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April 29, 2007

eBay testing reduced store visibility

Sellers are reporting that eBay either has some unusual bugginess or they are doing some A/B testing on store discoverability.  On eBay search engine results pages (SERPs) you typically have two places for consumers to find store listings:

  1. Store discoverability – If eBay Core returns < 20 items, then up to 20 store items that match the search criteria are shown.
  2. “Shop eBay Stores” is a little box typically at the lower left that suggests eBay stores that carry similar items to those being searched.  An example of the shop ebay stores box is below.

Shop_stores

For the last two weeks, sellers have been speculating something is coming because this page changed.

Under the “Promote Your Store” section, it used to offer more exposure to higher-end stores and now as you can see, there is no increased exposure on eBay.

Then I started to get reports that sellers store traffic was dropping. Then sellers started to notice that the “Shop eBay Stores” box was not showing up on some SERPs (I unfortunately don’t have a screen shot of this).   Still others have reported that instead of sponsored listings showing up on null search results they have replaced store discoverability (I have not seen that or a screen shot of it).

Finally, a seller yesterday was able to get a screen shot that showed an interesting twist.  eBay had replaced the store discoverability with eBay Express listings. eBay Express already advantages core (fp/bin) listings over store listings so this gives stores some visibility, but it’s greatly reduced.   Also, I don’t understand how this improves the buyer experience to see eBay/EE listings all jumbled together. There are sure to be duplicates and confusion around the intermingling of the brands.

 Here’s a screen shot:

Express_test

Of course sellers are speculating that this move indicates eBay is desperate to get traffic to EE and is willing to sacrifice store traffic to get there.

It’s not clear which of these tests will stick or not, but there’s enough going on around reducing store exposure that sellers are getting concerned.  In fact, eBay really has two levers they can pull to slow down the SIF format:  Increase fees and decrease traffic.  It looks like they maybe pulling the second lever instead of the first as I had incorrectly speculated a couple of weeks ago. 

Readers are you seeing a decrease in traffic to your store listings? Any other testing that you are seeing?

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