Bombshell: eBay may switch to new ‘Item Page’ before Holidays!

September 11, 2008

Update: 9/12 – I heard from eBay today that they will be testing the new item page and have “no confirmed plans to launch this before the holiday shopping season”.  There’s some ‘eBay Speak’ in there so it seems like they are keeping the door open.  They also clarified in the developer blog here. Seems like its still a good idea to test your templates ASAP.  The one other item to think about is to make sure you see your listing with the elements 6+7 seen below in the image.  If you test without those the templates look fine, with them turned on we are seeing templates ‘clipped’ on the right.

eBay Seller’s hearts are pounding today

Today we started to get frantic and panicky inbound calls and emails from sellers that had heard through the grapevine that eBay’s new item page that eBay previously been talked about as being in less than 10% ‘test’ mode, open to lots of changes, etc. is suddenly being talked about as going live for the holidays.  Turns out it was a post the developer blog last night that was the first time it was revealed that this is something that could change by the Holidays.  eBay also introduced another complexity called an iFrame that puts the content of the template into a different domain name to help with some fraud issues.

A seller’s item page is where they do all their merchandising and most larger sellers have significant investments in their ‘template’ (ChannelAdvisor speak for the design of their item page).

While we have a clarification into eBay around this sudden ‘get it done for the holidays’ kind-of-announcement, I thought it would be prudent to alert people as since we’re hear at mid-September, I’m guessing this would definitely be out as early as Thanksgiving and maybe as early as Halloween.  If we assume Halloween, maybe you have a month to month and a half to adapt.  Based on our early investigations the changes needed could be substantial.

Test your listings now
The good news is any seller can see how their template will look in the new item page by following these directions:

  1. Login to eBay under your seller ID
  2. Bring up a live listing
  3. In the upper right you will see a link that offers to show you how your listing looks under the new View Item Page.
  4. Click that link

Challenges with the new design
There’s lots of negativity from sellers in general around the new design, but since it looks like its hear to say, I won’t spend time on that.  However, some design elements are going to make updating your template a potential MUST.

To understand the challenges, first you have to look at this page eBay provides to identify the various elements of the design (click on image to see an expanded version):

Ebay_item_page

The problem is the width of the description element marked number 4 in the diagram.  The upsell elements 6 and 7 take a good 20-25% of the width and squish the description into a small area.  If your template is wider than this then you get some really weird scroll bars in there that we worry will keep buyers from seeing  a large portion of your template.  We’re seeing some designs cut off in weird places, images hidden and a variety of other problems with this setup that sellers will want to have resolved before this goes live or potentially suffer a decrease in conversions and an increase in customer inquiries.

Conclusion
The bottom line is regardless of if this was a mistake and the new new item page isn’t really coming out for the Holiday, I think it would be prudent to look at a good 5-10 of your items and start to think about how much work you are looking at and how you could possibly do it by late October.