Find What You Want Faster on eBay…. HUH?

Posted on March 5, 2009. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , |

I received an email today from eBay that has me stumped.  I admit that in 10 years I haven’t bought more than about a dozen things on eBay so one could not consider me a Power Buyer by any means.     

EMAIL from eBay: 

Find what you want faster on eBay

You may have noticed we’ve been working on changes to make it easier for you to find the things you love on eBay.

In April, we’re moving entirely to a new search experience. It’s not that different from what you’re used to seeing and has everything the previous version had. Don’t worry–your Saved Searches and Favorite Searches still work the same way.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Better results–you’ll see more relevant items
  • New options on the left side of the page make it easy to expand or narrow results
  • Snapshot View enables you to get a quick glance at the results
  • Now you can select multiple brands or colors to see what you want faster

Give the new search a try. Go to eBay and start shopping for great buys.

END OF EMAIL from eBay

I must say that I was confused when I read the email.  I really had not tried the New Search (trial version) to find items I could be interested in buying because, as I stated, I am not an eBay buyer.  So, when I read the email I thought to myself “WOW” this is going to be interesting if eBay was going to actually improve their search.   So I tried using the new search function from the viewpoint of a potential eBay buyer.

Search #1 – “Timex”

The Timex search brought back search results which included the following brands: 

Timex (2,931)
Pulsar (17)
Seiko (14)
Bulova (9)

One of the 17 Pulsar watches that came up in my Timex search is:

Pulsar PXQ536 Ladies Watch

(auction 300262470903)

The Pulsar ladies watch listing came up in my search, despite the word Timex not appearing in the title line, because the seller had incorrectly listed the brand as Timex in the item specifics.

So, what does this mean for sellers?  First, sellers who do not use item specifics at all will be severely disadvantaged in the search.  And, secondly, sellers have an opportunity to “game the system” by including a more popular brand name in the item specifics.  Improved search experience for the buyer?  I think not.

Search #2 – Coffee

The first page of search brought back many items that I was not interested in.  Some examples include:

Maclaren Triumph Coffee Brown /Coral Pink 2007 Stroller,

ag680 14mm Coffee Agate Crack Round Beads string 15



Now, in all fairness, I might have successfully located what I was looking for by narrowing the search by using the categories on the left side but when the Nude Male Painting came up, complete with picture, I closed the screen and stopped the search.  I have a 9-year old daughter that could have walked into my home office at any time and a nude male painting is not what I wanted showing on the screen when I was searching for coffee.

Search #3 – Trombone

When I typed in the search for a trombone, I decided to click on the option to show only BUY NOW formats since I would not be interested in waiting for an auction to end if I wanted to buy something like a trombone (for my son who is going to be in band next school year).

However, when I chose the BUY NOW format option, the store inventory items were automatically included in the search results.



Naturally, as a seller I am very interested in the implications of having store items appear in search alongside the Fixed Price items.  This could impact my selling strategy greatly.  When the new search rolls out, it could have the unintended consequence of  lowering my eBay fees  which is good news for me (not so good news for eBay).  Oh, wait a minute, there is never any good eBay news for me (the seller) so there must be a few increase for store listings coming soon and/or another decrease in my sell-through rate when buyers cannot locate my items among the thousands of irrelevant store listings that will clog the search results. 

And, with that thought, I ended my test of the new eBay search  that is rolling out next month for everyone (not just those who opt to use the new search function now).  It would be interesting to know what actual eBay buyers think of the new search.  After all, I am only a seller.

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2 Responses to “Find What You Want Faster on eBay…. HUH?”

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Well, I am not a buyer any more either but I do amuse myself every once in a while with ‘finding’. A recent search for an out of print publication “Womens Institute Wine Making” got changed as I typed it in to Womens Wine which produced hundreds of listings for wine colored shoes, purses, gently used clothing etc.

I did eventually find it in Australia through Google, interestingly the seller was an ex-eBay seller.

Actually I am a buyer only anymore (and only once in a blue moon) as their selling disadvantages are too many to count. I do NOT like the new search feature, it is just a way of trafficking more of their items to try to elicit their primary directive “buy & sell.” I agree with the author they are self-destructing.

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