This week's episode of the eBay for Business podcast revealed several tweaks and changes being made to the Advanced Listing Form and seller tips for getting the most out of the Listing Quality Report.
Seller Advocacy Lead, Chuck Van Pelt, stopped by to give a breakdown listing form improvements to increase efficiency or improve listings, some of which have already been released or and others which are "coming soon."
Chuck explained they are making changes to prevent extra work with item specifics when changing categories, as well as navigating the category hierarchy within the listing form.
The first two improvements are related to changing the category of your listings. Sellers who changed the category of a listing after they had entered their item specifics in the past would lose all their work. So you would go up and make that category change and a lot of the things you put in item specifics would go away. Very frustrating obviously to lose work.
Starting now when you change a listing to a new product category, as long as it's still under the same level one category, the tool will retain those aspects that are relevant to both of the categories and it'll just get rid of the irrelevant ones.
For example, let's say you're listing in clothing a shirt, you're within the clothing, shoes and accessories level one category. But if you move from casual shirts to dress shirts in the past, that would've wiped out your work in item specifics and now it will retain most of the information in there.
I know it's really frustrating to spend time doing something and then make a change somewhere else and see your work reverted. And you know, eBay to be fair, is a very complex listing platform. We've looked at all these little things that have an impact on sellers and tried to change them.
Now this next one is also related to categories. When changing the category of a listing, sellers were forced to start from the top of the category tree and navigate down even if the desired category is right next to the current one in the hierarchy. And this could be three to six levels deep going forward, sellers are now going to be able to navigate directly across to another leaf category without going back to the top.
eBay is adding a module to the listing form to make enabling free shipping easier, re-enabling the option to ship with USPS First Class Letter service, and allowing shipping methods to copied over when you use "sell similar."
The next three are actually about shipping. Sellers have frequently told us that it was difficult to understand how to add free shipping to their listing. Now we recently added a new module to the shipping section of the listing screen and we made that checkbox for free shipping highly visible. It allows you to easily enable free shipping on your primary shipping service...
...Now that USPS First Class Parcel has changed to USPS Ground Advantage, many sellers have pointed out that we no longer have a way for them to specify the First Class Letter shipping method as a way to ship. And that was kind of a casualty of that transition.
But First Class Letter, I'm not sure if you're familiar, but it's when you basically, when you use a stamp to mail, like a letter rate envelope, something small and and flat. Well First Class Letter is coming back to the Advanced Listing Tool. So be on the lookout for that.
The third shipping item is um, when you do a sell similar from one of your own listings, eBay makes a direct copy of the listing except we used to leave out the shipping method on the copy...
...It's just another thing that you have to go in and redo each time you do a sell similar. But in most situations now we're gonna copy all over the shipping method and save you that extra bit of time.
Chuck was forced to acknowledge that some of these "updates" could more appropriately be called "bugs that we've resolved", but said most are really "refinements to the tool that are intended to speed up listing for sellers."
One of those bugs was an issue that caused the listing preview to freeze for some users, which has theoretically now been resolved.
We receive reports of the listing preview freezing. So the listing preview is when you're building your listing in the tool and you can see like a preview version of it. And people have said, you know, there have been times when I made changes and it freezes, I don't see my changes reflected in the preview.
We've actually reproduced that and determined the cause and we released a fix. So now the preview should show you exactly the customizations that you make.
Videos and Pictures
Ever since eBay introduced videos in listings, sellers have been frustrated at the lack of helpful information when a video is rejected or doesn't load - Chuck says they are fixing that starting now with more detailed rejection messages as well as better messaging for picture errors and faster image compression.
eBay does allow you to add video to any listing and our sellers have told us that they love this capability. That said, some sellers tell us that when they upload a video and there's a problem with the upload, we don't do a very good job of communicating the cause for the issue.
For example, they might see the same error message if the video upload timed out or if the video was rejected for not following the guidelines and there would not be an easy way for them to understand what had happened.
Starting now, we will provide an appropriate error message that'll clearly tell you if your video can or can't be published and why. So you can make adjustments and I would definitely recommend taking the time to try uploading a video. The tool is amazing and it really gives buyers a lot of insight about the listing.
So with this next one we've heard from sellers that the photos sometimes upload slowly or they upload in the wrong order or they just fail to upload with like an ambiguous error message. There's definitely room for improvement on that.
So we're working on three things to improve the experience. We're working on providing better error messaging, kind of like we did for video, faster image compression and faster preloading of the images before the seller attempts to edit them.
Seller One Like This
The Sell One Like This feature will now default to your own regional eBay site instead of the site of the listing you are copying, cutting out having to log out of one country's eBay site and back in to another.
So sell similar is when you make a copy of one of your own items and you say, I wanna sell one like this. What we call sell one like this, that feature is when you make a copy of another listing, someone else's listing that is out on the site, it doesn't bring everything over, but it basically allows a seller to clone any listing and reuse the title category and item specific.
Until recently, if you attempted to clone a listing from another eBay region, like let's say Canada, the listing tool would attempt to list the item for you in Canada. Now if your account is in the US then it would prompt you to log into the Canadian site. Not a very useful experience.
A lot of our sellers use this flow, this specifically to sell one like this to list. Good news for them. Now any listing that you clone will automatically be configured to list on your own regional eBay site. So no more login prompts.
Custom Description Template
eBay has fixed an issue with the character limit on custom description templates and adding more descriptive error messaging to warn sellers if an issue would prevent a template from being saved.
Do you use the custom description template tool at all where you can save descriptions for other listings?
...it's a great way to, if you list a lot of the same kind of item, like you list a lot of records or a lot of cameras, you could make your own description template and then pull that up whenever you're ready to list something.
But sellers noticed that the description templates could be lost with no error message. If there was an issue when they saved them. So they go in, spend all this time to build this description template and then they would lose it and not have any kind of signal that they did, they would go back later. The template would just be gone. Obviously not a great experience.
Now this failure is most often caused by the template being over the character limit, which again, maybe didn't do a good job of disclosing what that was. So we made two changes to fix this.
So first we raised the character limit for the description templates to match the same character limit that we had on the, the main description field. Why they were different, I'm not sure, but now they're the same. So that should eliminate that problem.
And then second, we show more descriptive message if the template fails to save. So basically it'll give sellers a chance to correct the issue. You know, anytime we find a potential for sellers to lose work, we're gonna prioritize fixing that. And this is one of those cases right there.
Chuck ended his segment with a preview of a few new features "coming soon" - usability improvements for items specifics that have dependencies (or example, having to pick size type before the size menu shows) and rolling out the magical AI description generator to all sellers in the desktop listing flow.
The second half of today's podcast featured eBay Seller Ashley Moulder discussing how she uses the Listing Quality Report to manage her reselling business.
Long-time VAR readers will remember the absolute mess this report was when it was first launched back in early 2021 - our critiques at the time even forced then VP Seller Experience Harry Temkin to join the eBay community to engage and respond with seller feedback about the many errors, inconsistencies and problems with the report.
While there have been some improvements to the report since then, many sellers have found it cumbersome to deal with the data as presented and/or simply don't find the information to be all that useful.
In fact, eBay almost killed off the Listing Quality Report earlier this year but reversed course supposedly based on "seller feedback."
One thing that stood out in this eBay for Business podcast interview is when Ashley said she has to "assume" things about the report, like how a seller's ranking is calculated.
Ashley: So looking at the categories that it gives you, and I love that it gives you your rank in the category. Like where do you stand among other sellers? So it tells you that like you rank, you know, number a hundred versus all other sellers in this category and it's drilled down. So like men's used jeans is a big one for me. And so it'll tell me where I rank within men's used Jeans.
That's one thing that I always find to be really kind of cool to look at because I wanna know and I wanna make sure that I'm doing the best I can and it, and I would love to be number one obviously, but I'm not there yet.
Griff: Is it explained how the ranking is calculated?
Ashley: It doesn't say exactly, but it does give you, I'm assuming that it's based off the all of the data and the factors that they show you within the report...
Ashley: You know, within the report they'll give you like your impressions, your click-through rate and your sales conversion and it'll rank you versus other sellers. But then as you go up to the one side of it, what it will show you is all the different metrics they're looking at and where you stand at that.
So it's like your keywords, how many photos do you have, your handling time returns, what type of returns they are, do you offer 1430, stuff like that. And I'm assuming that it's taking all of those factors in to determine where you rank.
Sellers should not have to assume things like this, it should be clearly defined and someone who works for eBay and is also a seller (Griff) should know the answer to this.
Unfortunately, after Harry Temkin and others involved in developing this reported left the company, it appears no one at eBay really understands it or is working to make improvements - it's pretty much exactly how Harry left it.
That gets in to a few improvements Ashley would like to see, mainly the ability to see all categories in the report and the ability to have a more condense top level version without some of the data she doesn't really need.
Ashley: It only gives you like your top kind of categories that you sell in and they're kind of broken down. And I remember when I first looked at that I was very surprised because it doesn't give you all the categories, it just gives you like your top ones.
And I was very surprised of like what one of my, some of my categories were. I was like really? I sold that much there Really? Okay. . So yeah, I was definitely interested in that. I do like your newer tags items. It will tell you what is rejected by Google image shopping, which is nice. So you can check your pictures and stuff like that...
...Okay, so as one who likes a lot of data, I do appreciate the amount of data that it provides you. But to the general user, it's a lot of information and I think it's overwhelming.
So I think a lot of people avoid it because it is so overwhelming and they're not knowing what to focus on. Like for example, it's telling me who in my category has 14, 30 day or 60 day returns. My store is all 30 day returns. I don't care about that. I'm not looking at that. You know, my handling time is one business day 'cause I wanna remain top rated. So I don't need to look at that.
So like that's great, but to me, I don't need it because it's not a factor. So I think if it could be paired down a little bit to provide more top line information, that would be good because so a general user who's never looked at this before, this report is extremely overwhelming.
Oddly enough, eBay had promised to address both of those issues as part of the Fall 2021 Seller Update, but none of these updates were ever actually implemented - presumably at least in part because those who were familiar with the report and working on the project where no longer at eBay.
Listing Quality Report
Earlier this year, we launched the Listing Quality Report. This report is a downloadable document that provides you with analysis at listing and category level. It suggests specific actions you can take to optimize your listings and categories. You can use the report to help boost your views, impressions, and sales. It was designed with input from the seller community to make sure it matches the needs of your business.
To keep improving the report, we’ve made some updates.
This month, the Listing Quality Report will be available to download in three formats:
- A PDF “one-page summary”
- An Excel “full report” with one tab per category
- A CSV “raw data” file, to be exported for further analysis
In the past, you could see the analysis of your 10 categories with the most live listings. You’ll now be in control of which categories will show up in the report. You’ll also have the option to keep the existing analysis, using the top 10 categories with the most live listings.
Do you use the Listing Quality Report? If so, we'd love to hear your opinions about it and whether you'd like to see these "updates" from 2021 actually implemented - leave a comment below or contact VAR!