It’s time once about for eBay’s Spring Seller update. Let’s just dive right in a take a closer look, shall we?

View Item description summaries for better mobile viewing

The new View Item description for mobile features a clean and consistent item description summary. eBay derives a brief, 250-character, text-only description summary from your full item description. This provides relevant listing information that allows shoppers to make fast, informed buying decisions.

Hopefully this isn’t news to anyone. I’ve been recommending for a while that you make sure you’re optimising your description for mobile. The big change here seems to be that they are doing it automatically. Does this mean we won’t have to fill the description out twice like we do now? Hope so.

For the summary, we determine which content in your full item description is most relevant by identifying keywords that shoppers use to search for your items. If your full item description uses basic HTML, CSS or text-only descriptions, and is no more than 800 characters, we will display the full description when buyers view your item description on their mobile devices.

While I’m into automatic on principle, I’m an eBay realist so my first thought on reading this is, “Well that’s probably going to be a huge disaster!” Can you imagine the random stuff it’s going to show? That said, it’s a big incentive to keep your description under 800 characters since then you’ll be sure the whole thing will show and you won’t been at the mercy of eBay’s shortening.

You think eBay is smart enough to build us a character counter right into the item description box so we’ll know how we’re doing as we write? I don’t but, dang, wouldn’t that make it easier?

Because the new View Item description summary is automatically generated by eBay, no action is required from you. If you want to highlight information that isn’t captured in our auto-generated summaries, you can choose the specific listing information you want to show using more advanced HTML options. This functionality is ideal for items that have unique characteristics, such as arts, antiques and collectibles.

I want to know what they mean by this. Do they mean “make a bold if you want buyers to really notice it” or will there really be special HTML options we can use to highlight which parts of the description we want featured?

Remove active content for peak performance

The use of active content in listings, including JavaScript, Flash, plug-ins and form actions, inhibits purchases on mobile devices and can lead to abuse in the marketplace. Beginning with the Spring 2017 Seller Update, eBay will limit the use of active content in all new listings across all devices and it will not be rendered by default. By the Fall Seller Update 2017, we plan to remove or block listings with active content. We encourage you to limit your use of active content now. We will provide more information later this year about which functionality will be limited and provide the specific timing in early 2017. We also are working closely with our third-party partners in cases where they use active content on your item descriptions or stores.

This could effect store windows and some analytics tracking so you’ll need to take a closer look at what you’re using. That said, a cleaner and faster loading item page is always in your best interest anyway so it’s hard to get mad about this one. It is funny that we’ve gone from the blingie laden listings of yore that everyone hated to what’s looking like a plain text one in the near future!

tulips photo

Ah, Spring! When I young child’s fancy turns to concern over how eBay will screw them over this year…
Photo by Jim, the Photographer

I was going to do this update line by line but it’s too dang long. Let’s just look at the highlights.

They are jacking up store prices and fees on items for over $150 in exchange for some free shipping supplies and extra customer support (but that’s only for Anchor stores.) As with all eBay added features in exchange for price increases, this isn’t really added value. Most of us already get shipping supplies for free through the USPS, UPS or FedEx and I find it hard to believe their customer service could increase so much as to make this worth it. This is likely the thing that makes me finally close my store. I have to price it out but there’s really not much point to having it anymore for me. I don’t even use all my free listings as it is now! I’ve been thinking about doing it for a long time and they just gave me the push I needed.

This is such a big price hike for so little added value, I’m wondering if they are doing it specifically to kill the Stores program one and for all. Considering a Basic store used to be $9.99 a month and now it’s a full $15 a month higher for less than we used to get since they took away custom pages and other features AND they’ve since given regular sellers some of the features that used to be exclusive to stores, it really seems like they are just trying to get people to shut their stores down. It’s a weird strategy but, for someone like me that’s been on the fence about closing it for a long time, it’s convinced me to walk away which I assume has to have been their intention. Either that or they are absolute drooling idiots that think we’ll pay almost double a month for less features.

We’ll revisit this topic in a future post.

They are increasing the visibility of product reviews which makes sense and I like it as a buyer. Now I always end up looking at reviews on Amazon before I buy on eBay so it makes sense to have everything in house. The one part that makes me take pause is where they say that it will include “Sold by seller name when available and applicable” and “Item condition of the item reviewed.” On paper, I love this idea. It lets me not only put the review in context but, if someone is really ranting or raving about a good or bad transaction, I know exactly what seller to avoid. But, in reality, it makes it that much easier for a confused or bad buyer to make a long lasting headache for a seller in another platform beyond feedback. I really hope they do some great education and policing of this or it’s going to become Feedback 2: An Even Bigger Mess.

The new Seller Hub is coming to all sellers this summer. I’m in the BETA for the Seller Hub so I already have it and it is truly terrible. Maybe the fact that they are launching it to everyone means they plan to fix it up a bit? I don’t know but I spent all my time just wishing it was even slightly intuitive so that I could just ship my sales and move on with my life. Anyway, if you don’t have it already, you’ve got that frustration to look forward to.

There’s a bunch of changes to how you can list jewelry which doesn’t apply to my life but may be worth looking at if that’s your niche.

A lot of the changes everyone else is grumbling about, such as the mobile optimization and shortened descriptions, I’m totally on board with. I shop eBay mobile a lot and the old style listing text just wasn’t working on mobile. If it means dragging some sellers into the modern era kicking and screaming, so be it if it makes for a better shopping experience for everyone. Sellers being inconvenienced is always less important that buyers being inconvenienced because there are no sales without the buyers.

I am completely perplexed by why they’re trying to kill the stores program but I’m hoping their strategy will become clear in the near future. I wish they would take a page out of eCrater’s book and let the eBay store be a 100% self-contained, branded online store… while still including those items in the general eBay search. That  would be value I might actually be willing to pay $25 a month for. But to ask sellers to pay the same for an eBay store as they do for a full featured webstore while taking features away makes zero sense.

Anyway, that’s my hot take on this Spring Update. What do you think?