In its 2018 Spring Seller Update, eBay announced that it’s transitioning their marketplace to a product-based shopping experience where all listings for the same product are grouped together.
In the 2018 Fall seller update, eBay revealed the 88 categories for which catalog adoption is required By mid-September (see list below).
In this post, I’ll cover everything sellers need to know and do to ensure the shift towards a Product-based shopping experience doesn’t negatively affect your sales.
These are the topics this post will cover:
- Why is eBay making this change?
- What exactly is the new eBay product-based shopping experience?
- What is the eBay catalog?
- What eBay categories are affected by this change?
- Will this change apply to listings with all item conditions?
- How to associate your listing with a product from the eBay catalog?
- When will the new product-based shopping experience update take effect?
- Will sellers still be able to create their own listings?
- What if there’s incorrect product information in the eBay catalog?
- Will sellers be able to create a new product in the eBay catalog?
- Will sellers need to associate multi-variation listings to the eBay catalog?
- What will happen to your listings if you don’t associate them to the eBay catalog?
- How will the product-based shopping experience change listings ranking?
- What will happen to listings of unique / one of a kind products?
- How will the product based shopping experience impact your promoted listings?
- Who will lose from this update?
- Who will win following this update?
The short answer: Help eBay buyers easily find the most relevant item from the most relevant seller.
Buyers expect a streamlined, modern shopping experience. Having to manually sort through 100’s of listings offering the exact same item from different sellers is an outdated practice. eBay is making this transition to make shopping on their marketplace easier and quicker for the buyers.
Here’s a live example of how this will work.
Prior to the migration to a product-based shopping experience, buyers looking for “Nest thermostat” would see 696 listings in the search results –
Most of these results are actually listings that offer the exact same products from different sellers. This situation makes it very hard for the buyers to compare and find the perfect fit for their preferences.
This is why eBay is introducing a more structured results page that groups similar listings to product pages, thus the name: “product-based shopping experience”.
Buyers can now easily see that there are in fact only 14 unique products among the 696 listings.
After clicking on one of the product pages, we can see all of the unique listings that eBay identified as offering the exact same product.
What is the eBay catalog?
eBay’s catalog is where all the information is kept for all of the products. This includes products titles, description, images, item specifics, product identifiers and more.
When sellers associate their listing to an eBay catalog product page, they must insure the product page describes the exact same product they are offering for sale.
What eBay categories are affected by this change?
Throughout 2018 and 2019, eBay will expand the product based experience in phases across all categories.
Phase 1 started in May 2018 and includes these categories:
Phase 2, starting in mid-September, includes 88 categories for which catalog adoption is a must:
- Cell Phones & Smartphones (#9355)
- Tablets & eBook Readers (#171485)
- Internet & Media Streamers (#168058)
- TVs (#11071)
- Voice-Enabled Smart Assistants (#184435)
- Humidifiers (#71240)
- Portable Fans (#20612)
- Space Heaters (#20613)
- Programmable Thermostats (#115949)
- Blenders (Countertop) (#133704)
- Blenders (Handheld) (#133703)
- Bread Machines (#20669)
- Burners & Hot Plates (#177751)
- Can Openers & Crushers (#20670)
- Chafing Dishes & Warming Trays (#27552)
- Cookers & Steamers (#20672)
- Cupcake, Pie & Dessert Makers (#122928)
- Deep Fryers (#20674)
- Electric Skillets (#134673)
- Fondue Sets (#66749)
- Food Dehydrators (#32883)
- Food Processors (#20673)
- Grain Mills (#168754)
- Grills & Griddles (#20675)
- Hot Water Pots (#177755)
- Ice Cream Makers (#20676)
- Infrared & Convection Ovens (#150139)
- Juicers (#20677)
- Kitchen Scales (#50419)
- Meat Grinders (#66751)
- Mixers (Countertop) (#133701)
- Mixers (Handheld) (#133700)
- Other Small Kitchen Appliances (#20685)
- Pasta Makers (#20680)
- Popcorn Poppers (#66752)
- Rotisseries (#134674)
- Slicers & Electric Knives (#20681)
- Soda Makers (#25845)
- Toaster Ovens (#122930)
- Toasters (#77285)
- Waffle Makers (#168763)
- Water Filters (#20684)
- Yogurt Makers (#122933)
- Coffee Grinders (#32882)
- Coffee Makers (Automatic) (#65635)
- Coffee Makers (Specialty) (#177752)
- Coffee Roasters (#177753)
- Espresso Machines (#38252)
- French Presses (#98851)
- Milk Frothers (#171754)
- Other Coffee & Tea Makers (#159902)
- Percolators & Moka Pots (#116012)
- Replacement Parts & Accs (#99565)
- Single Serve Brewers (#156775)
- Tea Infusers (#177754)
- Tea Kettles (#133705)
- Tea Makers (#101424)
- Dishwasher Parts & Accessories (#116026)
- Dishwashers (#116023)
- Microwave Ovens (#150138)
- Microwave Parts & Accessories (#159903)
- Other Major Appliances (#20715)
- Cooktops (#71246)
- Other Cooking Appliances (#20712)
- Parts & Accessories (#43566)
- Range Hoods (#71253)
- Ranges & Stoves (#71250)
- Wall Ovens (#71318)
- Countertop Ice Makers (#122929)
- Mini Fridges (#71262)
- Other Refrigerators & Freezers (#159920)
- Parts & Accessories (#71259)
- Refrigerators (#20713)
- Upright & Chest Freezers (#71260)
- Dryers (#71254)
- Parts & Accessories (#99697)
- Washer & Dryer Sets (#71257)
- Washing Machines (#71256)
- Ellipticals (#72602)
- Exercise Bikes (#58102)
- Gliders (#58105)
- Machine Parts & Accessories (#179797)
- Other Cardio Equipment (#28063)
- Rowing Machines (#28060)
- Ski Machines (#28061)
- Stair Machines & Steppers (#28062)
- Treadmills (#15280)
- Vibration Platform Machines (#171593)
Later through 2018-2019 eBay will expand the product catalog to more categories.
Will this change apply for listings with all item conditions?
Yes. All listings for all item conditions – New, Used, Refurbished etc. as well as bundles and lots will need to be associated to eBay’s catalog products.
How to associate your listing with a product from the eBay catalog?
For new listings:
When you start a new listing, you will be able to search for a product in the eBay catalog by using a product name or an identifier like UPC, EAN, ISBN.
Once you have selected the product from the catalog, the rest of the listing experience will be the same as before.
Starting in May 2018, associating new listings to an eBay catalog will be mandatory for a few select categories (mentioned above).
For existing / active listings:
- Revise a listing
- Click on the Find a Product link to the right of your listing title.
- Enter a product name or an identifier.
- Review the details of the matching products and select the one that matches yours.
When will the new product-based shopping experience update take effect?
Throughout 2018 and 2019, eBay will expand the product catalog in phases.
Below are the key dates:
Starting in May 2018, using eBay’s product catalog is required when listing products from a few select brands in specific categories. See under “What eBay categories are affected by this change?” above.
eBay expands the Product-Based Shopping Experience to whole categories (and not just select product lines).
Will sellers still be able to create their own listings?
Yes, sellers will still create individual listings.
The new product based experience means that individual listings for the same product will be grouped by eBay into product pages.
Below is an example of individual listings, grouped together under a product page. Shoppers who click on any of the listings will be taken to the individual listing page.
What if there’s incorrect product information in the eBay catalog?
eBay will allow sellers to report mistakes / missing info in the catalog product information by clicking on “update product information”.
eBay will review the information you have submitted and notify you on whether the product was approved within 24 hours.
Will sellers be able to create a new product in the eBay catalog?
eBay will allow sellers to create new products in the catalog by clicking on “create a new product”
Similar to updating existing catalog info – eBay will review the information you have submitted and notify you on whether the product was approved within 24 hours.
Will sellers need to associate multi-variation listings to the eBay catalog?
Yes. In order to comply with the new catalog policy, sellers are required to provide a valid identifier – GTIN (UPC, EAN, or ISBN) for each variation in multi-SKU listings, and associate it with a catalog product.
This basically means that multi-variation listings will be broken into individual products across eBay’s catalog.
What will happen to your listings if you don’t associate them to the eBay catalog?
Starting in May 2018, when sellers try to revise active listings, relist listings (including Good ‘til Cancelled), or create a new listing for an item in any condition within the categories that require a catalog association, and do not associate it with a product from the eBay catalog, they will not be able to complete the listing.
How will the product-based shopping experience change listings ranking?
eBay’s mission is to connect shoppers with the product and offer that best suits the specific shoppers’ demand. This means that ranking within the product page will be unique per shopper.
eBay will auto-select the best match for the specific shopper as the default buying option similar to “Amazon’s buy box”.
i.e eBay may recognize that Bob prefers to pay more for a faster shipping option, while Angela is ok with a longer shipping period as long as the price is the lowest.
For Bob – eBay will present the fastest shipping option, while for Angela it will present the lowest priced offer.
According to eBay these are the important parameters that affect the chances of winning the top position on the product page: Your seller performance rating must be above standard, you must ensure your items will be in stock, and you should offer competitive pricing, shipping, and returns to improve your chances of winning the top pick.
What will happen to listings of unique / one of a kind products?
Unique products will be associated with a product from eBay’s catalog as well, these will be product pages with only one listing associated to them.
How will the product based shopping experience impact your promoted listings?
eBay will continue to offer the option to promote your specific listings with the “Promoted listings feature”.
When you’ll promote your listing, shoppers who click on the promoted links will be taken to your specific listing and not to the grouped product page.
Who will lose from of this update?
#1: Arbitrage dropshippers
The largest group of sellers that will be affected by the new shopping experience are the arbitrage dropshippers. Sellers who list and sell Amazon products on eBay.
Today arbitrage dropshippers can attract traffic to their listings with differentiated titles or images even though their prices are higher than other offers. When eBay will group all listings for the same product under one page, it will be easy for the shoppers to compare the different offers and see that Amazon to eBay dropshippers usually ofer a higher price than the competition.
#2: International sellers
Another group that may be negatively affected are international sellers that account for nearly 60% of eBay transactions. Shipping time is known to be a major factor in a buying decision, with the new product based shopping experience, eBay is likely to place offers from local sellers at the top pick spot of the product page.
Who will win following this update?
#1: Bigger / stronger sellers
The new shopping experience comes to easily connect shoppers with the best possible offer for them. It’s highly likely that big established sellers will be featured at the top spot of the product pages more frequently as they usually can offer lower prices and faster shipping than the smaller sellers.
#2: Proactive sellers
As with any update, there will be the proactive “early adopters” and the lagging “late adopters”. Sellers who will familiarize themselves with the new product based shopping experience and optimize their businesses early on, will have an advantage over those who will leave the adjustments to the last minute.
#3: eBay shoppers
With the product based shopping experience, it will become much easier for shopper to navigate through eBay. This is the end of thousands of search results for the same products. eBay is bringing an end to thousands of results for the same product search. With the product based experience, shoppers will be able to navigate eBay easier and faster.
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