Watch out for these eBay.co.uk changes that will affect your business

Have you seen your eBay sales drop over the past few months while your business on other marketplaces and your own website is thriving? Here is what eBay are doing to reverse this trend.

Mobile-friendly descriptions

 

Overview: From July 2016 eBay will show mobile buyers a shortened version of your listing description. To further improve the shopping experience for mobile buyers, eBay will wage a war on templates including active content (JavaScript, Flash) from Spring 2017.

Pros: The number of buyers coming from mobile devices grows much faster than the number of buyers shopping from their desktops and in some countries mobile shoppers are more numerous than desktop shoppers. It’s good that eBay wants to improve their experience. At the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference eBay’s CEO Devin Wenig stressed the importance of growing mobile in 2016 and admitted the company failed at mobile growth in Q4 2015. It’s also worth remembering that the new eBay app initially received very poor reviews and many potential buyers allegedly uninstalled it. eBay have learned their lesson and are trying to win these mobile buyers back. Regarding JavaScript and Flash in listings, at WebInterpret we have always warned our sellers against using active content and creating very long descriptions. We’re happy to see eBay align with this approach.

Cons: How will the shortened version of the description be generated? Will it really contain all the necessary information? I can easily imagine some words such as “is not waterproof”, “should not be used by children under three” or “is slightly damaged” not making it into the shortened version and generating very poor buyer experience (+ probably leading to sellers being banned from eBay due to no fault of their own). Also, if you have just finished relooking your templates with a web agency you will probably be disappointed to learn mobile buyers will never see the end result of all your efforts. Not even mentioning that if you’re using JavaScript or Flash you will have to redo your listings all over again.

Product reviewsCapture

Overview: Buyers will be allowed to write product reviews and not only seller reviews on eBay. Two kinds of reviews will be possible – verified reviews from users who actually purchased the item and unverified reviews from users who didn’t.

Pros: Adding product reviews makes perfect sense

Cons: A lot of things can go wrong with product reviews

  • buyers may review their poor buyer experience (such as late delivery) instead of the product itself
  • eBay will recognise matching products using EAN’s – have you added EAN’s to your listings yet? Are you certain they are the correct ones? Otherwise, you may find your product attached to a review of something completely different
  • eBay has been created basing upon a belief that people are honest but, sadly, quite often they are not! Sellers will end up buying fake reviews – positive for their products, negative for their competitors, buyers will write negative reviews to force you to refund their purchase etc. eBay will have to track fraud very carefully.

Category-specific changes

All of the above are genuinely exciting changes and I believe they are going in the right direction. Do you?

Will eBay’s growth finally pick up?

It has become fashionable to complain about the lack of growth of “the world’s marketplace” and various media eagerly reported flat top line, unsuccessful competition with Amazon, disappointing results during holiday season and what not.

Indeed, eBay themselves seemed disappointed with their Q4results and made very modest predictions for Q1 and 2016.

Our data so far, however, seems to indicate that the marketplace’s results can be better in Q1 than they were in Q4 and, indeed, better than expected.

YoY growth in eBay sales of e-merchants using WebInterpret was 11 percentage points higher in Q1 than it was in Q4. Moreover, WebInterpret using sellers actually earned more in Q1 on eBay than they did in Q4!

Some reasons why this might be happening :

  • Our sellers always see slower growth on eBay during Christmas than they do on Amazon. With its long delivery times eBay simply isn’t the right place to purchase Christmas gifts anymore
  • Q1 is a high season for car parts – with its sophisticated car parts search engine and huge selection eBay works better for buyers looking just for the right part that would allow them to fix their car
  • Q1 is also a high season for fashion in some countries – in Germany and Italy buyers search eBay for fancy dress so that they can enjoy the carnival season. With its wide selection of fancy dress and rather smooth fashion-shopping experience (as a buyer I find it easier to shop for fashion on eBay than on Amazon) eBay is the perfect marketplace for these shoppers.

Knowing this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, at least in Europe eBay sellers seem to be more successful in Q1 than they were in Q4. Is it also your experience? Did you see your sales grow compared to Q4? Did you see them grow compared to last year?

What works better for a buyer? eBay or amazon? Egg coddler hunt

Being a mom, I buy more or less every other product I need for my baby, my house and myself on amazon. Once you have a Prime account you hardly ever think about buying elsewhere. At work however, I have been brought to deal with eBay and eBay sellers. That’s why, while hunting for the perfect egg coddler I decided to give eBay a try.

1. Selection
Amazon give you an impression of storing more or less anything you would ever be willing to purchase, from corn flakes to electric guitars. However, when it comes to egg coddlers, the selection is surprisingly poor. I had a choice between three or four coddlers, which got even smaller once I activated the “available for Prime” filter. The coddler I finally chose was neither good value for money nor visually appealing.
Compare this with eBay with its awe inspiring selection of beautifully decorated porcelain coddlers! I didn’t have much time to look at all of them but still was very happy with the coddlers I chose.
Point for eBay!
2. Making a purchase
Whereas it’s easy to find a beautiful coddler on eBay it is not at all so easy to buy it! The purchasing process took at least three times longer than on amazon, with its (un)famously patented one click and required logging in to eBay and to PayPal.
Point for amazon!
3. Delivery
Quite a surprise here.  Whereas I expected my Amazon purchase to arrive faster than the eBay one, I was amazed to see it being delivered before the product purchased on eBay was even dispatched!
Point for amazon!
4. Product
The Amazon-purchased coddler was quite a disappointment. The lid broke after the first usage. My vintage china coddlers bought on eBay are beautiful to look at and still serve me well.
Point for eBay!
It seems that amazon is by far the most convenient place to buy anything online. However, when searching for some specific products I will keep in mind to check eBay (or Etsy?) for their wider selection. As of today I am a happy owner of three egg coddlers, enjoying my coddled eggs every Sunday morning while doing my Sunday morning online shopping.