have just rang ebay again asking if I’m doing everything right? There response as always the same, same script, different rep? I was told again and again my account is in great order? I explained the sourcing guide shows me every year what is the busiest period for my sales. I know my business and I know it well. I am part of the concierge sellers, top rated, 100% feedback and nearly 5.0 on nearly all star and well above on defect ratings. They decided to take another in depth look at my account and stated my titles would need updating as the ebay algorithm is changing. You could not make it up? I am tired, burnt out, fed up and at the end. No life, no family time no compensation and left with a failing business. I sincerely hope that ebAY care enough to understand just how hard it is for sellers and there family. We are now considering the worst and preparing accordingly as our sales are down between 50% -90%. eBay told me I am 25% up on last year however I have four times to the amount of stock advertised. We were doing OK nothing brilliant but living. In my opinion I believe the main issue is the google updates (BETA) and the previous update of (PANDA) that had been introduced to Google SEO. ebAY wont pay for google ads nor for any advertising but want the sellers to pay for promotions on a already failing platform and they know this. You can read the reviews of the Reps online who lost there jobs to eBay cuts over the last 2 years. They stated that eBay just squeeze more and more from the sellers offering share holder good profits and number counts, paid by the blood, sweat and tears of the small business sellers. They turn off your sales, sharing out the customers and like a donkey with a carrot we keep treading on. If you read about Google PANDA updates an BETA this shows the inconsistency of the ever failing ebAY tech at San Jose headquarters. I would like to wish my best of luck to all you hard working sellers out there and God bless you and your families!

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