The problem is eBay
search. It seems to be designed to return too many search results rather than stay within scope or category. Try listing a United States type Ia Scott 500. A potential buyer who searches for 500 in the "Stamps > United States" category will find anything but. They will see parts of catalog values, seller inventory numbers added to the ends of titles and many other irrelevant numbers containing 500.
What are the worst features of eBay
1. "Out of category" results. Electronic parts or motorcycle parts instead of stamps.
2. Inability to narrow an existing search: While it is possible, with effort, to start search at a top-level category, like stamps, eBay
search will look elsewhere if only a few results appear.
3. Inability to stay in category if searching from listing: Suppose a potential buyer is not clear on which category to search and mounts a general search to find a listing. Once found, a second search within the same category is not possible. The eBay
default is to "all categories". While it is possible to redirect search to a top-level category, it doesn't seem possible to stay within a category.
4. Many sellers are unclear on the concept of category and list in the wrong category. In some ways this is a benefit to sellers. Because so many stamp listings are miscategorized, listing in two categories is often unnecessary. Or, because good stamps are so hard to find on eBay
, determined buyers may find yours if appropriate key words are placed in the title.
5. While eBay
touts Item Specifics, they don't seem to help in search. Unfortunately, eBay
item specifics available in left panel searches are often at odds with generally accepted philatelic terminology. The denomination search is useless because it doesn't recognize variations like 1¢ for 1 cent or the differences between "one cent" and "1 cent 1" on the front of the stamp. Some sellers are lazy and use 1c or worse 1C for one cent. Scott usage of the word "Mint" in stamps is illiterate. Their non-existent subject matter expert should have read the introduction to the Scott Catalog that defines terminology for gum condition.
6. Some item specifics are, or were, crowd sourced. "Wisdom of the crowd" does not seem to apply to eBay
What would a good search look like? I think I would know if I see it, but I don't see it on eBay
or some store web sites. Sites like Amazon
may find nothing unless the exact or near-exact terminology is used. Google or Bing may not find transient items on sites like eBay
. While Don and others may contradict this, I have not seen a search that gives potential buyers the ability to seamlessly narrow or expand searches based on prior search results or starting from one listing of the type of item desired. While eBay
and others attempted to improve search through using cataloging, nothing of this sort has been attempted for stamps, at least not by eBay
. Does HipStamp have a more effective search?'
I am afraid that we are stuck with an array of bad choices until someone invents a smarter search instead of trying to dumb down search results to the lowest denominator. For now, search seems to be a component of the "race to the bottom" between eBay