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Ebay Enforcing New Item Specifics In The Stamps Category

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Pillar Of The Community
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Posted 10/17/2019   11:39 pm  Show Profile Check eyeonwall's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add eyeonwall to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
"I can't speak for anyone else, but as a stamp buyer, I never use item specifics. Ever."

I never do either
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Posted 10/17/2019   11:41 pm  Show Profile Check eyeonwall's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add eyeonwall to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
"But keep in mind that eBay prefers sellers who 'tend' their stores. For example, I have read that eBay rewards sellers who make individual listings over listings which are batched."

Please explain what you mean by batched.
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Posted 10/17/2019   11:46 pm  Show Profile Check eyeonwall's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add eyeonwall to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
"The primary objective both eBay and Amazon is to support the searcher (buyer), to make the connection between the buyer and the item they are seeking. "

While I am sure there are people who go to eBay and specifically search for a NH US 543, I like to just browse certain categories and certain sellers. I wonder which way is more common for stamps on eBay.
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Posted 10/18/2019   12:15 am  Show Profile Check TheArtfulHinger's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add TheArtfulHinger to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
The perspective here is for buyers to be able to find what they are looking for

Then there are two item specifics they need to add: Catalog publisher and catalog number. Try searching for an item by catalog number now and you get a whole lot of irrelevant listings, usually there's more chaff than wheat (often much more). If one could search specifically for a Scott 65 or a Michel 66 using item specifics, that would go a long way toward this buyer being able to find what I'm looking for.
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Posted 10/18/2019   03:04 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
eye,
'Batched' is using software or programmatically uploading large amounts of listings automatically. For example, eBay does not want sellers to simply relist hundreds of listings over and over 'until it sells'. They want sellers to revisit each listing and lower the prices. eBay has little interest in supplying millions of dollars of equipment for free just so sellers can automatically relist hundreds of listing over and over. (Not to mention, we have multiple threads from folks who bemoan 'looking at the same listings' time and time again. Buyers do not like endless listings either.)

It does not matter if anyone uses the left hand side 'item specifics' when searching, eBay is using the listing specifics to build a virtual internal catalog which gets used even in simple search.

Understood that some folks do not search for a NH US 543 but eBay and Amazon are always trying to predict what you want to buy. You can see this by what they present on your screen when you simply open the site. They spend incredible amounts of time and money tracking what we do so they can present things which end with sale (and them making money).

What is eBays 'perfect listing'?
- A listing for a new, consumer item still in package (greatly lowers odds of a 'not as described' and them having to mediate a problem).
- A listing for an item that is more than $50.
- A 'Buy It Now' listing
- A listing which 'turns' in less than 12 hours and never gets relisted.

eBay, like all companies, wants to lower costs and they want sellers to 'try', to be proactive and highly manage their listings and turn them quickly.
Don
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Posted 10/18/2019   11:44 pm  Show Profile Check eyeonwall's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add eyeonwall to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the definition of batched.

About "For example, eBay does not want sellers to simply relist hundreds of listings over and over 'until it sells'. They want sellers to revisit each listing and lower the prices." - ten why did the implement automatic we don't get a choice Good Till Canceled for BIN items? When I had to manually relist items I did revisit the price, now not so much because I am not forced to look at the listing.
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Posted 10/19/2019   01:57 am  Show Profile Check cfrphoto's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add cfrphoto to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Don, automated repricing of live listings is more complex than repricing ended listings. Before the GTC mandate, I listed 30-day fixed price listings. When a group would end, it was possible to run a SQL query on the SixBit database and resubmit the batch of listings. The repricing query took a fraction of a second to update each item and record the change. The query would not reprice an item more than once in any 30-day period.

But this discussion strays from the point of the thread which is about the effectiveness of eBay Item Specifics. I disagree with your view of eBay in that managers of collectible categories will not sit idly by watching their categories go into zombie mode if they wish to be successful. Otherwise, eBay will eventually suffer death by category, one category at a time like railroads did with carload traffic, losing one shipper at a time.
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Posted 10/19/2019   06:36 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Clark,
Re: effectiveness of eBay Item Specifics

I did not mean to imply that lower managers sit idlily by without pushing back. I assume that eBay is no different than most companies; upper management issues strategic direction and edicts, lower management and worker bees execute the operational implementation. In my experience there is always a gap between the strategic people and the operational people which includes both sides calling each other 'clueless'.

The upper management strategic vision can be understood from their Annual Reports and recent history. I think it is important to understand this when we discuss the 'why' of eBay policy changes. But truthfully this is a bit far removed when we approach an issue from the bottom up. Starting with something like ' eBay used to do ABC and now they are doing XYZ' is more important to folks who are coping with the change and how impacts their time and money. And unless we become substantial shareholders or one of us gets a job at the upper levels of eBay management team we have virtually zero chance at influencing eBay's at a strategic level.

So with the basic understanding that eBay's strategic direction is coming down from above, we can turn to the operational implementation. I think this thread has covered several important issues with the implementation but we have a number of 'black holes', significant areas where we are left to guess at what is happening.

First is how Cassini works, eBay will never open their robe and allow us to see how their search engine works. In terms of the item specifics, at one of the scale is the opinion that item specifics chosen when making a listing have a single one-to-one relationship to the specifics chosen by searchers at the left hand side of the screen. On the other end of the scale is the opinion they play a much larger role in developing an internal eBay catalog and are used by Cassini in many ways behind the scenes. But we will never really know how it works so other than providing something to discuss on forums and in editorials this tree does not bare much fruit.

The second 'black hole' in our understanding is who are the operational implementation influencers? Internally in eBay, if they are like most companies, there is a degree of autonomy given to lower management for operational implementation. There may be middle managers who have enough control to drive change for a detail like item specifics. How much is just a guess. But perhaps more interesting part of this 'black hole' concerns external influencers. Do philatelic organizations have any influence? Do philatelic catalog publishers have any influence? Do the 'big sellers' have influence? Does someone's brother-in-law have influence?

So in terms of trying to get them to change we can concede;
1. Upper management is driving the strategic direction and reasons for the changes; this is set in stone and we have no way to change this.
2. At the operational level we have no way to understand how eBays search engine actually works and we have no way to change this.

And since none of us works at eBay we are left with only one option; figure out how to get one or more of the operational implementation influencers to listen to us. Making posts on forums is probably not going to reach them but it may help in forming a common front. (It is also probably cathartic to be able to commiserate with each other.) A more effective reaction is to ferret out who the existing external influencers are and start working them. Note that this might mean getting into bed with the enemy (i.e. NY Stamps) and hammering out the common ground that helps philatelic sellers at every level.

Lastly we need to keep in mind that even if we find the influencers (internal or external), get them to listen to our input, and they decide to make the item specifics we would like to see; it can get overridden by a number of other parties in eBay. In my experience this is how technology companies develop and maintain products and services.
1. Sales and marketing, big customers, or upper management drives a strategic change
2. Design engineering plans the operational change and communicates the plan to other departments
3. Other internal departments review the plan, its impact including support, costs (bean counters), quality assurance.
4. The original design engineering plan get modified based upon the input from other departments.
5. Once all departments approve, design engineering implements the plan and the new change is moved to internal testing group.
6. Test group results are used to make further change the original plan to address any issues overcovered.
7. Change is finally rolled out
8. The crap hits the fan. A new task rises of separating the 'whining about change' from the 'legitimate and reasonable issues' that were missed in the original brainstorming and the development testing.
9. 'Legitimate and reasonable issues' feedback from the field then drives a change order, Go to Step 2 above and repeat sequence.

Even small (<200 employees) technology companies operate like this; no company would want a single worker bee making changes without following their normal internal development and testing processes. Anyone who has ever worked developing technology based products understands how easy it is to lose your job by making changes under the radar. It is incredibly easy to cost a company really big money (six or seven figures) with a single change in a line of code. In fact, this can result not in just losing your job but perhaps also losing your career.

I realize that some of the above might seem defy common sense at times. But I ran several smaller technology companies, ones that prided themselves on being incredibly fast and reactive to change, and even we had to follow this kind of development and testing processes to be profitable. Technology today is massively complex and it is highly unlikely that a single person's idea has considered all of the impacts. So while it might make perfect sense to fix eBay's item specifics to better fit philately, there may be forces that insist upon a standardization across all eBay selling categories.

I respect your efforts in trying to get a big ship like eBay to listen and change course; I also stand ready to help in any reasonable way that I can.
Don
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Posted 10/19/2019   12:29 pm  Show Profile Check eyeonwall's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add eyeonwall to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Cassini - I assume that this does not affect the results displayed if one picks a defined category (Like US, Plate Number Coils) and one chooses either Ending Soonest or Newly Listed (which is how I shop), but it comes into effect when one chooses their Worst Match option, or for the results it displays below the items that contain a Search word/number that it titles Results Matching Fewer Words, or the results it displays at the bottom of an items page (sometimes that item is related, sometimes it is far from it).

Their AI is far from ideal. I list an item with 5c in the title and it suggests I put in $5 for the Item Specific Denomination, and that is not the only ridiculous thing it has suggested, just the one I see most often that I can remember. edited to add - here is another example - I listed a lot with Old Glory in the title and they decided I spelled Gold wrong and suggested I put in Gold for the color.
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Edited by eyeonwall - 10/19/2019 8:19 pm
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Posted 10/20/2019   12:24 am  Show Profile Check cfrphoto's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add cfrphoto to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Don,

What you have to say is generally correct, but the problem is not a technology issue. It is more like a cosmetic issue. I am confident that the eBay software relies imports a list of Item Specific names and built-in values to display for each category. Such lists can easily be changed. I also suspect that eBay does not direct string comparison to match user Item Specifics with built-in values. Instead, it is likely that potential matches are transformed in multiple ways to derive recognizable key words to recognize Item Specifics. I have not tested to determine if eBay can match multiple variants of Item Specific strings to built-in values. If simple variations in spelling, punctuation or spacing cannot be recognized, eBay Item Specifics can be written off as useless.

I still believe that built-in Item Specifics displayed in eBay dropdown lists and left panel filters should conform to standards set by the Scott Catalog and the stamp marketplace. It seem unlikely that stamps dealers will change web sites, price lists and ads to match nonstandard eBay nomenclature.
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Posted 12/08/2019   01:09 am  Show Profile Check CanadaStamp's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add CanadaStamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I've discovered a work-around on those hateful specifics. While you may be unable to escape "certification" or "place of origin" the rest you can fill with random characters and they go through. Sometimes I fill four boxes with gibberish because that data is useless and the form accepts them.
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Posted 12/08/2019   09:47 am  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add revenuecollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I got around the problem by simply creating listing templates for various types of philatelic items (revenue stamp vs. document vs. cover vs. world stamp, etc.), with the required item specifics pre-filled in the template. If I have an item that deviates from my template default, it's easy enough to deal with those exceptions.

Granted, I tend to "batch" the types of items I list by type/category, so at any given time I'm listing items that are similar in nature. For someone listing a wide range of items at random, this approach may not work.
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Posted 12/08/2019   2:27 pm  Show Profile Check paperhistory's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paperhistory to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I did the same and it works easily for new items. It's been a real slog trying to add specifics to old unsold items as they are relisted but that process will eventually be complete.
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